Summer Book Study Blog

Summer Book Study Blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 31 SOL - Grateful for SOL

SOL is ending today. Today marks completion. Thirty one posts, many more that the 93 + 60 comments, discipline of writing every day for the world to read, and some new friends. Lots of wonderful writing ideas for the future with poetry such as Poetry Quick Write and Found Poem, and Reverso Poem. I linked up each of the "slices" I used with their directions. 

This all feels a teeny tiny bit like the movie/book "Julie and Julia." Staying with a blog for a specific length of time and completing the challenge. I did not make my way through the Art of French Cooking, but I did write from a blog pouring out heart and life for 31 days. 

So I bid you all "adieu" and blessings for a life well-lived.

Today marks completion. 
Thirty one posts,
Many thoughtful comments, 
Writing every day for the world to read.
Wonderful poetic ideas,
New friends,
Pouring out heart and life,
"Adieu" and blessings,
Challenge completed.

Numbers 6 :24-26

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’

Dianna  :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 30 SOL - Punch Bowl Falls & Bridge of the Gods (Wild by Cheryl Strayed)

Hiking to Punch Bowl Falls in Cascade, Oregon was nature's beauty at its finest. With each turn of the trail, the hike up to the falls was beautiful scenic view after view. The trail was just right, not too challenging but just right in fitness requirements and a taste of excitement as you walked on a narrow trail behind waterfalls with a steel rope to hang onto. Loved those moments of thrill that never felt unsafe. The trail is 3 miles in and 3 miles out. I felt fit as a fiddle both ways. 

My granddaughter made the picture below. Once arriving you cannot see the actual falls unless you hike into the freezing waters and peek around the cliff on the right. The sound is so powerful. So peaceful.  "More than the sounds of many waters, Than the mighty breakers of the sea, The LORD on high is mighty." Psalm 93:4. It truly was a spiritual experience.

My daughter and I - Punch Bowl Falls. 3.29.15

When it was time to start back, I went ahead of my young, fast walkers as it was steep terrain hiking up from the falls to the main trail. Once I was started down, I really enjoyed walking alone to enjoy God's beauty and the peacefulness of the trail. The fauna along the trail included ferns, moss, and greenery of every hue. I imagined Cheryl Strayed on the PCT, Pacific Crest Trail, from the book and movie, Wild. It has been my spring break read as there is much of the book around Portland, Oregon. I love finding a book that has its setting in the locale I am visiting. When we left the falls we had to drive north a bit on the Interstate, get off at the nearest exit, then head back south. Just before we made our loop was a sign for "The Bridge of the Gods." That is the culmination of Cheryl's trip on the PCT. I was so excited to see it! There is an Indian legend around this site. 

This day was a true treat. 

D :)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 29 SOL - Portland Farmers' Market

Today we ventured into southwest Portland for the Farmers' Marker. Such interesting booths of some amazing, yummy delicacies, yet basic organic vegetables and all my favorite flowers of spring: tulips in a rainbow of colors and my very favorite - the happy, joyful daffodil. "Daffydils." 

It was a healthy atmosphere of organics, bakery sweets, variety of interesting meats (even yak!), exotic cheeses (lots of goat cheeses), smoked Pacific salmon, and some wine tasting. My grandson hustled off and came back with two tamales in corn husks. Inside each was steamed masa, shredded chicken, and a tomato salsa topping. Mui Bueno! The samples at each of the tents were interesting, varied, and always tasty to entice you to buy. We did and we did!

This Farmers' Market is located on the Portland State University campus. Live music gave the morning a festival atmosphere. The shoppers came in all ages, not so much all sizes as it was a healthy, fit looking crowd. I especially enjoyed watching a tiny, elderly lady dressed up for the day with make-up, too, and her little cart. She was sporting some cute "kicks" on her feet that were very Oregonian. Cute little lady! She had a spring bouquet in her cart along with an interesting load of veggies, breads, and a little bit of wine. 

Portland Farmers Market Bounty

After our purchases were completed we left for a stop at an organic juice bar and then back home. Feeling super healthy, part of the family took off on a hike. I chose to read. Yesterday I hiked for hours and tomorrow is a new hike location. New adventures awaiting!

D :)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 28 SOL - Portland Wonderland

Today started with a hike in North Park in Portland. It's only a few blocks from where my daughter and grandson live. It's not what you expect in a city park. It's like a stroll through a rain forest. The smell of oxygen is strong in the air where the sunlight hits all the plant life. There are multiple trails that go up and up. At one point, we could look down on hikers below. Felt like we were on quite a steep trail grade but it was so gradual and beautiful that I just floated along. The sunlight streamed down in rays that were 3D touchable. We reached out to grab them like one does in a 3D movie. 

From North Park we ended up in a beautiful neighborhood of older homes and walked to the house from the Twilight movies. It was some house! 

Home to eat and rest a bit, then a walk to downtown Portland...Powell's Bookstore! My grandson and I looked and looked for the perfect books to take back to my 4th graders readers. We ended up in the "Rare Books" section and saw a $12,000 book (did NOT purchase that one!) that could have been taken out of the glass case and held. It was in a special room that had a person watching over and must have had a strong dehumidifier as when we left my eyeballs felt like all the juice was sucked out of them. 

Today was a very good day.

