Tuesday, April 14, 2015


It was a beautiful spring day in Michigan. Perfect for taking a drive in the Jeep with our dog, Hoss riding happily in the back seat.  Our mission was to check on the memorial playground in our little town.  It was packed which normally puts a smile on my face to see families and their children enjoying the park but today I was not.  My heart sank.  First of all dogs are not allowed, it's clearly posted when you pull up and there was a huge German Shepard.  Though that wasn't what brought the taste of disgust to my mouth.  It was the lack of respect for the playground that is clearly for young children.  Older kids were climbing on top of the wooden structure, in through windows, on top the plastic spiral slides without regard to anyone else.  I could almost see the strain of the handcrafted wooden structure as they hung out of the windows and pulled on handles that are meant for young children.  Screaming at the top of their lungs without regards to others around them.  I recognized some as former students which was another stab. I looked for some supervision, finding two adult mothers, not concerned.  I looked for the local cops that should be driving through keeping an eye out for this sort of thing, none in the whole 20 minutes that we sat there,  I looked for the cameras that the town council assured folks were mounted in the park to catch anyone considering vandalism, but none that I could see!  As my husband and I walked through the park there was graffiti written on the inside of the slides and towers, not words that youngsters should be reading when they are having playtime.  We walked back to the Jeep knowing that we were going to have to get involved, again.

Six years ago almost to the day a crew of over hundred people from the community came together to build a playground.  Everyone pitched in putting their skills together and in one week the playground transformed from a primitive play area of a set of swings, monkey bars, rusty merry-go-round to an intricate wooden castle structure with twin towers, spiral slides, diggers in the sandpit, fireman's pole, climbing rock wall and much more.    It was amazing to watch the transformation.  Our family was there from the ground breaking to the completion.  The playground groupies as I call them were inspired to tear down the old tin pavilion and raised enough money to build a beautiful wooden pavilion with picnic tables the following fall.  The project began as a glimmer of a dream, lots and lots of fundraising.  Many hours by two wonderful people making calls, knocking on doors, and trying to raise enough money to start the playground.  It was at this time that our son passed away and we had a dream also, which was to keep his memory alive.  Trent had a fourteen year savings from his 4-H farm projects, that he had put away for college.  It didn't seem right to spend his life savings  on a funeral so we gave it to the playground project.  This became our healing therapy.  We threw ourselves into helping.  As our family struggled with the pain of our loss we began to realize that there were many other families in our small community that had loss their child and that was when the park became a memorial park for all those young lives that were taken too early.  The playground build was healing therapy for many... all of Trent's friends from school that were looking for a way to channel their hurt, our friends that were trying to support our family... others that had a loss.... community members that wanted to be part of something important.

It's hurtful when you realize "that" is gone... Trent, anyone that knew Trent, some of our friends, community members that wanted to have something special for our town, people that cared. 

My hope is that it can be repaired and I'm not just talking about the playground. 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Early Spring Farm Work

Even though today was a drizzly and dreary day around the farm on spring break the ground is beginning to dry out. The winter was frigid this year which helped mellow the soil. Frost in the ground heaved the dirt up aerating it. So, my husband got the tractor and ripper out of the barn where it was stored away for the winter. The ripper has long steel shanks that push deep into the ground lifting the soil to the surface. It turns it over where the air can get to it. Sometimes the ripper digs so deep that large rocks are yanked to the top to be picked later before the planter hits them when it's time to plant. Behind the ripper a rolling basket follows. The rolling basket is the width of the ripper and has large paddles that spin fast as it fluffs up the soil.  When the tractor slowly covers the ground one round at a time it's easy to see where you have been and where you haven't. The side that is not covered yet is light colored, with dry bean stubble and hard packed from the combine running over it in the fall. The side that is covered is dark, fluffed up and moist from the winter snow.  Many people don't realize that fresh dirt has a very distinct smell. All I can say is that it smells like spring. A fresh new start and a hope for a prosperous season.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Realistic Fiction Genre

