31 August 2010

The Good Life

It is a cloudy day.  Storms are brewing.  I know this not because of anything the meteorologist said.  I know this because first graders are extremely accurate barometers.  After years of interacting with them, I've learned how to gauge the changing of the weather.

Today has been filled with many first grade blessings (barometers, aside).  From Sid, I received a heartfelt gift.  He wanted me to have the tickets he earned while playing games at Bonkers.  He could have saved them toward a prize.  Instead, his teacher ended up the winner.

Later in Writer's Workshop ~ as we were
"sharing our thinking" and discussing our plans for our pieces ~ Kadence showed the class an interesting illustration.  She had "sketched" (yes, it's a literary tool, too) her idea and will add the words tomorrow.  She will be writing about Mrs. Green's workspace.  She specifically pointed out the plant atop the tall cubby.  The smallest details really do matter!  I have no idea what inspired her to write about my small group teaching area, but I suspect Miss Kadence has a future career in mind.

And then there is the matter of my mail.  "My" first graders are always mine, even when they move on to the second grade...or third...or twelfth.  The third graders are working on friendly letters right now.  One of my former students, who attended a different school last year, has returned...

Dear Mrs. Green,

Hello! It's been a long time since I saw you!  How are you doing today?  I am doing fine.  You have been my best teacher in the whole world and you always look pretty!  Did you know that I am in the third grade?  I just can't stop thinking about you.  You were very nice and I was so happy when I got to see you!  I am always shy.  I don't know why.  But when I see you I will hug you or wave bye!

Your pal,

Hugs are nice, Tyanna.  Your letter is just the kind I needed.  And I nearly forgot...There was one more note taped to the inside of my mailbox: 


Loved watching the story sharing time.  The Principal Pal "Stars" who came to the office told me all about it!  Keep up the great work! 

Lorie (aka "the principal")

Wow!  Sometimes you have no idea who's watching through the window. 

Thought for the day:

"Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching."

Today was a very good day.  I am grateful.  xoxo, ~S.

30 August 2010


“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” ~Wayne Dyer

I learned this lesson from my dad.  It was not one he intended to teach.  Nevertheless, he delivered it rather effectively.  In the difficult years before he passed away, he was often angry with me.  The primary cause was simply that I would not argue back.  I had already learned, however, that it's not always possible to reason with others.  I kept my chin up and my head held high...and now, as a result, I am able to look back and focus on the times with him that still make me smile.

As I look outside my window at the rain, I think of how desperately I need a hug from my dad today.  Maybe, just maybe, he'd tell me it really wasn't my fault.  After all, an apology is the best way to have the last word.

27 August 2010

A Toast to Today

“For all sad words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these, 'It might have been'.”
~John Greenleaf Whittier
(American Writer, 1807-1892) 

My perspective on this is a bit different that what it would have been, say, even yesterday.  I have a habit of looking over my shoulder, not out of any particular worry or fear, but rather, out of a keen curiosity about the "what-ifs" and the "might-have-beens." I've been looking at the past for far too long.  "There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday." ~Robert Nathan

"We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don't think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you're hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time." ~Art Buchwald

I think I'll take Mr. Buchwald's advice.  I don't want to be so focused on yesterday that I forget to breathe in the present tense.  I don't want the joys of today to become my "might have beens."  In essence, I want the joys of today to be just that... today's"You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present." ~Jan Glidewell

I'm a bit sweet on Oliver Wendell Holmes. His words often speak truths that I otherwise could not.  He is the type of prolific writer I wish I could be.  He once said that apologizing is a very desperate habit, that "apology is egotism wrong side out."  Interesting.  I could apologize to those around me for not being "present in the present," but honestly, is it true remorse if you aren't regretting the motive?  Suffice it to say I've been selfish...and I liked being selfish.  I've just decided it's time to be less so.  (I've always enjoyed a challenge.  Let's see how successful I am at becoming less indulgent.)  I just have to keep telling myself this:  "The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology." ~Red Auerbach

Today is the best day.  It is the only one promised.  I think I'll celebrate.  Maybe I'll hang a new wreath on my door.  Here's to a new season...
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

24 August 2010

What Lies Ahead

"All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it--walk."  ~Ayn Rand

 It is such a simple thought, yet it makes me want to move...to keep putting one foot in front of the other ~ and not just when the mood strikes, but rather, steadfastly so.

