Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just something extra.
I found a picture of my horse.  I had hoped to post it with my slice about my saddle, but couldn't find it.  Well, here's the picture of my best friend for 11 years.  We lost her at the age of 21.
31 out of 31 (I missed two so it should be 29 out of 31) SOL

We have come to the end.  I've been pondering this last SOL all day, thinking to myself; you've got to come up with something really cool for today's last Slice of Life.  Well, that didn't happen, but I did spend some time thinking about the journey.  Here's a rambling list of my rambling thoughts:

  • It's not easy to write EVERYDAY.  This makes me think; how do my students feel?
  • I have no idea when to use a colon or semi-colon.  This made me realize colons and semi-colons while I was reading.  Reading improves writing.  Now I'm on the hunt for those pesky punctuation marks.
  • Writing involves taking a risk.  This is important because life is about taking risks and one does not grow as a person unless they take risks.  
  • I revise immediately, almost sentence-by-sentence.  Might the reason for this be that it's difficult for me to express myself in writing.  (I just changed that sentence.)  I'd rather talk any day.
  • I'm a copy cat.  I see a style or an approach to a writing task and I mimic that example.  I need somewhere to start.  
  • My poor spelling abilities prevent me from writing more.  It's a HUGE frustration to have a thought and not be able to put it down on paper because I cannot spell a word I wanted to use.  This makes me think; if it's hard for me than how do my students feel?
  • I can't write on the fly.  It takes me several attempts before I feel ready to put my writing out there.  Writing is a painstakingly, time consuming task for me.
  • Writing is HARD and the teaching of writing is even HARDER.  
We've come to the end of our time together (so to speak).  It has been an incredible month. Thanks to everyone who commented on my slices and especially the encouragement about my parents' divorce.  You are all an amazing group and a true inspiration.  Thanks for taking this walk with me.  See ya on Tuesdays.  

Monday, March 30, 2009

30 out of 31 SOL

Again, I was inspired by Ruth and her inspiration from Rebecca Cooper. 

Remember Kelly-
  • You live life full throttle; it's part of who you are.
  • Life is about possibilities.
  • You define who you are; not society.
  • It's okay to let go.
  • You can make a difference.
  • You don't have to be anybody, but yourself.
  • Life is not about being perfect.
  • You're loved by many.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

29 out of 31 SOL

I hit the doorbell button and pulled open the back room door at the same time, hoping to avoid the plops of rain dropping from the sky.  Wiping my feet I knocked on the door, "Hey, it's just me," I said as my dad rounded the corner into the back room.

"Come in, come in... you don't need to knock," answered my dad with a shake of his head.
"Well, I wanted to make sure you weren't sleeping or something," offering some kind of excuse because I'm still adjusting to my dad living in our rental house.    
"No, I wasn't sleeping, just watching the game," explained my dad.  "What are you doing out-and-about in this awful weather?" he asked.
Kicking off my boots, "I needed a break from reading student papers, so I drove over to see Jeff.  Do you have any pretzels or chips; something Jeff could eat as a snack?"
Jumping on my request, Dad yanked open the cupboard, "I've got cookies, chips and M&Ms," listed dad as he touched each item in the cupboard.  Not surprised that dad's cupboard was full of several junk food options.
"Oh, he's not fussy.  Here, let's put some cookies and M&Ms in a container," I said while digging around for a lid.  "Whoa, that's plenty," I continued as I noticed Dad adding more cookies to the container.

Good comes from life's challenges.  Have I come to terms with my parent's divorce?  No, and honestly I'm not sure I ever will.  Instead I've chosen to focus on the silver lining; getting to know my dad differently.  I'm building a relationship, on a different level, with my dad who worked two jobs, at times, to provide for his family, who I took for granted as a teenager and young adult and who seems to be adjusting to his new surroundings.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

28 out of 31 SOL
I love to shop!  Okay, I said it, plain and simple, I really love to shop.  To explain why might take too much time and I'm not sure I'm ready to get to the root of that problem.  Well, I don't see it as a problem, but that whole topic is a different conversation.

Anyways, I have a few things that I seem to buy often.  Yes, the obvious shoes (five new pairs in NYC alone, don't roll your eyes, they're New York City shoes) and clothes, but two other items seem to linger at the top of the list: books and pens.

Books for the obvious reason; I'm a reader, writer (kind of) and an elementary teacher.  But why pens?  I'm using the word pens here very loosely.  The category includes: ballpoint, gel, markers, highlighters, really any kind of writing instrument.  

Today I had to return a few items I'd purchased at the office supply store and walked out with over $14.oo worth of new writing instruments.  I justified part of the purchase because it was a two-for-the-price-of-one pack and the pack was on clearance.  What a deal!  