One of my third grade writing units is realistic fiction.  I tend to struggle teaching this unit because it is a not a  genre that I typically write.  Personal narratives, essays and nonfiction writing seem much more comfortable for me to model and teach.  This year I challenged myself to write along side my students using my drafts as a teaching tool.  Before we began I modeled my thinking about possible ideas emphasizing that stories begin based on events in your life.  Then I used our story summary sentence starters as an outline to begin the brainstorm process ( someone.. wanted.... but.. so ... then... ) after which we used the story mountain to layout more details of our story ideas.  We read some of Patricia Polacco books along with other realistic fiction mentor text.  Then I jumped in with them writing and revising.  I realized quickly that they have a difficult time getting started so we worked on establishing a setting and characters with lots of rich details asking the 5w questions.
 I left the end of my story off and they helped me think of different believable ways that my story could end.  We worked  a lot on elaboration - adding dialogue, action, sensory details, etc.  This seemed to be the hardest skill for them which we will continue to work on.  As I reflect on how the realistic writing unit went this year I feel that I have done a much better job teaching them fiction writing skills than in the past because I wrote along side of them thinking about what my struggles were. 

Realistic Fiction Model:

WRITTEN BY: Mrs. Shrontz


It was a cold rainy day, too miserable to play outdoors.  So, Clair had an idea!  “Gordon, let’s toss the ball around inside.” Now, Clair and Gordon were brother and sister. They were only two years apart in age. Clair was the older sister they lived in and old brick houses that was at least 150 years old. The rooms were filled with many valuable and fragile antiques. Many of them were family heirlooms that had been passed down from generation to generation.  One of their mom’s favorite antiques was an old wooden chime clock that hung on the wall in the living room it had a glass front where you could see the gold pendulum swing back and forth keeping time every hour on the hour.  It would chime bong, bong, bong.., .three o’clock.


Now Gordon was just 7 years old and was easily influenced by his older sister.  One time she talked him into trying to grab the rooster in the hen house but after a lot of scuffling around he only came out with scratches all over him and Clair stood in the doorway just chuckling away.  This time though Gordon was determined to not let her talk him into doing something he would regret. “Clair, I don’t think this is a good idea” he told her as she ran to the back porch to grab the soft ball and a mitt. 

 “Oh please stop being a baby!” Clair replied over her shoulder.  No really Gordon warned her.  But Clair wasn’t listening.  She was tired of everyone trying to tell her what to do.  She was 9 years old and she could take care of herself.  Besides what could happen? 


Clair scooped up her leather Wilson baseball mitt and her baseball.  Gordon was still muttering to himself as she confidently strolled to the living room.  “Ok first you toss the ball to me and I’ll catch it with my lucky mitt.”  Clair declared to Gordon tossing him the ball.  The first throw was weak and it just fizzled to the floor.  “Come on!”  Clair complained. 
“Well we are in the house!” Gordon replied back.  Gordon kept thinking that this was not a good idea but whenever he went against his sister’s wishes it always ended up with his sister teasing him until he blew his cool.


 So, to make things easier he went along.  Gordon threw the ball this time with a little more power behind it make sure to swing his arm over his head before letting the ball go.  Clair was getting bored fast!  This was definitely not as much fun as going outside in their huge back yard.  Her mind began to wander off thinking of yesterday when she was picked at recess to be on the cool team.  That had never happened before but word was getting around that she had a strong throwing arm. 


Then all of a sudden her attention was brought back with the whirring of the ball heading straight for her head.  Quick as lightning she whipped her mitt up just in time to catch the ball.   “It’s about time!  Good throw, Gordy.”  Clair complimented her brother. Gordon soaked up the rare compliment.  Then Clair tossed him her mitt. 
“Your turn, let’s see how good your reflexes are.”  Gordon pushed his hand in the mitt.  It was a little too big so it kept slipping off when he swung his arm but he wasn’t going to say a word.


“Ok, bring it on!” Gordon said confidently, still thinking about the compliment. Clair wound her arm up for the pitch and when the ball left her hand it seem to float in the air.  Slowly, making its way across the room as Gordon lifted his mitt the unthinkable happened. 