 Here's how my day began: I finally fell asleep after my usual bouts of insomnia, then proceeded to oversleep.  Regardless, I made it to work on time, and enjoyed a text from a loyal friend who wished me a good day and said, "You're the best first grade teacher ever!!"  Isn't that sweet?!  And at 8:50 a.m., as I arrived at the library to pick up my students, one of them told me, "You're looking good."  (I don't hear that often from six year-olds.)  But back to the quote...  Summarily, it says to me that life "is what it is."  Make the most of it.  I suppose that's what happened this morning...and it worked.

Later today I received an e-mail from my college freshman.  The subject line contained no words, only "$$$$$$$$".  She then delineated certain expenditures at the university bookstore.  The list was followed with an apology.  "Sorry for running you dry.  Love you."  Hey, at least she has a heart.  I love you too, McKenzie, so very much.

On a totally random note (because it's MY blog and I can be random if I want) ~ This picture makes me smile.  Fall is coming (my favorite season) and yesterday I found THE cutest little bottles of apple juice in the store. The only thing missing is the stem and a leaf! I don't even drink this stuff, but tonight...well, maybe with some mulling spices and a cinnamon stick, I might just have a change of heart.
On the menu tonight is Chicken Pot Pie.  This is one meal I only recently learned to love.  (Please, don't mix my vegetables together and expect me to eat them...at least until now, that is!)  I believe the recipe is somewhere in a previous post, but I'm typing it again anyway.  It's that good.  Some things are worth a second round.  

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Yield:  2 pies
One for now...One for later! 
  • 4 rolled pie crusts
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cans mixed vegetables
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 block cream cheese (8 oz.)
  • pepper, to taste
 Mix together the filling ingredients (after discarding the skin and bones from the chicken, of course!).  Do not drain the vegetables.  Divide and place the mixture into two pie crusts, topping with the remaining crusts.  Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  (These pies may be frozen as well.  Thaw at room temperature before baking.)  Enjoy.
A final thought ~  The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. ~Benjamin Franklin 

22 August 2010


"It's not having what you want
It's wanting what you've got."
Now that's a thought.  Maybe if I tell myself this very thing, over and over again, I'll believe it.  Actually, it sounds like it might fall somewhere under the definition of optimism, doesn't it?  Besides, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that pausing long enough to note the wonders around me, even the slightest ones, can truly encourage an elongated smile.  I think today's post will follow this theme.  A wise man once said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."  Seriously, who I am to argue with Abe Lincoln?

Thus, today's little wonders....

10:00 a.m.  Lane drew a snowman.  The fact that his hat featured a smiley face made her laugh.  She decided his scarf looked like a ribbon, and ascertained that he therefore must have won a prize.  What's not to love about the imagination of a four year-old?

11:17 a.m.  My friend, Janel, posted the link to this blog on her Facebook page yesterday.  I had been introduced to it previously but was happily reacquainted.  Check it out!

I especially love the reading under the tab "The Best of."  I think you might too.

12:23 p.m.  EmersonMade.  Wow.  These fabric flowers are lovely, I think.  The prices, well, hmmm.  Maybe I'll learn to make my own, or maybe I'll just decide that I'm worth it anyway.  This site is adorable, though, and I hope you'll pay it a visit.  Classic.  Elegant.  This first photo isn't about the flower, however.  I'm in love with the architecture...and the green wellies, too!

Little Dandy
(the flower, of course)
Beautiful Dahlia

1:45 p.m.  I am finally at school to prepare lessons for the week ahead.  My two youngest daughters are with me...which is the precise reason I am NOT surprised about the text I just received:  "Wildcats are loose in the lounge."  So why am I even including this on my list of today's wonders?  Perhaps, simply, because some wonders NEVER cease.  Imagine that.

2:11 p.m.  I'm obviously not focused on the task at hand.  Otherwise I wouldn't be adding to this list.  Or maybe I just need to be genuine about which particular task IS at hand.  I've got Cape Cod on my mind.  Those who know me well have been listening to this sentiment cycled ~ and recycled ~ throughout my conversations for some time.  I cannot help it.  Yesterday I spent a lot of time visiting with my friend Suzy.  We've got some delicious plans awaiting in a mere THIRTY-TWO days.  An ocean breeze is blowing my way.

