My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.



August 2, 2016

Systematic approach, reluctantly

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When Lindsey returned after a summer of working at the U of Iowa orientation program, we tried to contain her stuff to one corner of the family room.  We knew she needed time and space to decompress from her job.  Being in charge of a group of incoming first years or transfer students, two or three times per week, wears you out.

I decided not to nag her (this is a skill I'm working on) about dealing with her stuff.  I did ask a few questions and encourage her to make some decisions about what she would bring to school, and what she could let go, as she enters her junior year.

Lindsey pointed out to me (very diplomatically) that when her amount of stuff was questioned or looked at with dismay (pointing at you, dad), she got upset.  She felt that we were holding her back from building an independent life outside of our house.

Huh.  I never thought of it that way.

Nine days of relaxing, creating door decorations for her floor, and visiting with friends passed by.  Some stuff got organized.  We realized that moving day (it's tomorrow!) was quickly arriving.

Last night we made a plan for today.  I would not work on homework or go to school.  She and I would pack her stuff and place it in the truck.  No errands, limited phone time, lots of music, no lectures.  We decided to pack item stored in the basement, then the items in the family room, and finish with the clothes in her bedroom.

I'm happy to report that the plan went extremely well.  I let Lindsey decide where to place her stuff in the truck and how to pack most of it.  I was merely the assistant, in charge of laundry, hanging clothes and dishes.  I offered a few suggestions, but that was it.

Parenting young adults is a whole new world.  They want to be seen as functioning grown ups.  We parents want to help them navigate life smoothly, avoiding some of the bigger pitfalls we remember from our past.  Hoping to help them realize what stuff is important.

It's an exciting time around here!  Lindsey's younger sister leaves for college in two weeks.  I wonder how packing her stuff and launching will turn out.

July 27, 2016

BElive in YOUrself

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Allison showed me a picture on Pinterest.  "I love this quote.  See how the BE in believe and the YOU in yourself is highlighted?  I'm going to make this for my wall."

My youngest daughter loves to surround herself with inspirational quotes and crafty projects.  She's a creative mind amid lots of practical, linear thinkers.  She needs constant reassurance that she is OK and doing the right things in life.

As much as I tell Allison and my oldest daughter, Lindsey, that they are perfect just the way they are and to celebrate their strengths, I've struggled with the my own self-esteem over the years.  My internal voice likes to remind me that I need to work harder to be organized, be leaner, be less of a talker and get things finished!

This summer I have worked on self care.  Reminding myself (like I tell my daughters and my students) that I am human.  I am a work in progress that doesn't need to be anyone but myself.  It has taken me 46 years on the planet (and a LOT of meditation) to realize that it is just fine to be who I am, quirks and all, and be passionate about what I do and what I love.

Wow.  Heavy stuff.  But not really.  I'm feeling lighter and less stressed and more grounded!
Why? How? One big help?

This summer I immersed myself back into the world of books. 

  •  I downloaded a pile of YA books from the library and devoured them.
  • I visited Little Free Libraries and added to the collections.
  • I sat under a tree at school each week and handed books to families.
  • I worked through two grad school classes for my ESL endorsement and made sure I spread book love through the class discussions (predictable!)
  • I attended NErdCampMI in Parma, MI, with my new book-loving teacher-friend (Meghan Hernandez!), surrounded by thoughtful teacher leaders (Cathy Mere!), librarians, authors, and many, many book heroes.

This summer I took a deep breath.  I realized I don't need to BE anyone but ME.
Quirks (clicking pens), habits (eating chocolate), loves (books, music, family), and dislikes (broccoli!).

BElieve in YOUrself.

May 31, 2016

Little Free Library Dreams #SOL16

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I did it.
I ordered my charter sign for my Little Free Library.  
The one I plan to place in my yard.  
The one I will fill with books for grown ups and little ones and curious neighbors.

I staged a little sign for social media (I wasn't brave enough to leave it in the yard, even just for a while).  


Jeff (my fabulous hubby) promises to build me the library.  He has a workshop full of tools and a keen eye for design.  He claimed that once I got the charter sign, he would build the library around it.  Now he travels every week for work.  I have to be patient.  Being patient is not easy for me.

Meanwhile, I'm working on how I will promote the library (once it's installed) and welcome my neighbors (some I really don't know!) to be involved in taking and giving books.

Some ideas...
  • ribbon cutting
  • set up an info table next to my LFLibrary during our city's Labor Day festival (lots of people park on my street)
  • write up a blurb for our city newsletter
  • create a flyer for my neighbors' doors
  • sit in my daughter's room and stare out the window at the library, wondering if I'm okay with complete strangers stopping in front of my house 
  • talking about said strangers with the neighbors on each side of me (communication is key)
I really have to be patient, and thinking of lots of ideas gets me excited and nervous at the same time.  I'm glad to have the Little Free Library newsletters and website to help me out.

I also appreciate your suggestions!