D :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 27 SOL - A Day at the Beach, Oregon Style

A day at the beach in the Northwest, Cannon Beach, is not that different from a day at the beach in Florida. The drive to Cannon Beach had traffic stops, just like Florida on Spring Break. When we arrived, there was a touristy little town with lots of quaint shopping venues and food options galore. Sea gulls were zooming overhead and squawking their welcoming cry. Tourists wearing warm weather attire, flip flops, and sunglasses. The beach had kids, parents, adults, teens, dogs, big waves, sand, driftwood, sunshine, blue skies, and the view took your breath away. Kids were playing frisbee, football, tennis, soccer all along the beach. Sounds like Florida, right?

The differences also took my breath away. Huge rocks were jutting out of the water. Hay Stack Rock is a famous part of the shore line where puffins land in the spring. Puffins are the cartoon-looking birds that are just plain cute. They are often referred to as "the clowns of the sea." 
"Each spring, colorful Tufted Puffins return to nest on Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock after spending the majority of their year floating and diving on open seas." Click on the quote to read about them.

There are no shells on the beach that I could find but instead, beautiful rounded rocks from all the tumbling of the ocean waves. A couple of these rock made their way home with me to live in my turtle aquarium at school. The rugged coastline is northwest all the way. The pine trees take the place of the palm trees with a stately stance above the beach. 

After an afternoon of sunning, reading, walking along the beach, losing clothes left on the beach by unexpected waves, a lost phone found and returned, skipping rocks on the was time to pack up the car. Sandy feet, sandy dog, and traffic again on the way home, not so different. 

Spring Break and beaches - northwest or southeast. All good!

D :)

Day 26 SOL - Let It Go! Let It Go!

Spending time with family is so precious. Often distances put us in trying to cram the best of times into just a few days. Those are high-stakes for visits. Family dynamics are challenging as we are all imperfect in many ways, yet beneath all this is unconditional love. Sometimes the unconditionality is clouded by too high expectations of each other, hurt feelings, disappointments past or present, and just plain being tired and grumpy from the rigors of life with too little sleep and too much to do.

With that being said, I am reminded that life is short when talking to my 87 year old mother about my 87 year old daddy. Her 80 year old sister that is in critical care with a heart condition, the same heart that is "bigger than all outdoors. Her son, my cousin, is 51 and battling serious cancer. My sister-in-law is battling a serious disease her whole adult life as it moves in and out of remission: Wegener's disease. My husband has battled CML (chronic myoloid leukemia, and diabetes for many years. The list goes on and on as most family lists do. Life is short.

Families need to step up to the Frozen song theme, "Let It Go." Remember God's mercy and grace are new every morning for us to claim. This same mercy and grace needs to be extended to family members.

Family visits are precious times. Let go of past and present hurts. Live in the present with love.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 25 SOL - The Sensory Experiences of Flight

As I sit with my laptop blogging and commenting, there is buzzing activity all around me. It's a hubbub of Spring Break Frenzy! Most of the flights around me are families off to Florida. I'm waiting to wing my way to the west coast. (Alliteration...waiting, wing, way, west!)

I see:
  •  Brand new books that people are reading while standing in line. Vacation reads!
  • Toes sporting new pedicures, all shiny, colorful, and unchipped.
  • Carry-ons of all sizes, colors, and various stages of new to well-worn and traveled.
  • Technology devices in hands young and old. 
  • A little white, fluffy dog being walked by its aging lady master. 
  • Folks arriving from an obvious sunny destination as everyone is tan.
  • Cloudy skies that will require skilled pilots flying by instruments.
  • Cloudy/foggy conditions at our landing in Kansas. 
  • Tired people traveling after a long day of work or just trying to get home from vacation. 
  • The ceiling at the Kansas airport looks like those brown cardboard egg cartons. The texture and color is the same.
  • Finally, the lights of Portland.
  • Loving faces of family. 
I'm here!

I hear:
  • Phone conversations to loved ones and business related.
  • Laughter with family members as they talk excitedly about their trip. 
  • Announcers telling guests to check their lines as there are 5 flights boarding and leaving at the same time. 
  • The chime of a message on my own phone. Yea! Family.
  • Baby crying on the plane. Poor little punkin. I bet her ears hurt. 
  • Pilot announcing choppy weather coming. Was it ever! The stewardess sat on my chair arm a long time while waiting for safe walking conditions while collecting trash. 
  • Sweet conversation between two high school girls returning from spring break at Grandma's in Florida. Loved talking with them about future plans.
  • Basketball games on the TVs at the gates.
  • Cartoons on TVs at the gates.
  • Another baby crying on the connecting flight.
  • The pilot saying we are at 38,000 feet to avoid the storms.
  • The landing wheels going down.
I'm here!

I taste:
  • A yummy honeycrisp apple sliced and packed at home. My favorite!
  • A soggy turkey sandwich, also made and packed at home. Not my favorite.
  • Almonds and walnuts from home. Did you know that a handful of walnuts per day is supposed to lower cholesterol? We'll see.
  • Peanut m&m's from my student teacher. She made a card that said, "For your "Marvelous and Memorable (M&M) vacation." My favorite treat and nemesis. ;)
  • Red wine in a plastic cup from a free drink voucher from Southwest. Think I"ll stick with water from this time forward. The only real red I got was my face from a hot flash. 
  • Honey roasted peanuts. Two bags. :)
  • Fresh sushi upon arriving in Portland. 
I'm here!
I smell:
  • A funky fuel smell at take-off. Scary smell that didn't last long, thank goodness!
  • Restroom fragrances trying to cover REAL restroom smells. Not a good combination.
  • Popcorn.  Should have bought some of that as my seatmates did, and it required great resolve to not drool or give the "Puss in Boots" pleading look from Shrek. 
  • Pizza.
  • Starbucks. Yes!
  • Leo's  (my granddog) breath when he licks me hello.
I'm here!

