Saturday, March 31, 2012

I made it!

31 days.  I made it!  The slice of life challenge was just that challenging.  But I made it.  Every day.  And I learned a lot.

 I learned that it takes persistence, determination, and resolve to write every day. 

I learned that it is really not easy to think of something to write about day after day.

I learned that the idea you start with is not always the one you finish with.

I learned that it is easy to write narratives, but more challenging to try out other genres.

I learned that the encouragement of other writers is huge.

I learned that encouraging others writers is even more powerful.

But most of all I learned.  Thanks!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Maybe it's gout

My right foot has been bothering me for about two weeks.  At first I thought I had jammed a toe.  But it didn't get better.  I quit walking for exercise thinking that I needed to rest it.  That hasn't help.  Soaking it in Epsom salts makes it hurt even more.  Icing it down helped for awhile, but not so much.  Tylenol wasn't cutting it.  So I broke down and called the doctor's office and made an appointment with the nurse practitioner.

"Maybe it's gout," she said.  "Now I really feel old!" I replied. My 80 something grandmother had gout.  I have lots and lots of years until 80!  But as we talked and she examined my foot she ruled out gout.

Off I went to the hospital for X-rays.  A stress fracture was likely.

 I received a call just an hour later.  The nurse practitioner informed me that I have some unpronounceable lesion thingy near my little toe.  Generally, people ages 15-30 get this type of lesion, but since I am "older" (evidently old enough for gout) and in pain they want to do an MRI on Tuesday.  In the meantime I am to take my vicodine and rest my foot.

Maybe it would have been better to hear about gout!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2 days until Break

Just 2 days until Spring Break
I can hardly wait.
A chance to rest
To recharge
To take a mental change of pace.

Just 2 days until Spring Break
I can't get it all done.
Reports to write
Testing to finish
Agendas to prepare.

Just two days until Spring Break!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I never had an original idea in my life!

Years ago I went to an inservice session put on by our county reading council.  The session was called "I never had an original idea in my life."  I often think of that presenter and that session when I see someone else leading training or delivering instruction to students and I think "I want to steal that idea."

Today was one of those days.  I am serving on a team which is observing teaching and training in another school.   Today I learned a lot from other professionals.  I have several new lessons to put in my toolbox and a few new ideas to share with the teachers at my school.  So no original to me ideas today, but I sure plan to do some stealing!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Blessing Box

A number of years ago, we had a smogasbord of inservice sessions to choose from.  I honestly don't remember the name or actual topic of the session I attended, but the presenter talked about a blessing box at some point during his presentation.  The blessing box could be any box that holds those pictures, notes, letters, cards, and emails from students, parents, friends, and family that are keepsakes.  Soon after that session I received a round old-fashioned hatbox with angels and hearts on the lid.  It became my blessing box.

Today my blessing box is full of pictures my second graders proudly gave me.  One says, "You are the best techer ever."  This is from a girl who struggled and struggled, but made real strides in reading while in my class.  She is a fifth grader now and reads at grade level.  More importantly, she finds joy in reading and sometimes shares a passage from a book with me.

I have a note from a colleague thanking me for listening at just the right time.  It helps me remember to stop and take time for others.

I have a hard copy of a couple of emails from teachers thanking me for working with them and their students now that I am a literacy coach.

I have a beaded cat made by a former student a couple years after I was her teacher.  She knew my cat, Chester, had died and wanted to cheer me up.

I have a couple of notes from my dad who passed away in January.

I have a few pictures of my sons reminding me of special memories as they grew up.

There are many more things in my blessing box.  I won't list them all here, but on the days when I am sad, or frustrated, or discouraged I take the things out of my box and count my blessings one by one.

Monday, March 26, 2012

old friends

After a long day of yardwork, my husband and I decided to go out to eat in a favorite casual dining spot on Saturday night.  As we leisurely finished our meal we noticed another couple entering and called them over.  They were old friends of ours.  We have known them for a long time and occassionally plan to join each other for dinner at that very same spot.  The place wasn't too busy so they joined us.   We stayed and talked, just catching up, for another hour or so.   Life has been extra crazy this year and we hadn't been in touch with them since before Thanksgiving.

Ah...the pleasures of sharing with old friends.  People who know you well, warts and all.  People who remember to ask after your kids and grandkids by name.  The ones who know your family and remember your parents.  People who remember when your husband quit smoking (four years and counting.)  The people with wonderful shared memories. 

How refreshing to run into old friends after a long day of hard work.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another perspective

When I went to church this morning, I ended up sitting on the opposite side of the sanctuary than I normally do. I was talking to someone and hated to get up and cross the room as the service started.