The mitt slipped off his hand and the ball seemed to have a mind of its own slipping through his fingers.  It flew by him.  KAACCCHHHH!  The sound of glass shattering. They both stood there speechless.  Slowly they made their way over the grandfather clock hanging on the wall both knowing what they would find but dreading how bad it would be.  As they stood there looking at the crack in the glass that run all the way from one corner to another their mother walked in.


“What was that noi…?”  Mother began but then noticed right away what they were staring at.  “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”  She raised her voice staring back and forth between the two.  Clair automatically pointed at Gordon and he pointed at back at her. “Clair?!  Gordon?! I want to know what the truth is here!” Mother demanded.  Gordon hung his head.  He knew that he shouldn’t have been playing ball in the house but Clair was so convincing. 


At first Clair was going to just blame it all on Gordon because it would be easy to do that to her little brother and let him take the fall but something inside of her just couldn’t let that happen.  He was her little brother after all she had to be the bigger person.  “Mom, it’s all my fault!  I talked Gordy into playing ball in the house. I’m sorry!”  Clair confessed.  Gordon’s head snapped up and looked at his big sister with a new sense of wonder.  Did she really take the heat?  He couldn’t believe it!   Gordon didn’t realize it but at that moment was the beginning of a new friendship that would last forever.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Business Plan

Tonight we are going to the township special meeting to present a business plan to the planning commission.  Last year we purchased a small old fashion farm and have been working on restoring it to it's former self.  We are going to start renting it for special events.  Last fall we had our first wedding for a friend as a trial, I also had my daughter's baby shower and a colleagues retirement party at the farm.  They went well and we have plans to add more features each year.  Before we get too involved we have to make sure that the township will approve the idea.  So, instead of a typical post I decided my business plan would be my slice for the day.  Writing for a variety of purposes in life. 

Old Indian Creek Farm

Owners: Kris and Brad Shrontz
Mission Statement:

Old Indian Creek Farm will be an event center that will be able to accommodate special events such as: weddings, reunions, open houses, family gatherings, etc.  Its simple country atmosphere will appeal to customers looking for that rustic but cozy feeling for their special event and at the same time have many options when planning their event. 
Goals & Objectives:

Our goal is to provide a successful event center that is utilized in some way during every season.  The old hip roof barn is being repaired and will be one option for events.  There are a few smaller outbuildings that will also be available.  The house is furnished and is available to use during the time of their event. There is plenty of parking available on the property. 

Some of our 5 year goals are:

·         Dig a pond in the front of the farm

·         Bring in gravel to the back for additional parking

·         Build a loft in the old hip roof barn to accommodate more people

·         Furnish the old granary to be used as a staging area for getting ready

·         Remodel the bathroom in the house

·         Purchase more tables and chairs

·         Build a deck off the back of the barn

·         Landscape around the house and barn

·         Clean the fence rows around the farm and down by the creek to provide a trail and primitive camping sites

·         Build a small pavilion by the pond

·         Put bathrooms in the barn

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Once a majestic architectural building is now just a ran shackled pile of remains of the old days.  The excavator machine  seems to come alive  clamping  on to wooden beams and chunks of wood. Twisting and turning the excavator grabs and drops heavy wood. As it reaches for the roof the claw on the bucket just eats through the roof that was caved in from the many years of storms and lack of upkeep.  It crumbles in a heap.  Then it reaches up and out as far as it can go grabbing hold of the wall. Pulling on the side it creaks and groans but won't let go until finally it can't hold on anymore it smashes in one whole piece on the ground.  The machine tracks over the piles of crumpled up wood, clank, clank, clank.  Reaching out for more wood to satisfy it's hunger. Finally, it comes to a rest. 
We rummage through the remains searching for anything that might be worth salvaging.  "This barn was a beauty in her day wasn't she?"  I ask. 
Just a barn but built to last for generations.  Looking closely at the beams you can see that they are hand hewed.  Each beam beginning its life as a tree then carefully hand constructed by a broad ax into the square pillars that held the barn for so many years.  Each beam has hand carved notches and corresponding holes with hand made pegs to interlock all together giving the structure  more strength when they would load it to the peak with mounds of hay.  The only nails used were the ones to keep the red, wooden tongue and grove siding in place on the outside. 
Looking around at the heap of wood it's sad to see another architectural wonder fall victim to the storms and lack of care.  We were told that the original elderly couple that lived there before them received money from the insurance company when a storm came through.  They paid a local construction company to fix the roof so the barn could carry on for another hundred years but he started the job only to not come back and fix it. 
Lucky, though we have plans for this barn to carry on it's legacy because we have one of those big hip roofed red barns that we are trying to restore to her natural beauty.  So, all of those hand hewn beams, interlocking hard wood flooring and red siding that hasn't rotted away from this barn will be used to help another.  Salvaging one to save another. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Life Before.... Life After

