Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Christmas Angels

                               Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

Inside this rather pedestrian cardboard box is a treasured family heirloom, 
the Christmas angels!  

They are ceramic and made in Japan, but the real treasure is contemplating the hands that have touched and loved these angels for the past 50+ years.  They were given to Angie Wyrill, my husband's grandmother, by her daughter Dorothy Behnke, my husband's mother, many years ago.  Angie's home was often filled with family and friends.  Our visits there were precious times as we gathered around her kitchen table to enjoy good food, stories, and laughter.

Angie's 90th Birthday
 Dorothy Behnke, Angie Wyrill, Sara Behnke, Ramona Behnke,
Blake Behnke, Lance Behnke
When Dorothy gave us the angels in the early 90's after Angie's death in 1990 at the age of 93, they became part of our family's Christmas traditions.  Each year, the angels are unwrapped tenderly (still  surrounded by the tissue paper and kleenex lovingly put there by Grandma Wyrill) and placed in a safe place for the holidays.  A favorite spot was the top of my secretary until I spied our cat Hadley snuggling with the angels one year.  After a few years in safer spots, they returned to the secretary this year since Hadley's advancing age limits her ability to climb.

In the bottom of the box under the kleenex and tissue paper, is the real treasure, handwritten notes penned by Grandma in 1960, 1967, 1972, 1974, and 1977, on the day she packed the angels away and placed them in the attic until the next Christmas.

The notes often mention the weather, an ever present concern for the wife of a Kansas farmer.  The 1960 note ends with these words:  "A cold snowy day.  Bright and sunny but much snow on the ground.  Big drifts too!"

The 1972 note:  "Little angels put away Dec. 28 -72.  Kept them on John's desk and enjoyed seeing them each day.  Now it is 2:30 p.m.  Ex-President Truman's memorial service is in progress."
The words "kept them on John's desk" are especially poignant because her husband John died in 1971.

The 1974 note is my favorite because it mentions a visit from Lance (her grandson and my future husband), and ends with the words: "I'm GLAD he is here!"  The word glad is underlined twice.

Each year when the angels are unpacked, I reread these notes along with the ones penned by me beginning in 1992 and Sara's notes beginning in 2007.  They chronicle our Christmases in Houston and Seattle and mention activities and guests who visited during the holiday season.

Sara's first addition to the notes was in January 1996 when she was nine years old.  She added the date at the top since Grandma always included the date and added these words to the end of my note - "We loved Christmas this year."  The last note written by me was in January 2005, Sara's senior year in high school.  After leaving for college, part of Sara's visit home each year has included penning the note for the Christmas angel box. This year, I'll add the note since Sara's and Will's move to NY (grad school for Will and full-time employment for Sara) prevented a visit home during the holiday season.

Borrowing a phrase from Anita's eloquent post about a family tradition, 
I tenderly tuck the angels into their box empowered by memories and the love of family from Christmases past, Christmases present, and Christmases yet to come.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A week filled with joy!

                              So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
                    It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!
Discover. Play. Build.

                             A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

One -  FaceTime and phone calls with family members (seeking answers to my cooking dilemmas, in celebration of my brother's birthday on Dec. 23 and my sister's birthday on Dec. 25, and texts and pics to share an early east coast Christmas with daughter and hubby).

Two - Other cooks in the kitchen!  I love it when someone else steps into my kitchen and asks me to step out.  Stefi, Lance, and Blake all stepped into the kitchen several times this past week.  I love eating food prepared by my family members.  And the extra hands with clean-up and put-away were all appreciated!

Three - Plates of delicious holiday goodies delivered by friends.

Four - Celebrating the birth of Christ with the children in our congregation on Christmas Eve.

Five - Our FaceTime crossword puzzle with Sara and Will, and the inaugural game of Five Crowns, our new game left under the tree by Santa.