I convinced myself that I needed new pens because I'm acting as a copy editor for one of the sixth grade teachers, so I felt if I had new pens to use this weekend when I was editing it would make the job more enjoyable.  I compare it to ironing; if you have a new iron to use or a new can of finishing spray it makes the task more enjoyable.  It's all about self-gratification, is it not?  

Did I really need new pens? Of course not, but like I said it's all about making life's tasks enjoyable.  So, today I proudly admit I have a problem; I buy way to many pens.  Pens are a writer's media, right?  

Friday, March 27, 2009

27 out of 31  SOL

I scanned the waiting area of gate 9 hoping to find a seat that was close to the gate.  I spotted a vacant seat at the end of the row; perfect.  With a stride of certainty I made my way to the selected seat.  While I was settling in I noticed a young, pretty female in the seat next to me.  I noticed she seemed to me watching me; a quick glance, a slight turn of position in her seat.   I opened my newspaper and buried my eyes in the paper.

She closed her laptop and turned to me.  "I'm going to leave my stuff here while I use the restroom.  Is that okay?"  she asked.

My eyes darted left and right to verify she was asking me.  "Sure," I mumbled with a shrug.  She stood, dropped her laptop on the seat and headed off down the concourse.  

Now let's get serious, I'm all for making conversation, but the Federal Aviation Rules are very clear about leaving bags unattended.  I've never thought that meant you just ask a stranger to watch your belongings.  Why did she just leave her computer and carry-on with a complete stranger?  It wasn't like we'd spent 15 -20 minutes visiting, getting to know each other.  We'd never shared a spoken word until her request.

I tried to go back to reading my paper, but the situation just wasn't settling.  I studied the laptop and my mind began to wander.  Am I reading more into this?  The minutes ticked by.  I made another attempt to read my paper.  The urge to turn and look down the concourse pulled at me.  Was she coming back?  How long as she been gone?  Should I tell someone that she has simply walked away from her belongs?

Okay, you're over reacting and talking to yourself.  I returned to my newspaper, irritated because I rarely get to sit and enjoy the paper, and now I'm freaking out in my head and can't focus on the paper.  Where is she?  My heart began to race.  Deep breath and relax.  Repeat.  Minutes continued to tick by.  Inconspicuously I slid 15 degrees to the right, hoping to look behind me to see if she was coming back.  No luck.  

Sitting up straighter I began to search for someone to tell.  I noticed several airport personnel in the area.  Which one should I tell?  Should I report this unusual behavior?  Stop, I shouted at myself, you are way over reacting!  Anxiousness was clouding my judgement.  Just as I was finding the nerve to report her strange behavior, she returned.  Exhale!  Whew, off the hook!  

I returned to the paper.  

"I'm going to go get a hotdog.  Would you like something to drink?" she asked while digging her wallet out of the front of her carry on bag.  

With a wave of the hand and a quick, almost unnoticeable shake of my head I signaled no thanks.  No words left my lips.  Shocked and stunned, not so much by the fact that she offered to buy me a drink, but that she'd left her wallet in the front of her carry on with a complete stranger.  

Weird.  Very weird.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

25 out of 31 SOL

Why is traveling so exhausting?  All I did today was sit in a shuttle van, sit at the airport, sit on the plane, and sit in the car on the way home.  I'm glad to be back in the comforts of home. Although I absolutely love New York City I'm a country girl.  

What a mind-bending, physically taxing six days.  Due to exhaustion and the fact that I have to function at work tomorrow I'm cutting it very short on my slice for today.  I'm pledging to get refocused for the remainder of the month.

Here are the words that have not left me since Saturday.

"We write by the light of the books we have read."  Richard Peck

Good-Night, Sweet Dreams

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

24 out of 31 SOL

Inspired my Ruth


Today I awoke refreshed after a much needed long night of rest.

Today I helped a friend in need.

Today I commuted during rush hour in NYC.

Today I worked with an amazing group of professionals.

Today I people watched.

Today I engaged in meaningful conservation with new friends.

Today I missed my husband.

Today I strolled the streets of the Upper West Side.

Today I bought an outrageously experience pair of shoes.

Today I  also bought outrageously experience cupcakes.

Today I became part of a network of literacy coaches.

Today I packed on my bags.

Today I said good-bye to the city that never sleeps.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

22 out of 31 SOL



Wishes to be more like Christ.
Dreams of growing beautiful flowers.
Wants to be a better wife.
Who wonders why horrible things happen in the world.
Who fears failures.
Who is afraid of new experiences.
Who likes praise and worship music.
Who believes hard work pays off.
Who loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Who loves dogs.
Who loves to read.
Who plans to write a book.
Who plans to live life to the fullest.
Who plans to travel the world.
Who plans to be a library when she retires.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

21 out of 31 SOL 

"Next please," asked the sales clerk as he made eye contact and offered a pleasant smile.

