Monday, October 12, 2015

Football Tree?

One tree that can be identified by the leaves is the sassafras (Sassafras albidum). Crush any one of the three types of leaves found on this tree and you will sniff a scent similar to root beer. Most people know about the Native Americans using parts of the sassafras tree for medicine and pioneers using the roots to make tea. However, wildlife such as deer, rabbits, bears, moths, butterflies, and birds rely on the sassafras for a variety of needs.

In addition to sniffing the crushed leaves, another important identification clue is to look at the leaves carefully. Sassafras trees have three kinds of leaves.

You read that correctly, 3 types of leaves. Naturalists sometimes use this fact to help children recognize sassafras trees. They refer to the term "football tree" because children can visualize each type of leaf by comparing it with something related to the game of football.


One leaf is shaped like a football.
One leaf is shaped like a gloved hand passing the ball.
(Or a hand wearing mittens, required in the cold)
One leaf is shaped like the goal post.
 (Or a referee calling a touchdown) 

Interestingly enough, you may or may not find all three types of leaves on every branch. Looking for all 3 leaves gives children an opportunity to carefully observe tree leaves.

Go on a hike and observe the fall leaves. While you are viewing nature, see if you can help someone identify a sassafras tree.
 



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Passion Flower, Passiflora incarnata



Last fall in mid- October my cousins and I were walking on the edge of my 38 acre farm. I pointed out this fruit but didn't have a bloom to show them. Today my dog and I walked around and spotted the bloom. Now that I have a picture of the flower, I feel I have a more complete display. 

This flowering vine occurs in the Southeastern United States and is commonly called Passion flower or may pop. The flower, fruit and vine are all useful to a variety of wildlife species. Insects such as the Gulf Fritillary and zebra longwing use it as a host plant for their larva. Native Americans used the fruit as a treat and leaves to make a herbal tea. 



I think the flower is delicate looking. I read that the flower is specifically adapted to allow only certain bees to pollinate it. It's interesting to learn about the intricate workings in nature. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Children's Art

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Today I found a post about Children's Art: Do You Love Kid's Art?

I have always loved art created by children. It is the thing I miss most from teaching in elementary school. When I visit schools, I pay attention to the bulletin boards made by children's artwork. It is raw creativity, displays by kids who are not afraid to show emotion.

Here is some found artwork created by my son and former students.

A mosquito drawn by my son when he was almost 3.
Here is an 8 year old child's rendition of a glade (rocky area with a few trees).
How could you not be moved?

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." 
- Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 31 for SOL #15 busy life

It felt as though I struggled to be consistent with my writing.
I posted and commented almost every day.
Some posts were early, other near midnight and once after the bewitching hour.
I read lots of other amazing posts and thoughtful comments.
I struggled to make meaningful comments.
But the business of life sometimes got in the way.

People told me it's only a month, no big deal.
That was about staying on a 28 day cleanse.
I made the shakes in my hotel room during conferences.
I ordered approved food items when I had to eat out.
I logged miles walking at the conferences.
But life got in the way and I didn't complete a perfect 28 day cleanse.

Last year I accepted a challenge to Draw My Awesome Year.
Sometimes I struggled to journal and draw every day.
I didn't complete all the drawing assignments.
But I still learned so much about drawing and writing.
I have a colorful journal filled with memories of that year.
And this year I sorely miss the monthly guide to draw and journal my life.

I hope to continue writing a slice of my life.
I pay attention to my life.
I reflect about my life.
I appreciate the small things.
I look for nuances.
I am more present in my busy life.



Monday, March 30, 2015

A little burn SOL Day 30 for SOL#15

One of the first trainng sessions with my current job was Fire Training, Level 1. To understand the reasons to burn an area, you can view before and after pictures. Burning gets rid of unwanted vegetation and provides conditions for dormant native seeds to once again flourish. Historically, Native Americans used fire to control much of their land. It was a subject on which I was very interested. 