3:29 p.m.  Lessons are ready ~ for tomorrow, at least.  The girls and I are off to a 70th birthday Open House at my former church.  My dear friend and childhood minister, Gary Baker, is definitely worth celebrating.  He is a mentor, a pillar of faith, and just a salt-of-the-earth type of guy.  Yep, he's made of "good stuff."  Happy, Happy Birthday!

4:15 p.m.  Off to the grocery store we go!  On the menu tonight:  Salisbury Steak with mushroom and onion gravy, garlic smashed potatoes, sweet corn with cracked pepper, oriental coleslaw, and some very sweet watermelon for dessert.  I think tonight there will be a few extra cooks in the kitchen...which reminds me of the closing lines of Carl Sandburg's poem, "Under a Harvest Moon."  It is a love poem but the words, if only for this evening, remind me of my children.
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

(Ally is fixing the potatoes using her great great grandmother's pot. 
That makes me smile.)

You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. --Saint Bernard
7:21 p.m.  A blur on a backroad.  It's almost as if I've summoned it from a dream.  I rarely activate my four-wheel drive, but the low water crossings involved something other than low water tonight.  My car now needs a good shower.  Sometimes it's worth it to get a bit dirty.  Uh huh.
8:37 p.m.  A watercolor sky...

I am often asked if I am not lonely on my solitary excursions. It seems so self-evident that one cannot be lonesome where everything is wild and beautiful and busy and steeped with God that the question is hard to answer.--John Muir
  Tomorrow is another day.  Yes:  that, in and of itself, is ANOTHER wonder.  Until then...xoxo ~S

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.  ~e.e. cummings

21 August 2010

Beyond Words

Dear McKenzie,

Yesterday was the first day in 18 years and 197 days that you had not been a permanent fixture in our home.  Your status has officially been upgraded to that of college freshman, an adult capable of living on your own and making wise decisions.  It seems like just yesterday (cliche, I know, but true) that all 6 pounds, 10.25 ounces of you came into my world (with the music of Van Halen playing in the background, of course).  I was only a few years older than you are now when I learned, firsthand, about a mother's love.  You are even more perfect today than you were so many years ago.  You are smart and beautiful, fiercely independent yet kindhearted.  You are a child who continues to captivate those around you.  More than anything, you are mine.  You might possibly be the first "right" thing I ever did in my life. 

I am still reeling from the emotions of two days ago.  It was incredible when we took Lane to preschool and you hugged Miss Laura goodbye.  I am quite sure it was only recently that you were a preschooler there too, dressed as Mary in the Christmas play, tossing baby Jesus into the manger with a loud "thunk".  How did the time slip away so quickly?  And then there was that play in second grade...The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  You were adorable, even if your teacher wasn't.  Fast forward to 8th grade graduation:  your blue dress just like Hannah's, and your sparkling eyes (and braces too)...I remember being told, "Stephanie, your daughter is gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous."  You still are...you still are.  As an infant, you weren't labeled "the Gerber baby" for nothing!  And high school...it seems like the time passed as such a blur, at least for me.  I know, though, that those four years were neverending to you.  You waited a long time for this next step.  Now the waiting has come to an end.

What you do not know is that as I followed you and your dad in the car, I cried.  And cried.  A lot.  It probably did not help that I was listening to my iPod.  As you know, it holds a lot of songs that are significant to me, many dating back to the days when I was quite young.  It reminded me how quickly time passes.  Wasn't it just a day or so ago when I packed my own bags and headed off to Mizzou?  And then I heard the song that really started the tears.  I love the Beatles and I know you do, too.  These words from "Golden Slumbers" are appropriate...

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

 *     *     *    
You know the way home.  It's just down the road.  But home is really where your heart is ~ and mine is with you, McKenzie. 