Six - Time to shop with Blake and Stefi, tell stories, watch movies and enjoy having them home for many days.  I love spending time with family!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Favorite Christmas Eve Tradition

                               Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

When our family was young, we loved to invite other families over on Christmas Eve to re-enact the story of that first Christmas with a reading from the 2nd chapter of Luke accompanied by singing Christmas carols.  

When we moved to the Northwest, a new tradition was born in our local congregation, due to  the energy and passion of a young mom who wanted us to have an event geared for the young children.  She wanted the costumes to be durable, and the script simple, with no rehearsals required.  

Families gather at our church on Christmas Eve afternoon.  Children grow up performing in the simple story of this glorious event.  Although there are no practices, children know that you start as a sheep or the donkey,
someday you might get to be a shepherd or an angel,
maybe one of the three kings, King Herod (a favorite costume),
or perhaps Mary or Joseph.  

Here are a few photos from this afternoon's joyful celebration!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrating the beginning of winter break!

                               So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
                    It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!
Discover. Play. Build.

Another busy week with  many moments of celebration:

One:  We had our next round of Mock Newbery book clubs on Tuesday.  We continue to enjoy the discussions and the parent volunteers who facilitate book groups.  Only five weeks  and two more book clubs until the real winner is announced at the ALA mid-winter meeting.  I'm looking forward to finishing One Came Home soon so that I can move on to the other three Mock Newbery titles remaining in my TBR (to be read) pile.
Two:  Wednesday night was my second annual cookie baking night with friends from school.  My daughter helped me host it last year since she was between rotations.  This year I was on my own, so we modified the menu (no homemade soup), ordered pizza, and sampled some of the goodies followed by playing The King's Crown. We all enjoyed a delightful evening with dear friends and everyone left with a container filled with goodies to share.
Three:  Blake and Stefi arrived home for the holidays on Thursday night.  When I told Stefi that I was hoping for a snow day, she shared the three big ways kids get a snow day on the east coast:  sleep with your pajamas on inside out, flush ice cubes down the toilet, or sleep with a spoon under your pillow.  I'm curious to know the origin of these practices and what other things your region of the country does to ensure a snow day.  

Four:  Thanks to Ava's insistence on Thursday that Friday would be a snow day, or Mr. Harrington's students who did a snow dance, or perhaps the spoon I placed under my pillow; we started Friday with a light dusting of snow and a 2 hour late start.  When the predicted rain failed to arrive on time, we ended up with a snow day on Friday.
Five:  The gift of a snow day allowed me to join Blake and Stefi for shopping, lunch out, and a trip to the grocery store.  I love it when my kids are home!  We'll miss Sara and Will this year, but look forward to enjoying face time and doing a crossword puzzle together.  While our first crossword puzzle time for an absent family member was shared via a cassette tape, this year will be even more fun as we use Face Time allowing everyone to participate in real time.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Festive Fudge-filled Bars

                               Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

Tomorrow our staff enjoys savory and sweet treats for our 3rd annual bake-off.  I think of all the things I'd like to make.  My personal favorites are molasses crinkles, but I made them last year.  I could make my double chocolate brownies, but they seem rather pedestrian for a holiday celebration. I would love to make Sara's Chocolate Rolo Cookies, but no Rolos in the house.  Or I could make the Orange Chocolate Cookies I bookmarked once in Betty Crocker's New Christmas Cookbook (new in 1982).

I took two cookie recipe books to school last week.  Several students bookmarked recipes they liked.  Trent marked the Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies, Adam put sticky notes on the Super Fudge Brownies, and the Luca marked the Caramel-Filled Brownies.

Some year I really want to try the Merry Christmas Molasses Cookies transformed into snowflakes by using Baked-On Decorator's Frosting.  But not enough time for that tonight!

So I settle on a tried and true recipe- Festive Fudge-filled Bars a.k.a. Breakfast Bars in our family.  One year, when I chided Blake for having a cookie bar before breakfast, he replied, "Mom, these aren't cookies.  They're breakfast bars, they have oatmeal in them!"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Celebrating books, parents, music, and treats!