I stepped up to the corner and handed him my stack of books.  Beep, Beep, Beep Beep, Beep the scanner sounded as he rang up my stack of books.  "That will be $76.58, please."  I quickly handed him my credit card.  

"I'm sorry we don't take Discover Card."

"Oh, I'm sorry,"  as I franticly began looking for another credit card.  A warmth filled my checks as I realized I didn't have a different credit card with me, I'd left them back at the hotel room.

"Sorry, but I don't have another card.  I only brought one along with me today," I babbled.  "Could you please hold them for me until tomorrow?  I'll stop back tomorrow after I finish at the university."

"That's no problem, step over to the other counter and I'll get your name."

I gathered my other belongings and followed the helpful clerk to the other side of the counter.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

20 out of 31 SOL 

As we stood outside the classroom door my heart was racing and my hands grew clammy.  You can do this. You can do this.  I told myself.  The group walked in the room and circled around the back.  Cory dashed about, moving several chairs to the rug area.

"Triad members from group one and two that will be teaching please take a seat in one of the four chairs," Cory instructed.  

I sat down quickly hoping to stop the shaking in my knees.  You can do this.  Breath, it's only the one minute link at the end of the lesson.  You'll do just fine.

"I think we need to sit in order," suggested Joann.

We all played a quick game of musical chairs as we rearranged ourselves into the correct order.  I took my place at the end of the line.  Again, I tried to calm my nerves.  Breath.  I slowly filled my lungs and counted to ten.  It came over me gently; a soothing feeling of reassurance.  As the minutes pasted and my turn approached I mentally rehearsed my words.  

Ann and I made eye contact; my signal to begin.  Licking my lips, I parted them and the words flowed out smoothly and in less than sixty seconds I was finished.  You did it!  Yes, I did.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

19 out of 31 SOL

Here is a very rough draft of a quick write with my group leader Cory Gillette at the coaching institute at Columbia.  

I sat waiting while Kathy filled her van.  Bored of watching the traffic and people, I started snooping  around Kathy's van.  I quickly realized that Kathy's van was a disaster.  Wow, three young kids are tough on a vehicle.  It caught my eye.  A thick book was wedged down between the console and the seat.  What in the world I thought?  Leaning over I tugged at the corner of the book.  

At the same time Kathy pulled open the driver's door, "Hey, where did you find that book?  I've been looking for that book," Kathy quickly stated as she climbed into van.  

"It was wedge down in the seat.  Is it a good book?"  I asked.

"It is one of my favorites, The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins."

And that it is when it began.  My journey of becoming a workshop teacher.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

18 out of 31 SOL

This post is in honor of my husband and the hard work his does.

strong, tough
planting, drilling, harvesting
holding Mother Nature's hand
struggling, striving, surviving
proud, determined

Off to pack for my trip to NYC and the coaching institute.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

17 out of 31  SOL

My Rant 
This is a simple slice.  I've been beat up today by the constant pressure to convince teachers, principals, and whoever else might be listening that WRITING is a subject and deserves to be TAUGHT EVERYDAY just like every other subject.  

I have heard every reason why the Units of Study won't work.  They don't have enough time.   They don't have the mentor text.  They don't have chart paper.   They don't, they don't, they don't.

Am I the only one who believes writing should be taught?  I feel like every time I attempt to meet their needs or explain the importance of writing instruction they just come back with another reason.  Why does life have to be so hard?  I'm burned out.  

I feel like one against a thousand and that I'm spinning my wheels.  ARRGH!!  Today was a pull your hair out kind of day and I am so thankful that I leave for NYC on Thursday.  I get to spend the next six days with other teachers who share my passion.  I'm looking forward to having my tank refilled.  

My slice today represents the frustration that seems to be taking over my mind, vision and passion.  Thanks for listening, I'm done now.  Off I go to pack for NYC and the coaching institute. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

16 out of 31 SOL

Part II 

My Most Valued Possession 

"Oh no," my mom said, "it's just that this saddle is out of our price range."  Turning her attention back to me, mom continued, "you had better get down off of there hon and put it back where you found it."

"Wait, let me take a look at the tag on that saddle," said the salesman.  He paused a moment, thinking deeply.  "I'm going to go double check the price of this saddle in the backroom.  Hold on just a minute.  I'll be right back."

Mom and I looked at each other with inquisitive faces and shrugged out shoulders.  Neither of us had any ideas what the salesman was up to.  I remember thinking, why does he need to check to price?  It's written right on the tag.