Lots of preparation takes place prior to the actual burn. First the team leader makes a visit to the site then writes a burn plan. It must be filed with the fire department and work supervisors. A team of employees schedule the event on their work calendars. Prescribed burns can't be too early because of theMarch winds. It can't occur too late in spring because conditions would be adverse for the reptiles. Many variables affect the event, postponing the morning of the event if the humidity or wind change from the weather predictions. Sometimes canceling the event altogether could happen then it is placed on high priority for the next spring. 

A few weeks after the class, I got the opportunity to work a prescribed burn. We wore special Nomex clothing. We gathered nexessary equipment and headed to the area. The team walked the area prior to setting the fire. A line had already been established to prevent the fire from getting out of desired boundaries. A drip torch was used to start the fire in several locations. Precautions were taken to get the burn done quickly while keeping the fire from getting too hot. 

I loved the morning spent burning in the woods. I took several great shots with smoke rolling. My husband was concerned that I was not properly trained and didn't think I should be involved in any prescribed burns, so I didn't attend advanced training. But I do occasionally encourage him to burn our yard or field. 

This morning, I burned some paperwork. The wind got up, when I checked on it, the fire traveled out of the pit toward the field. I did not have a fire line set! I grabbed a rake and headed to put it out. It took some quick raking before I got it stopped. I know better, I should have created a line to contain the fire. See the picture below. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Family time to celebrate a soon to arrive addition

My niece hosted a shower for friends & family for her sister-in-law, baby due in 5 weeks. Niece is a brave soul, she just this week completely moved into her house, both she and husband have full time jobs in education and they've been working on refurbishing the house for a couple of months. They had worked the entire week to have everything perfectly placed. Her dad drew a nursery scene on her chalk painted wall. She was a fantastic host, creating activities for guests and serving delicious food. She had a special table for three young children she expected to attend, it was stocked with crayons and pictures to color. But 15 children showed up! 

She had placed colored sharpies next to a tub of small diapers and a poem about leaving a clever note for the parents when awakened at 2 am for a diaper change. Niece had gone to great lengths.

When I arrived with my daughter-in-law we were taken on tour of the house. In the master bedroom we found 3 girls with heads stick under the bed desperate to reach something. I asked if the kitty was there. They said it was. I said the kitty was frightened and they should go away. My sister told them the kitty might bite them. Then a young boy comes in the bedroom with a cupcake and climbs on the bed with Mom in tow. Sister repeated to the mother the kitty might bite. The girls needed to go elsewhere. Children went outside on the patio area. Doors kept slamming shut as kids went in and out. The only parents monitoring children was two other nieces pictured with their young boys. 

Later as the honoree was opening gifts, we noticed outside the window and saw many children climbing over the deck railing. Someone asked if anyone was watching the children. Niece said, "No, but a train is coming, it is ok! She added, "I deal with 18 year olds (HS English teacher)." Her sarcasm was lost, not one moved to correct any improper behaviors. 

The lack of control of children is extremely difficult for a family of teachers (6) to witness, but we quietly held our exasperation. Misbehaviors ruined the atmosphere for the shower, not to mention her beautifully decorated house. 

After the guests left, niece's husband arrived, she met him outside spilling her emotions. He was also incredulous to hear about the large number of misbehaving children. 

What happened to the days of, "stay off the bed! "Don't slam the door!" "Make up your mind, in or out!" "Sit still and act like a little lady" If you show out, you will not be allowed to go again". . .

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day #28 in SOL#15 Another question for writers.


I’m continuing with 31 questions from a “Writer’s Whole Life Perspective”.

4.   What special, memory building moment did you have with family, friends, writing groups, by yourself and so on?

I treasure the comments I’ve received on my posts during this month. In reviewing my posts for a recognizable pattern, I read through the thoughtful comments other slicers made. The thread seemed to be those posts written from the heart, when I wrote about a special relative or memory. I suppose that is why writers are encouraged to write what they know or what they are passionate about. Views from the heart allow others a glimpse into that individual’s world. And people recognize similar feelings or situations in their own lives. I’ve recognized some of my life incidences and felt the emotional connection with the writing of other slicers. That is when a memory building connection is created.   