                          So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
                    It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!
Discover. Play. Build.

Today's post is a bit delayed because I moved this morning.  Not a big move, but still it took a bit of time.  My son complains that I live in every bedroom in the house.  He's right, so this morning I moved my school stuff out of the guest bedroom in preparation for a holiday visit from him and his wife.  I believe there's a definite psychological benefit to my practice of living in each bedroom - they look a lot less empty when I put some of my stuff in them!

One - I finally started teaching the signposts to my 6th graders.  A group of colleagues read Notice and Note in a book club over the summer.  This week I introduced Contrasts and Contradictions, and the Aha Moment.  I can't wait for book clubs next week to hear my students apply these strategies to the Mock Newbery books they are reading. 

Two - I celebrate all the teachers who have enriched my students' love for books through sharing wonderful books with them.  A mentor text for one of our signpost lessons came from Crash by Jerry Spinelli.  Many of my students fondly remembered this book that was read to them by an elementary school teacher.  

Three - One of my students left his copy of Counting by 7s in the classroom.  Since book clubs meet on Tuesday, I knew he needed the book over the weekend.  I called his house to see if someone wanted to pick it up.  When I met the dad at the front door of the school, he offered to lead the book discussion on Tuesday (freeing me up to rotate among the four groups who'll be meeting that day).  He'll be our first dad to lead a book club.  I love it when my students have male role models for the reading life!

Four - We celebrated with an assembly, the holiday concert, on Friday.  Shortened class periods and the opportunity to listen to our band, choir, and orchestra added a new lilt to the usual Friday excitement.  

Five - Teachers don't get corporate lunches or business dinners.   But this week, notes from students and gifts like this started appearing in my classroom.  I'm a lucky teacher!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Moments of magic!

                               Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

Sunday afternoon nap time is sacred time at my house.  However, this past Sunday afternoon I broke with tradition, stayed dressed (I'm usually back into my PJs within minutes of returning home from church), and ventured out (even though the temperatures were unseasonably cold).  I phoned the library to inquire about the time for the performance and was told 2:30.  I thought it started at 2:00 and was almost ready at 1:45, so I headed to the library with a bag of tricks to amuse me until show time.  Good thing I did!

When I entered the library shortly after 2, the carolers were directly in front of me and already singing.  Luckily, there were still a few seats in the back.  I snagged a seat and was immediately entranced by beloved Christmas tunes and the four part harmony of the Dickens' carolers.

I quickly forgot the "to do" list, the cards needing to be addressed, the Christmas shopping not yet done, and the tree in my family room adorned with lights, but still awaiting ornaments. I looked around me and saw all ages soaking in the beauty of this performance -  from the new parents cradling a newborn, to the young parents shushing toddlers and grade schoolers, to the mature folks like myself listening appreciatively, to the gorgeous silver haired senior citizens holding hands and nodding in time.

In the hurry and scurry of the season, I treasure carving out a few moments that rejuvenate me. This was one of those experiences.  It's hard to decide what to attend and what to pass up, but listening to and indulging our own desires can provide magical moments in the midst of many obligations.  My hope is that each of us can discover an activity that feeds our souls - perhaps wandering outside on a moonlit night to ponder the night sky, filling the kitchen with the aroma of fresh baked cookies from treasured family recipes, or heading out for an afternoon of sledding followed by hot chocolate and marshmallows.  For me, I discovered magic at the library as I listened to beautiful voices sing the familiar songs of this special season!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Celebrating a new trimester and winter's early arrival!

                            So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
                It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!
Discover. Play. Build.
Posting a bit late this week, but I continue to discover that paying attention means I find much to celebrate each week. 

