Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
We were in Albertville, France to learn the language. Honestly we were doing quite well, enjoying the mountain village life, frequent trips to Geneva Switzerland, establishing new friendships. One of the things that the French ladies at the language center did every Christmas was to decorate with six-point snowflakes. They were very particular about making these just right. It involves starting with the square the folding the paper in half, corner to corner into a triangle. Next fold the triangle into thirds and again in half so that there is one straight edge across the top of the folds on one side of the folded paper. Cut along that line and then just start cutting. The more paper that is removed, the prettier the snowflake. It's important to cut shapes into all three sides, without, of course, cutting through the whole thing. Unfold and flatten the snowflake and you will see the prettiest, most delicate snowflake ever! Kayla was absolutely enchanted with these. She made eight of them and Colton made two! Not bad for a six-year-old. It is not an easy process so I was very proud of my little ones.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Beauty is my mother.
Every line can tell the tale
Of days and nights, of toil and care,
Of giving life, more pain to bear,
Of peace, yea love that will not fail,
Beauty is my mother.
Beauty is my mother.
Who danced until the break of dawn,
Who smiled and laughed so quietly,
Who loved with whole heart joyously,
Who found betrayal, that mourning song,
Beauty is my mother.
Beauty is my mother.
So valiant, brave, steadfast is she-
My friend and confidante, true and deep,
Ready to go, to stay, to keep
Her word and promise, for them, for me
Thankful is her daughter.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
We started our morning at the annual Turkey Bowl. Three years ago our son decided to have a morning football game with his then three-year-old son and friends plus their dads. This evolved into a kids' football game with the dads while moms pulled together a huge brunch. It is a blast! As much fun as we had three years ago watching the little toddlers play football, it was even more fun to watch school-age children, committed to the game, tearing up the field that our son had cut out of the snow. They played for a full hour from 9 til 10 o'clock and then went sledding down the back hill for thirty minutes. A full breakfast followed with biscuits and sausage gravy, french toast casserole, cheddar cheese eggs, bacon, sausage, cinnamon buns, coffee cakes, fruit salad, and spiced cider. Then the kids were ready for more sledding outside. We stayed until everyone had gone and helped clean up, leaving about 1:30.
Round two was at my brother's house. Turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, white beans, carrots, green salad, fruit salad, cranberry/raspberry relish, garlic bread, and pies! Oh my word! It was decadent!
To end the evening we went to my husband's brother's for dessert. Pies, cookies, cakes, by the time we left we felt like we needed to be rolled out the door!
But the point of it all was family and friends. The food was wonderful but not the focus of our day. We are blessed because we are loved and we have others to love. That is thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tomorrow is the big day. We are doing a "Progressive Thanksgiving" celebration. We'll begin at 9 in the morning at Scott's for the Turkey Bowl. This is the BIGGEST FOOTBALL GAME EVER, played by some of the cutest kids you've ever seen. Scott started this tradition three years ago when Colton was just three years old. That first year the game lasted about 10 minutes. It gets longer and more elaborate each year. Afterwards, Scott creates a DVD of the game with highlights and background music and player interviews. It is absolutely hilarious! The DVD is played over and over by these kids, which totally builds the excitement for the next year to come around so they can do it again! We'll have brunch with them: biscuits and sausage gravy, bacon, eggs, all kinds of special breads and coffee cakes. I'm bringing Trader Joe's Spiced Apple Cider and a big fruit salad. We'll leave there around 1 o'clock then head to my brother, Jeff's, for the next round, the meal: Turkey and stuffing, ham, new potatoes, fresh vegetables, more of my fruit salad. They'll have pies but we're skipping dessert... with them. We'll leave and head to Terry's brother, Verle's, for dessert. We are going to be the ones who are stuffed! Of course a lot of the fun is the anticipation. And I do anticipate good fun, loving family, wonderful memories.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I saw that learning taking place in my classroom but I was never certain that the students actually realized how much they were learning. I have taught many novels over the years but this book club atmosphere just seemed so relevant to me. There are several things that I think are important about it. First is choice. I lay out ten to twelve different novels and let students choose what they want to read. Sometimes the novels have a unifying theme, for example my American Revolution, Civil War, and Holocaust novels. Other times it's about the length of the books because I do want the students to begin and end at about the same time. Other times it's just random books that appeal to me at the time. But choice is very significant. I have found that students are willing to try harder to do well if they have the responsibility of choosing what they read. Next is the atmosphere of collaboration. No one person is responsible for creating the lesson; each student contributes to the day's work. The discussion that ensues is amazing. When I hear my 8th graders talking about dynamic or static characters, the repetition of theme, the importance of the setting to the development of a novel, I get a bit light-headed. It is proof that they are really learning, becoming critical thinkers/readers. Plus, let's face it, junior high students are social beings who need to talk. Directing their discussion into literature doesn't seem to matter to them as long as they are allowed to talk! Also I find the organization of the system really helps students to become more organized themselves. I prepare individual task calendars for each student. That is the most difficult job of this entire experience. Once it is done, it's smooth sailing for me as a teacher. Students love ticking off their jobs on the calendar and tend to pay more attention to their own planners once we start this.