Friday, March 27, 2015

SOL Day 27 I am a writer!


Previously in 2012 I found a writing source, Writer’s Whole Life Perspective. Thirty-one questions were listed to help a “writer” reflect on accomplishments from the year.

Below I’ll list a few of the questions along with my responses, which prove to me that I am a writer.

·      Did you complete any writing challenges? My response to this is going to be a resounding Yes! In just a few days I can say I completed the month long Slice of Life Writing Challenge sponsored by the blog, Two Writing Teachers. I also worked on writing 750 Words a day. I completed that 10 days in a row while writing in the SOL challenge.

·      What writing skills were strengthened? Wow, I have learned so much from my participation in Two Writing Teachers. Some of the skills I’ve acquired are: new methods for writing poetry such as found poetry and book spine poetry, how to share unique bits of information as introductory pieces, how to look inward to identify my belief statements, how to comment when another post speaks to me, how to write a reflection at a higher level than memory and how to use mentor text.

·      Did you find the secret to time management? Time management is a tricky player. Some days I had lots of energy and could write a post during any part of the day or night. Some mornings or evenings I spent my time reading the other slicers’ writing. I think it was the procrastination gene causing me to delay my post. Other days were filled with tasks so I had to quickly write a last minute slice of life. Overall I found my days smoother when I wrote the post early in the morning and commented when I found time during the day and then again at night.

Communication with others is an important piece of this month long challenge. Viewing the world from their perspective gives me insight and hope. I feel successful at this writing life and hope to continue. My goal is to write something I can submit for publication.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SOL day 26 a watchpot never boils

I planted some white oak acorns is collected while hiking in January. Just barely under the soil, they need lots of water. It seemed to take forever, when the acorns finally burst, the little plants shot up. 

They seem so airy resembling bonsai trees. I love looking at them. I've been watering them daily and can't wait to plant them outside.

I've recently started some native plant seeds for a butterfly garden. It's been two weeks and there is no sign of anything growing. I'll need to be patient. I'm reminded of a saying by my Grandmother, "A watchpot never boils". 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SOL Day 25 a poem using Elsie's post as a mentor

Fog settled, branches tried to stand out

As the wet, heavy fog stayed the course

Settling in the space between 

Clear sky and damp ground

Around my house

The trees 

Decided

To

Show

Their

Buds





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SOL Day24 Trip to Dr.

Just a follow up, but another early morning drive of 150 miles. We saw a new sign, incident area. We wondered about it, I checked my phone and read about an accident that happened at 6:40 am with the interstate closed ahead.  

Within just a few miles we came upon all the stopped traffic. We crept inch by foot for the next 20 minutes. Again I looked at my phone for an alternate route. The next exit was 1.5 miles ahead where we could take another road. When we neared that exit all traffic was being re routed up the ramp, over and down the ramp. We saw the problem. It was a burned up 18 wheeler. Emergency vehicles were trying to secure the area. It looked awful. We were back on track to make the Dr. Appointment. As we neared the city, rain started and the sky was grey and bleak. Traffic was slowing to a crawl in spots. Luckily the we were getting close to the doctor's office so we made it just on time. 

The visit was uneventful, no changes. Good thing no blood pressure was checked!

The rest of the day is ours to have lunch and shop for shoes before heading back home.