One - My students finished their first trimester, and I finished posting grades and comments on Friday.  Woo Hoo!
Two - We didn't get a snow day this past week, but my snowman collection is out for the winter.  My good friend Shelly offered her creative eye and wonderful flair for decorating on the eve of her own travel. I'm always happy that my snowmen/women continue to brighten the dark days of winter long after the Christmas decorations are put away and stashed for next year.  We also put up the Christmas tin collection in the kitchen.  My husband threatens to streamline my stash of tins, but I love each and every one of them.  
Three - My students started a WebQuest for Social Studies on Thursday.  It was great fun to see their collaboration and engagement as they began 2nd trimester and this project with a new shoulder partner. 
Four - We had our first WOW (word of the week) party this last week during lunch.  When students find one of our words in outside reading, they post the example to our discussion thread, and join me for lunch, a game of Catch Phrase and cookie bars.  We had some lively phrases flying around the room as we worked to elicit the exact phrase from our teammates before the beeper stopped!  If you've never played Catch Phrase, it's a great game for all ages.
Five - If our cold weather continues, I'll read a favorite picture book, Winter is the Warmest Season.   Even though winter doesn't officially arrive until we're out for winter break, I've discovered that sometimes our coldest weather arrives in early December.  You've got to celebrate cold weather when it's here!

Monday, December 2, 2013

"What's that noise?" inquired the cat.

                               Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

Last week, the weatherman mentioned a chance of snow flurries in the forecast for Sunday evening. Then the chance of snow moved to Monday.  I wore one of my snow themed sweaters as inspiration for old man weather.  I promised myself that I would bring everything home in case of a snow day.  (My husband still recalls the time we retrieved 57 shoebox book projects from my classroom in several inches of snow because I wanted to grade them while we were out of school.)
Fast forward through the day.  The sun was clear and bright.  I realized that I had worn my sweater in vain.  It didn't look a bit like snow which is why I forgot my promise to bring home anything that might need grading.  I left school early (shortly after five), stopped by the grocery store, and headed for home.  The cat greeted me and joined me in the kitchen.  She looked at the ceiling, puzzled by the rat-tat-tat on the roof.  I went to the deck and flipped on the light to see a light coating of sleet covering the deck and lawn furniture.  Just before coming upstairs, I looked again to find the sleet mostly gone with only a few frosty spots.  
I'll head to bed and hope for a two hour late start for tomorrow.  Even if we don't get much snow, some of our teachers travel from other locales and any snow is problematic in our area.  I won't sleep well tonight.  I'll be up peering out the window to see if we get any more sleet or snow.  And then I'll be listening for the phone call that arrives rather early to announce late start, or no school.  I'm just like one of the kids.  I still love a snow day!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Celebrating two weekends!

                           So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
                It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!
Discover. Play. Build.
Celebrations are everywhere when we slow down to notice them:
Thanksgiving eve devotional with friends from many faith communities 
 Sleeping in on turkey day
Having a young friend join us for the holiday
Enjoying Thanksgiving lunch at a restaurant
Heading upstairs to see Catching Fire
The guys for setting up and lighting the Christmas tree  
Lance's homemade pizza (thanks Sara & Will for inspiring him)
Time to play Yahtzee and Chicken Foot
Ryan's coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate
Touching base with loved ones by telephone and email throughout the day
Our friend's time & technological expertise (space again for taking pics on my phone)
A black Friday pajama day perfect for grading papers
Waking up this morning to another weekend and Saturday celebrations!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Teacher-Created Chaos

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.
It was one of those rare, quiet moments in my 4th /5th period block of 19 boys and 9 girls. Quiet is something that is rarely achieved in this classroom.  Everyone was engrossed in his or her Mock Newbery book and anticipating lunch.
Suddenly, I heard that annoying sound!  Another student with hiccups.  We've had an epidemic of hiccups  in our classroom lately.  Some are the loud, gut-wrenching kind that disturb the entire class.  This afflicted student was a bit quieter which is why most of my students didn't hear her and become totally distracted.
My dad always claimed that a good scare was the best cure for the hiccups.
So... I crept up behind her, shouted "BOO!" and scared the living daylights out of her and the entire class!
My students wanted to know why I was crying.  I explained that hearty laughter always brings tears to my eyes.
Once everyone calmed down, I asked the afflicted student if she still had the hiccups.
Nope, they were gone!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


                           So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
                   It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!  
Discover. Play. Build.