 *     *     *  

As I drove, I looked at your "stuff" packed in my vehicle.  I had to smile at the things you chose to carry along to your new room.  In the seat beside me were some of your most treasured books...among them, poetry by e.e. cummings and Kahlil Gibran.  I picked up your copy of Elie Wiesel's Night and opened it.  Your name and "2006" were written inside the cover.  I liked that you dated the book, just as I always do with my own.  I remember when you chose to read that particular title for a class assignment.  I had already fallen in love with it and was sure you would too.   I remember that as you read it (you were still quite young), you had to stop at times because of the difficult subject matter.  You have always been intuitive and you felt keenly the atrocities committed against humankind.  Stay true to that perspective.  You have an incredible light to share with the world.  "We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them.  Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately." ~Elie Wiesel, closing remarks, Night

Sometimes the most sincere gifts that I can give are my words.  These are for you.  The thing is, though, I love you beyond words, McKenzie Bean.  Beyond words. xoxo

17 August 2010

A Hug of Words

It has a special place on my workspace, resting beside my computer at work.  I've looked at it...read from it...each and every school day since last December.  It was, and remains, a treasured gift from a treasured friend.  It is The Daily Book of Positive Quotations by Linda Picone.  Positive is the operative word here.  It is true:  I am a recovering pessimist. 

“Life is all about timing... the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable... attainable. Have the patience, wait it out. It's all about timing.” ~Stacey Charter

Perhaps it is the timing of this post that has me seeing it~this sweet little book~with new eyes.  It was exactly one year ago when my life began to change, and so today, I am reflective.  I am also feeling a bit solitary in my thoughts and am longing for a hug.  That is one of the reasons I write.  My words come back, again and again to envelop me.  They are my 'hug' when no arms are near.

The quotation dated August 17th says this:  "Make voyages! Attempt them! There's nothing else." ~Tennessee Williams~    How very appropriate.  The past year has marked quite an adventure.  I expect no less from this next one.  “Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” ~Mary Tyler Moore

Although I am feeling a bit sentimental today, I am also excited to begin the school year anew.  I am ready for the changing seasons and the accompanying excitement.  (Autumn is such a thought-provoking time.)  And some new, personal, educational pursuits loom on the horizon.  I am ready.  “Nothing happens by chance, my friend... No such thing as luck. A meaning behind every little thing, and such a meaning behind this. Part for you, part for me, may not see it all real clear right now, but we will, before long.” ~Richard Bach

For whatever reason, before publishing this post I picked up my book and held it to my face.  I love the smell of books...some better than others.  Somehow the print on the back cover had escaped me until now.  "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~    Those are powerful words.  Words to live by.  And so today I write it on my heart...Today is the best day in the year.  I wish the same for you.  You cannot imagine how strongly I do.  xoxo ~S.

“The two important things I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision.”
~Robyn Davidson

...which reminds me of a Chinese proverb I've posted before:  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Today, I take my first.  Again.

14 August 2010

My Question

When you have come to the edge of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen:  There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly. 
~Patrick Overton

I see my path, but I don't know where it leads.  Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it. ~Rasalia de Castro

11 August 2010


“A grownup is a child with layers on.”
~Woody Harrelson

It is late and I am STILL working...  Today involved the kind of crazy busy-ness that invigorates.  My mind has been stimulated and today (even more than yesterday, but less so than tomorrow), I am convinced that this will be the best school year yet.  During faculty meeting today, excerpts from 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny, Life Lessons from Teaching by Phillip Done, were read aloud.  (Yes, even adults enjoy listening to stories!)  This is a book truly after the elementary school teacher's heart.  One of the vignettes especially hit home.  Often as teachers we refer to our years according to labels like "The Year of Jordan" or "The Year of Taylor," each pertaining to the outstanding successes (or admittedly, the nightmares) that permeated a particular academic tenure.  I have been fortunate~ unlike the author~ in that I have never referred to any given one as "The Year of Satan."  This school year has already been given a label, even before the students arrive in the classroom.  You will think I am selfish.  This year is "The Year of Stephanie."  Stephanie.  As in me, the teacher.  Yep, that's what I said.

This year I am going to do exactly what I want in the classroom:  I am going to be the best that I can be...the best reader, the best writer, the best friend, the best role model to the children around me, the caring adult in the classroom.  I am going to think in ways I have never thought before, to contemplate, analyze, wonder, take risks, and to solve problems.  I am going to ask questions.  Important ones.  Especially ones that begin with "Why...?" and "How...?"  I am going to search for the answers, too.  "I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." ~Eartha Kitt

Most of all I am going to learn.  I am going to take all the lessons my students teach me and make them into something beautiful.  Somehow.  Some way.  My friend told me recently that I enrich the lives of those around me.  I don't know how true that is, or really what to say about it other than this:  In our classroom this year, the goal is simple.  We will live and breathe and work and laugh and learn together.  And by doing so, we will enrich the lives of others.  To take what each of us brings into this classroom and use it to make something beautiful...well, that is the best kind of selfish we can be.

