Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It's the end of the year - nine (9) days left. That's counting today. I have to have grades in by 8 o'clock on Thursday morning and someone seems to think we need a staff meeting on Wednesday afternoon at 4 o'clock. I failed to mention that I have a parent conference right after school because of a discipline email I sent home. These folks are supportive; they just like to talk the thing to death. The staff meeting may happen but I'd say the junior high is going to be underrepresented. The entire thing is a bit disconcerting. It seems that the office wants the grades a day earlier every year, and we try to accommodate them. However, to schedule a staff meeting the night before... sounds questionable at the very least. I have other 'able' words that I could use but this is a public forum.

Monday, May 30, 2011


It's Memorial Day. My father served in the army, after WWII, in France. Oh how he loved France! And so does our family. We lived in a village in the Alps for a year learning French, and now our younger son and his family live near Versailles. It's all about the memories. We get concerned about making memories for our children and grandchildren but I believe memories become more precious as one ages. Saturday I took my mother to the cemetery and we arranged flowers on my father's, grandparents', great-grandmother's, and uncle's graves. There are a lot more family members we could have remembered but these are the ones who mean the most to my mom. It was a nice day, a bit of sunshine, and only took an hour or so. It's good to remember those we love.

Today the kids and grandkids came over for a BBQ. We had a blast. The little ones are all old enough that we don't have to worry about them falling off the hillside or into the pond. We grilled a ton of food and grazed all afternoon. Then the guys packed up the kids and took them down to our lakeside park. Nice. Kassie and I sat in the living room, looking at magazines, napping, and enjoying the unexpected moment of calm. It's been a good day, with good memories for me, hopefully for the kids too.

Grandpa and Colton

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Painted the house

Actually, I should say my brother painted the house! He needed a short project and we needed the house painted. He has since been called up for FEMA and will head to MO to help with that struggle. He's worked for them before and it gets pretty intense.

Anyway, the house went from gray with darker gray trim-

to Svelte Sage (green) with white trim:

It feels fresh and clean!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

12 contact days...

I know, how unprofessional of me to count the number of contact days left in the year. The only thing I can say is that I started counting later this year than I did last year. Of course last year I gave up my planning period to teach a World History class for the high school. Oh the things we do for those we love! By not having that class, the 5th-8th grade spelling bee landed on my plate again. We used to do it all on one day K-8. It was unreal! (as in awful) We finally split it a couple years ago and it is so much easier on all of us! So I've been choosing words (350 of them) and defining them so I can be sure to understand them myself. Next step, create a sentence for each word... well, maybe I'll skip the 5-7 words; they aren't beyond my scope. However, some of the 8th grade words are really hard and I need to have a sentence ready to go because I probably wouldn't be able to come up with one on the spot, even with the definition staring me in the face!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nothing like 'em

I have the leaders in my homeroom. I spend an incredible amount of time trying to harness their energy and need to socialize. They are an amazing group of students who have the possibility to become really great leaders. Here's a good example: the boy who was the primary character in the mime during the Spring Concert is a local preacher's kid. They live in a pretty rough area, full of gangs and other not so fun stuff. Last night they were robbed at church. They lost their musical instruments (thousands of $$ worth), the son-in-law lost the guitar that was a gift from his now-deceased father, mom's keys were also stolen... That was scary! Before bed, mom was reassuring her boys of God's control in their lives, and her son (my student) suggested that they stop and pray. She sat down on the floor by him, and he began, "Dear Lord, thank You so much for the awesome day we've had. Thank you for dad's best sermon, ever, and for letting us worship you with our instruments. And even though we've had this robbery, I pray that you will help my little brothers to feel safe, tonight. And comfort my mom since her piano was stolen. In Jesus name, Amen." His mother was SO blessed by his mature perspective on the day and so am I.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


What will all the people do who were counting on being in Heaven tonight rather than getting up in the morning to live another day on Earth? What about the teenagers whose parents believed and pushed and criticized, those students who now live with parents who realize that their kids were right and they were wrong? What about the families who sold their homes, quit their jobs, emptied their 401k's, savings accounts, ate down their provisions? What do they do and how do they begin again? I am quite concerned that these people are ill-prepared for life after planning so thoroughly for death. I know there is life after death, but we don't have a lot of say in the orchestration of that symphony. I certainly hope that these believers are able to find a way to jump-start their lives again. Oh how disappointed they must be! In all of that, there was one who was raptured within the past 24 hours. One of my 7th grade students has missed a lot of school this year. Her father had cancer. I say had because he passed on to heaven yesterday evening and is even now enjoying eternity, whole, without pain. We have the task of helping his 13-year-old figure out how to function now that dad is no longer on this earth. But we are committed to her and know that we will find a way to share our love and concern for her as we guide her toward life and responsibilities that will come her way once again. I just hope someone will guide those who have been so disillusioned by this man who thought he could interpret the mind of God. I hope some how he finds a bit of humility and decides to let God call the shots; essentially he is right, Christ will come, no question. The when? Makes no difference... whenever... get ready.