Monday, March 23, 2015

SOL day 23 uplifted twice before work

I drove to work early this morning. The view was beautiful. The sun was higher than the hazy fog so I could see the fog through the trees. The sunlight above gave a warm glow to everything. It was a nice way to start my day. I needed an uplift this morning. I got to work early so I read the comments from my recent posts and was lifted again. Thank all of you who are participating in this challenge! It is sometimes a struggle, but so worth it!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

SOL 21 busy Saturday

I was up early this morning because we planned to drive 400 miles so my husband could attend a swap meet for automotive parts. We had worked the previous 2 days preparing for the trip, doing laundry and getting things ready. On Thursday after work, I helped him rewire the lights on his trailer. He tried them out and they worked perfectly. On Friday I helped him load tools, spare tire, and a scooter. He tested the trailer lights again just to make sure they were ok. Then this morning, I saw him driving up and down the driveway again. I wondered what he was doing, went out to check and he told me the lights were not working properly. He tried a couple of tricks but was too worried the lights might not work properly on the trip. So we started unloading everything, unhook the trailer and reload what he needed inside the Yukon. We left about an hour after our planned departure time, which was ok because we had fog for the first hour of our trip. We actually got to our destination in time to walk around the swap meet for a couple of hours. He will go back to the swap tomorrow and meet a cousin. I'm planning to relax at the hotel for a while before meeting them for lunch. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

SOL day 20 doctor visits

Seems we spend lots of time going to the doctor. My husband has several doctors who are good at caring for him. He takes lots of medicine and often visits the doctors for tests and check ups. Some doctors are 45 minutes away but others are 150 miles away. This week we went to one who is 150 miles away. We always see people who are in worse health than my husband and we are grateful.

After the test and doctor visit, we had lunch with our son then headed home. We stopped on the way home to pick up his new glasses, making one less trip for another day. Finally home, we were exhausted. Dinner was simple, heating up leftover chili for him and opening a can of healthy soup for me. Then we crashed. I checked his schedule and found another doctor appointment next week. I'm running out of leave days, hopefully it will be a couple of months before we have to go again.

bookshelf poetry



Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee 
Prairie Smoke
Blessings
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Beach Road
Pilgrims in Paradise
The Night Gardener
East of Eden



Thursday, March 19, 2015

SOL Day 19 as teachers we keep trying to help our students achieve.

I saw a TV documentary, Teach. It was made in 2013 about the daily lives of 4 public school teachers during the 2012-13 school year. All of us could have been a part of this. It is a powerful video that shows struggles encountered every day. Struggles not only encountered by teachers but also struggles that students face. 

When I taught elementary students who were diagnosed with learning disabilities, I felt their daily struggles. Composing a short, friendly letter in response to one I had written them was a difficult task. I recognized their efforts and thought unlike me they could not simple leave the struggle at school, they took it home with them every night in every task they attempted. It might be cooking, or grocery shopping with parents, or trying to make sense of all their school subjects. I felt their struggles and tried to celebrate their successes. 

One teacher in the documentary summarized, "Their failures are my failures." 

Another commented, " I teach to see the twinkle in their eyes."

"The tests will never show their daily successes."

The documentary reveals the teachers' everyday challenges. Some have great successes, others smaller successes, but we all keep trying.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SOL Day 18

I'm going to the beach! Night before last a fleeting thought about asking husband when he was going to take me to the beach entered my consciousness. I let it pass because:
A. he doesn't really like the beach
B. He is planning a trip for us out west
C. He hasn't been feeling super so I didn't want to worry hi.

Then as I was driving to work yesterday my phone buzzed. I stopped to look at the phone and it was a text from sister-in-law. She and 7 friends/another sister-in-law were planning a trip to the beach near the end of August. They were inviting me! 

I told them it was an answer to a prayer! I said yes before I lost my spot. So we are going to the beach!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SOL for Day 17 you can't the country out of me

Today I had to drive quite a distance to visit with a teacher. I had two options for my route. One route was 25 miles longer, a divided highway and the speed limit was 65 MPH. The other route was 2 lane highway all the way. I chose the two lane highway, with curves and hills. I love driving through the winding roads, especially when the weather is nice. Today the sun was shining, I could put the window down a bit to let the fresh air in. Seeing the sunlight stream through the trees reminded me of an impressionist painting. I thought I would take the other route on my way back, but when I should have turned toward the divided highway, I kept going toward the two lane highway. I met very little traffic on my chosen route. I enjoyed the view going and coming. People you meet wave or nod. I feel comfortable taking the back roads. "Country roads, take me home."