“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up.”
~The Wonder Years

09 August 2010


And so it has arrived, this last day of break.  For the first time in years it is a bit difficult to say goodbye to summertime.  It is not just this season that is coming to a close...it is an entire year.  So much has unfolded these past twelve months.  It seems like just yesterday I was out celebrating with coworkers after an Open House at school...the night that I met my new first graders and their parents...the night when I said hello again to an old friend... I wonder what this year will bring?  Let's hope it's a wild ride. 

Breathe (2 a.m.)
Anna Nalick

'Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe
*     *     * 
2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to

Today will be a busy one and so I will not actually publish this post until the day is done.  I have an appointment with Dr. K and although I have enjoyed our relationship, I am hoping to soon close the chapter in my life entitled, "Health Concerns of Unknown Origin."  And even though I've developed great rapport with "Chris, the Phlebotemist," I'm ready to say adios to him as well.  (As I return to finish this, I admit I was overzealous.  Dr. K and his staff would simply miss me too much if I disappeared from their appointment roster completely.  Oh well.)

The most precious aspect of today will be simply breathing the same air as my children.  There are transitions in my life here as well.  My eldest will be leaving the nest soon.  Eighteen-point-five years have gotten us to this point, step by step, but somehow my heart has not put on its walking shoes and is lagging far, far behind.  I hope McKenzie will carry a piece of it along with her.  I love you, frotten.  (And here is the postscript to that note...not an original, but her shared sentiments nonetheless.  Wow, what an amazing kid.  My kid.  Mine.)

On that note (McKenzie, that is) the family...the ENTIRE family (grandparents included) met Mc's boyfriend.  Finally.  Last evening she proved to all of us that he really does exist and has not been a mere figment of her imagination for all of these many months.  He is nice.  And she is lovely.  And I think a bit of my heart is breaking.  Again.  My prayer is that she will be good to herself...and to those around her.  Again, McKenzie Bean, I love you.

Stevie Nicks
Took my love and I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changin'
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes bolder, children get older
I'm getting older too

It's getting late and I am growing sleepy.  Tomorrow is a big day.  Lane begins preschool; Ally celebrates a birthday, and I return to work ~ officially.  And although I hate to see my summer go, I'll look back fondly on the yesterdays it holds.  For now I'm happy to be FORTY and feeling fabulous.  It seems I've waited my entire life to get to this precise point.  It truly is the first day of the rest of my life.  xoxo  ~S.

04 August 2010


Here I go again.  I'm thinking and writing when I should be studying.  I have a test to take this weekend,  an important one, but all these words are building inside my head and my focus is elsewhere.  I've decided, though, that it is important for these words to be introduced to paper, or to blog, if I am going to find any degree of productivity as the evening progresses.  Besides, I'll then have more room in there (my head, of course) to focus on formulas and analogies and writing prompts and and and...  I keep telling myself it'll be okay.  I've seriously mastered the art of procrastination.  (The first step in any 12-step program is admitting you are powerless.  Yep, I'm toast.)

My friend and coworker, Nat, posted this on her Facebook page the other night:  "Ray Bradbury said, 'I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.' Has there ever been a time that you did this in your life?"  My quick reply:  "Yep, it's called 'I may be nuts but I'm going for a doctorate anyway.' Wings to follow...I hope."  As I said, Nat is a dear, dear friend.  The words that followed are among the sweetest sentiments she's ever shared with me:

Steph, your wings are there... always have been...if YOU are what 40 looks like...I'm not so worried. ;-)
Dear Nat,
I love you.  I love your smile and enthusiasm for life.  I love your passion for helping others and your zest in the classroom.  I love that you continue to engage in educational pursuits above and beyond what is expected.  I am so proud of you for earning that scholarship for yet another Master's Degree.  Mizzou recognizes the gem that is uniquely you...  I was already well aware of that fact, however.  Just know that even though your politics are askew (hey, it's my blog and I can say what I want), I wouldn't change you one bit (except maybe at the polls).  I am blessed to have you as my pal.  xoxo, ~Greenjeans