Happy Spring Break Day 1!
D :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day 24 SOL - Portland, Here I Come!

This afternoon at 6:20 p.m., I will officially embark on my Spring Break vacation to Portland, OR. My daughter and grandson recently moved there, and it will be my first visit. I am wondering what their home will look like/feel like, the walking on sidewalks to lots of easy destinations as they are now city slickers, and just being with them in a new area of the country. What about the sites nearby? Will it feel like a vacation of sightseeing, too?

My children and grandchildren live far away from their midwest Mommy/Nanna and Daddy/Papaw. Vacations are planned around family. They come home twice a year, and we go "there" twice a year. "There" has been changing lots the past few years. New opportunities. New horizons. This is all exciting, however, lots of events happen to the grandchildren in schools and sports that we have to "attend" through pictures and videos. Not the same.

I'll be sure to check out the wall hanging at the Portland Airport's Concourse D that features the Portlanders favorite airport carpet. Did you hear about the hype of removing the carpet in January? People were laying on the floor to make selfies and some had the "Atari" design tattooed on their body. Who knew carpet could cause such nostalgia?

 Reunions are always fun and special, so I'm sure this one will be, too. I plan to be careful in how much I expect. I will live in the moment and accept the days as they unfold. I won't let the expectations of how perfect this vacation must be. We are NOT a perfect bunch, just a family that loves each other. You'll be hearing about Portland in my Slices, starting on Wednesday.

Happy Tuesday!
D :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Day 23 SOL - Hair...To Cut or Not to Cut, That is the Question

I have pinned a whole board of haircuts on Pinterest. Leave it long (for me just a longish medium length) or cut into a shorter stylish do. I think about it way too much especially after seeing someone with a cute cut. What holds me back? I wouldn't be able to twist it up, pull it back, or go one more day without washing and styling. Lazy...maybe. More time for sleeping in the morning more important...absolutely. I wash my hair at night and go to bed with it wet. Shorter hair takes much more maintenance unless you have nice curl that allows you to run your fingers through it and go. Mine. Is. Straight. Stubby straight. Straight as a whisk broom straight. Straight and thick, but fine. A hairdresser once told me to cover the face of the person in the picture with your thumb and look JUST at the hair. 

2014 medium Hair Styles For Women Over 40 | 2014 Easy Hairstyles for Women Over 40 | Popular Haircuts 
Cut above or cut below?
Both are very similar in looks to me if you squint one eye (without glasses on)
 and shut the other. ;)

I've also heard that as your body heads south, the gravity and aging issue, then your hair should head north, as in shorter. I am definitely in this category. 

However, I'm going to end on a positive least I have hair. ;) 
D :)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day 22 SOL - Pet Therapy

Pets are a wonderful addition to a family as they have unconditional love for each. Pets don't care what we look like or even if we smell good or bad (possibly they prefer a nice stink). We have had many pets and dogs of our own including some grandpets we've inherited. Presently we have Bear only, a mini black poodle that was a gift for my 85 yo mother that didn't work out so well for her. She had always wanted a little black poodle, but Dad would never agree to letting her have one. He preferred German Shepherds, manly dogs, the family dog of choice, since he was an Indiana State Policeman. We had some wonderful GSs that we shed tears over their loss to this day. Back to Bear, he was just too much energy for them. Plus, he was a puppy. Cutest puppy ever, but still a puppy! 

Because we already had a dog, Jimmy, we were now a two dog household and Jimmy did NOT want a baby brother. Eventually, happy-go-lucky, bite his ear as he passed by, Bear became Jimmy's target for extreme jealousy and bullying. Jimmy was constantly in a "GRRR" state. I kept a blue plastic bat nearby to bonk them as they were in a fight or on the verge of a fight at all times. (Don't judge, I didn't bonk them too hard.) Bear was passive aggressive and too playful for Jimmy. There came the day that alpha male Jimmy had to submit to baby brother, Bear. This only fueled his"GRRR." His disgrace led to depression. Jimmy was a depressed and angry dog.

Eventually our aging "Jimmy" (Jack Russell/poodle mix - jack-a-poo) moved in with my parents. He has been a godsend. They love him and he is happy, happy, happy! He is the best, gentle companion. Never ever does he "GRRR!" Jimmy is the epitome of the lapdog. He is my mother's shadow. Waits at the door to have his feet wiped after being outside. My mother is very clean. His manners are impeccable. He sits at their feet at the table never barking or begging for food, yet his eye and flared ears say, "Please." He is the best "dust buster" there is for food crumbs! No one can play ball like Jimmy. He's the Pele` of soccer dogs. He can even bounce the ball on his nose, possible part seal. He will play fetch with my dad and tosses the tennis ball up on his lap so my dad doesn't have to bend over to pick it up. He does shed (remember my mother is Mrs. Clean) but he does bring her his own brush to be groomed. He likes to be clean, too. 

Insurance companies ask if you have a pet as they know pet owners live longer and healthier lives. 

Here's to pets! 