E-books: nice but fall short

I am a fan of E-books. I love to hold my little iPod and read in bed. It's illuminated so I don't have to turn on the bedside lamp, keeping my husband awake. But there are many reasons that I don't buy highly acclaimed YA novels in this format. First and foremost, I can't put them on the shelf in my classroom to share with my students. Every time I find a great book for teens or tweens, I bring it to class, give a one-minute hip-hooray on it, and put it on the shelf. It's usually there for less that 10 seconds before a student snatches it up. I can't do that with an E-book so I'm not going to buy it electronically in the first place. For example, I received the first three books in The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series from a sweet student and her mother. I skimmed them and brought them out one at a time. Bam! Gone... the kids couldn't wait; they were fighting over that first book which guaranteed that person first dibs on the second and third once I finished them. I hope Jeff Bezos doesn't go all electronic. His company is still a great resource for finding books at a good price. And I must buy The Hunger Games series!

Monday, May 16, 2011

They Rocked the House!

I take back everything I said in my previous post... well, at least the stuff about my students being off the wall. They were, earlier, but tonight -- they absolutely rocked the house at the Spring Concert! I am so proud of them!

Monday AND a Full Moon? Augh!

I truly intended to enjoy my day today. After spending a wonderful three days in the mountains for my husband's birthday, I really felt relaxed.

All my essays and research papers are graded for the moment. I'll get one more set next week and then that will be the end of this year's big grading marathons! Wow! So, my relaxing weekend in my mind, I check weather.com and lo and behold, the sun is supposed to shine! This is getting better each and every moment. I arrive at school in anticipation of a great day and welcome the crazies into my homeroom. I am serious; students were off - the - wall today! I checked and the full moon is tomorrow, which means (since it started like it did today...) this entire week is toast! And we have our Spring Concert tonight. Suddenly, I'm tired.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Have Lived A Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson

Wow! What a book! This is one of my literature circle books and although I had read most of it, I had not finished it. This memoir is a survival story from the Holocaust. The group discussion about this book is animated, deep, and intense. Students frequently ask if this is really a non-fiction book. They are horrified at the suffering this woman endured as a child. The most shocking part was near the end of her story when a German woman, who knew nothing of the camps, made the comment that it must have been difficult for people of Elli's age to do such strenuous work. Elli asks how old the woman thinks she is and the reply is 62-63 years old. Elli firmly announces that she is 14 years old, and the German woman nearly collapses in despair. The truly great part of this book is the fact that this child endured such trauma, such torture, and yet thrived after the fact. She went on to the United States, ultimately earned a PhD from New York University, taught for years at the university level, published many articles and books, and is a sought-after public speaker. My students have to recognize that they can do anything they set their minds to accomplish. If this magnificent child could become such an acclaimed educator after such intense horror, my students can definitely rise over any of their difficulties! They must grasp that message!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Literature Circles Again

My 8th graders have just started another literature circle. The books this time deal with the holocaust. All are stories about kids their age who survived (or didn't) this horrible time in history. I have introduced two new books to my collection this year: Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli and I Have Lived A Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson. Other books that the students chose this year include the ever popular I Am David by Anne Holm and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I present nearly a dozen different books and I am always interested in the students' choices. I love, love, love to hear my students talk about literature. They know so much more than they think they know.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Mother Pride

These two boys are mine. Oh how I love them! And each of them has blessed me beyond words with my dear daughters and adorable grandbabies!

First my older son with his lovely lady and three adorables:

And then the younger son and his beauty, the ones with the babies... oh so far away and I miss them so much!
But there is no doubt; among all the mothers in the world, I feel so blessed beyond words. How good God has been to me. What riches I have in my dear family. Thank you Lord!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Still Reading - Updated

Here's what's been read in 2011:

  1. Essays 1: First Series - Ralph Waldo Emerson (love Emerson!)
  2. Stuck in the Middle (Sister to Sister) by Virginia Smith (Christian fiction: so-so)
  3. Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow (Christian mystery: okay)
  4. Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry (Christian mystery, based in Amish country: I really liked it)
  5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (for the 50th time, still love it!)
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (brilliant!)
  7. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson (magic!)
  8. Drums of War by Edith Morris Hemingway (great for lit circles)
  9. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  10. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (love these stories)
  11. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (sweetly old-fashioned)
  12. Emma by Jane Austen (what can I say? A-u-s-t-e-n!)
  13. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (incredible)
  14. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (faith-building)
  15. Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson (Christian Romance… cheesy!)
  16. Invisible by Lorena McCourtney (old lady mystery, like Murder She Wrote)
  17. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen (old England novel, beginning and end were good)
  18. Fated to be Free by Jean Ingelow
  19. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli (great book, quite disturbing)
  20. Fated to be Free by Jean Ingelow (long… read)
  21. The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne (like Sherlock Holmes, good read)
  22. The Heart of Rachael by Kathleen Thompson Norris
  23. A City Schoolgirl by May Baldwin
  24. Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (love her style!)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Where were you?

On the morning of 9-11, I headed to Miami International Airport with my friend, Jennifer Paultre, who had just spent a couple days with us. I dropped her at the departure area and drove back to SW Miami to the grocery store. I was shopping when the news came over the intercom that the United States was under attack. A few moments later my cell phone rang, and Jennifer asked me to come pick her up. She would not be able to go home to Haiti for a week! Tonight, I had our television on a music station as I read an e-book. After finishing the book, I opened my facebook page to entry after entry: Osama bin Laden was dead. I switched to my MSNBC bookmarked page, "Justice has been done, Obama says" and he was right. Flipping on the TV, I watched our president deliver a carefully crafted speech. He needed to say it right. And he nailed it! He was firm, righteous, and articulate as he used his God-given gift of public speaking to present the details to the country and the world. I was in Miami, FL when the towers collapsed. Ten years later, I am in Olympia, WA, when the perpetrator was brought to justice. Ten years, oh my.