I'm trying to branch out in my writing and wrote a rough attempt at a two voice poem.  After my son's accident I felt like my life was divide in two... my life before Trent passed away and my life after.  I struggled with how much my life had changed living without him along with how I had changed dealing with the pain.  This is just some rambles of thoughts about that change.

Life Before  Life After

High School classes, American History,           
Algebra, English, Computers   
Notebooks, quizzes and school assignments not
complete brought to us in a cardboard box

Piles of clothes...                                               
Clean and Dirty                                                  
Piles of clothes at first with the Old Spice scent
but then slowly fades away

Easy conversation with friends                          
and Peers                                                            
Sideways looks when they think I'm not looking or
quick get away when I mention the name

Constant nagging to get chores done                
Trash piles up, animals wait for me to feed them

Teenage kids hanging out, playing video games       

Attending sporting events searching                
Attending sporting events searching

Revving motor, gravel flying, Brrraap             
Straining to listen but silence

Bus stopping, lights flashing, dog yipping            
Bus zooming by, dog's ears perked up

Looking forward to graduation                        
Baccalaureate with a memorial speech
given by a friend

Muddy boots                                                     
Empty boots

Defined by how many children                        
I have
Defined by how to explain how many children
I have

Trips, family events, funny episodes                



Summer Memory

My inspiration for my post is one this one that I read last night about a summer memory: https://pencilonmybackporch.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/summer-memory/ .   It was written so vividly that I began to think about when I was a little girl growing up visiting my Great Grandma. 
Every summer my parents would ship us off to our Great-Grandma's house in the city for two weeks.  This was a treat for us as we lived in the country and we never spent much time in the city.  Our bikes would get loaded up in the old station wagon.  Mine was lime green with a banana seat, sissy bars with a white wicker basket attached to the front and tassels hanging out the ends. 
My Great Grandma's small house was nestled in among many others in the suburb city of Battle Creek, Michigan called Urbandale. The driveway was nothing but a path because Grandma Alexander didn't have a driver's license, she would either walk to the grocery store or catch the bus into Battle Creek if she needed anything.  When we pulled up the driveway my Grandma would be standing on the screened in porch with housecoat and an apron tied around her waist. 
Her house was nestled in among the tall green evergreen trees, large variegated green Hosta plants and the white picket fence that lined the driveway.  It was a white cottage style house with green wooden shutters that had evergreen cutouts in the middle that were handmade by my Great Grandpa. The garage had white wooden paneled doors that folded out when in use but had been many years since they had been used since my Great Grandpa had passed away a couple years before I was born.  I always imagined they had an old Model T Ford.
In the backyard lavender phlox, bright orange poppies, white daisies, burning bush, hens and chicks and a beautiful magnolia tree that had branches intertwined among each other.  Two aqua green metal lawn chairs sit in the middle of the lawn. Stretched across the tiny lawn was a close line with laundry floating in the breeze and her cloth bag hanging that held the wooden clothespins. 
Towards the back of the yard stood a small gray shed where she kept her rakes, shovels and her lawn mower which was the old wooden kind that was powered by pushing it. 
Going to Great Grandma's was like going to a whole other world different than my country life but it had the feel of a vintage summer cottage that could have been nestled in the woods on a lake in the 1930's.  It was like stepping back in time. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