Monday, March 16, 2015

SOL for Day 16 never done building.

We have added to our current house since we built in in 1986. My husband's family has a lumber & hardware business. He and his 2 brothers have worked there all their lives, each with their own responsibilities. My husband started working for his grandfather, then his dad. He served as a contractor for years, building houses for their customers. Even though he never got a degree in architecture, he often designed the houses. For simple additions, he might draw the floor plans to scale. For more challenging jobs, he would pay a friend to draw up the plans. He recently stopped building for others because he needed to slow down. He still gets requests and will offer sound advice, but no longer contracts to build.

I don't remember what we first added to our house but it was probably a shed for my husband to store his tractor. He kept it in the basement for a time before the basement was finished. Since that first shed, he has added to it 3 times and built 2 more structures. He collects car parts and old vehicles. They require space. He has a 45 year collection of motors, parts cars, and parts. He even bought a 38 ft. Motor home that took up quite a big space.

He sold one of his cars to build a pool in our back yard. That was 15 years ago. The pool needed a patio, later that was added on the back of our house, small restroom included. Last year he felt we needed a pavilion to host family gatherings. It is built on the other side of the pool.

Four years ago he needed/wanted a space to store his show cars so he built a barn with a loft. We chose red metal with a white roof. We are so proud of how it looks and spend an average of one day per month to keep it clean inside. It does require maintenance as with every house.

You can get a glimpse of the red barn in this picture.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

SOL for day 15 we haven't moved in 28 years

The house we live in was our second house. Our first house was in a small town where we both worked. I wanted to build a house in the country. My dad helped us buy 20 acres about 4 miles out of town and we finally agreed to start building the house of our dreams. We had to dig a well, create a driveway, and select just the right spot., 220 feet off the highway. It took almost a year to get the house built. The first carpenter got a job teaching so he had to stop. We tried to do as much as we could. Our friends helped us stain the woodwork. We finally moved during a snow storm and my house plants suffered. 

A year later we were blessed to adopt a little baby boy. The house wasn't planned with children in mind, so we adjusted. We moved from our upstairs bedroom to the one on the main floor because I was afraid I might fall while carrying the baby up & down. When we moved back upstairs, I used old quilts to block the spindles in the stairwell from a crawling boy. 

We adjusted and made the house fit our needs. We had many years of birthday parties, family dinners and overnight guests. We added rooms, rearranged rooms, and made repairs through the years. 

That boy moved out 6 years ago but his room was just cleaned out last fall. That's when he got married. 

Now we are adjusting again. Hosting weekend guests and having family dinners, as always. 


Saturday, March 14, 2015

SOL for Day 14 living vicariously

All day I've struggled with what to write for this day. I spent the morning reading lots of posts. Several of them touched my heart. But, still I struggled.

I loved the post listing"10 things you don't know about me". I felt that would not be a fair post because The slicers don't know me and I don't know any of the slicers, personally.  I do remember their blogs from reading and commenting the past 2 years and throughout the rest of the year, I follow some of them on my blog.

I read the post about living in numerous cities abroad. It was an amazingly unusual tale for me to read, because after age 9 I never changed schools. I even taught there for 29 years. I've lived in my current house for 28 years.

I read posts about working closely with great staff , which I did for 29 years. In my current job, I work more in isolation. Today I visited a scheduled event and everyone was so friendly. It is just that I'm not often involved with these events.

And I read posts about raising young children. It is true they grow up way too fast! Our son lives 150 miles from us. We are planning lunch with them next week after a doctor appointment.

I can live vicariously through these blogs.

Friday, March 13, 2015

SOL for Day 13 environmental education

Toady at work I watched a free webinar about environmental education on Blackboard, presented by Green Teacher. The presenters, Jeff Chandler and Christine Voyer were great, they provided lots of good resources about environmental education week. EEWeek usually coincides with Earth Day.This year EE week is April 19 through 25. You can register to participate at EEWEEK.org. Free materials abound, many can be used to incorporate non-fiction reading with all subjects and provide a real life application. I'm finding it difficult not to make this an advertisement, but this topic is what I do!