Another little trick I have is quantity of reading. The first novels studied are the shortest and are over the longest time period. Each novel study is a day or two shorter than the prior one. I begin to push students to read more, faster, and thus become habitual readers. They create their own tests through their word choice for the smithing process and the thinking questions that lead to my own essay questions later. And it is never difficult to find an essay proposal when it involves literature. Apart from the obvious character analysis, there is the element of theme or mood or conflict that is easily explored in a 250-450 word essay. And yes, they often write longer essays but are learning to become more concise in their writing, to choose interesting words that reflect big ideas rather than ten words to say the same thing.
So today I am thankful for my students. It probably helps that today is a snow day and that I'm home, still in my bathrobe, drinking coffee in front of the fire. Right. I am quite sure this helps!
Monday, November 22, 2010
I never totally understood the concept of Christian Family until my first grandchild was born. This idea of the cycle of life became so clear to me at that moment. Kayla, my beautiful granddaughter, came into this world over ten years ago and has been a delight from the moment she was born. But more than that, she gave me the sense of generational faith that I had not understood before her birth. It was reinforced last month when my fifth grandchild, Eliott, was born. Another boy! We now have three granddaughters and two grandsons... plus a male grandpuppy. Don't think for a moment he doesn't count. Colton needs him to level the playing field at his house.
My father-in-law once told me that he was praying through my grandchildren and it would be my duty to pray through my grandchildren's children. I know it's not that easy. I know that the element of personal choice is huge in this relationship but his words have often caused me to think and yes, to pray, that my grandchildren's children might early know and love God.
I am so thankful for these five children (and any more that my second son and his wife would like to bestow upon me). Whenever I am able to see them, to be with them, I have such an overwhelming sense of joy and delight. Talking to other grandmothers, I realize that I am truly blessed because not all grandmas feel as I do. Their situations are completely different. Too many of them are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. Parents have abdicated their responsibilities through substance abuse or incarceration. It's a sad thing to have to raise grandchildren because of parental irresponsibility. If anything ever happened to my children, I would gladly step up to the plate and do everything in my power to help my grandchildren feel loved and supported but I am glad to say that this level of responsibility has not been necessary. My sons and daughters are wonderful parents and I rest in this sentiment of deep personal satisfaction for all I have received... from them and from the Lord.