The sun's rays shone brightly through a window I had not noticed before.   I could see the little children during the children's sermon.  They were quite entertaining.  I could not see the organist the way I usually do, but  I did observe the enthusiasm of the pianist.  I did not see the old grandfather clock out of the corner of my eye and so I never noticed how long the sermon was or wasn't.  No distracting thoughts of "he's talked for twenty minutes now."  I saw people up in the balcony that I didn't even know came to our church or the first service anyway.  Were they visitors?   How may weeks have they been coming? I got stopped after the service and they had disappeared so I still don't know.  I had a chance to talk to some older folks that I have known for years, but seldom see. 

I did pray and listen to the Bible reading.  The sermon made me think.  I really feel like I worshiped, but from a different perspective.

And now I am wondering--what else in my life would benefit from being looked at from another perspective?

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Pulling weeds
Raking leaves
Picking up rocks
Cleaning out hostas
Gathering sticks

Friday, March 23, 2012

I think I can

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  FDR

I am getting ready to sign up for an online education course.  Now, some people might find this easy to do, but not me.  I have submitted papers for courses online.  I have written online grants.  I am blogging.  But I have never taken an online course before.  I am nervous.  I am worried that I won't figure things out.  But I keep thinking of the little engine that could, "I think I can, I think I can." and FDR's quote. 

So, I am resolved to be strong, be brave.
I am signing up for an online first summer session course.  AND I will successfully finish it.

I think I can, I think I can....

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I meant to do my work today...

Today I was supposed to finish some make up tests and work on a competitive grant that is due to the DOE next week.  I meant to do my work today, but ...

Some of the students who needed to complete the make up tests were still absent.
Other students had practice for tonight's Spring Musical.
A child asked me to come buy one of her writing journals from the economy sale her grade level was hosting.
A colleague needed a listening ear.
My principal asked me to provide details about our upcoming author's visit.
A teacher wanted some input on a lesson plan.
A few phone calls interrupted my day.
I helped set up the room for an after school training.

I think the scheduled work with keep until tomorrow.  Wait, I did do my work today.  It just wasn't the work I had scheduled.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I have been singing "ladybug, ladybug fly away home" for the last week or so.  We have had 11 days in a row of record breaking warm temperatures.  It honestly feels more like July than March in my area.  The birds are singing, the daffodils are blooming, and the trees are budding.  AND the ladybugs are back. 

We purchased replacement windows for our home two years ago.  I love the windows, but the installers must have trapped a ladybug or two or one hundred two in the new living room windows and wall.  Ever since we replaced the windows we have had ladybugs during warm weather.  They crawl up the windows, they fly through the living room, they hang out on the ceiling, and they gather around my favorite reading light.

I am starting to think that they did fly away home--to my home!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Encounter with the garbage truck

I normally walk for 45 minutes each morning before school.  I just don't get exercise in if I wait until later in the day.  I have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather July-like weather  in my area recently.  So, even though it is still dark I have been walking outside. 

It has been wonderful!  I have been listening to the Spring sounds lately.  The birds playful chirping as they chase each other.  The squirrels loud chatter as they run across the streets and up the trees.  The loud clatter of the garbage truck.  Wait?  The garbage truck?

This morning was trash pick up day in our town.  As I was enjoying the blessed Spring weather I heard the grinding and roaring of the garbage truck coming down the street behind me.  The faster I walked the louder and faster it moved.   For a minute my heart raced.  Was the garbage truck following me?  Am I safe here in the dark?  Could they see me?  (There was no sidewalk on that stretch of street.)  Just as I was preparing to bail into someone's yard, the garbage truck turned down a side street ready to disturb someone else's peace and quiet.


Monday, March 19, 2012

It's the small things

Are you one of those people who wash/rinse your dishes before running them through the dishwasher?  I just caught a Consumer Report on the evening news that says it is a waste of time, water, and energy!  Yay!! I feel validated.

My mother-in-law refuses to own a dishwasher because "I would have to clean the dishes off first anyway."  Her comments have always made me feel a bit lazy.  I have owned a dishwasher (my current model is my third) for years.  I love having a dishwasher.  I do rinse off gravy and cheese if I am not going to run the dishwasher for a few days since I have found those can be a problem.  I do scrape off food scraps before I put things in the dishwasher, but forget that rinsing them clean.  I just don't do it.