Their discussion focused on invasive species. The information was just what I needed. I'm planning a presentation on citizen science projects this summer and they covered so much of what I should include. Now I have more to add to my talk. I also found a book I need to to purchase. 

Christine suggested If you are interested in starting a citizen science project with your students, you should start small. I agree. You can find great information at several web sites: scistarter.com; Inaturalist ; budburst; birds.cornell.edu; projectnoah... Christine works in Maine with a project called vital signs. You can find lots of lessons there too. 

I ended the webinar thinking this topic would make a great teacher workshop this summer! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

SOL 12 for #15 another post of currently

Currently I'm relaxing on the couch, stretched out to rest my legs. 
Currently I'm sorting my thoughts, focused on a new SOL.
Currently I'm waiting for a new episode, tired of reruns of Big Bang Theory.
Currently I'm typing with my pointer finger on my IPhone, placed eyeglasses aside.
Currently I'm planning my work day, scheduled a meeting.
Currently I'm procrastinating, typed 750 words a day for the past 6 days.
Currently I'm petting my Golden Retriever, cleaned her dish after dinner.
Currently I'm hearing trucks speeding past, parked our vehicles side by side. 
Currently I'm sharing bits of my day, visited a Boys & Girls Club.
Currently I'm listening to my husband, planned a trip on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

SOL # 11 Whoa! Let's enjoy spring.

Finally it seems that spring arrived. Temperatures are nearing 60 and the sun is shining down on the muck left from all the snow. I took it as a nudge to put a spring wreath on my gate. I wrapped the light post with silk forsythia blooms. I cleaned the garage. I did this all on my lunch break. I don't usually come home during lunch, but the glorious weather was calling to me. I'm excited to get the patio ready for more time spent outside. The radio announcer said summer was 102 days away. Whoa! I want to enjoy every day of spring. Let's not rush this season. I'll mark the Vernal Equinox with a celebration. First I must figure out what I can do. I know traditions abound, so I will search the web, read some books and get an idea that is meaningful for me. I'll get back to this blog when I have selected how I can celebrate the onset of spring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SOL #10 active women's club

My sister and I belong to a local women's club. It was formed back in 1959. Only a couple of the founding members are still living. My mother-in-law was a founding member. One lady who was a founding member gave the devotional and led us in prayer at our monthly meeting tonight. The club members range in age from 85 to 30. Some are great grandmothers, others are grandmothers, while the youngest members have children in Kindergarten. I think this range of ages makes the club feel authentic. It really is a tight knit group. Tonight secret pals were revealed and hugs were seen all around the room. 

Business consisted of donating books to the Head Start, making Easter Baskets for children who are in the Children's Home, and donating to Project Graduation. One last item was to agree on a money making project. It was decided to sell homemade ice cream at the annual car show.

For the past two months we have been trying to schedule an outing for the entire group. The older members want to attend if someone else will drive. That works out perfectly because we have enough younger women to drive. We finally selected a play at a college one hour away. We plan to leave early in the day so the ladies can shop, have dinner, then attend the play. 

This group seems to focus on the needs of community. It makes me proud to be part of such an organization.

Monday, March 9, 2015

SOL #9 changes in the Post Office

Going to the post office is no longer fun. We had a wonderful, caring postmaster for several years. He spoiled everyone in our small community of 750. If you forgot your box office key, no worry, he would hand your mail to you. Now a sign is posted that reads, "We will not hand mail to you across the counter, it is illegal." The people working there do not know my name. They give me my sister-in-law's mail even when it is properly addressed. We just happen to have the same name. I politely introduced myself to them as I handed her mail back to them. I told them her correct address was on the package. And I told them our small community has three people with my name. And we all have different addresses.