May 10, 2016

Just getting started

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My coworker looked at me today.  "You're not smiling.  What's wrong?"
I wasn't crabby (tired, but not crabby), I was just deep in thought.

"You can do it, you can make it 11 more days!" she laughed.

"It's not that we have 11 days of school left, it's that I feel like I'm just getting started!" I replied.

This has been a school year of learning,
starts and stops,
rushing into groups,
finding my backbone,
stating my intentions
and remaining transparent.

I'm here to boost my students
and to help them develop as
readers,
writers,
thinkers
and cooperative, respectful citizens.

It's May and my students are just realizing their potential and finding success.
Their teachers are tired, drained and anxious about
packing up,
escalating silliness,
assessments and
data collection.

I'm just getting started in helping my students and fellow teachers
find their passion and their strengths
as they find ways to minimize their weaknesses.



April 25, 2016

Sunny Sunday #SOL16

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to read more slices or join our community of writers!
Be brave :)

I read the newspaper each day, scanning for fun activities amid the dreary news and sobering headlines.  On Saturday, I spotted a glimmer of fun:

Lamb and Wool Festival at Kline Creek Farm

Don't even get me started about sheep and cows and chickens and....  no, I was not raised on a farm (just the suburbs!).  I have no interest in working on a farm (too hard!  too stinky!).  I just l.o.v.e. tours and new places and, most importantly, 

I {heart} being OUTSIDE!

Hooray for nature!!

My daughter, Allison, is a fellow adventurer (when the mood strikes her), and her boyfriend Eric will usually go along for the ride.  My husband really wasn't keen on going at first, but then I pleaded and gave him puppy eyes, so he was game.  When I said we could stop for lunch on the way, he obliged.  It was a beautiful day to take his car for a drive farther than his local office.

We had fun exploring the living history farm, watching sheep being sheared and talking with the horse handler.  We soaked up the sunshine and ended up in downtown Wheaton (yes, we visited one of the chocolate shops!) for a snack and some window shopping.

The visit to the farm was a nice diversion from all the chores and Sunday stress that I usually spend all day churning in my head.  Being outside with some of my favorite people made getting ready for the week that much easier.

This ewe is waiting her turn to be sheared.


This ewe is all finished with her haircut!


April 18, 2016

The Reading Nest #SOL16

Each Tuesday, visit Two Writing Teachers
to read more slices or join our community of writers!
Be brave :)

It's April.  We have less than 30 days of school (yes, we will finish in MAY!)
and my little "birds" are flap, flap, flapping their "reading wings."

I, the sweet, smiling enabler, take on a new persona every spring.
My little birds are not very happy with me.

I become the mama robin
who has sat on the eggs in my nest
keeping them warm and safe from predators.

My little birds are chirp, chirp, chirping
hungry for more words,
longer books 
("Can I have a chapter book, please?")

Their reading wings are the strongest they have been all year.
They really don't want to try to fly.
They are too scared, but
I begin to nudge them closer to the edge of the nest.

When they look at me with big, worried eyes, 
waiting for me to help them with a tricky word,
I pause, I count in my head, I prompt them,
"You try."
They can usually get the word, but I'll whisper help if they need it.

Some of my brood are stronger than others.  
They teeter on the edge of the nest,
encouraging their fellow "feathered" friends
to join them in a trial "flight" with a book.

These birds are ready for short flights on their own.
They refuse to wait for an introduction to the text - 
they jump right in and begin reading on their own,
usually leaving the safety of the table for a comfy spot on the floor
where they exclaim,
"I can read it by myself!"

Some birds need a bigger push towards the edge.  
These are the birds that I will welcome
back to the nest in August.
These are the birds that need more meals
of strategies, easier texts and positive reading experiences.

I will always be back at the nest
where the little ones can find me
amid a variety of juicy texts.

From McHenry County


March 31, 2016

Future Slices #SOL16 31/31

It's the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Read other slices, join our community of writers at

Wow.  March is over!?!!?  

I've enjoyed reading slices from everyone.
Your comments mean the world to me, even if I'm not so great at replying.
I tried to visit lots of blogs over the month,
yet I know I missed a whole lot of your writing.

I hope you will continue to slice throughout the year on Tuesdays.
I try and write when the muse moves me (or Michelle nudges me)
But sometimes my slices sound like the same old things...
family, chocolate, books, chocolate, funny stories, teaching.

I'm think my future slices will be about ...
  • Daughter #1 continuing to be successful in her studies and finding her new roles at college (orientation guide and resident assistant)  not too stressful
  • Launching daughter #2 out of high school and into college where she will make good decisions (getting to class on time!) and continue to grow as a young adult
  • Husband #1 (LOL) will stay his course of eating well, exercising and being an all around awesome guy
  • Teaching and learning with my students 
  • Funny stories about the above process
  • Books, books, and more books (maybe more nonfiction!)
  • The Little Free Library I hope to install in my yard this summer and maybe one at school, too!
Thanks for coning along for the Slice of Life Challenge ride!