With a quivering chin I climbed down off the make-believe horse and returned the saddle to its place on the wall.  My mom put her arm around my shoulder as we started to walk to the door.

"We'll find one somewhere, sis, it just might have to be slightly used," consoled my mom. All I could do was nod my head in agreement.

Just as we were about to reach the front of the store the salesman came out of the backroom.  "Excuse me, but I looked this item number up in our records and this saddle was incorrectly priced.  It should have been marked $200 dollars, not $375."

My mom and I both looked at each other completely stunned.  I could not believe what had just happened.  It felt like a miracle, how could the price of a saddle just change?  What unbelievable good luck.

"Mom does this mean I can get the saddle?" 

"Well, sis, it does put it into the top of our price range, although it's still a lot of money."

"Please I begged.  I'll take good care of it," I pleaded.

"Well, it is why we came here."

A huge smile covered my face as I threw my arms around my mom and gave her a huge hug.  "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

"You're welcome sis."

Meanwhile over my shoulder my mom quietly mouthed the words thank you to the salesman.

I'll never forget that day.  One of my all time biggest dreams came true.  I owned my very own saddle.  I walked out of that store on cloud nine, grinning from ear-to-ear.  I was one proud, happy equestrian.

I still own that saddle and always will.  And, yes, I did take very good care of it.  Looking back I now know what a huge amount of money that was for my parents.  Life is full of sacrifices and my mom gave up something she wanted so my dreams could come true.  

Sunday, March 15, 2009

15 of 31 SOL

Part I 
My Most Valued Possession 

"I'm sorry sis; I just can not afford it.  It's too much money."

"It's okay mom.  I understand.  We'll find one, somewhere, that we can afford."

I had been riding my horse Charmaine for about five years.  I belonged to the Rock'n Riders 4-H Horse Club and I showed Charmaine at the Ionia Free Fair every summer.

I started taking riding lessons the summer I was 12.  My trainer encouraged me to ride English.  I borrowed an English saddle from my instructor and began practicing.  I loved it! Riding English was so much better than Western.  I started to develop the skills needed for riding English.  My trainer suggested that I ride in the English Equ and English Pleasure classes at the fair.  Well, to do that I needed my own English saddle.

So one early summer day my mom suggested we go to Tom's Western World in Ovid to look at saddles. I was thrilled!  I could hardly stand the anticipation of maybe owning my very own English saddle. I'd never had a "brand new" saddle English or Western.  Owning your own saddle to a horse back rider is like owning your own car at sixteen.  It seemed like it took hours to travel the 30 miles to Tom's.

When we got to Tom's mom and I started right for the saddle section.  I knew where to find them because I had drooled over them many times on previous visits.  I always dreamed about what it would be like to have my very own saddle and now today my dream could come true.

To saddle shop you must try them on by sitting on a make believe plastic horse.  I found an all-purpose English saddle and placed it on the plastic horse.

"This one is perfect Mom," I said grinning from ear-to-ear.  "It's a perfect fit!"

"I think you might be right sis," agreed my mom.  "How much is it?"

My mom came over and flipped over the tag.  Her eyes widened and a look of disappointment covered her face.  "I had no idea that a new saddle would cost this much."  Mom showed me the tag.  It read $375.00 .  I was shocked too!

"I'm sorry sis; I just can not afford it.  It's too much money."

Tears filled my eyes, "It's okay mom.  I understand.  We'll find one somewhere that we can afford."  As hard as I tried I was unable to hold back the tears.  They began to spill over and run down my checks at about that time the salesman walked up to ask if he could help us.

"Is there a problem here?  Is something wrong?"  Concern filled his voice.

To Be Continued


Saturday, March 14, 2009

14 out of 31 SOL

"Let's try the new taco place," I said to Jeff as we pulled into town.

"That's a good idea.  I forgot they had opened up," answered Jeff.  He navigated his truck into the parking space outside the restaurant.  

We walked into the new taco joint.  "They have done a nice job decorating this place," I commented.  Jeff agreed.  We stood quietly reading over the menu display by the counter.  The four tables were full of patrons.  That's a good sign.  

"What are you going to have?"  asked Jeff.

"I think I'm going for the lite chicken burrito."

"I'm going to have the wet burrito."  stated Jeff.  We stepped  up to the counter to place our order.  

"Is this for here or to go?"

"We hope for here," I told her as I glanced around wondering if any of the other parties were about to finish.  

Next I heard Jeff, "Hello, Dale."  With a kind smile and a nod of the head Dale said hello.

I placed our order.  "Just have a seat and we'll bring it out to you." said the waitress.


When I turned from the counter I saw that Dale and Jeff were engaged in a conversation.  Jeff was holding a small, glass bottle, so to speak.  It wasn't any bigger than my little finger.  I didn't think to much about it because Dale  is a neighbor and owns farmland, so I guessed they were discussing a soil sample or insect.  I was wrong.