To Inspire or Not

 On Sunday's I love to watch the CBS Sunday Morning Show with anchor Charles Osgood.  It's not like all the other news casts where it's all doom and gloom about our world that seams to be falling apart at the seems. I particularly love the different suns that they feature each week.  I don't always get a chance to watch it but lucky for me they post it on their webpage.
It was two Sunday's ago I watched a really interesting piece about the Monarch butterfly and how they are declining in population.  In this clip a man told about how he was inspired to reclaim his property after going to Mexico where Monarchs migrate to in the winter.  He planted native plant species to attract the Monarchs. The footage of the Monarchs were breathtaking.  It was then that I thought my kids should see this story and maybe it would inspire them to appreciate the natural wonders around them but never stop to admire. 
And I don't know about you but at this time of the year my kids fall into a slump.  They don't want to put a lot of effort into their work, the drama increases and they become self-centered.
So, I thought maybe showing them some of these types of clips each week might be good for them. When I showed the Monarchs they were awed, too and we had a good conversation about what might be affecting the populations.  Good, I thought!  Then I found another clip about a man who is over 70 years old and is the only care taker of the Yellowstone National Park during the winter.  There was some awesome pictures of the wildlife in during the harsh winters there.  We had another solid conversation about solitude and appreciation of our winters. Good, I thought! Then I started searching on You-Tube for some inspirational videos about caring for others.  Each day I played a new clip, today was the boy that received the award in  2012 Sports Illustrator Kid of the year.  If you have not seen that it is a tear jerker and very touching. 
My kids are dead silent when I play the short clips and they all participate afterwards in a heart felt conversation about what it should mean to them. When they come in from recess they are talking about how they are trying to help their peers out. 
There are so many real life human stories out there that can teach us (including myself) to hold our head up, push through life's hardships and have compassion for others.  Why not use those to demonstrate to kids what they can choose to do?
There is a saying "Shoot for the Moon, if you miss, you'll land among the stars".
I guess I'm just hoping that maybe along the way I might get a few kids to think about their actions and how it affects everyone around them. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Just Tired

My in-laws just arrived from Florida and will be staying with us until their house that is being built is complete.  The house is far from being done.
They come pulling in with a U-Haul trailer last night and now my garage has piles of their stuff along with piles of my stuff.  My house has boxes piled up and they've claimed my upstairs. 
Last night my husband was snoring uncontrollably and no matter how much coaxing he wouldn't roll over so I went to the couch with my pillow and blanket.  I still could hear him through our paper thin walls.  In between his snores I could hear my father-in-law snoring upstairs.  Even with cotton balls in my ear it was pointless.  I finally just fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion right before my alarm went off! 
On top of everything our family business is in a particularly stressful time and we are facing many tough decisions. 
My in-laws are very good people and well meaning but school may be a good distraction for me for a while.
At this moment I'm just tired and I bought a pair of ear plugs rated for 30 decibels at the grocery store tonight.

A ray of hope - I was inspired today when one of my student was excited to share with me that her slice came from "one simple idea from nature... leaves" She wrote about jumping in piles of leaves.  That is exciting to me because they are beginning to notice the simple things around them that spark ideas to write about.  Living a Writer's Life!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Seney Clause