And now Consumer Reports say that I am right.  Hooray!!!  It's the small things that create joy in my life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The world around me

I have to agree with Barbara Baig.  Writing every day this month has made me much more aware of the world around me, much more in tune to my surroundings. I keep looking for writing topics.  I am noticing and savoring things I have been taking for granted.  Things like the creaminess of my favorite Starbucks coffee--the Skinny Vanilla Latte,  the sharp barking of the dogs next door to my son's house, the yeasty smell of Toscani's pizza, the warm laughter of family, the earthy aroma of the backyard.  All slices for another day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Is there anything better than snuggling with someone you love?  Papa (my husband) and I are babysitting our little granddaughter, Claire today while Mommy and Daddy work.  When she woke up this morning she said, "Hold you, Nana." ( For those of you who might not speak fluent "Clairese" that means I want you to hold me, Nana.)  So as we sat in the rocker in her room and snuggled. I enjoyed her warm toddler love.

Is there anything better than snuggling with someone you love?  I love it when my cat, Socks, crawls on my lap and purrs and purrs as I stroke her fine fur.  Definitely a comfort at the end of a stress filled day.

Is there anything better than snuggling with someone you love?  Papa and I have been married over 30 years.  Snuggling as we fall asleep keeps our love alive and our marriage strong.  I know he is there for me when I need him.  Snuggling tells me so.

Do your best today to find time to snuggle with someone you love!

Friday, March 16, 2012

My favorite things

Today is a snow make-up day.  It is a day off from school since we had no snow days this year.  I am enjoying some of my favorite things...

Rolling over and sleeping in
Slowly savoring a morning cup of coffee
Taking a morning walk in the sunshine
Petting my cat
Reading a book (I started Shiloh by Shelby Foote a few days ago.)
Washing and changing the bedding to lighter weight items
Chatting on the phone
Packing to go visit my older son and family
Playing tea with my granddaughter
Reading to my granddaughter
Eating out

What a wonderful day!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shhh...It's a Secret

A fifth grade boy was the first one to arrive to our reading group today and pleaded, "Don't tell Kyle where I live."  While thinking that I had no idea where he lived, I asked, "Why don't you want Kyle to know where you live?"  "It's a secret," he replied. 

I had all kinds of crazy ideas flashing through my mind.  Is there a reason he didn't want other people at his house?  Is there a problem his teacher should be aware of? Is he okay? Had he had an argument with Kyle?

Then he announced to the reading group, "Kyle says he is coming to my house tomorrow to play Xbox, but I won't be home.  I am staying at grandma's tomorrow." 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Fever

I have a bad case of spring fever.  It is sunny and almost 70 outside my window.  The weather forecaster said we might break the record high for today.  I wore my sandals to school.  My mind keeps wandering to spring and sunshine and flowers today.

Another contributor to my spring fever is this whole spring forward daylight savings time situation. Honestly, it was sunny and bright for the longest time last evening. We forgot to have dinner until after 7:00.  We were so busy enjoying the warmer weather as we worked around the yard.

But I think the biggest cause of my spring fever is this Friday.  Friday was designated as a snow make-up day on our school calendar.  BUT we have had very little snow and no snow days.  The idea of a warm day off is just tantalizing. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Birthdays are...
Celebrations, balloons, and cards
Cake and ice cream, dinners out
Good wishes from friends
Phone calls from family.

Birthdays are...
Time to reflect
Full of memories and
Anticipation of the year ahead
While remembering the year just past.

Birthdays are...
Milestones, mile markers,
Measures of life.
Times to be thankful
For the life God has given.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Raising 4H pigs

I grew up in rural Indiana.  4H was a big part of my life.  I did the "normal" girl projects such as sewing and cooking, but one year I also raised pigs.  My step-father was an old farm boy and he encouraged us to raise 4H animals.  The cows were a bit big and overwhelming for me so he talked me into raising hogs.

He got me three cute little pigs from somewhere and brought them home.  We made them a bed of straw and fenced off an area in the barnyard for them to play in.   They were fun to feed and brush.  They were Chester Whites and I worked to keep them white.  Ah...those were the days...the warm smell of sunshine in the barnyard, the piercing squeal of the pigs as they played, the mud squishing through my toes,and  the rough, coarse feel of the pig's skin under my brush.  I had an enjoyable summer lazing through the days watching my pigs, feeding my pigs, brushing my pigs, and listening to their sharp squeals as they played.  They stepped on my feet time and time again, but I didn't care.  It was a warm, wonderful summer.

In August we went to the 4H fair.  My sister had Herefords to show.  I had two of my pigs.  After showing and placing third place with my pigs, it was time for the AUCTION!  Why had no one told me that I would be expected to sell my darling pigs?  The noise of the huge crowd hurt my ears.  As tears fell, I sold my pigs to the highest bidder. 

"I'm never raising pigs again, " I shouted at my step-dad.  And I didn't.  Not until the next year when he once again brought home three cute little pigs.