As I step over to join the conversation Jeff handed me the little bottle.  I hesitated slightly.  I'm not much into studying soil samples or insects for that matter.  

"Look what Dale has," said Jeff. 

I carefully took the little bottle.

"That's gold.  The prospectors gave Dale some of the first gold they found in his gravel yard."

I was captivated.  "Turn it on its side and spread out the dirt and you'll be able to see the gold better," commented Dale.  His face was covered in pride.

"This came for your place?" I asked.

"Yep, they also found rubies, two small diamonds and amethyst," Dale added.  "The prospectors work must days."

We continued with some additional small talk, while waiting for our food.  Dale's pride just shone from his face.  We said good-bye.

Because I'm not sure of all the farmers in the area I asked Jeff where Dale lived. 

"Kel, his place is on the way to mom's.  It's where the gravel for our driveway came from, right off of Keefer Hwy."

"You mean to tell me the gravel in my driveway came from a gravel yard where they're prospecting for gold?" 

Jeff's simple answer, "Yep."

Just then the waitress brought our dinner and we began to enjoy the food from our new taco joint in town.   As we ate I thought to myself, maybe I need to start prospecting for gold right in my own driveway!

Friday, March 13, 2009

13 of 31 SOL

Today's SOL:  Lingering with a book

I checked the time several times as I drove the last couple of miles to the parking ramp.  Was today's start time 8 or 8:30?  I mentally beat myself up for not checking my registration papers.

I parked, quickly walked through the ramp and crossed the street to enter the DeVos Place Conference Center.  I scanned the many signs in the main lobby for direction.  I noticed a cluster of people and took a chance.  While waiting in line I dug through my bag hoping to locate my conference pre-registration.  Found it!  Today's start time 8:30.  I wasn't late.  I hate being late.

I progressed through the line, received my name badge and found a seat in the main ballroom for the opening keynote speaker, Laure Robb.  After introductory remarks Laura began her keynote.

"Gone are the times of just spending time in the library."  Laura continued, " we no longer take the time to browse or savor a book.  Browsing through a library should be like savoring a good glass of wine."

Her remark has stayed with me all day.  Isn't that the truth?  For me I rush my students down to the library for our 30 minutes of alloted time and rush them through selecting a book, being sure it matches his/her ZPD.

What do I like the most about bookstores and libraries?  I like the time I spend browsing. Those times are like good wine.  You linger.  You savor.  You reflect about the contrasting flavors.  You study the pictures, charts, and captions.  You read sections of the text  You linger.




Thursday, March 12, 2009

12 out 31 SOL

13 Hours Exactly Today 7:23 am pull out of the garage, 8:23 pm pull into the garage.

7:23 depart home 25 minute drive to school

7:45 arrive at school

7:50 check email and voice mail

8:00 office mate arrives (haven't seen her in several days lots to discuss)

8:45 ICT meeting group activity 

9:00 conservation with first grade teacher about comprehension

9:20 continue conservation with office mate while trying to complete a task or two

9:30 discuss the list of suggestions on how to spend our district's stimulus monies

9:40 work on math vocabulary riddle for division (I'm the remnant.  What number am I?)

10:00 freak because I haven't prepared materials for lesson at 11:00

10:01 begin to prepare materials

10:30 depart for the school to teach demo lesson

10:40 arrive at school 

10:45 talk with school principal about book fair

11:00 fourth grade essay writers; building a cohesive draft  

11:50 discussion with colleague and friend

12:00 buy a fast food lunch 

12:10 arrive back at office 

12:11 eat lunch; pick up conversation with office mate 

12:20 share idea list with Title I director

1:00 delivery; more mentor texts for K-2 teachers

1:01 open and sort books to complete orders 

1:40 desk time: email, search book leveling

2:00 time with fourth grade teacher conversation about assessment for learning division unit

3:00 pack up materials for PLC tonight

3:10 depart for PLC

3:10 drive for 50 minutes

4:00 arrive at PLC

4:10 Dinner

4:30 class begins 

7:30 departing words with facilitator  

8:23 pull into the garage

9:00 hit the couch for some mind-turned-off time

10:00 bedtime; early morning headed off to the MRA (Michigan Reading Association)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For several reasons today's post is about my maternal grandma.  One of the main reasons is that life changes as you age, gracefully, of course.  

I grew up on a 200 acre farm where my mom was raised along with her two older sisters.  My mom was born in the room we called the TV room.  It was grandma and grandpa's bedroom at the time.  The farm has been owned by a member of my mother's family for over 120 years.  

