28 November 2010

My Pen

"Writing It Down"
~ Uncle Kracker ~

I was born on the cold side of the mountain
I wanna wake up on the warm side of the bed
How I start here
And how I end there
That is the part I ain't worked out yet

Every day I climb a little bit higher
Every night I learn something new
I'm writing it down
In case I forget
One day it'll be my story for you

24 November 2010


"Write something inspiring!"  That is what he said.  I am struggling to find adequate words under such a strong directive.  I'll humbly acquiesce to those who can do far better. 

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer

 God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"
~William A. Ward

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~W.T. Purkiser

I'll be heading to the grocery store soon in preparation of tomorrow's meals.  (Note the usage of the plural form.) There will be two feasts of the day, and one is literally over the river and through the woods, albeit NOT at grandmother's house.  And the anticipation of a wintry mix has me smiling!  I'm a cold weather girl and prefer to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with the furnace running. 

 There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.
~O. Henry  
I am a lucky girl. 
  • I have a family who loves me.  That, at times, is a difficult task.
  • I have children who, I know, will make a difference.  They've already made a difference to me
  • I have friends who somehow see my worth in spite of me.  A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you've forgotten the words.  Sometimes, sometimes you discover that truth in unexpected places...in unexpected faces.  I've been blessed. 
  • I have students who allow me to learn from them each day.  I earn my salary being inspired by 6 and 7 year-olds.  I am paid to spend time in their presence.  Such a gift. 
  • My bookshelves are lined with books.  Books filled with words.  Lots and lots of words.  My friends.
  • I have a direction, traveling shoes, and a purpose.  I've learned well how to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I don't need a map.  Finally, finally, I think I know the way.  Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron
  • I have grace.  Thank God for that.
  • When I feel like hell, I remember these anchors...and hold on tightly:  
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
~Horatio Spafford

I am a lucky girl...  If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart  ...and I am thankful.  Please, God, don't let me ever again take this for granted.  Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

18 November 2010

auf Wiedersehen

Gone.  No goodbye hugs.  No farewell smile.
Just gone

The heartstrings of a teacher are tugged often.  It is those times when they are pulled tightly that ache with a pain that is palpable. This child of mine, a student, has moved to a new school ~ moved on...away...with no closure.  There are many children who have shared my classroom over the years.  All are so very special, yet some leave their marks a bit more indelibly than others.  For reasons I will not share, this child was one of those students.  I'll be thinking about this little one for a long, long time.  I'll wonder, and worry, and hope, and pray.  Oh, dear God, please take care of this child.  Please. 

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” ~Pablo Casals

“I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” ~Dr. Haim Ginott

May others in your little life echo these sentiments.

14 November 2010

State of Mind

Last night I dreamed, as always.  These dreams, though, were such that are primed for interpretation...the scenes, the characters.  Some I know quite well...have known since long ago.  Others, I've come to know but have never actually met.  Interesting ~ the stake even the latter may claim once you've closed your eyes.  I'll be thinking a bit about these night stories as I head east to St. Louis today.  Sometimes even these tales are significant.

Yesterday was a day of stories, too.  McKenzie went hunting with her dad, as did Ally later in the afternoon.  Early in the day, I made my annual jaunt to Lone Star Farm with mom and my younger girls.  Magical.  Won't you come along?

A world in which elves exist and magic works offers greater opportunities to digress and explore. ~Terry Brooks

Well over a century old, this little one-room cabin rests atop a cellar. I think I could happily write my novel within these walls.  Come, take a peek inside...

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

The little shop near the barn is a delight as well.  Christmas carols, mulled cider, sugar cookies, a white chocolate cherry spread served with tiny crackers, and a bowl of spinach Parmesan dip married with a pretzel or two.  Yes, I lingered.

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

While I linnnggggggered, the girls enjoyed "the horse" referenced in a previous post.  They wanted so desperately to climb the fence and play, but this year, its owner was nowhere to be seen.  I wasn't complaining.  After a bout of carsickness from my youngest, I certainly didn't care to add equus to the list of messes to address.
Upon reminding the kids to keep their hands to themselves (and away from the horse's face), my Ally replied, "The only time he doesn't like it is when you're watching, mom."  A quick-witted response from a fearless child.