Every snowmobile trip to the upper peninsula of Michigan there was always a stop to see Seney Claus on the trail. Many of you are first. wondering if I spelled Santa's name wrong and second, why are you going to see Santa all the time. Well, Seney Claus and his wife had a hot dog stand out in the middle of  U.P. Wilderness on the snowmobile trail and he could have passed for Santa's brother.
As you drive by it was hard to miss.  It had a large hot dog on top of the little red barn. There were several flags  waving in the great Northern wind one was a bright yellow with the John Deere emblem on it. Jerry or Seney Claus was always leaning out the window either talking with other snowmobilers or hoping for more to stop.
When we first started going to the U.P. regularly that was our kids favorite stop. There was nothing like a hot cocoa and hot dog on a brisk winter ride. Or to be able to use his primitive porta-potty instead of squatting along side the trail where your backside is completely exposed to the freezing wintery wind.
The hot dog stand was even a ceremonial wedding spot for a couple. Riding up on their snowmobiles. One on a Ski-Doo, one on an Artic Cat, dressed to the nines in proper snowmobile gear sporting their favorite snowmobile brand.
In the beginning of the season when you stopped at the hot dog stand you would look up into the stand to place an order but as the season progressed, after the great Nor'easter storms pounded the U.P. with several feet of snow, the little red wagon would shrink in the snow.  When you placed your order you were looking eye to eye with Jerry.
Jerry and his wife were dedicated to their job. It was much more than a job to them. They knew many snowmobilers, some were locals but many were avid snowmobilers like us from all over the state of Michigan or even other states. There wasn't any electricity out there as it was completely remote. Heating their small trailer with a propane heater. Every morning they would load up their toboggan hooked behind their snowmobile and haul in all the supplies they needed for the day.
Over the years we got to know him and he got know us. He always remembered us the next season asking about everyone. The year we lost our son he grieved with us. letting us reminisce about the days that our kids were young and the highlight of the snowmobile adventure was stopping to see Seney Claus.  He also hosted our memorial ride that we had every year to honor those snowmobiling memories.
Jerry actually lives downstate, growing vegetables his other job in the summer. We learned this after buying a jar of his homemade salsa that was hotter than hell.
When we go Jeeping and quading in the summer and fall it's so strange to drive by the place where Jerry's stand is in the winter because there is not a single sign that he was ever there since he hauls his trailer and porta- potty away when snow season is over.
As I drove by his spot this winter, I slowed down out of habit, it was sad to see no sign of Seney Claus, no familiar red trailer, no John Deere flag, no big wooden hot dog and no Jerry hanging out the window with his familiar grin. The only sign that he might have been there were the many tracks from snowmobiles pulling in maybe to reminisce, maybe wondering.
 You see Jerry had some health issues that prevented them from coming up north this year. I think this might be an end of a tradition. I'm sure all those people that made the hot dog stand a tradition were thinking like I was about how two people with one simple idea could make so many memories for so many avid snowmobilers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The million dollar question

Heading up north for a little well needed R&R this weekend!  When we go up north I always have a chance to reflect.  Today I'm wondering ...As I get older if I need a change in my career but then I wonder what would that be. There aren't too many opportunities in education to make a shift. It's grade level changes, administrative, coaching or specialized. I've taught other grades and I'm not sure that's the change I'm looking for. Administrative and coaching are not my forte. Then I think about what I'm passionate about ...literacy especially writing, agriculture and history. Well I'm already teaching literacy but I wonder why does it not seem the same as those first years of teaching?  Ah... Data! So much of it! The last couple days I relaxed a bit in my classroom if you can call it that. Let kids sit back and enjoy the read aloud chapter book, having a good book discussions, talk about good books to read, I even read a favorite picture book and did a fun writing activity that celebrated our unique qualities. Heaven forbid I even did an art project. Oh yeah we went outside for an extra recess, too.  No DATA! Please don't tell my administrator. They would probably look at me like I've lost my mind.
After my self reflection I realize now what the change is since I began teaching. But what is the solution? I need to find a balance that pleases administration, and my self. How to get back to that place?
I do have all weekend of riding my snowmobile to ponder these burning questions. Just me in my helmet among the wild blue yonder.
Unless you have an answer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Today I took a friends advice and I did something completely different than my scope and sequence because my students were going on a mental strike.  I thought about how much I have missed the sun this winter and how great it was to see it yesterday.  That was my inspiration for my lesson.  We brainstormed descriptive words about the sun then they did their daily slice of life challenge connected to the brainstorm.  I wrote my slice along side of them.  Below is my slice as well as a few of my student's brainstorm and slices.