03 August 2010

Room 312

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught. ~Oscar Wilde    It is evening and I sit here, alone, in my classroom.  It is mine, only mine, at this moment.  There are no children to grace these chairs, no laughter to fill this room.  There are no first graders here who love their teacher and are loved in return.  If I am quiet, very quiet, I can hear the echos of conversations now silent...voices once eager to read to me and to share the connections between personal experiences and beloved texts; to solve problems and take risks and to investigate their world with me; to write with creativity and expression, with all of the tools of the author's craft within their hearts and hands... (In this room there is never any doubt.  We are authors.)  Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.  ~Abbé Dimnet

Within these walls we read and write, engage in inquiry and exploration, but perhaps most importantly ~ we think, we feel and we live, laugh, learn and love.  I suppose that is what I miss the most tonight.  I miss the 'we'.  I am a very selfish girl.  More than anything, I am longing for what my students bring to me.  I teach them nothing.  They teach me everything.  Everything.

“Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.” ~Henry L. Doherty

Let the school year begin.  Again.


I'm on another moodswing.  Those who know me well will not be surprised.  Those who do not know me (but read this blog) will not be surprised either.  What can I say?  I'm me.  I have a new label for this roller coaster ride:  adventure...or maybe voyage...a journey?  But, of course. 

"I must learn to love the fool in me--the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool." -- Theodore I. Rubin, MD

escapade [ˈɛskəˌpeɪd ˌɛskəˈpeɪd]  1. a wild or exciting adventure, esp one that is mischievous,  2. any lighthearted or carefree episode; romp.  Escapade.  I think that pretty well explains my momentary disposition...and I like it.  A lot.

Enough about me.  I'd rather talk about my Baby Lane, who really isn't a baby any longer at all.  She's a 4 year-old adult.  It was nice to see the weekend through her eyes. 

"Most of us had moments in childhood when we touched the divine presence.  We did not think it extraordinary because it wasn't; it was just a beautiful moment filled with love.  In those simple moments our hearts were alive, and we saw the poignant beauty of life vividly with wonder and appreciation." 
~David McArthur, Bruce McArthur, The Intelligent Heart

Sunday evening involved a bit of "backroad therapy," a serene way in which to collect my thoughts and find myself ~ again ~ along the way.  My girls have all been gifted with an appreciation for the outdoors.  To them, backroad therapy always involves a bit of "deer shopping."  This phrase is their own creation.  Make of it what you will.  For me, it is merely an appreciation of some amazingly beautiful, four-legged friends.  But then, I'm the only girl in the house that doesn't have good aim with a gun. 

This time the deer count was down.  A week or so ago we saw 73 in the fields.  Sunday, we saw a mere 12.  A change in weather was the culprit, and of course the soybeans aren't as provocative as they will be in a few short weeks.  We also saw a rafter of wild turkeys just beside us, along the road.  The gobbler and hen were escorting eight or so poults further into the field.  This was a first for me...I had never before seen a complete turkey "family" quite like this.  It was definitely worth stopping awhile, just to watch.  If you look closely, you can see their heads dotted (but camouflaged well) among the dried wildflowers.

Maybe now you can begin to understand the term backroad therapy.  It is extremely difficult to focus on yourself when there is so much other busy-ness around.  And with Lane in tow, there are many, many points to ponder...like whether or not the big, beautiful owl perched atop the tree actually flew there ~ or used a ladder to climb up to his lookout instead (a notion she found hilarious, even though the idea was her suggestion).  Sometimes the questions are a bit more serious, like "Why is the hawk flying with that rabbit in its claws?"  First, Lane, the word is talons...and second, he's hungry.  Hmmm.  Oh well.  No one said education must always be appetizing (unless as in this case, of course, you're the hawk).  Fortunately, the hundreds of bluebirds flying in and out of the trees provided a pleasant diversion. 

And then...this:  Lane asked honestly why the "volcano" (or, according to her pronunciation, the "bee-cane-o") was standing out in the middle of a field.  As a teacher, her activation of schema brought forth thoughts of Piagetan cognitive theory.  On a lighter note, she is far too young to comprehend that the atoms contained therein are the most fundamental pieces of that very field.

"Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread in it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect."  ~Chief Seattle 1854

A more pleasant sight was the display of thousands upon thousands of sunflowers, seen here just at the place where earth appears to meet sky.  This acreage is the candy shop of the doves.