Christmas-themed towels and napkins, fruit preserves, jalapeno onion relish, appetizer mixes...and a snowman, too!
A sled and little red wagon bid welcome.

Old-fashioned dolls, like the ones resting on my camelback trunk ~ The ones I bought with my dad and grandfather in tow, using funds from a savings bond gifted to me at birth by my great-grandmother...a very, VERY long time ago.

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~W.T. Ellis

Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. ~Ralph Sockman
Dare I say it?  This...looks...like...me!

I'm hoping for dreams again tonight, a bit mysterious yet sweet too...the kind that taste like candy canes.  But for now I must go.  A little girl has climbed upon my lap and asked to see the "horsey" again.  That, that is even sweeter than candy canes.

Christmas, children, is not a date.  It is a state of mind.  ~Mary Ellen Chase 

13 November 2010

November's Chill

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.
~Andrew Wyeth

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.
~Ruth Stout  

Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.
~An Affair to Remember

*     *     *     *     *

Winter, how I long for thee.

12 November 2010

Love and a Weekend

I am in love...again.  The papers of Cavallini & Co. are simply to die for.  Please click on their link and enjoy. (It may also be found on the right side of this blog, under the heading "To Market").  Stunning.  Absolutely stunning.  And I mustn't forget to mention Primele, a sweet Etsy shoppe worth visiting.  The stamps found there remind me of items found on my grandfather's desk as a child.  I have a customized, personalized stamp from Primele and it was worth every penny spent. 

I want these stamps!
 Also under the "To Market" section of this blog is The White Flower Farmhouse, located on Long Island.  So impressive!  Click here to check out the blog.  I'm in a holiday mood and love, love, love (yes, it's love again!) these photos from the December entries.

Cloche of Vintage Appeal
Scientific Scene

by Elsie N. Brady
How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.

photo by Tiago Cabral

This weekend I'm looking forward to enjyoing the vintage holiday inspiration of Jenni Bowlin...

...and the creativity of Rebecca SowerI made my own blog banner but wish, somehow, mine could look like hers.  Love it!  And there's that word again...

This morning's quote (from my little book, yes) said this:  "Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep."  ~Carl Sandburg  Maybe so, but any tears I shed today will be ones of joy.  The weekend is here!  Yes, I love that, too! I hope you enjoy yours as well.  ~S.

11 November 2010

Amor Patriae

He was young and quite small, wearing a striped t-shirt under a pair of overalls ~ and a small cowlick, too.  He sat near the fence, playing in the dirt with a stick at the side of the street. He heard the man's whistle before catching a glimpse of  him, walking along the sidewalk with a purposeful stride.   The stranger wore a soldier's uniform with a garrison cap.  Lord, bid war's trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace." -Oliver Wendell Holmes  Yes, the man was a stranger.  But now, following the curtain's close on the European Theatre, he had left Germany forever...and returned home to the son who could not remember his father's face.  That is the story as it was told to me. 

Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul." -Michel de Montaigne

My grandfather carried a beautiful pocketwatch during much of the war.  It once belonged to an enemy soldier.  It's livelihood, however, ended with that of its previous owner.  Nevertheless, it was a beautiful piece and upon removing the guts from the broken mechanism, provided an apt frame for a picture of a little boy...a little boy who could not remember his father's face.  A little boy affectionately called, "Junior."  A little boy who grew up to become my dad.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." 
~Ronald Reagan

Today, and I everyday, I vow never to forget my father's face.  Like his father, he was a patriot of deeds.  Let me, then, be a patriot of words.  "When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?" -George Canning 

And one final note...It is with pride that I intereacted with so many veterans at school this morning.  Our Veteran's Day Breakfast and assembly were incredible.  The many military uniforms were ~ as always ~  impressive, and I will forever smile when I remember one student's great-grandmother who, wearing her American Legion hat and scarf, pointed to her husband (a handsome 88 year-old man dressed to the nines) and proudly told me of his service in the European Theatre of World War II. 