The local (50 miles)sorting facility was closed. Our mail travels150 miles one way before it is delivered and sometimes it has to travel that distance back.  Whew, it isn't really fun to go in the post office. 


Sunday, March 8, 2015

SOL #8 A treasured memento

Yesterday while looking for something, I found a letter from my Grandmother. It was written just 3 days before Mom passed. I could still read Grandmother's handwriting, years later it became difficult to read. I saved letters from her, in various places, some are collected together. This one was in an old Bible. The contents took me way back to 1978. Grandmother was apologizing for not recognizing my graduation from college. She said I was the first grandchild to graduate and hoped there would be many more. She said I went to teaching and time got away from her. She enclosed $10 and told me she couldn't pick out a gift. I wish I knew what I bought with that money.

Then she wrote about how she taught me to roll out pie dough. She said she never let the other girls do that. She said I was good at it and she wondered if I still like to make pies. I do, but I never remembered that part. It makes me cry now as I read it. I treasure her letters. It is funny she only lived 7 miles from me.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

SOL # 7 Celebrating Birthdays

SOL # 7 Birthday Celebrations

March ushers in a deluge of birthday celebrations. Between my husband’s family and mine we have a dozen birthdays. Many times we celebrate the adult birthdays with one huge family gathering. But the children must have their own party. Celebrations have already started, I received a group text last night.  The fun will continue throughout the month.  For the kids, we might skate, bowl, offer horseback rides, or simply play games outside, depending on the age of the honoree. For the adults we usually visit, eat and open gifts. And gifts for children should not be a book. I found that out after bringing a book to one nephew turning 4. He took the book and asked, "Where is my gift?" I saved our relationship by telling him I had included some cash for him to shop and choose his own gift.

We always have birthday cake and ice cream. Sometimes we have homemade ice cream. The menu is usually tailored to the tastes of the honoree. My father-in-law usually barbecued until he could no longer stand on his knees that long.

We’ve had cakes in the form of Spiderman and the little guy came dressed as Spiderman. Another young lad was dressed as Batman so Gotham City was the design on the cake.  Sometimes the guests are characters! Mickey and Minnie showed up once.












Last July, for my father-in-law’s 90th birthday, we invited friends from far and near. We hosted almost 100 people. That took the whole family working together to make that happen.

All this celebrating originated with my mother-in-law. She felt it was especially important to honor each person on birthdays.  It is a tradition we have continued. In doing this we honor her memory, her love for life and her daily celebrations.



Friday, March 6, 2015

SOL# 6 Healthy eating and good taste can occur together.


On our second month of avoiding gluten, dairy and various other unhealthy foods, I was looking for something healthy to satisfy my husband’s sweet craving. Almond flour, oat flour, and nuts had been purchased so I tried to create a healthier version of chocolate chip cookies.  I used olive oil instead of butter, mixed 1/3 cup of almond flour with 2/3 cup of oat flour in with 2 eggs, baking soda, salt, vanilla, ¾ cup of Splenda, ¾ cup of brown sugar and a small amount of chocolate chips. The consistency was the same but I had to taste the batter. That was my first mistake. I added some pecan chips and could not stop eating as I waited for the first batch to bake.  It seems not only my husband has a sweet craving.

The cookies browned beautifully and I took 3 small cookies to my husband. He was going to share them with me and I told him I had already eaten that many in batter. I did taste one baked cookie and was pleasantly surprised, they were crisp and tasty.

After cleaning up the dishes, I told my husband I could not do that again because I felt as though I had gained 5 pounds. The next morning I sent the rest of the cookies to work with him. His coworkers (2 brothers and 3 nephews) would be the true test.  
He came home at lunch and said they loved them!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

SOL #5 Home of the Runestones

Last fall I was riding with a group of workshop attendees through rural Oklahoma and saw a school sign, "Heavener, Home of the Runestones". No one had heard of a runestone. We have athletic teams with animal names: bears, bobcats, beat cats, hornets, red hawks, etc. Using my cell phone, I went straight to Wikipedia and began a search. I found very interesting information that lead to more questions by everyone riding along. We couldn't believe Norsemen actually lived in Oklahoma.