It's true; God Himself considers grandchildren to be a blessing (read Proverbs) and I heartily concur!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I am so thankful for my sons and daughters. I have four children - with two of them I endured nine months of being really large and awkward. Both of them arrived via c-section, with the second birth being significantly easier than the first. My two red-headed boys are such a joy. They love us dearly and they are the best of friends. It's more than we could have hoped for, given all the sibling rivalry that occurred when they were quite young. Thankfully they got over that a long time ago. Both of our sons have grown into wonderful men. They both are committed to loving God and serving their community of believers and unbelievers. I really like that. Both are strong men, leaders, yet amazingly gentle with their little ones. Both did something really, really intelligent. They married extremely well. Scott married Kassie over 14 years ago. Amazing! That's so much longer than it feels like to me. I love my Kassie, a first born girl with great strength and a loving heart. She continues to impress me with her innate ability to handle three children and that big fourth one - my son. She is an organizer of the first order, great at graphic design, and the perfect mother for my three oldest grandchildren. What a blessing she is - daily in our lives! Then over eight years ago, Brian demonstrated his good taste by marrying our Erin. Dear, gentle, quietly resilient Erin. Oh how I love her. Her talent as an artist is demonstrated by her work displayed throughout our house. Her love for international life makes her the perfect match for our son. Her incredibly gentle and astute abilities as a loving mother to our two youngest grandchildren bless me beyond measure. I am so grateful for her. She rescued us all many years ago, took us on to love and cherish (well, that was actually for our son) and has changed our lives forever. Both of my girls love the Lord with their whole beings and are committed to serving Him. They astound me with their depth of faith and character.
I have done nothing to merit such blessing. People I know who were, without doubt, better mothers than I, deal with broken family relationships today. These children are simply a gift. They are perfectly wonderful and wonderfully imperfect. I would not enjoy having perfect children. How boring! All of my children have enriched my life by simply being. Oh God, I am so very thankful!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I met my husband when we were in high school. We have defied the statistics; not only did we get married but we've stayed married - for 37+ years so far. T's greatest love (besides the Lord and me) was playing his trumpet. He was so good, so very good; it was an amazing gift. But years of living overseas away from all his musical opportunities took its toll on his lip - an important commodity for a trumpet player - and his trumpet began to gather dust. Then cancer visited, thankfully just as a visitor not a resident. Whatever hope he had of getting his lip back seemed to be out the door. Then at some point in time this year, I began to hear the muted sounds of that horn again. This morning, the mute was removed and the trumpet was blown full blast. And it sounds wonderful. I am so happy to hear him playing again for he loves it so!
Oh yes, about the roof... my one-eyed man is up there spraying a bleach/water combination trying to kill the moss. I have given up asking him to be careful. He's living his life, doing what he would have done with or without cancer. I love this man. He is one of God's greatest gifts to me. Yes, I have good reason to be thankful today.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Friday is most certainly the greatest of days.
The reasons it’s great are too many to say.
But with that said, I’ll try to explain
Why Friday is better than a day without rain.
You see on Friday, you can work with a smile.
You need only work, for a little while.
For the weekend is near and then you can play.
Much fun to be brought by the most generous of days.
And generous it is, as morning treats can attest.
The cream filled donuts are definitely the best.
But don’t dare forget, the bagels are good too.
If there’s none in your office, that’s too bad for you.
Friday isn’t all treats and happy things.
There is but one obstacle the day does bring.
And that, my friend, is the slowing of time.
But if you can bear it, you’ll do just fine.
So join with me and laugh and cheer.
The work week’s end is drawing near.
Join with me and praise this day.
I’ve said what I’ve said, and I’ve nothing more to say.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I remember living days, weeks without power in Haiti. At one point in time, we went 120 days with less than 100 hours of electricity. That was a strain but we were fine. The difference? Weather. It's one thing to lose power when your average temperature is 82* and quite another when it is 8 o'clock in the morning and hasn't hit 50* yet! Think I'll just enjoy the day!
Monday, November 15, 2010
This is conference week; we'll start on Wednesday. Suddenly the grades on-line are important. Suddenly we are wondering what can be done to raise this and that. I'm at a loss. There is no easy answer to this situation. If I post grades every night (which I do) and post homework on Edmodo every day (which I almost always do) then I should be able to expect that others will look at what I have done and that consequences will follow. But... I... guess... not! So I'm going home.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I was up before 7, got ready for church, sang in the choir for first service then picked up two of my grandkids from their classes. They had muffins and juice and told me all about their morning. Then it was time for 2nd service and choir again. Once the choir was done, T and I took grandchild #3 and headed out to I-Hop for brunch. This time we actually made it to I-Hop! The entire time we had little miss Sierra, she never quit talking. I think I heard more out of her today than I have heard in the three years she's been alive! And I learned so much about her. She is very compassionate and generous. When we first talked about going to brunch this morning, she was all excited about it. But she was also concerned for her brother and sister and wanted us to know that it was okay if they came too. We told her that they'd already had a turn and it was her turn to go with us, by herself. She just wiggled with excitement. When asked what she would like to receive for Christmas, she said a doll so she could give it to her friend Hailey because she really loves dollies. Somehow I never expected these types of reactions from Sierra. What a sweetheart!