I am proud of the fact that our school is working to support Veteran's activities within our community.  Recently we hosted "Hats for Heroes" Day.  Those wishing to wear a hat at school (otherwise forbidden) could donate $1 to the cause.  The goal?  To raise money for Christmas wreaths to be placed on the graves in our city's National Veteran's Cemetry.  During the assembly, our principal was able to present a check in the amount of $244.00 to a committee consisting of a former teacher, a veteran, and a trooper from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.  The veteran was moved to tears.  It is impressive to me that 244 children were excited to participate.  Although I am a bit sentimental today, I think the opinions of Nick Lampson, Congressman from Texas, are worth shouting...

But this Veterans Day, I believe we should do more than sing the praises of the bravery and patriotism that our veterans have embodied in the past. We should take this opportunity to re-evaluate how we are treating our veterans in the present.

*     *     *     *     *

Congress should stop treating veterans like they're asking for a hand out when it comes to the benefits they were promised, and they should realize that, were it not for these veterans, there would be nothing to hand out.

~ Happy Veteran's Day ~

09 November 2010

Toasting Marshmallows

This morning I awoke at 1:00 a.m., again at 3:00 a.m., and for the final time when the alarm sounded at 5:45 a.m.  An angry chest cold was the culprit, but honestly, today I do not care.  I arrived at work early wearing curls and a smile.  Today is going to be a great day.  Why?  Because I said so, and that is reason enough.

Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities - always see them, for they're always there. ~Norman Vincent Peale

I've decided that the stuff falling through the cracks is confetti and I'm having a party! ~Betsy CaƱas Garmon 

It's that time of year. ~ This weekend, McKenzie will come 'home' from college to hunt with her dad.  They have been sharing this autumnal ritual for nearly a decade now.  Venison.  Chili.  Sausage.  We shall see!  As for me, I'll be enjoying a jaunt to smalltown Belle, Missouri for a little "Christmas in the Cabin" at Lonestar Farm.  I love this annual excursion with my mom and daughters.  It's a holiday tradition and I am looking forward to it!  The scent of mulled cider, shortbread cookies, ornaments, greenery, shopping for Christmas goodies...and the horse.  I cannot forget the horse.  Lane and Ally love petting that beast!

The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy. ~Eudora Welty

I have been organizing files in the classroom and came across one of my favorite poems.  It was written seven years ago by a former student.  She wrote it early in her second grade year, and given that fact, its beauty is even more astounding. 

November Fields
~ a poem ~
by Allison Mollenkamp
 A fall wind blows across the fields,
And makes the grasses sway.
The leaves are falling from the trees
That grow across the fence.
The corn is drying quickly;
It will soon be ripe.
The sun is high but getting dull,
The moon will soon rise high.
Little birds chirp their last,
And fly off to the South.
Little things are scampering off,
Into their little homes.
The air is getting cold for night.
The farmer has gone home.

Of late I've been missing my dad a lot.  This time of year is especially difficult for me in that way.  Sometimes those of us missing a father try to compensate in ways that hurt deeply.  I really must stop...Nil conscire sibi. Nevertheless, I have decided to make a concerted effort
  • to let the past lie where it will, 
I've got dreams in hidden places and extra smiles for when I'm blue. ~Author Unknown
  • to be present in the present,
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~Joseph Campbell
  • and to focus on the blessings instead.
Sometimes life's Hell.  But hey!  Whatever gets the marshmallows toasty.  ~J. Andrew Helt

Comfort food, too, is delightful this time of year.  Here's a new favorite.  Enjoy. 

Baked Spaghetti Casserole
~ from my house to yours ~

1 pkg. (16 oz.) Angel Hair pasta
1.5 pounds ground beef
1 jar (32 oz.) spaghetti sauce
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2 cans (10 3/4 oz.) undiluted cream of mushroom soup
1.5 cups (8 oz.) sour cream
4 cups (8 oz.) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, brown beef.  Drain.  Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce.  Mix well.  Drain pasta, then add to beef and pasta sauce and stir well.  Mix soup and sour cream in a separate bowl.  Mix well.  Spray 9x13 pan or 2 8-inch pans.  Add 1/2 layer of beef and pasta mixture.  Add layer of 1/2 of soup mixture.  Add 1/2 of cheese.  Th4en repeat layers.  Bake 350 degr4ees for 55 or 65 minutes or until cheese is melted.  To bake frozen casserole:  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Bake as directed.  Can be kept frozen up to 3 months.