D :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day 21 SOL - Spring Slump into Best Days of our Lives!

Spring Slump. This time of the school year can be challenging for teachers and students in terms of classroom management. We are a K-4 building so "top dog" comes in 4th grade. There are some 4th graders that have behavioral challenges that are robbing staff and other students of joy and energy in teaching and learning. Also, these very students struggle with coping with their own behaviors. They aren't happy either. We are also on the cusp of high stakes testing coming to us in a few short weeks. Every minute of learning is critical. So this morning I have been researching some sites that are giving me inspiration on putting us all on the road of goal setting and preparing us as FIT (Fifth Graders in Training).

I found this article from "The Big Fresh Newsletter" (from Choice Literacy) on "Spring Slump" and the article above is about classroom rules and goal setting. Students set independent goals, then they set a goal and share with another student to hold them accountable.

Our school's basic school rules involve the 3 Rs for StaRRR Behaviors: Respectful, Responsible, Ready to Learn. All behaviors and rules fall under these 3 Rs. We challenge students to think of any rule that wouldn't fall under at least one of these Rs.
I felt another step was needed for our students to have some help in goal setting around behaviors that need improvement for ALL of us. (This teacher could improve her desk mess and keeping papers organized!) 
Spell out goals to prepare students for 5th grade. Unless students can articulate what it takes, the behaviors we are seeking will not be seen. What is obvious to the adults is not obvious to many students. These goals must have student input and made into a list for them to keep in their "purple folder." Parents should also have a copy to sign and support student at home.
The following goals will fall under our 3 Rs for the StaRRR Tickets (purple tickets are given for positive behaviors seen):
  1. Respectful
  2. Responsible
  3. Ready to Learn 
Examples of goals that should have student input:
1. Homework is completed as assigned and on time. (RRR)
2. Parental forms are completed and returned on time. (R1, R2)
3. Desk is organized so transitions are easy. When you lose your work (-5 purple tickets to replace). R2, R3
4. Treat others with respect: teachers (ALL adults), students, self. R1
5. Focus on work during work time. Not a minute to lose. RRR
6. Hallway behaviors are exemplary. Straight line, no talking, eyes forward, hands to side. Behavior log, book, art box as required. R1, R2
7. Seek help when you don't understand or weren't listening. Look around you for clues as to what you should be doing. Look, Listen, Do. RRR
8. Be the student that you most admire. Model their behaviors. RRR
9. Laptops and computers are a privilege to have and to use in our school. Treat them with respect and be careful with them at all times. Go to only appropriate sites that are school and teacher approved. If you aren't sure, ask. RRR
10. Classroom, playground, hallways, and restrooms should reflect our Bulldog Pride. Make a mess. Clean it up. See trash. Pick it up. R1, R2

Dress for success. One day a week or one day every 2 weeks, let's dress for success.

Check out this classroom's expectations. 4th grade. There are some great ideas here for rewards. Brain Bucks, Chance Tickets, Warm Fuzzies, Teacher of the Day...

Feeling proactive and ready for the challenge of making every day the best day for the last days of 4th grade. 

Bulldog version "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors. YouTube. This is our class song! We sing and dance to a song as needed throughout the day.

D :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Day 20 SOL - Welcome Spring!

Welcome spring!

Birds sing.
Dreams of
In the past.
Hope spring lasts,
Until it's fall.
What about summer?
You may ask.
Summer follows spring.
Fall follows summer.
Last winter was a bummer. 

Welcome spring!

D :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Day 19 SOL - Thursday Night Date Night - Top 10!

Thursday is our weekly date night for several reasons:

10. We are both too tired to cook or even care about cooking by Thursday each week.

9. Weekend nights are not our thing as I am home. I am home. I am home. Home is where I want to be.

8. We have a favorite Mexican restaurant that is so close that we could even walk if we had to. Convenience is important to making a habit that will continue.

7. It's just right in terms of being crowded. No wait, but the place has good energy for people enjoying FFF: food, family, friends.

6. The tables are big and there is room to do a quick grading of papers if I am desperate to get something completed for the next day, and I don't have to grade when we get home. I know that doesn't sound very "date-like" but I can still talk and share. My husband is good about listening to students' writing, etc. 

5. There are TVs mounted on the wall and we can request a ballgame. Important this time of year and if I am grading, husband can watch game, too. 

4. We often run into good friends there as it is home locale.

3. The food is good. They will cook certain dishes to our request. No seasoning or changing up the combinations of meats on the fajitas. 

2. The owners bought a gas grill from us and we have a tab. So fun to say, "Just put it on our tab," when we leave. 

And the numero uno reason is...
1. It's also $1.99 margarita night! Need I say more...

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day 18 SOL - A Prize in Every Box!

Sometimes the day has a surprise. Something unexpected in the midst of a stressful week. Our school district was chosen as a Google Summit Conference for the Google Educator. A small central Indiana school district is hosting a national conference by Google for educators. 

I was a technology/curriculum person in our district for 10 years after being in the classroom for 25 years. I was the "experienced" educator to bring technology to the masses so that the other "experienced" educators wouldn't think it was impossible to learn to use their new computers. "Old dog, new tricks" sort of thinking. This was right at the beginning of the technology explosion in our schools around the year 2000. 

