Monthly Archives: November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

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It’s an early Thanksgiving Eve as I sit here with my dog in my lap and a hot cup of coffee.  I’m in a warm home, my beautiful daughter is coming home from college in the morning, my guys are off and running, staying busy with work and hunting, and I feel thankful.  Thankful for the small conveniences in life and the large ones…I would not have made a happy pioneer wife.  Thankful for family…even slightly dysfunctional we’re awesome when we’re together.  Thankful for those who love me when I deserve it and especially when I don’t.  Thankful for the sweet children I teach at work…once again, we’re slightly dysfunctional apart but when we come together, we’re pretty spectacular.  Thankful for new babies coming into the world and the cherished memories I have of everyone who has left our world but is waiting for us on the other side.  Thankful for friends…people who see you at your best and worst and still call you friend.  Thankful for God…where would I be without Him?

Tomorrow the house will be full of family…around 45 of them.  There will be food and laughter and not enough seats for everyone.  It will be loud and chaotic.  It will be everything that makes Thanksgiving my favorite holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hunter's art work - 1999

Hunter’s art work – 1999

Trey's Native American - 2002

Trey’s Native American – 2002

We Love You, Junie B.

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One of my favorite authors passed away over the weekend.  Barbara Park was the writer of the Junie B. Jones children’s book series.  I read from one of her books every day at school.  It’s my after lunch, quiet time ritual.  Even though it only lasts for five to ten minutes, it’s part of our day.  The children sit at their desks, heads down, and listen…just listen.  No pictures, only words.

Reading aloud to children (with no pictures) is a unique experience, and it  should never be considered a dying art.  The spoken word sparks the imagination and creates visions in the mind.  It can take on a life of its own…it’s own voice, it’s own rhythm, and I believe it’s a crucial part of learning the written language.

There have been times I wondered if the children were paying attention but they never cease to amaze me with their giggles when Junie B. does something inappropriate or moans when I come to the end of a chapter and stop until the next day.  The children soak her in, learn from her mistakes, and seem to understand just what Junie B. is going through at that particular moment.

And that is the magic of writing.  Barbara Park had that magic.  As a writer-wanna-be, I am always in awe of anyone who has the skill to write book after book and breathe life into each one.  Mrs. Park brought Junie B. to life, her flaws and all, and I think that is why my children love her so.

We wrote about Junie B. today, and we wrote to Mrs. Park’s family.  Here are a few of their writings…

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Junie B., May and the squeeze-a-burp

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Junie B. kicks the can.

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Sweet words

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Precious phonetic speller

Bless Their Hearts….Then What?

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Social media is covered with thankfulness quotes these days.  The whole concept is really very nice, but something about it makes me wonder.  It makes me wonder, why now?

Of course the holiday is coming.  The thankful holiday.  But shouldn’t thankfulness accompany us each and every day of the year?  Why does it take a holiday with the word thanks in it to bring out the acknowledgement of all we have to be grateful for?

This holiday is followed by the do more for others, peace on earth, happy birthday dear savior holiday.  And once again, for a few short weeks, everyone opens their wallets for those less fortunate.  People smile more, share more, give of themselves more.  For a few weeks of the year, we all try to treat others as we would like to be treated.

But what about the rest of the year?  What about the other months of the year?  What is January – the ‘I’m depressed I gained five pounds over the holidays so I won’t leave my house’ month?  And August?  Is it the ‘I hate the heat’ month?

Shouldn’t thankfulness and giving last all year long?  I have this feeling that service to others was never supposed to be boxed into two months of the year, but what would it take to open our hearts to the concept each and every day?  Or is it simply easier to only address that much giving of the soul two times a year?

I’m currently taking part in a book study, and even though the topic is difficult at times, it’s right on.  The whole concept of the study is don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.  It’s so easy to say you’re a giver, that you worry for others.  It’s so easy to say bless their hearts and then move away.  It’s easy to talk, but what about what comes next?  Is it easy to do?

The study has pushed me each day to think about what I’m doing for others.  And honestly, most days I feel less than worthy.  The magic of the study has been that it opened my eyes to the concept.  What have I done today for somebody else?  And the kicker is…it’s way more than a monetary service.  Maybe sometimes it is a donation, but other days, it might be a kind word to a stranger, a smile for a lonely person, a card sent in the mail, or even a hug.  Parents serve their children every day by giving up their wants for the needs of their children.  Adult children give up their time and perhaps their freedom to care for aging parents.  And each of these is nothing less than showing love and giving from the heart.

It’s a daily struggle to give of myself.  Life snags me, makes me tired and irritated at times.  Other times, it makes me yearn for a leap off the merry-go-round that is the daily grind of living.  But most days, I yearn to be and to do something more than just be submersed in myself.  I don’t want to think about my own problems.  I want to help someone else with theirs.

This yearning is to serve twelve months of the year, not just two.  It demands that I be thankful for 365 days a year, not just 30.  Whether it be a small gesture or a grand blessing, I pray that each day I find a way to do both.

October Reflections

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Beautiful October morning

Beautiful October morning

Somehow, October has already sped by.  I’m not sure where the month disappeared to, but the calendar now says November.  I don’t think I’ve digested October enough yet to move on.

Reflections from a busy, busy month:

My first school observation is over and done.  Check that one off the list.  It went well…I suppose.  It’s over, that part is lovely.  And no one threw-up during the lesson, another high point.  However…one little fellow fell asleep, there was an enormous amount of blurting out answers instead of raising hands, and another boy literally flipped out of his chair backwards as he tried to tie his shoe with his foot straight up in the air.  Other than that, and other than the fact that I ran out of time and didn’t get to finish the lesson, it went fine.

Here’s my biggest snag with the whole thing:  I was observed for one hour.  One hour out of the approximately 1,500 hours I teach in a school year.  One hour out of 1,500 to prove myself – or not.  So how do I absorb that, deal with that fact?  I’ve decided that all I can do is all I can do.  I gave it my all, now let’s move on.

Another observation:  I am a total candy corn snob.  Period.  I love the stuff even though if you eat too much of it, you feel like you may never be able to eat another bite of anything again in your life.  The only kind I love that much is Brach’s.  It’s the best, hands down.  I always read to my class after lunch.  I’ve been reading from the Junie B. Jones Halloween book, and I love her take on candy corn.  She is totally dismayed by the fact that candy corn isn’t really corn at all.  (And if you’re reading about candy corn, you know you have to have some to nibble on, too.)

Another joy:  I was introducing the dictionary this week in class.  I held up the large book, flipped through a few pages, told them it was a book with a lot of words, and then asked, “Does anyone know what this book is called?”  One of my ‘sweet but rowdy’s’ held up his hand and said, “It’s the Bible!”  I could do nothing but stop and smile at that kid.  It was the kind of moment that fills you with enough strength to keep going.

My last thought:  My family lost a dear family friend this past week.  My sister and I went to the visitation in Nashville, and while we were there, I overheard another woman talking.  She said, “Richard made everyone feel good.  He made everyone feel like they were his best friend.”

What an incredible legacy to leave behind on earth.  He always had a large, happy laugh and a wide smile.  He put his talents to use…he used those gifts and passed them on to people around him.  Even though he struggled with health issues for much of his adult life, he still managed to make others feel needed.

To me, that should be the plan.  Find what you’re good at and pass it on.  If it’s a love for nature, pass it on.  If it’s a kind spirit, share it.  If it’s making other’s feel like they’re special, live it.  Richard did that, and I am proud to have known him.

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