Where have you been, Sun?
I've missed you!
It's been dreary every day.  When I rise out of bed I wonder if you'll show your shiny face today. I try not to give up hope that I will someday see you brighten up the sky.  You don't know how much I've missed your smiling face that absorbs my sour moods.  I look forward to the days that I can lay on the deck and bask in the beauty of your warm rays. 
Please forgive me because I have taken you for granted.  You are so important to every living thing here on earth: the flowers, grass, cows, beetles, lizards, oak trees, and yes even the creatures of the sea.  We would not even have milk to drink because the sun makes the hay and grain that the cows need to eat in order to make our nutritious milk. There were many times on hot summer days that I wondered if you would go away when I had a river of sweat running down my back as I worked in the fields but now I regret that I was so inconsiderate. 
What is amazing is that one cold wintery morning I can go to work with piles of snow all around and then just like that you find your way into the sky.  Then piles of snow shrink into puddles of water.  One day I am bundled up with hats, scarves, thermal underwear, heavy down coats and furry boots and then as soon as you poke your smiling face the winter gear is thrown to the side. 
I seen a glimmer of you today and I can once again wash away my crabby mood.  Please don't tease me by hiding behind the fluffy white clouds. Stay and play awhile.  I promise that I will not take you for granted again.
Mrs. Shrontz

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I'm having a difficult time trying to think of something great to write about tonight.
I can honestly say that I feel frustrated!  I had conferences this week which should be a great opportunity to catch up with some of the parents but I didn't get a good showing. 
Many of my students are in a slump right now and I'm not sure what to do about it.  Our spring break is three weeks away which at this point could be months away.  Their quality of work has declined as well as independence.  I teach language arts in the afternoon and with a group of squirrely 3rd graders I might as well be teaching French because they can't still long enough to retain the lesson. 
I feel like it's the beginning of the year and I am teaching routines and expectations. 
Everyday I try to analyze what I am doing that is not working maybe try a few things but it just doesn't seem to work. Then I think about what will be expected of them in the spring when they take the new state assessment and I start to panic because I'm not sure I've prepared them enough.  There may not even be an answer to my dilemma or maybe it's just mind set on my part.  So, I continue to carry on each day trying to motivate my students to put in the effort.
And so just another day in paradise!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Let It Go

I had every intention of sticking with my conviction of writing a slice every day but I let myself down.  Life got in the way and the weekend got away with me.  I had an idea on Friday, along with other ideas floating around in my head that I could write about.
Then I thought "Geez, cut yourself a break, girl!"  We are a busy family running a farm, trucking and logging business.  It's crazy to say the least.  Everyday is a new dilemma to solve.
So, this weekend one of my daughter's semi drivers was in a bad accident while driving one of their rigs.  Luckily their driver was ok, banged up badly but ok.  Unfortunately the other driver did not make it.  After twenty five years of being in the trucking business this is the only accident that has happened which is very fortunate but still was a bad situation. It happened twelve hours away and so my husband and our son-in-law had to go retrieve the driver and the truck. 
My daughter is a new mom and also has two step children ages 2 and 6.  This was the weekend to have them all.  While the boys were away I decided to help her out with the crew. 
What I don't understand is how I can manage 24 children everyday without being totally done in but three children exhaust me. 
The two year old is working on potty training, says "No" or "I can't"  to everything even if it's something he wants. The six year old is a diva with a high pitched voice that doesn't ever stop and she loves using me as a jungle gym which makes the two year old mad because he wants to be on me too which is a challenge when I am holding the baby. 