It was a wonderful experience! I traveled to national conferences and brought back new skills and strategies for integrating technology into the curriculum. A university partnered with our district, and I was offered an adjunct professor position that I have truly loved, especially when the instruction became online and I could "teach" in my jammies in bed with my laptop. New friends all over the world! I had a cohort group in China. Best of educational experiences as we collaborated globally on cultures and educational philosophies. I learned so much. I still have a special Chinese teacher friend that checks in with me about life and students. Teachers are teachers wherever in the world we happen to land, more similarities than cultural or language differences. 

I am back in the classroom, these past four years, and in 4th grade. So happy to be back with children and a staff that works hard to meet students' needs and keep our school on the academic climb for excellence. We are an A school after years of not (an A school). 

The prize in the box at the end of the day is...a new Google Chrome Book that I get to keep along with a free scholarship to attend the Google Conference. Good, better, best day ever!

D :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day 17 SOL - Life Verse

My writing has been challenged. Last night I tried to write my SOL for today but nothing. I've thought about it today and still nothing until I received an email from someone dear that is struggling with life and a personal relationship. In it was a beautiful prayer/poem he had written. I was blessed.

I have been supporting him with prayer, Bible verses, and encouraging words. I believe that God has watered my words as seeds of faith in his life, and the seeds are beginning to sprout as surely as the buds burst forth in spring. God's Word never comes back void. There is always life in His Word.

My life verse is Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." 

Everyone needs a life verse filled with hope, joy, peace, and power. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day! (Did you know that the shamrock is a symbol of faith? St. Patrick passed them out to illustrate the Holy Trinity: The Father God, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit. Beautiful, right?)

D :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Day 16 SOL - Field Trip Day....Telling Tales about Tails

Today was our 4th grade field trip for AG Day in central IN as we study IN history this year. I believe that most states have such a program to study state history when students are in 4th grade. The day was gorgeous for a field trip day (no rain) and our highest temp day of 2015. Perfect! We arrived early and were put into groups with a FFA rep from a county high school. These young people were dressed nice with their FFA corduroy jackets and dress pants for the boys and skirts for the girls. In fact, the girls were wearing dark hose (not tights!) and dress shoes: heels. Impressive to know that these kids and their sponsors know to dress for success. 

Not to say anything unkind about any of our students but splitting into four groups from each of our three classrooms and then combining those groups into new groups that contain the 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s is a feat of problem-solving matched by few other world negotiating experiences. Looking for peace among the masses without combining volatile faction groups. You all know what I mean about how important and strategic this process is combined with the fact that one of the teachers came in and left because of flooding issues in her basement. Now we have two classroom teachers, one student teacher, and two parents for the four groups. 

It actually wasn't too bad except for the ones that answered questions with anything to make someone else laugh (remember the volatile factions). Such as "What products come from cows?" Student: "Strawberries!" The highlight of any 4th graders trip to AG Day is the amount of "poop" and "pee" that they can scream, giggle, and point at coming from any animal on the grounds. One student actually commented to me in passing, "Watch out for the pooping, peeing, and the baby was even nursing from its mom." Tells me that these are not farm kids. That's why we go.

P.S. Did you know that one of the byproducts from cows is collagen and that is what they make glue and duct tape with? Hmmm...Isn't that what we all hear about in make-up for anti-aging expensive creams? Duct tape would be a lot less expensive and it comes in cool colors now. I'm off to purchase some DT for a new headband! I'm sure it would lift and hold and be way less expensive than a face lift. ;)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Day 15 SOL - Hallelujah for Spring Break! BUT...What to Read?

Spring Break is on the very near horizon. Can't say I'm counting down the days as everything is so busy and every minute counts at school right now in preparation for the coming ISTEP-Part 2, but let's just say mine is exactly nine days away.

Anticipation is my favorite part of a vacation. The happy thoughts of getting away to a new destination or to a repeated "good times" location are lurking on the back burner of my brain this time of the year. (My destination is Portland, OR to visit family after a recent move so it's a new destination.) These thoughts fuel me on through difficult or menial tasks that can swallow me whole this time of year. Spring is promising to arrive soon with glimpses of warm, sunny days followed by cold rainy days. No flowers just yet, but daffodils and tulips are peeping through the snow residue and barren, brown grass with bright green growth. Spring is coming soon. Hallelujah for Spring Break!

But this morning, I am pondering a very important spring break decision. What to read? What bookS shall I take with me? I've perused Pinterest and all the book lists on the web. I've done my research. I'm just not excited about any I have put on reserve at the library so I'm taking it to the Slice Community. Help me find the perfect spring break read! Looking for a "can't put the book down" kind of read. 

Happy Reading!
D )

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Day 14 SOL - Rain on a Metal Roof and a Fire in the Stove = Happy!

It's Friday night and the weekend is here! We have a metal roof and it's raining. The sound of rain on the roof is so peaceful. The wood burning stove, between my husband and I, is emitting a delightful, relaxing warmth. On my footstool curled up across my legs is my mini, black poodle, Bearsy. Next to my chair is my new/old floor lamp, thanks to a Goodwill find by my husband, and "a little bit of wine" (remember Justin Wilson, the Cajun Cook?). Life is good.

I had planned to write something inspirational for today, but right now I'm just going to focus on simple pleasures and be grateful. 

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
― Bil Keane

Happy Saturday to all!
D :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Day 13 SOL - If teachers ran the world...

If teachers ran the world...