(For those who might be curious:  The thrid pig was a spare.  the two who behaved best went to teh fair with me.  The third one went right to the butcher and appeared in our freezer that fall.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

springing forward

Today is the day we spring forward in observance of daylight savings time.  I read that tomorrow will have more than the normal share of  heart attacks.  That the stress of adjusting our schedules an hour forward and losing that hour of sleep will be too much for some.  Some years my husband and I help ourselves adjust by going to bed a bit earlier on Saturday night.  Last night we had a group of good friends over and stayed up a bit late.  So we practiced a common Sunday tradition--the afternoon nap--what a pleasure!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Choosing a book

In two weeks I will be the "guest" reader for our grade 2 & 3 family reading night.  Our assistant principal will take the parents to another room for half an hour and give them reading tips while I read to the kids.  Then we will all get back together and the families will have the chance to enjoy reading together over milk and cookies provided by the PTO.  Pretty simple, huh?

My job today was to go to the library and pick out a couple of picture books to read to the kids.  I have decided that there are too many choices!  I asked the children's librarian to recommend a few new picture books for me to choose from.  I think she thought I was nuts.  I just could not choose 2 or 3.   I have 13 on my stack next to my couch.  I probably would have had a few more, but 13 was hard enough to carry.

Did you know that Maurice Sendak has a new book out?  And Eric Litwin has a new Pete the Cat book?  Olivia's Birds  has a great message. And so does Extra Yarn.  And the list could go on until I have all 13.  How will I ever choose?

Friday, March 9, 2012


My husband and I spent a recent evening in my dad's barn trying to assist a young neighbor as he worked to start an old Case tractor that he had purchased from my dad. As I stood there childhood memories filtted through my mind.

  • riding in the gravity wagon with my siblings
  • hiding in the corn field
  • find baby mice and keeping them as "pets" in a jar under my bed
  • feeding the chickens
  • watching Dad compete in tractor pulls
  • canning tomatoes
  • raising pigs for 4H
  • falling off our pony
  • walking down the long lane to and from the school bus
  • chasing lightning bugs
  • hiking in the woods
  • reading under the shade tree
  • Laddie our dog
What a great way to spend an evening! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seven Defining Events

One of my colleagues recently said she had watched a Dr. Phil episode where someone talked about each person having seven defining moments that chnaged the course of their life.  She rhetorically asked, "Can you come up with seven events?"  I have been thinking.

Some events came quickly to my mind...

My parents divorce when I was 13
The college choice I made (I turned down a full ride scholarship to go somewhere else.)
Marrying my wonderful husband of nearly 35 years
Moving back to my hometown

Other are harder to choose.  Just seven.  Hmm...

What events stand out as life changing choices?

The birth of each of our boys? 
The birth of each of my two living grandchildren?
The choice not to get an administrative degree?
The slow death of my mother  due to cancer?
The recent stillbirth of my second granddaughter followed three weeks later by the passing of my father? 

Are there other events, other choices which will reveal themselves as more significant as the years go by?

Seven defining events.  What stands out in your life? Soemthing significant enough to change the course of your life?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


In early August of 2009, I came home after a long day of working in my classroom getting ready for the start of school.  As I went out into the garden I heard a sharp "meow, meow" and discovered a teeny, tiny black cat with white paws near my zucchini plants.  She was skin and bones and her eyes were matted shut.  As I picked her up she purred and trustingly put her face in the crook of my elbow.  I carefully placed her on the back patio and went inside to find her some milk.  When I return she was squeaking a pathetic "meow, meow."

Soon my husband was home and I asked, "Did you notice the little cat on the patio?"

"I was hoping it had run off without you seeing it,"  he sighed.

The next day I called our vet to find out how much it would cost to bring in the cat and have it checked over.  Hearing the price, my husband grudgingly agreed that I could take it in so that we could be sure not to pass anything on to Chester, our housecat.  While at the vet, Socks received a clean bill of health, medicine for her eyes, and was weighed.  "Just one pound!" was the vet's verdict.  When I reported back to my husband, he agreed we could keep her OUTSIDE.

Each day when I arrived home from school I checked on Socks.  She eagerly came to be petted.  Her eyes cleared up and she won her way into my heart.  My husband continued to remind me that she was our "outside" cat.

My family came over  for a cookout on a very hot Labor Day weekend.  My sister quickly fell in love with Socks.  Ignoring my husband's muttering she bought Socks inside.  Socks spent the afternoon on one lap or another and became an inside cat.