And before I go, I'll add a few pictures that are to be saved for future reference.  I'm collecting "settings" for the story I have yet to write.  "Man makes holy what he believes, as he makes beautiful what he loves." ~Ernst Renan

Missouri River at dusk...Home.
"May the stars carry your sadness away.  May the flowers fill your heart with beauty.  May hope forever wipe away your tears.  And above all, may silence make you strong."  ~Chief Dan George

01 August 2010




[from Greek kalos beautiful + eidos form + -scope]

beautiful + form 

Almost like math, with a lean toward poetry.  That is the precise reason I've skipped to the definition I like best: 

3. a complicated set of circumstances

"Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. Effective leaders are able to."
~Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Powerful.  I came across this quote and had to use it here.  I think I'll be "using" it for quite some time.  I'm working diligently these days, preparing my application for Mizzou's Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis doctoral program.  Ms. Kanter's assertion that effective leaders are able to entice new possibilities is exactly what I want others to see when they look through my kaleidoscope.  A complex set of circumstances?  Those words fall somewhere under the definition of "i.am.sanders".  What can I say?  I'm bringing a sense of adventure to this ride."Illusion is the first of all pleasures."  ~Oscar Wilde

And one more thing on a completely unrelated note (although honestly, nothing that comes out of my head or my heart is every really completely unrelated)... I mentioned somewhere previously on My Happilist that I like seeing my name in print.  I won't repost that sentiment, but I'll show you what I mean.  Here's the result of a new, hand-lettered stamp, made just for moi!


My Happilist
Gratitude is the heart's memory. ~French proverb
Nos. 498 ~ 580

  • hope 
  • a new pair of running shoes 
  • warm towels just out of the dryer 
  • the sight of Missouri State Highway Patrol hats in my closet ~ Dad's first...and his last 
  • old iron beds 
  • military haircuts 
  • a ride through Astoria, Queens with Gus the Greek 
  • Colby Jack cheese 
  • Pepper Jack cheese! 
  • sand castles 
  • bubble baths 
  • Dr. Phil 
  • education ~ formal or informal...just learning something 
  • Food Network 
  • The History Channel 
  • the photography of National Geographic 
  • iPhones 
  • the Pledge of Allegiance 
  • frozen yogurt with fresh berries and granola 
  • Paul Mitchell Skinny 
  • a cool breeze
  • communion 
  • log cabins
  • picking apples from a tree 
  • 4.0 
  • jumping into leaf piles 
  • Tip ~ my own first grade reading book 
  • baby toes 
  • Adirondack chairs  
  • tire swings 
  • neighborhood walks  
  • the END of a migraine 
  • Mennonite buggies 
  • Weeping Willow trees 
  • farms  
  • farmhouses
  • tractors in a field 
  • old barns 
  • red barns 
  • Wompanoag studies 
  • silos ~ I'm a Midwest girl! 
  • sunsets ~ fading like subordinate clauses, from dusk to dark 
  • skipping stones 
  • blue skies 
  • green grass 
  • the smell of a BBQ grill 
  • treehouse views 
  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
  • drink umbrellas 
  • fortune cookies 
  • cobblestone streets 
  • relaxation at the Lake 
  • Pink's Funhouse CD 
  • manicures 
  • Yankee Candles 
  • sage advice 
  • geraniums on my porch 
  • a purpose 
  • validation 
  • roasted marshmallows ~ lightly browned 
  • The Ballad of Curtis Loew
  • memories of affordable gasoline 
  • Cajun trail mix 
  • the smell of Play-Doh 
  • genealogical research 
  • family heirlooms and the stories that accompany them
  • Alice Springs Chicken at the Outback 
  • butterfly kisses 
  • orange slice candy ~ Grandpa's favorite
  • the courtesy of a reply 
  • Hershey's milk chocolate 
  • old screen doors 
  • the study of history ~ because you want to  
  • white chocolate 
  • a trip to the pumpkin patch 
  • Katie Scarlett O'Hara ~ the familiarity 
  • a mercantile 
  • Oscar Wilde 
  • my lifetime membership at the Miller Country Historical Society ~ a partnership that matters to me 
  • cell phone calls from a former student, age 7, to discuss A) the several (!) chapter books she's reading simultaneously and B) her thoughts on writing topics for Writer's Workshop as she begins 2nd grade...Wow! 
  • a "Jenny and Oliver" kind of love 
  • my first memories, age 2 
  • old home movies circa the early 1970s...I remember when.