 2. There would always be a mid-morning snack, because we know everyone is happy and productive after a snack.

3. Everyone would be required to go to bed early, as we know that not everyone gets enough sleep at night and it shows in their focus and productivity the next day.

4. Gloves and a hat would always be available along with a warm coat for outside recess on cold days, as we know that fresh air is good for students' health if they have on warm clothes for play.

5. No one would ever want to be a bully, because everyone would feel valued, protected, and respected.

6. Families would sit down at the table for dinner each night with no TV and no other electronic devices around, as we know that families that talk to each other about their day are happier and more successful in life.

7. Every child would have access to quality literature and be read to even before he/she is born, because we know that reading changes lives.

8. Parents would not allow children to hear or be involved in messes they make in their adult life. Children would be protected from the harsh realities of life, because we know that children need to be children and innocence should be protected.

9. Students would leave our classrooms with the tools to be successful in life. Academic standards and test-taking skills are very important, but children also would leave us with a joy for learning. We know that lifelong learning is a treasure never to be left behind.

10. Students would know how to think critically, research expertly for the truth, and feel compassion for others, as we know that the media distorts the truth and causes apathy in our world.

What would you like to add to this list, "If teachers ran the world.."?

Two more to make a dozen... 

11. There would always be plenty of sharpened pencils WITH erasers.

12. Every marker would have a cap.
 "Nobody leaves the room until the cap to this marker is found." ;)

Happy Friday!
D :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Day 12 SOL - Zeus and Apollo OR Peter Pan and Pinocchio?

My husband and I are sitting by the fire watching "The Voice" that he hates but I love. He's busy on his laptop so I've got a few minutes before I head to the bedroom to watch. A commercial just came on where a scrawny man built a deck and told his wife that "Zeus and Apollo" helped as he pointed to his "guns" or arm muscles. I asked my husband what he calls his "guns" and he said, "More like Peter Pan and Pinocchio." He cracks me up. We are empty nesters...finally. I know some of you are lamenting that your babies are soon to leave the nest, off to college and you can't imagine. Well, we couldn't imagine ever being empty nesters as our youngest had "Failure to Launch" issues. He said at age 4 that he was never going to college and would live with us forever. It was SO cute at the time, but at age 30 we failed to see anything cute. Having a funny man or funny friends are very good tools along this life journey. Life is hard and less than funny most days, but a good laugh keeps it all in perspective.

Hope you have someone special to laugh with.
D :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Day 11 SOL - BFFs and Friends Furever

Tonight I am so excited to have a girls' night out with two of my dearest friends. We have been best friends for years and years, yet getting together gets harder and harder. We are all super busy with work, family, young grandkids, and aging parents. Every time we get together we promise it won't be so long next time, but it always is. We celebrate all three of birthdays in the fall (all summer birthdays) and Christmas in the spring. I often start out with a gift for wintertime then end of supplementing it with a spring thing. Last year it was a winter scarf and flip flops. It doesn't matter, does it? Precious friends are worth it and must be cherished no matter the time between visits.

We usually meet and eat and talk and talk and talk and laugh and laugh and laugh.
How do you spend time with your BFFs?
Here's to friends!
D :)

Enjoy the video that you've probably already seen. but it's so cute.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Day 10 SOL - "Oh, my achin' back!" What pains you?

My poor hubby and my poor mommy...both suffer from bad back pain.  My husband can barely walk tonight. The good thing is that our oldest son is a chiropractor, and he is really good. The bad thing is that he lives out west far, far away. Watching anyone deal with pain (physical, mental, emotional) is so hard. 

Image result for pain quotes

My Pains

1. Daylight Savings Time
2. Loved ones suffering with physical pain.
3. My Daddy struggling to remember.
4. My youngest struggling daily to overcome.
5. Students coming to school less than clean, less than rested, less than prepared, less than protected.
6. Broken lives without hope.
7. Innocence stripped from children at way too early ages through TV, video games, and unsupervision.
8. Anyone without a friend.
9. Children and grandchildren that live far away.
10. Daylight Savings Time 

Image result for pain quotes
What is your pain?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Day 9 SOL - Precious Parents

I am blessed to still have both my parents. They are both 87 years old. They live independently, but Mom has become the caregiver. She cares for Daddy in most all ways now. He has good days and bad days. This weekend was good.

Daddy was a Marine serving in WW2 and the Korea War. He also served the public as an Indiana State Policeman for 30 years, then a school bus driver, and finally a tour bus driver until age 72. Mom was a school teacher. She started teaching in a one-room school in Tennessee when she was 18. She taught for 37 years, retiring as a third grade teacher. Upon retirement, Dad and Mom traveled all over the US on the bus tours. Mom would say she could go free as she just slept with the bus driver. They retired and lived in FL in a retirement park during the winters. What fun years! 

Right now we are day by day trying to decide the next best step. Do they go into assisted living or move in with us? I'm hoping for the latter. In their last good years, I'd love to have them here. Time will tell. Decisions to be made.

Dad often quips, "Growing old is not for the faint of heart." 

Growing more precious every day are my parents.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Day 8 SOL - Live by Faith...What is your "it"?