Life changes with time and it appears quite likely that my mom and her sisters will be selling the farm in the near future (3 to 5 years).  Today would have also been my maternal grandfather's 100th birthday (March 11th, 1909).

Loosely related is the fact the my parents divorce was final yesterday, 43 years!  So, life as you know it doesn't stay the same.  

Because I so dearly loved my grandma and I miss her everyday, here's is a piece of her wisdom   I shared at her funeral.

Grandma always carried a silver dollar in her wallet.  It was from the year she graduated high school.  I remember her dumping her change out on the counter at the grocery store and the silver dollar rolling across the counter.  Many times the sales clerk would pick it up and admire it.  Sometimes she would let me carry it as we walked back to the car.  Poor grandma, I must have asked her a thousand questions about it as we walked across the parking lot.

The best that I can remember is that I was home from college one weekend and was visiting with her.  She lived right next to the farm house in a mobile home.  I must have been complaining  about life in general including being broke.  It's important to know that complaining was generally not accepted in Grandma's world.  So if you started she'd casually change the subject, but on this day she let me go on.

When I finished grandma went on to say that when she meant grandpa he carried a silver dollar in his wallet for good luck and so he was never broke.  Grandma said that she could remember times when he had to use the silver dollar to buy gas, always telling the clerk he'd be back the next day for it.  So, when they married grandma thought that she should carry a silver dollar too.

Next, grandma grew quiet.  She laid her bent, crooked finger on her chin.  She would do that when she was thinking.  After several minutes, grandma told me that she put Russell's silver dollar in his lapel pocket when she saw him at the funeral home.  She felt it was important that he have is good luck charm.  And just that quick grandma's expression changed and she sent me after her safety deposit box.  

That day grandma gave me a silver dollar for good luck and to be sure that I was never broke again.  

After we lost her the first thing I needed to do was find her silver dollar.  I went immediately to her wallet and dumped out the change.  There it was . . . her good luck charm.   During my final moments with her I placed her silver dollar in her hands.  Forever and always we will never be broke.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10 out of 31 SOL

A song adaptation of It's Raining On Prom Night
Grease Soundtrack  (Cindy Bullens)

It's Raining on Conference Night 

I was deprived of a veteran teacher's dream 
By the cruel force of nature from the blue
Instead of a night full of parent-teacher meetings
All I got was a soaking wet classroom carpet

It's raining on conference night, my hair is a mess
It's running all over my Herringbone suit
It's wilting the stack of assessment forms
And mascara flows right down my nose, because of the storm

I don't even have my diet Coke, oh gee
It fell down a sewer with my teacher's ID

Yes, it's raining on conference night, oh my Mitch (principal's name)
what can I do?  I miss my parents so

It's raining rain from the skies
And it's raining real tears from my eyes, over them (parents)
Oh dear God, make them feel the same way I do right now
Make them come out on this rainy night - oh what can I do 

It's raining rain from the skies,
it's raining tears from my eyes over them
Raining, ooh tears from my eyes over them 
Raining, ooh raining on conference night 
Ooh raining, ooh tears from my eyes over them 
Ooh raining, ooh raining on conference night...

Monday, March 9, 2009

9 out of 31

When I walked into my office today there was a brown box sitting on my desk.  What a way to start the week?  Who doesn't love deliveries?  Upon closer examination I saw that it was from Amazon.  Even better.  I just recently ordered over 200 mentor texts for our K-2 teachers.  

I moved the box aside and got on with settling in for the day.  A few hours later, I noticed the box again.  Oh, I need to open that box.  I rummaged around in my desk drawer for the box cutter.  Just as I opened the lap and removed the packaging materials Katie walked in.

"Hey, what did you get? she asked peering into the box.

"Mentor text books for the lower elementary teachers."  I stepped back to my desk to return the box cutter to its rightful home.  I thought to myself, maybe next time it won't be so hard to locate if I put it back where it belongs.

"These are some great books," shared Katie as she flipped through the stack.

"There are some real classics in there, along with some I've never seen.  I need to find the individual order slips, so I can start sorting them."  

Both Katie and I stood there silent for a moment each holding one of the new books.  I love the aura of new books: the unbroken spine, the shiny, sleek cover and the smell of paper and ink.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Slice of Life 8 of 31
My first thought today when I entered the church parking lot was; wow, there's still a lot of cars in the lot.  Just a bit frustrated, I circled around to find a spot while belittling myself about being put out that the church parking was full.  It's a good thing the lot is full not an inconvenience.  I quickly blame the dreary, miserable weather for my impatience.

As I walked into the lobby I found myself struggling to find a way through.  Why are all these people still milling around?  All I knew was that I needed to get through to the sanctuary for praise team rehearsal.  As I made my way I sensed an out-of-ordinary buzz.  What were they all talking about?  

