An Ode to My Sister

Her stature may be shorter, but in my eyes she always stands tall.

Her talents are as many as the kinds of Jelly Bellies at the mall.

As a wife, she is loving.

As a mother, so very giving.

She teaches young minds, even those who speak language of a different kind.

She is a cheerleader who keeps up morale with chocolate and coffee and dancing to Vanilla Ice.

Everyone who meets sees her as so much more than nice.

I am so grateful to her for many, many lessons and especially for introducing me to the Slice.


Why is it that I cannot rid myself of clutter?

I hate it desperately.

It consumes my time with no return.

It causes more fights with my sons and husband than most anything else.

Clutter should be a curse word spoken only in fits of rage or hushed tones as an unthinkable menace.

I am breaking up with clutter.


Well, it’s late.

Maybe tomorrow.

Or Monday.

Monday is a good time to start.

And that is the first of the month.

Yes, I am sure I will start the break up on Monday . . .

My Hidden Talent is Revealed

Two of the joys of working in a sort of peripheral position (I am the admin for our before and afterschool program) at school are interacting with all ages PreK throughly seniors and getting to have fun at random times for random events.

Today’s fun included a circus themed reading rally at our lower elementary. Not many people knew that I have some incredible hula hooping skills. I actually cannot hula, like around the waist, to save my life, but I have a lot of other tricks.

I was a bit worried when I learned the hoops I knew the PE teacher had were actually replaced earlier this year with more durable, flat and much heavier hoops. I practiced and knew I could not do all I wanted to with those, but the show must go on! I ran across the parking lot and found want I needed at the Upper Elem.

I changed into my sparkly shirt and sequine shoes. The Ringmaster introduced me, and I could almost feel the spotlight. Do you know how much fun it is to get a couple hundred elementary students chanting their school cheer really loudly in order to get my hoop to finally hit the ceiling!

After the shows, I was greeted with lots of smiles and hugs. The kids were amazed and thought I should really try out for the circus or at least be in tv. Almost all wanted to touch the hula hoops and wanted to know how I learned to do that. I told them with a lot of time outside practicing and to be sure to complete their reading logs!

Today I learned exactly what it feels like to be a super star – at least a super star of South Elementary for the day!

I know that smile

As I was trying to decide if I should check out the silent auction or get a drink, he approached suddenly, with way too much enthusiasm in his voice.

His appearance was a mix between Jack Sparrow and someone preparing for the Last Supper production – fully bearded, with long brown hair – well groomed, but not my cup of tea.

How are you?

I am great.

Do you remember me?

As I quickly look at his name tag, Josey.

But then I really looked at his eyes and the face under the beard. Yes! I know these eyes, but haven’t seen them for a very long time.

I love running into former students. Josey was one of my first.

We caught up with what was going on in his life – landscaping to boat captain (he is actually Jack Sparrow during events in the summer!) to managing a success bar at the Lake. He went on to say he had to come over to tell me what a difference I made in his life and how I was the ‘kick-in the pants’ he needed at a time he could have gone really off course. He used the skills and knowledge gained in my class. He said about five times how glad he was to see me so he could tell me how much he appreciated ‘everything’ – even though I really can’t remember what everything was.

He was just a freshman/sophomore boy who listened and smiled a lot – even his eyes smile.

He was not any class star or anyone I could remember specific stories about, but he cared enough to spend a few moments saying thanks.

I am so thankful when I get or hear about these little zoot-zoots that touch right at our hearts. Be sure to send someone a zoot-zoot to share the difference he or she has made in your life.

Is It Ever ‘Too Much’?

At our monthly Admin meeting, around the table with our superintendent and administrators preK-12, we were discussing plans for our school for next year. We reflected on the later start (8:30) we implemented this year and agreed it has been very successful. There were no complaints about free breakfast in the classroom for PreK-8th graders. There have also been fewer office referrals in the lower elementary, which is likely due to some additional recess time added to the day.

We did not even mention our, now three, school therapists because the ‘new’ has worn off, and it is just what we do for our kids that need services.

As we looked at our list for next year:

  • Social & Emotional Teaching & Learning
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Dentist
  • JAG – mentoring for high risk students to learn job readiness skills
  • Biomedical Instruction
  • Teacher Cadet Program,

the question arose around the dentist – are we turning into socialists? This was said with a grin, but is also a question that we can sometimes struggle answering for some in our community. Do we, as a school district, provide ‘too much’ for some of our families/students?

As the director for our free afterschool program, I have contemplated this question. And I have answered it for a variety of audiences not only in our local school district, but also for our state representatives and senators and for our congressmen and women.

I have decided that the only time we ever view any of these services as the school giving ‘too much’ is when the individual already has that service in his or her own life. If I provide dental care for my own child or take him to the doctor when he is sick, I may believe that is the job or role of the parent – not the role of the school. But I have that belief because that is what my parents did for me; and therefore, it is the responsibility of any ‘responsible & caring’ parent.