A quick celebration before tackling the work of the day:

1.  Celebrating the encouragement I received last week from fellow bloggers to exercise.  Although I didn't exercise five times, four times is definitely moving in the right direction.  Makes me think about how important it is to celebrate approximations toward a goal, not just accomplishment.  (Could I please move my mountain climber four hundred feet up the mountain?)

2.  Celebrating a new opportunity to serve in my faith community.  After spending seven years of Sunday mornings with young children, I'm sad to leave them.  I know I'll be challenged by this new direction.

3.  Celebrating time to talk with my daughter before school yesterday.  After two years of PA school and the same time zone, I had grown attached to our early morning check-ins.  Now with her move to the east coast, she's already at work when I get up at 5 a.m.  Glad her road trip yesterday gave us time to chat!  

4. Celebrating a Saturday morning phone call from my son.  He's headed up to campus to study and I'm grading papers.  We lead exciting lives!

Take a few moments to join us for Saturday celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

7 Questions for Tuesday Night!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers.

A meandering slice of random thoughts . . . stick with me for the book recommendation!

1.  Are authors contributing to a generation without a proper understanding of capital letters when  they refuse to use capitals in the titles of their books?  Am I clinging to an old fashioned notion by still insisting that first words, last words, and all other important words in the title are capitalized on reading logs?

2.  How do people keep up with the flood of email?  Our new email system continues to baffle me, emails elude me by hiding in unusual places, and emails started (but not finished) slink away to the draft folder instead of staying in my current mailbox.

3.  Wasn't life simpler for middle schoolers and their parents without teacher updates, assignments posted on Schoology, and grades entered on Skyward?

4.  Since I didn't reach my goal of exercising five times this week, do I just give up and try again next  week?  Or do I celebrate each day that I exercise knowing that some is always better than none?

5.  How can one book be filled with so many memorable lines?  From the optimism here "Never let someone tell you that you can't do it," to the bleakness here, "All reality, I decide, is a blender where hopes and dreams are mixed with fear and despair," to the wisdom here, "Every person has lots of ingredients to make them into what is always a one-of-a-kind creation."

6.  How can one book break my heart, celebrate life, create quirky characters I'll never forget, and stay with me long after I've turned the last page?

7.  How can I resist purchasing my own copy of this book so I can mark it to my heart's content?  My advice, treat yourself to a wonderful reading experience and pick up a copy of counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan!  (It was hard, but I typed that title with no caps.  Just don't tell my students!)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Floating out of the grocery store!

                           So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
              It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!  
Discover. Play. Build.
My week began with a book celebration that I knew would be hard to top!  Tuesday's long day (worked the phone bank at our schools foundation drive) was enhanced by dinner and the chocolate incentives in our volunteer packets.  Wednesday I attended book club even though I hadn't read the book.  An evening spent with these dear friends is always cause for celebration!  Thursday we enjoyed soup,  salad, and delicious desserts provided by our parents.  What could top the memory of that delicious lunch and a few moments to visit with colleagues?  Friday's chance encounter with a parent at the grocery store.  First, she told me who she was and mentioned her child's name (always helpful for me since I remember faces, but names elude me).  She thanked me for being her daughter's teacher last year and sharing my love of books.  She mentioned the Mock Newbery Book Clubs and their impact on her daughter's reading life.  My weary trudge into the grocery store turned into a buoyant celebration all because of these few words of gratitude!
Join us for Saturday celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feeding my addictions . . .

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers.