"Is it new?"

"Did the church buy it?"

"Do we have enough money to buy something of that stature?"

What in the world were they talking about?  I was just here on Wednesday evening and I didn't notice anything new, albeit we are in the middle of renovations, maybe they laid some new carpet or put in a new window.

As I walked into the narthex and made the turn into the sanctuary.  I saw it sitting center stage. A black, baby grand piano.  Several members were gather around it admiring its beauty.

It took my breath away.  There it stood next to the alter with the stained-glass window for a backdrop.  The colors from the window bounced and danced off its glass finish.  A lovely red and white floral arrangement accented the gentle curve of the piano.  A massive, yet elegant presence

The sound crew finished setting up the equipment and Sherry announced that it was time for sound check.  The group broke up and drifted away.  There she was, little Jena standing on her tip-toes peeking inside at the strings and hammers.   Her face was filled with complete fascination.  

We all took our places and Sherry began the first song.  Jena remained; transfixed by the movement of the felted hammers.  It was as if you could see the wheels of her mind processing, saying, 'how does that work?'

We finished our first song.  "Jena, what do you think of the piano?" asked Sherry the keyboardist. 

"Well, I'm not sure about how it works, but it matches my shoes."  Holding her dress out of the way and sticking out a foot so we would all be sure to see, Jena gracefully showed us her black, patent leather Mary Janes.  With a bright smile and a wink of an eye Jena skipped off.

The baby grand was upstaged by the wondrous mind of a six year old.  


Saturday, March 7, 2009

7 of 31 SOL

Bark.  Whine.  Bark.

I slowly begin to realize that Trace is sounding the alarm.  Why, oh why does he have to wake up everyday, even Saturdays, between 6:00 and 6:30 AM?  Maybe if I lay very still he'll go back to sleep.  At about the same time I feel my husband start to stir.  

"I'll go."
"No, I've got them," answered JB.  The bed rocked as he threw off the covers and rose to his feet.

The corners of my mouth curl upward.  Life is full of simple pleasures one of which is sleeping in on Saturdays.  As I snuggle back down into the blankets I begin to sense that something is not right.  With a mind half awake I try to make it focus.  What is it that's out of sync?  Think.  Focus hard.  I push my eyes shut even further.  I scrunch my brows together.  I hear JB letting the dogs out: the banging of their tails on the wall, the closing and opening of the garage door and the pop of the lazy boy chair.

What is it?  Listen.  Now I'm beginning to get mad because today is my day to enjoy sleeping in and I can't because something is out of sync.  Out of irritation I open my eyes.  There splattered across the window are raindrops; hundreds of raindrops.

What's up?  Beyond the raindrops are gray, dreary clouds.  Where did the signs of spring go?  Why? I cry out in my head.  Please come back soon I can't take it much longer.  

Let down by the lack of spring, I roll over, pull the covers up around my chin and out of protest stay in bed on this cold, wet winter day.  When will this winter end?

Friday, March 6, 2009

My first attempt at poetry.  My mood and behavior were directly impacted by the signs of spring, so my SOL is a collection of split seconds from today where I noticed spring

Spring through the Senses

to see 
the brown grass
a canvas for the green to come

to hear
the motion of the wind
a song for the soul 

to smell
the moist soil
a nest for the seed to grow

to feel 
the warm atmosphere
a tickle for the skin

Thursday, March 5, 2009

SOL 5 0f 31 

I felt it in the air today.  Spring!  I walked out of the conference center and felt it.  It was in the air.  The wind was blowing, rather briskly in fact, but it didn't send a chill down my spine.  It brushed gently against my cheek.  As I inhaled warm air filled my lungs and warmed my body from the inside out.  What a refreshing feeling after months of bone, chilling bitter cold.

I was renewed.  Instantly I had a spring in my step.  I just about skipped to my car.  My scarf and unbutton coat flapped in the breeze.  I loaded my materials into the car, took off my coat with a smile of satisfaction and settled in for the drive home.  

Wait!  What's wrong?  A blinding, bright light was coming into my car.  Where are my sun glasses?  I can't remember the last time I needed my sun glasses.

With sun-shielded eyes I cranked the radio, cracked the windows and hit the road for home.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Slice of Life March 4th, 2009

Luck was on my side as I approached the south entrance of the middle school.  An adult was waiting to dismiss the students and opened the door for me.  It's a long walk to the front of the middle school from the back parking lot. 

The walls were empty and rather quite for a middle school.  I mentally paused for a moment to consider how different they would be in just minutes when the final bell of the day would ring. This mental picture of students streaming out of classrooms; shouting, laughing, pushing each other caused my feet to mover faster.  I best reach my destination before the fox enters the hen house so to speak.