The next day I found a video clip on You Tube. I was excited because I could actually see the site and hear how to correctly pronounce Heavener.

A day later another group member sent an interesting link that more thoroughly explained current beliefs. You never know when you will encounter such a controversial history lesson. And it had no relevance to the workshop we had just attended. Teachers never stop learning.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SOL #4 Each place has its rewards and minor differences

Rural vs Urban

I live in the country
Thinking about the city

I greet friends and family in town
Running errands without running into any acquaintances

I see stars in the evening sky
Seeing street lights twinkle, lighting the way

I  make dinner with the vegetables from my garden
Dining at various quaint spots and savoring the entree

I hear hoot owls call one another in the distance
Hearing sirens throughout the night helping someone in distress

All make a life well lived
Carving out a niche that feels like home












Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SOL #3

I was connected to the same school for 29 years as a teacher, counselor, and principal. My life revolved around school functions in which many family members participated. My husband, his parents, our son and I graduated from this same school, lived in the small community and still do.

I left 9 years ago with mixed emotions, I took a leap of faith into a larger world. I still work in education, with a different perspective. I'm not involved in the daily minutiae of the classroom, or even one school. I work for the conservation outreach and education department of my state. I concentrate on teachers from 9 counties in my region of the state. My goal is to help people discover nature. I find relevance for conservation education in literacy, math, reading, science and writing. That is the easy part. Nature readily involves children and adults. Nature calms the spirit, soothes the restless and provides focus, but all that is another post.

Visiting classrooms, providing professional development and teaching others how to explore nature has been a great fit for me. It has been a valuable learning experience. I'm finding it difficult to stop. I think I'd like to merge the best of both worlds by creating a school where the subject matter is nature, where students spend lots of time observing, journaling, collecting, analyzing and synthesizing data to make sense of the natural world.

Maybe in another life!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Time for Reading SOL#2

https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/sol15-day2/

I was trolling today's SOL posts on the challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers when a comment brought back memories of how I struggled with reading.

I not only didn't love to read, I fought it. Not because reading was difficult for me, my Mother taught me to read verses from the Bible before I was 5. But somewhere along the way I lost interest. In elementary school my test scores were good, but grades on report cards always expressed my lack of effort, "Patricia must work harder". I didn't think I knew how to work harder. Mom and I studied geography and math every night. But with each move to a new district, I struggled.

Finally we settled in one area and a 6th grade teacher recognized my abilities and encouraged me to read by sharing Robinson Crusoe in comic style. That summer I remember reading "Gone with the Wind" as I lay on a blanket under a tree in our backyard. Read and cry, read more and cry more. That got me hooked on books for a time again. It wasn't until high school literature class when we studies O'Henry and Ray Bradbury that I loved reading again. When I attended college much later reading about Van Gogh, children's literature and education psychology sparked my desire to read.

Still, I quickly finish a book if I'm engrossed, but I might keep another one lying around, struggle through and finally give up.

I shared books with my son as soon as he was born. He mouthed words trying to read and told me one day he  had a problem because he struggled and could not yet read at age 2. Now that he is married, I share books with Grand Nieces and Nephews. I visit classrooms and read nature books aloud to children of all ages. I love children's picture books and hope to write a good one someday.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Slice of Life 2015 #1

How can it be March, already? I planned to get a jump on writing for a daily slice of life. I started a draft last week, well before March 1. The first day of March is slipping through my hands. I spent the morning organizing tax papers, reading some interesting slices, enjoying a late lunch, and shopping for a few necessities before more bad weather. Well, that last item was not enjoyable because it was crowded and the roads are lined with dirty black piles of snow/ice. The day slipped away from me and now it is time to prepare for another work day. Ok, tomorrow, I promise to myself that I will do better. 


A morning at Pre-school