Your heart is a sun -
Joy its stars,
Faith a moon, shining in your darkness...
~Terri Guillemets

01 November 2010

My Heartbeat

What a weekend! 
Exhilaration.  Exhaustion.  Excedrin. 
And now the work week begins...

Thursday Evening

Lane's Fall Festival, my last as the mom of a preschooler ~ Games, treats, costumes, a bit of an attitude...She is four years old, but her new favorite number is FIVE.  That is how old you must be to begin kindergarten, so she says.  Nevertheless, sweet girl, you are still my Baby Lane.  Always.  I love you.


Road trip to St. Louis, another of many as the mom of a college freshman ~ Wasn't it just yesterday that we attended your Fall Festival at the same preschool, McKenzie?  It was so good to see you, to share your space, to breathe the same air.  I am wearing my new Fontbonne sweatshirt with pride.  I love you, Frotten.  P.S.  Lunch at the Boathouse in Forest Park was a fabulous idea!   Dining at the water's edge, ducks and a frog swimming by, the smell of the firepit in the backdrop, the company...delightful!


Day 1 of Ally's tournament, cheering for #20 as a soccer mom ~ Today your plays were stellar...the passes, the assists.  I am proud of you, Ally Cat, and I love you so.  I have no doubt you are bound for super stardom.  No doubt whatsoever.  Thank you for allowing me to spend the day with YOU!


Church, 8:30 a.m. service.  Soccer, Day 2 and a second place tournament medal.  Trick-or-treating.  A headache...of migraine proportions.  It was worth it.  The weekend was definitely worth it. Three days, three daughters.  What's not to love?

Suddenly, through birthing a daughter, a woman finds herself face to face not only with an infant, a little girl, a woman-to-be, but also with her own unresolved conflicts from the past and her hopes and dreams for the future.... As though experiencing an earthquake, mothers of daughters may find their lives shifted, their deep feelings unearthed, the balance struck in all relationships once again off kilter.
~Elizabeth Debold and Idelisse Malave

Ahh, the headache.  That's how my work week begins.  But there is a twinge of heartache too.  This morning as I searched my closet (on my knees) for my missing blue suede Bandolino heel, I looked up and there it was (not the shoe) ~ at eye level.  I did not open it.  I didn't have to.  The box has been there on my closet shelf now for two years, six months, and four days.  That's how long it has been since my father was laid to rest.  The box will remain there, in my closet, until my daughter ~ his eldest grandchild ~ takes it for her own.  The box is simply labeled,
"Sanders, Carl. Troop F. Size 7 1/8." 
It is his hat, the last one he wore as an employee of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.  Beside it lies his first MSHP hat, the one that came with his uniform when he was hired in 1965.  Those hats represent four decades of passion for law enforcement, and they remind me of how very much I still miss my dad. 

I carried a winter wardrobe to St. Louis this weekend for my daughter.  Along with it, I brought the picture she requested...the photo of her with her grandfather, my dad, the man who left us long before he was finally gone forever.  While the hurt never completely disappears, with time it seems to ebb and flow.  Today, however, the tide is high. 

Dear Dad,

This weekend was spent with my daughters, the grandchildren you do not know.  McKenzie misses you, Ally wonders who you really were, and Lane recognizes you as my father in photographs.  Last night while trick-or-treating, your little brother gave me some old family photos.  (I thought back to so many Halloweens ~ pots of your chili, your excitement at treating the little ones who came, costumed, to our door.)  It was good to see you captured that way...laughing, healthy, happy to be with your family, with us.  That was a long time ago.  I wish I could rewrite our ending.  I wish you could know my girls and share in our joy.  I suppose as long as they are thriving and continuing to shine, then your story really isn't finished.  They are still your girls too, as am I.  I hope the epilogue pleases you.

All my love,

In the light of the sun
Is there anyone? Oh, it has begun
Oh dear, you look so lost
Your eyes are red, the tears are shed
This world you must have crossed, you said

You don't know me
And you don't even care, oh yeah
And you said, you don't know me
And you don't wear my chains, oh yeah

Essential yet appealed
You carry all your thoughts across an open field
Where flowers gaze at you
They're not the only ones who cry when they see you

"Boston" ~Augustana