Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow Day Traditions

What a great unexpected surprise... A snow day!  No school today!  Brings back all those memories of when I was a kid and we had snow days.  We would get our sleds out and bust some drifts.  It seems crazy but the best drifts were the ones alongside the road.  So, we would take our sleds and down into the road we would go! But, back then when there was a snow day it meant that everyone stayed home.  No one was on the roads.  Today when there is a snow day that means everyone heads to town. 
I can remember one year that we had an ice storm and lost power for a week.  At that time we were raising hogs.  We had hundreds of them and without power that meant no water for the livestock.  So, the local fire department brought in their water tanker to water the hogs.  If they hadn't done that we would have lost our only source of income. 
My Grandma and Grandpa lived way back off the road.  You had to drive along the creek, up a steep hill and through the pine trees to get to their house.  Our grandpa had a toboggan that was taller than me. I have two sisters and one brother... we would all get on that toboggan with Grandpa and down the driveway we would go straight for the creek bank but somehow he would manage to get that huge sled to turn sharp to the left and we would glide along the creek never going in. Grandpa would hoot and holler all the way down the hill as if we were on some amusement park ride.  Our noses were rosy red from the cold, our feet were cold and damp because the bread bags inside our boots were not holding up so good.  Inside Grandma would be getting hot cocoa ready so that it was waiting for us. 
Since we lived on a farm there was always a lot of work to do no matter what day it was or how bad the weather was but these simple fun family moments are what I remember from my childhood. 
So of course when my kids had a snow day they would be outside all day building snow forts, having snowball fights, sledding down the barn grade hill, and we would pull them around on a sled behind our snowmobile.  After they were exhausted but fulfilled I would make hot cocoa and laugh about the day.  That was over twenty years ago!
This Sunday the step grandchildren (Kassen and Audrie ) were over.  We made some crafts, went sledding, made snow angels and had hot cocoa.  Now, I can show my step grandchildren the same kind of simple fun that will hopefully stick with them like it did with me.
Only now we do NOT go sledding down the drifts into the road. Some things you have to accept that they are changed!
Wise five year old Audrie told me Sunday "I wished we didn't have to grow up"
"Me Too" I replied.  but in some ways there is a bit of a child in all of us :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

If you have not read the book Because of Winn Dixie you should.  It is the most inspirational book for kids as well as adults.  There are many life lessons that the author Kate DiCamillo wove into the story that is told by a the character Opal, a ten year old girl whose mother left when she was only three years old.  The first year I read it to my 3rd graders was only a year after I lost my son. The book helped me to deal with my loss but also as I read the book I realized that many kids are going through some sort of a loss or hardship in their lives also.  Each year the class discussions amaze me and I learn to appreciate who my students are.
This year I had a student make an analogy between the tree in the story and Opal the character.  He explained that the tree was growing stronger as each branch grew on the tree just like Opal was growing stronger each time that she met a new friend so she felt less lonely. 
In this story, Opal makes friends that are young, old and even a dog.  This strikes up great discussions about how your friends can come in unsuspecting places and times in your life.  You have to be willing to let them into your life because they could be the support that you may need.
I will leave you with a quote from this book:  "I looked around the room at all the different faces, and I felt my heart swell up inside me with pure happiness." 

Friday, December 6, 2013


As the holidays get closer my feelings are bittersweet this year.  I have two new step grandchildren that are excited about Christmas but on the other hand it's another holiday without my son, Trent.  He passed away five years ago on a quad at only 15 years old.  Each year it gets a little easier to cope with but I still have that huge hole with out him.  I was cleaning out a "junk" drawer last night and I found a tablet that Trent and I had kept a game score on it.  Just looking at his handwriting Mom vs. Trent was enough to bring back a flood of memories.  He loved to play games.  In particular Monopoly... probably because it is the longest game in the world.  Playing those simple card or board games I realize now was the most valuable time spent together.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in planning elaborate activities with our families that we don't realize that these simple things like playing a game with the family means more.  When we played together we were building a good relationship by talking and enjoying each other's company.   I would give anything for those days back but I know that I have those memories to cherish and can build new ones with my grandchildren... by just spending time getting to know them.