A game night on Friday night, 
a birthday breakfast with two friends on Saturday, 
and a Sunday afternoon nap with time to read my Mock Newbery title, Counting by 7s
A totally delightful weekend!

I fully intended to spend all of Veteran's Day tackling my never-ending pile of papers.
And then, this arrived in my inbox from a new contact at Random House: 

"Please join the University Bookstore staff for a presentation 
of recent and forthcoming books for grades K-12!
Local representatives from Random House Children's Books,
Penguin Books for Young Readers, and Scholastic 
will provide lunch, door prizes and a dazzling array of the latest and greatest, 
including regional opportunities and Common Core suitability."

Anyone who knows teachers knows that we're hooked 
by lunch, door prizes, and a dazzling array! 
So I was off to University Bookstore to be dined, door prized and dazzled. 
The papers could wait while I took this break.

Here's the booty I acquired for my classroom: 
6 advance reader copies, 
my door prize - a hardback copy of The Twistrose Key (complete with a dazzling cover), 

and a Jan Brett bag to carry my precious loot home.  

by allowing myself the purchase of just one book from the remainders table
in the main bookstore!

I did browse the calendars and children's section
before the presentation began.
It was great fun to listen to the reps share
delightful books from their respective companies, 
bump into Susan who was our librarian for a short time,
and chat with the bookstore staff after the presentation.

Then it was back home to that pile of papers.
My heart sang each time I glanced at my bag
and thought of the treasures inside.
Tomorrow I'll share the dazzling array of new books with my students!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What a Week!

                        So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
              It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!  
Discover. Play. Build.

Awesome Administrators
In today's challenging educational environment, I tip my hat to our building administrators who support our work in the classroom, make our building a pleasant place to work, and offer assistance in so many ways.  When I had my evaluation conference, my principal offered to drop by after school to help me out.  Not only did she offer, she pulled out her calendar and scheduled two afternoons!

Terrific Teammates
When I opened my Big Fresh newsletter this morning, I discovered an issue dedicated to theme, our content team's current focus.  Such serendipity on a Saturday morning!  I love Choice Literacy, but I'm not sure I've ever thanked my wonderful teammates there. They support my work, push my thinking, and arrive with the perfect topic at just the right moment.

I'm excited to be part of the Healthy Challenge team created by our social committee. We're scaling the mountain by selecting personal goals to work on each week and then moving our mountain climbers up the mountain as we reach our weekly goals.  They've even personalized our mountain climbers with our photos!

Sensational Students
We kicked off Mock Newbery book clubs this past week.  I love listening to the buzz about books as students discover new books and authors while reading Newbery possibilities for 2014!
My teacher heart sang as I observed one of my students greet a student with learning challenges as he passed by their table in the student center.  Because of the kind action of this student, everyone at the table paused to greet this student with kindness and respect.  I love my Superstars!

I hope your week was filled with many celebratory moments!  
Be sure to check out the celebrations at Ruth's blog.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Currently I'm . . .

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers.
Thanking:  the workmen who arrived Sunday evening to restore our power 
Needing: a grading machine (I tell my students I am not one, but wouldn't it be grand to have one?)
Anticipating:  my guest post (last week's November nightmare) on Kirby Larson's blog
Hoping:  I find time for something besides grading on our upcoming three day weekend
Reading:  The Boy on the Porch
Wishing:  for more time to read blogs and hang out on Twitter
Striving:  to help my students understand theme
Joining:  the Health Challenge (with my own little mountain climber) sponsored by our social committee
Loving:  newtreemom's poem "Blaze of Glory" - I intentionally saved it for Poetry Friday on November 1 to kick off our month of gratitude in our WRN (writer's reader's notebook). Her final phrase is perfect for this time of year:  

"Autumn is arriving, filling my senses,
preparing my soul
for gathering together
for thanks-giving"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Windy Day at Home!

                        So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
              It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!  
Discover. Play. Build.