Today Socks is my housecat.  She is one of the many joys of my life.  She wakes me up each day, nudging my face and wanting to be fed.  She sits in my lap in the evenings as I read or watch TV.  She shows up at my elbow, butting her head against my arm, anytime I am sitting down.  She is the purr-fect pet for me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


When I was gorwing up I had a series of cats named Kitty Comet.  I no longer remember when or where I came up with the names, but for years I had a gray and whilte striped female cat named Kitty Comet on after another.

Once I was married we had dogs.  As the mother of two boys I agreed that we needed a dog.  Fluffy, Snickers, Sable and their like have been faithful companions at one time or another for my husband and sons.  But I longed for a cat.  A housecat.

Finally for Mother's Day eight years ago my younger son took me to a friend's house to pick out a kitten.  My older son had married that Spring and my younger son was soon to join the military.  My husband and I would become empty nesters.  I thought a cat would be company for me in the evening while my husband worked. I had visions of a lap cat.  Purring as I read books or watched TV. My husband had put one condition on the acquisition of a house cat:  it could not be named Kitty Comet.

When we arrived to find a box full of kittens I discovered that none of the kittens were gray and white. (So much for my dream of another Comet type cat.)  The mama cat had eight babies.  Seven females and one male.  We picked up the male kitten who was quite active and playful.  My son just knew that he was the cat for me!  He was brown, tan, and black striped.  We named him Chester on the ride home.

Chester grew into a large cat generally 15-18 pounds at each vet visit.  He had to be kept on a "kitty diet" to keep his weight healthy.  Chester loved to lay on the beds, the couch or anyplace in the sun..  He napped.  He was not a lap cat, but a very independent sort.  He allowed me to pet him, but his favorite person was my younger son.  Each time my boy came home on leave Chester was happier and friskier than usual.  Chester would jump in his lap anytime it was empty. We all believed that Chester longed to leave with my son as he seemed to mope around for a few days after each visit.  When Chester died the hardest person to call was my military son.  They truly had a special bond.

And what happened to me, the lover of cats?  Well that's a story for another day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mudpie memories

Do you remember making mudpies as a child?  My sister and I loved to "cook" just like our mom.  We spent numerous warm summer days making mudpies and cupcakes and cookies and all sorts of yummy deserts.  Just like Mom. 

One fine day the road workers patched our road with new tar.  Lisa and I had so much fun playing in the muddy road making our pies and other treats.  But when we went in for supper the "mud" would not wash off.  I don't know who cried more as we took a bath and worked to scrub the tar off of us.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

finding treasure

My husband and I spent the afternoon cleaning out the attached. garage.  We have a contractor coming in later this week to mud, tape, and paint the interior of the garage.  Over the years the drywalled interior has held up pretty well, but moisture over time in the unheated garage has caused the old tape to come off the ceiling and the garage to need a good sprucing up.

We found a lot of "treasures"  in the garage.  We have quite a bit of shelving to hold the totes full of books from a grade level I no longer teach, but can't bear to part with yet as well as coolers, Christmas decorations, and canning jars.  We found a mouse nest, but fortunately no mice.  A mateless tennis shoe, a glass globe that neither of us could remember putting out in the garage or where it might fit, and a bunch of empty boxes--who put them on the shelves?  why would we keep them?  Oh, and did I mention 5 pairs of worn cowboy boots?  It seems my husband thought we might have a cowboy theme party at some point.  Yee-ha!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Beginning

I know that New Year's is generally the time for a resolutions, but is there anything wrong with March 3 being the time for a new beginning?  I decided that I have had enough!  Today is the day.  Now is the time. I restarted my diet, my effort for a healthier lifestyle, eating better, exercising more, making better choices--just whatever you want to call it. 

I am tired.  I am tired of gaining weight and aching knees.  I am tired of tight clothes and feeling rotten.  So today is the day.  Wish me luck!

Friday, March 2, 2012

A good bargain

I love a good bargain.  This afternoon I had the pleasure of catching some 85% off end of season sales at Carson's.  I spent less than $20 on two tops there.  Then I went to Kohl's and spent $6.42 on a pair of new slippers (somewhere in my house is a black slipper to match the one in my closet, but I have looked and looked and can't find it.)  The new slippers even match my bathrobe.  Yes!!

 Now if I could only find a good bargain on some gas for my truck.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

As the deer...

Today as my husband arrived home, he called out," Honey. hurry to the bedroom and look out the window."  We watched a herd of deer run across our yard, through the field, and into the woods down the road.  Our dog, Sable, barked wildly as they passed by.  The joys of country living!  Most days it really is a joy to live out in the country in my rural Indiana county.  It is not unusual to watch the deer go by, although a group of fourteen is a bit larger than normal.  We often see wild turkeys too.  As the deer ran by I was reminded of the joys of country living.