Throughout my fifteen years in education, I continue to see more and more areas where students and families need the assistance of community groups, churches, and yes, schools to help provide the best care for the children. I choose to see these services, my own free afterschool program included, as investments in these young lives.

As a school, we may be getting broader and broader in our services, or, just like Mr. B said, we could just be eliminating more and more of the barriers to student learning – which I am certain we can all agree IS the job of our school.

Love is

Love is fuzzy jammies and blankets and snuggling on the couch.

Love is laundry clean and folded and put in its place.

Love is reading stories, sitting on Mommy’s lap.

Love is a home cooked meal after a long day.

Love is a wild flower proudly picked for you.

Love is a thank you note written just to show you care.

Love is watching the same John Wayne western for the 100th time.

Love is helping with homework and tying shoes.

Love is cleaning up a scrape and combing his hair.

Love is saying ‘I’m sorry’.

Love is kind words spoken and a final kiss good night.

Recommendations? Any one?

It is the season for teacher movement and that means . . . letters of recommendations and reference checks.

If I had a dollar for every letter I have written over my 15 years, I would likely be retiring next year. But what does that say about me?

Do I know too many people?

Do I have a hard time saying no to the request? DO people actually say no to a request?

Of course, I like to believe I just write really incredible letters that land people the job!

This past week, I received flowers from a couple who were two of my coaches when I was an athletic director. They have been teaching in China for two years and after many, many, many letters, online surveys, and phone calls, they are both employed for next year. The flowers were a complete surprise and very beautiful still today, when they arrived last Monday.

This past week I also congratulated a colleague on moving into administration. She will do a fantastic job building up a small school near my home. They need a good leader and she is one.

Today completed my requests for teacher and staff member of the year letters. One wife of a letter recipient said the letter almost made her cry and had asked her husband if he felt the same, which of course his answer was no. Honored, but not about to cry. Our conversation made me wonder, what am I ‘saving’ for letters of recommendation that I should be sharing with all of these people on a daily basis?

The Smells That Surround Us

Do you ever stop to really take in the smells the surround your life? This is some of what I found today.

The day started with the smell of cupcakes, left over from my son’s birthday. This was a nice treat before church.

The next smell accosted me as I entered my kitchen- my sons’ Axe. It is hard for them to understand they can use a single spray or actually put on deodorant. The smell quickly escapes their bathroom and permeates the entire house.

As I step out the door to escape the Axe, I can smell the rain from the night before. It is hard to express this smell, but it is like the outdoors have been washed clean.

Entering church, there is always the lingering smell of incense. It reminds me of so many special events that have taken place in this place.

Sunday means breakfast at my mother-in-law’s. As we enter, we can smell it – msausage and biscuits with a side of coffee. Linda’s kitchen always smells of delicious food.

The afternoon contain smells of cleaning products, including some awesome dish soap my sister gave me that is orange clove – washing dishes never smelled so good!

Then there were the smells of the farm. Horses, cattle, dogs, and cats all provide a variety of smells, some are good and some not so much. When feeding the cattle, there is the mixture of earth, feed, and manure.

Then it was time for the baby calf to have his bottle. The sweet smell of the milk mixes with the even sweeter smell of hay and the dust of the straw.

As we come in the house, I can smell the the outdoors on the boys, almost like they have collected scents everywhere they went throughout the day. Into the shower they go, where they will use their Axe shampoo, which is not quite as strong as the body spray.

To end the night, Chad helps me cook dinner. This includes the smells of pork chops, asparagus, and potatoes – is there anything quite like the smell of potatoes?

After a quick shower that included sleepy time bath wash, my final smells are of my husband and the lavender that cover our pillowcases.

I am not sure how my dreams will smell tonight . . .

Thank you, Paddington Bear!

These are a few of the lessons learned tonight from Paddington Bear and his Aunt Lucy.

If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.

Always keep a marmalade sandwich in your hat in case of emergency.

When you see good you should do, do it – not because you are getting paid or for how you will be paid back. Do it just because it is the right thing to do.

Be a positive part of someone else’s day.

All you need to do to brighten someone’s day is to add a bit of sugar – through a smile, a friendly hello, or a good deed.

If you look for the good in people, you will find it.

It sometimes takes a children’s movie to remind me of what I already know, but quickly forget in the hustle and bustle. Thank you, Paddington.

Begging Boys

Why is it that even when my boys have gotten what they ask for it is not enough?

Why must we endure more begging for more stuff?

Why is there always something else they think they need or want?

Does this mean my boys are spoiled?

When ‘no’ becomes our word, what can we do?

Questions I have had as we moved through our night.