Celebrating . . . 
Our brilliant red Japanese maple!
Our generator that is still chugging away 12 hours after our power loss
keeping our home filled with light, warmth, a hot cherry pie, and a cold refrigerator.
The restored Comcast internet service allowing me to finish my blog posts!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My November Nightmare!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" to the 
Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

As writers, we know the importance of noticing things in our world and listening.  This past week, I kept having a nagging feeling to check the deadline for a guest blog post that I volunteered to share on an author's blog.  Imagine my surprise, no horror, when I finally looked up the email to discover that the "November deadline" (my mind was thinking mid-November) was actually not later than November 1. Last night I opened my email account to discover a pleasant note from the author with this polite request, it would be great if you could get me the post by Thursday!  This polite request sent me in search of a scapegoat for my current predicament, and you, my friends, became the sacrificial offering.  Without your nudges each week, I would never have arrived at the point where I thought I had something worth sharing with other teachers.  Wish me luck!  I'm off to vanquish my November nightmare.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Color my World!

                        So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
              It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday!  
Discover. Play. Build.
Fall is my favorite time of the year.  October marks the arrival of both my children's birthdays, Halloween edges ever closer, November nudges our hearts toward thankfulness, and December declares its arrival with celebrations of light!
Today I celebrate by sharing pictures I captured this past week.  When I went in search of another brilliant red tree that I noticed last week, I discovered that it was almost bare.
Do it today, and don't delay.  Celebrate fall by noticing the colors of our world!  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grandma Angie's Cookies

 Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice"   
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

Saturday afternoon typically means grading papers for me and dealing with the finances for my husband.  However, last Saturday we took a few moments detour from that familiar pattern.  My husband found a recipe on the internet for a pumpkin cookie just like the ones his grandmother, Angie, used to make.  After a quick trip to the store for ground cloves, he set about making the cookies.  Something I discovered long ago is that each of us has strong territorial rights in the kitchen (translation:  "It's not a place where we work together well.").   After offering my comment about the size of the cookies, I knew it was time for me to get out of the kitchen.  After all, I've never made Grandma Angie's pumpkin cookies.  I do recall having them when we visited the farm
in Phillips County, Kansas thirty years ago.  
Soon the house was filled with the delicious aroma of pumpkin and spice, and I decided it was time for me to sample a cookie!  I ventured downstairs to discover that the frosting recipe featured with the cookie was not what my husband remembered.  He recalled a frosting that was darker.  I knew the kind of frosting he wanted, and I reached for this favorite cookbook, Old-Fashioned Country Cookies.

A quick check in the index and I located Pumpkin Cookies with Penuche Frosting!  
Four simple ingredients:  butter, brown sugar, milk, and powdered sugar.  
Here's our finished product! 

And now we have an ample supply stashed in the freezer.  
Set one out in the morning, and it's a perfect snack for a  chilly autumn afternoon!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Celebrating Parents!

                       So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres!
         It was fun to live my week thinking about what I would celebrate on Saturday!  
Discover. Play. Build.
Mid-trimester was a week filled with catching up (after my quick trip to New York), grading papers, and contacting parents regarding student progress.  Each time I contacted a parent, I received a thoughtful, supportive response in return.  I name my classes each year, and this year's students are the Superstars.  Their parents deserve the same title. I'm thrilled to share a year in the life of their child with each of them.  I received a perfect fall treat from a student who explained that he and his mom had baked this delicious pumpkin dessert.  I enjoyed the first slice and fully intended to share the second slice with my husband that evening.  I left it at school. The next day when I returned from lunch wishing I had something sweet, I remembered this creamy pumpkin treat in the closet. Finally, our entire staff enjoyed a Spooktacular lunch this week provided by our PTSA.  I loved the food, the decorations, and seeing friends who seldom join us in the staff lounge for lunch.  
Check out these smiles!
Thanks to our wonderful team of parents for this delicious lunch and fun decorations!