Yesterday, while going through my email, I found a post from Ann Voskamp's devotional "A Holy Experience." She includes photographs to illustrate her devotional message. In it was a bracelet with "Grow in Grace" engraved on it. This began my ponder, "Am I growing?" Last night at church (I take my parents to Saturday night services.) the sermon continued along this line. Isn't that the way God works? Once you are "pricked" by the Holy Spirit there is always more to come. :)

Our pastor took a break from his current sermon series and spoke on "Live by Faith." Scripture reference was Matthew 9:27-29. In his introduction, he shared that he has been struggling with his faith in terms of believing that God can accomplish some BIG things in regards to church growth plans that are being made. He assured us that he is not talking about his personal faith and relationship with God, but sometimes he struggles. He's so real with us. He told us that when he struggles, he digs deep into God's Word. He went on to preach an amazing sermon that spoke to all of us. There were several points that I wrote down.

1. The vacancy in your life is a call to start living in faith. Need for "help" causes you to encounter Jesus.  
  • Take "it" to God and expect Him to do something about "it."
  • Remind self that God is sovereign and He IS in control. He is working in your life right now. Live by Faith right now.
2. God responds to your faith. "Be it done to you according to your faith." Matt. 9:29. Raise the level of your expectation to God. Matt. 17:20-21 and Matt. 21:22.
  • Attitude of expectation when you pray.
  • Attitude that God's plan is better. 
  • You need to have some level of action. Effort. Find a way to demonstrate your faith. Matt. 9:29.
3. You can only go as far as your faith will take you. "Become what you believe." (Matt. 9:29, The Message). Believe in His ability to change you and your circumstances. 

So today I am challenged to continue to grow in grace and live by faith with renewed strength."...according to your faith." Do I limit my faith with doubt? Can I grow in faith and believe "it" to be possible? We all have an "it."

Bless you all in life's challenging journey as we recall past and present life slices.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Day 7 SOL - Home and Promises

Today, March 7, 2015, and the view out my family room window looks like the middle of winter. A week ago today, we were battening down the hatches for a winter storm. March 1st arrived like a lion with blowing drifting snow that measured in at eight inches total. The week proceeded with below freezing to below zero temps all week so the snow is still here though a little worse for wear. Chunky frozen ruts, dirty snow where our cars have dug down into earth getting unstuck, and huge piles of snow around the perimeter of the house as the snow slid off the steep metal roof. The roof is very Coloradoesque or New Englandesque, but when the snow slides off it sounds like a huge boom and look out if you are happening out a door at the time! 

This weekend promises temps in the 40s and up to the 60s next week. Here comes the "lamb," crocuses, daffodils, tulips, kids playing outside and releasing weeks of pent-up energy! Don't you love the promises of spring? New life, new growth, new hope, renewed energy, opening windows for spring breezes... Ahhh.


Weekend promises.
The "lamb" of March, 
Crocuses, daffodils, tulips,
Kids playing outside,

Promises of spring.
New life,
New growth,
New hope,

Promises of spring.
Open windows,
Open to new opportunities,
Open your heart,

After thoughts: I tried the slice of poetry from Betsy's post
I'm not a poet, but it does sound a bit poetic. Kinda? Thanks, Betsy, for this fun way to create poetry. My kids do a "Poem of the Week," for "noticing" and critical thinking. 
Check out this tpt free download on this. It's brought out some real poetic thinkers in my classroom. We blog about the "Poem of the Week" and the comments are just amazing. I might be the next poet of the week!

Happy Promises of Spring Weekend!
D :)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Day 6 SOL - It's Friday! Let's Celebrate with Popcorn!

This week we have been testing...high stakes testing: ISTEP. Today is Friday and we have just one short test to take, and then we are having popcorn! Is there anything that sets the tastebuds salivating like a Pavlov dog than popcorn? When anyone at school pops, everyone is asking where is the popcorn? Why do they get a party? Do we?

Today we are celebrating the end of our testing week (the rest of ISTEP is the end of April) with popcorn. The celebratory popcorn party. There will even by m&ms to pour into the popcorn bowl. Peanut m&ms are my favorite except with popcorn, plain only, please. We will watch a movie, too. I found the animated "Secret Garden" on Youtube in its entirety. This was also our anchor text in the 4th grade High Ability program for 9 of my students, so it's also academic, right? :)

Popcorn. Is there anything that perks everyone up more than popcorn? Even my dogs love popcorn. They are so excited when it's popcorn night. We have a "Jimmy" and we call him "Jimmy Popcorn" instead of "Jimmy Crack Corn." He will jump, hop, and chase across the room popped kernel by kernel. It's great activity for bad weather and a dog that needs some exercise. I have an OLD air popper that pops the best corn. Salt won't stick unless I drizzle with olive oil or butter. I prefer the olive oil. I also have a wondrous recipe for peanut butter popcorn. YUM!

So, I am grateful for celebrations. We all need more celebrations and popcorn is cheap and easy. Hope you find a reason to pop some corn this weekend. It's an American tradition! Start poppin'!

Happy Friday!
D :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Day 5 SOL - Grateful for What I Have

Continuing on with my gratefulness theme...

Today my husband returned home after a long trip in the northwest to stay with our grandson while our daughter was at a conference. He was grateful for the very nice weather he encountered out west (daffodils and tulips blooming everywhere!), and I'm just grateful that he agreed to come home to more cold and snow. He considered staying out there until spring...warm spring weather. I surprised him with a warm, roaring fire in our wood burning stove and a big pot of chili. So cozy in here right now. Our little dog is all snuggled up on his lap. He missed his "Papaw" so much. He barked, cried,  and licked him for about 30 minutes. I might want to clarify my pronouns in the previous sentence. The "he" is our black, mini poodle, Bear, and the "him" is my husband.