Kasen reading to Baby Clair
Audrie playing with Crystal -Grandma's Guinea Pig
As the day progressed I was getting wore out from playing with tractors, reading books, watching movies, pretend play in the kitchen, dressing dolls, undressing dolls, reading books, coloring, burping, rocking, getting kids ready to go outside and then turning around a few minutes later to take all their gear off because they don't stay outside more than twenty minutes.   I suggested we go out for breakfast on Sunday. Not sure what I was thinking there!  Three small children in a restaurant!  Thank goodness baby Clair didn't wake up and the waitress knew things could got south with three children because we got our breakfast swiftly. 
Let's just say when I did have a few minutes at home alone I collapsed in my chair and in true grandma fashion nodded off and I am sure that I was probably snoring.  Now I know why grandma's have rocker recliners and it's not to rock the babies. 
When I would pick up my kids from my parent's house after a sleep over I always wondered why my mom looked so tired now I know why. She was spending twenty four seven catering to their every demand. 
Although I was exhausted I loved taking that time to spend with the grand kids and I'm glad I can give myself a break and let things go.  Life happens .. and fast!  Enjoy!
I can't wait until this summer when they can just walk down to Grandma's house. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Night Life

Kicking back in my recliner trying to catch up with Jimmy Falon shows on my record list I look over at my husband in his big leather over stuffed chair and I think wow I lead a glamorous life! 
He's got a death grip on the remote and is snoring like a Johnny Popper tractor.  At first it's only a slow rumble, an idle, but then it gradually shifts gears ... first, second, third... getting louder and louder by the moment.  Finally, I can't hear my TV show any more because he's working so hard in the field and the muffler on his tractor must be broken.   I try to be considerate and say, "Hey, Brad."  Of course he can't hear me over his motor sounds so I yell, "Hey, Hey, Hey!"
"Huh, what?" Brad responds groggily.
"You're snoring!" I say.
"I'm not even sleeping."
Of course I think to myself there I go again making things up and he immediately falls back to sleep. Meanwhile we are watching all the commercials on a previously recorded show because they are so great. I finally get him to fast forward through the commercials and next thing you know he's zoomed through the commercials and halfway through the show.  Looking over I see he's back to sleep!
"Hey!"  I yell.
Yep, don't be jealous of my glamorous night life with my husband! This is night life after twenty five years of marriage.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

To Teach is to Touch a Life 4 Ever!

There's an old cliche  "to teach is to touch a life 4 ever" .  I know this is true!
Not because I feel that I have had the honor of making that kind of impact but because that kind of teacher made an impact on my son's life.
Trent was one of those students that had a good heart but wouldn't always let other's see this.  Life at school was  a struggle and he was often misunderstood.  He definitely wasn't an angel and when he got in trouble which was often (every other day)  he usually deserved the punishment.  He often refused to do his work.  Reading and writing were a struggle.  He had a low self esteem which lead to being overly defensive amongst peers or teachers. 
Teachers were determined to be the one to make the difference and would often throw their hands up in frustration when they couldn't seem to "crack the code". 
All except one teacher in middle school.  She wasn't trying to "crack the code" instead appreciated his strengths and understood that he needed to feel that someone was in his corner.  Her name is Mrs. Cordier and she teaches art.  She expected him to complete assignments but let him express his interests through art.  He sketched, painted, sculpted  and crafted everything into snowmobiles, four wheelers, tractors, semis, and pickups.  Most importantly she got to know him as a not just a student but a boy that had a lot of talents, just not talents that could be appreciated in a classroom.  Mrs. Cordier could empathize with Trent's academic and emotional struggles.  She realized that the only way to make an impact on a student's learning is to create a safe environment.
Unfortunately my son passed away before he graduated from high school but Mrs. Cordier's impact on his life was truly 4 ever and I will always be grateful for that and for not making me feel like an inferior parent. 
Trent's art pieces that he created are some of our most valuable treasures that we have today that remind us of the good times with him. 
Trent learned a lot in his art class during his middle school years but I think I learned more than he did.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Runny nose...drip, drip
Coughing... hack, hack
Lugee... spit
Sweat beads on the forehead
ache to the bone.. shiver, shake
Head pounds.. bam, bam
squinty eyes... why won't they open
muffled voices... oh that's my own in my head
Deep breath... argh I can't breath through my nose
Kleenex.... after... Kleenex....
Don't get the cheap kind
Or you will end up with a bright red nose that
Everyone will cringe at when talking to you.

Thank you
My lovely students
for not covering your mouth
when you sneeze and cough
Then touching .... everything or everyone in sight.

Wash your hands
Cover your mouth