After brunch I took Sierra home while T got ready for the National Honor Society induction of new members. He worked for quite a while yesterday on a lovely program for the ceremony and the parents and sponsors were so appreciative. Of the fourteen new members, eleven have been in my classes either in junior high or last year's World History class at NCHS. I really was just delighted to be a part of this moment, honoring these great students.
Got the doors locked and went out to the parking lot where we decided to divide and conquer. T went to visit his mom and I went to visit mine. We spent about an hour and a half with them then headed home. I'm tired and still need to plan a devotional for tomorrow morning. Not to worry, I have a file at school with several options. I think I'll just sit here by the fire and sip my spiced cider. It's time to relax!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
In Flanders Fields - a poem by Dr. John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
As painful as it is to remember (and we have many military families in our school) we need to think of those who have made that ultimate sacrifice and be grateful.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
"You know a really good place to eat, Grandma?"
"No, Colton, where's a really good place to eat?"
"Wendy's, it's really good!"
"Really! I didn't know that. Why is it so good?"
"Well, they have this thing called a Frosty. Have you ever had a Frosty, Grandma?"
"Yes, I have Colton. You're right; they are very good! What if we go to I-Hop for breakfast and then swing by Wendy's for a Frosty?"
"Well, we could do that... or... we could just go to Wendy's then we wouldn't have to go to two places!"
"What a good idea Colton. Let's go to Wendy's."
And that, my friends, is how a six-year-old negotiator works his grandparents with complete courtesy and respect. Kudos to my children who have raised him to express his needs and desires without being abrasive!
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Friday, November 05, 2010
In the middle of a party, one of my 7th grade students, who happens to need an extra level of compassionate attention, got all teary. He is a new student this year and his birthday was the second week of school. No one knew him well enough to say Happy Birthday let alone go crazy over his special day. He simply could not let go of the idea that all this jubilation was going on and no one even thought to say anything nice to him six weeks ago. He was pretty miserable all day yesterday.
When G and J realized what was happening with this special guy, they got their heads together, designed a big birthday card, decorated his locker with balloons and posters, greeted him at the door this morning with all their classmates, had candies, popcorn and cookies hidden in his locker, and then sang to him at lunch. He was so happy. It is very difficult for him to truly know how to respond to people but he was happy all day long.
Teaching students like G and J make it all worthwhile. Good work ladies!
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
On Halloween night, three little costumed cuties showed up at my door, ready for treats. And treats were what they got – a quart sized zip-lock bag of small toys, candy, and fruit roll-ups for each Jedi, Asian Princess, and Super-Girl. The three left for a few moments to hit the neighborhood, accompanied by Grandpa (the Pirate Captain) and their dad. When they got back, I was helping my three-year-old Super-girl adjust her outfit and the conversation went like this:
“I love you Sierra; you are such a big girl!”
“I love you too Grandma and I’m Super-girl and I’m going to take care of you forever and forever… cuz I’m Super-girl and I just love you.”
I was stunned. Overcome with joy. Ready to sob big tears, but I didn’t. Had I begun, I never would have stopped. How? What? Why… am I so blessed. I can barely contain my love, my delight, the sense that any moment I will awaken to find that the best dream a woman could imagine just passed through my mind and heart. Don’t you dare pinch me!
Monday, November 01, 2010
On a lighter side, this is National Blog Posting Month. NaBloPoMo I have friends who are using this month to focus on writing the book that is hiding in their heads and hearts. No way on earth will I begin to attempt such an operation in November. The grading period ends Wednesday, conferences are in a week and a half, essays, packets, grammar review tests... need I elaborate? But I will try, with all my might, to blog daily during November. Even Thanksgiving Day! That is if I can tread water long enough and eventually swim through this storm.