I begin to climb the one flight of stairs to the second floor when all of a sudden I'm thrown back 22 years to my high school days.  The memory overwhelms me and I stopped to study the details.  

He always stood just inside the balcony gym doors, which connect at the landing of the first flight of stairs.  There he stood every morning in his light gray, bomber style leather jacket with his three buddies, hanging out or waiting.  I'm still not sure to this day.

I stood frozen.  Struck by how quickly my mind traveled back to that moment in time.  

It was just a brief, fleeting moment that we made eye contact every morning as I made my way to my locker on the second floor.  I had to keep moving with the flow of traffic and by no means was I allowed to stop, walk over and join him with is buddies.

I can still feel the anticipation, even today.  How, as a sixteen year old, I looked forward to those few seconds each morning even if we'd spent two hours on the phone the night before. Those seconds of eye contact, the brief exchange of facial expressions set the tone for my day to come.

Bam!  I'm just as quickly shaken from my flashback by the ringing of the bell. I continued my climb still in shock of how vivid the memory was for me.  Then slowly I begin to remember the not so wonderful moments and the not so wonderful exchanges of facial expressions. 

I continued on my way overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness that the plan for my life at sixteen was not to be.  Today, I thanked God for unanswered prayers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Slice of Life March 3, 2009 
3 of 31
The ring, ring, ring of the phone jars my focus from the TV.  I struggle to get out from under the blanket and out of the recliner.   My movement causes Trace to leap to his feet in hopes that I have finally decided to give him his bedtime snack.

"Come on, Trace.  Get out of the way so I can get to the phone."  I stumble trying to get my feet free of the blanket while dancing my way around Trace.  Thoughts about why my crazy dog has to be a foot from me all the time fill my head.  I consider it a sign of affection and continue to work my way to the phone.  A long trip considering it's just six feet from the couch to the phone.

"Hello," I answer knowing immediately that it's JB.  My heart jumps just knowing that he's called to check in for the night.

"Hi, How was your day?"
"Good, how about you?  How's your training session going?  Did you and Mike finally make it to the hotel?

I listen as JB recounts his flight from Michigan to Tennessee and the need to wait while they de-iced the plane.  I get a question in here and there.  Next, I hear about his hassle to get a rental car.  

"Well, I'm glad you are happy with the training session.  What are your plans for tomorrow?"  

"Our training session starts at 8 am and then we'll just come back to the hotel and hangout."

"Good night, hon, I'll talk with you tomorrow."

"Sweet dreams, love ya."


Monday, March 2, 2009

Today's Slice of Life is about the last half hour of the day.  I've successfully navigated the day.  I made each meeting on time and completed each task in a timely fashion.  So how does a teacher spend the last half hour of the day?  Well, getting prepared for tomorrow which for me tonight is writing scenes to develop my main character's struggles and motivations.   Here it is....
"Are you finished with the dishes?" asked Sara's mom from the TV room.
   "Yeah, mom." answered Sara as she passed through the dining room.  "I'm going upstairs to my room."
"Alright," answered Sara's mom.
Dragging herself upstairs and into her room, Sarah flopped on her bed.  What to do now thought Sarah.  She knew the answer.  Letting out a long sigh Sarah rolled to the edge of her bed and stared at her backpack.  Dragging the pack onto her bed Sarah slowly unzipped the bag dreading what was to come.
Digging into the bag Sarah pulled out her English folder.
Yuck! English!  
"Great," Sarah said to nobody.  The folder quickly reminded Sarah of what she hoped would go away.  Tomorrow was Friday.  Tomorrow was spelling test day in Mrs. Adam's class.
For Sarah there wasn't much that was worst than Friday spelling tests.    

Sunday, March 1, 2009


It begins with pacing around the sofa through the dining room and back to his blanket.  He sits on the blanket and stares.  Yes, stares at me.  Repeat: a lap around the sofa, dining room and back to his blanket.  After several seconds he gets the notion that standing between us and staring might better his chances.  When he gets no response he decides that a paw on the sofa might draw more attention then hot, stinky dog breathe.  Well, it worked.  Stinky dog breathe; yes.  Dog paw on the couch; no way. 
"No, Trace.  Get back on your blanket."
Grunt, moan and grunt.  Dog swear words I'm sure.
"It's not time yet.  Lay down and relax."  As if protesting he responses with a long, painfully pathetic moan as if to say he'll obey, but he's not happy.  I've bought myself some time, but I know it will not last.  
How can a dog tell time?  His internal clock could be used to set the clock on the space shuttle.  What amazes me is his sense of routine or his need for routine.  Maybe a lesson can be learned here: there's nothing wrong with a bedtime snack although I'll pass on the Milkbone and go for some cheese and crackers.