I had a high school English teacher that put a daily quote on the board. I've always loved quotes since then. I still remember it. "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have." That quote was a big deal to me. An impact on my life kind of quote. It's easy to get caught up with the "woulda, coulda, shouldas" of life and not being present for the now. Not being grateful for the now with its imperfections leads to a lifetime of waiting to be happy and grateful . I choose to be grateful now.

I'm grateful for family, friends, my school and staff, and my students. I'm grateful for the effort my students are showing to complete their ISTEP assessments. This week the Classroom Slice of Life has brought a warm, friendly light into our lives. They are so excited about writing their daily Classroom Slice of Life and sharing their comments with each other. Many are keeping a list of topics for future slices and writing down their favorite and most helpful comments.

So tonight I am grateful for my husband sleeping in his recliner with our happy, little dog sleeping across his lap. I'm grateful for opportunities to share thoughts and stories with a global audience, and for my 4th grade students to experience this with me. 

Sign me,
Just Grateful



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Day 4 SOL - "cheerful, positive,and quirky teacher"

I had an email last night from the parent of a former student. This student is now in 7th grade. I had her in 2nd grade, so 5 years ago. This student was so delightful. She made up words that I've since added to my own vocabulary. One of her best was "speckless." Leaving an elementary classroom, or any grade, clean at the end of the day is always a challenge. My closing comments on many days is to leave our room speckless!

The best part of this email was the parent included an excerpt from a recent autobiography written by her daughter. She had written that "Mrs. B was my cheerful, positive,and quirky 2nd grade teacher." What a wonderful way to be remembered. I am grateful for this line from her writing as I strive to be cheerful and positive every day for my students, my friends, and my family. Many of our students come from less than positive environments, let alone cheerful. I pray daily to "shine" for Jesus to my students, staff, family, and all I encounter.

Quirky...kinda like to be known as quirky, too. Not weird...I'm quirky. Not strange...I'm quirky.

Here is part of her essay, " I loved Mrs.B because she discovered a talent within me, a voice I never knew I had.  She made me explore the possibilities of writing and imagination because, it seems like one sparks the other.  If I didn’t have her then, this wouldn’t be as it is. That year, I also developed a habit.  A good one, not a bad one." So many things to rejoice about in this quote. So many things all teachers strive to develop in their students. This email and this autobiography exemplifies why I teach. It also reminds me to reach out and encourage others about their impact on my life.

I challenge all of us to be encouragers and to share a story with your "impactor"...not a new word, but maybe a new definition.

D :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Day 3 SOL - Grateful...Just Grateful

I've been thinking about how important it is to practice daily gratefulness. Even when life is challenging with children that make bad choices in life, elderly parents that are fading in mental and physical health, and finances that seem more stretched than they should be with retirement looming ever so close. What choices in the midst of all this? Fear. Sometimes. Anger. Sometimes. Sadness. Sometimes. Gratefulness. Always.

I am grateful for: funny, silly friends (furry and flesh varieties!) My best friend from elementary school is still a best friend. Because she always make me laugh so hard (past and present), I needed to wear Depends even as an elementary student. Now it is more than necessary.  I laughed so hard with her that her Dad had to stop and scold us during the family dinner prayer. I laughed out my candle during a National Honor Society initiation in high school. I laughed so hard at her during a sorority rush meeting that we were both almost asked to leave as she was sitting there smiling with peanut skins covering some major smiling teeth. I laughed so hard with her recently as we were attending an Indianapolis Symphony program and admiring all the women dressed up so fine, she admitted she was wearing long cartoon-printed underwear under her slacks. 

So today I am grateful for laughter...internal jogging so to speak. 

Jog your innards today. It's good exercise. D :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 2 Slice of Life - Positivity

I hate to even go there, but today is ISTEP eve. Tomorrow we start the much controversial ISTEP test of the media and the public. We have gone from a 12 hr. test (Yes, I said 12 hr.!) to a much shorter version due to the outcry of a media storm with public screams (parents and teachers). The state DOE responded with a kinder, gentler test by not requiring all tests to be given. Teachers, parents, and students "do not go softly into this good night." BUT, we know that WE CAN OWN THIS TEST! On our Friday school pep session we celebrated! We have an annual video created by our techie teacher that has all of us singing, dancing, rapping, making fools of ourselves for the kids AND all the kids sing and dance, too. It's all about attitude. I stand strong on positivity in all things. Might as well, as we have to do it anyway. Good luck to all if you are in high stakes testing this week or very soon.   

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Day 1 of Slice of Life

March 1, 2015

Ok, I have challenged my students to share their life snippets and now feel that I must SOAR (Scholars of Academic Rigor) with them.

Today we have eight inches of fresh, powdery snow. It is beautiful! Our miniature black poodle, Bear, cavorts joyfully across the backyard. My cousin's big truck drives along the drive crunching and smushing the piles of snow so that I can get out for school tomorrow. Bear runs along the fence barking as if to encourage another snow lover to play. He bursts through his doggy door covered in chunks of snow clinging to his fur including a fluffy, white beard of snow. His happy face invites me to join in the fun, too. Now I have a day of anticipation. Will it be a Monday delay or Snow Day...Fun Day?

No matter how many snows I've experienced, and there have been many, the first day of new snow is a treasure. Robert Frost's poem is always in my mind at first look...
"...The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."