Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thank You for Saving My Passion For Writing

Three years ago my writing journey took a new turn when my friends Betsy Hubbard and Robin Sheldon convinced me to create a blog so I could join in on the Slice of Life challenges.  I can not thank them enough for nudging me in that direction for a lot of different reasons.
Before I started making the commitment to write posts on my blog I was struggling with so many issues in my life. Although I really enjoyed writing it was becoming a more of a burden on my mind. For so many years I prided myself in applying the newest and latest writing techniques into my classroom. The moment the new Lucy Calkins writing units were released I was one of the first teachers to use it in my building and I watched for any of the latest professional development books to come out so that I could make sure I was up to date.  I modeled my writing often for my children, at the time I taught 1st grade and they were enthralled to learn any new tidbit of information about my life and they could relate to many of my stories.   But then I hit a roadblock!  When I had a tragedy in my life it became much too difficult to share stories because the exposed wound was too raw and it brought too many emotions to the surface.  So, I became afraid to share, and I am ashamed to say I limited my modeling to safe topics.  I stopped journaling because I would start and not know where to go.  I worried about writing in the presence of my family for fear they would think I had lost my mind or worse they would want to read it.  There were many started entries in my journal but nothing ever was finished.
Meanwhile I  berated myself, thinking all the time about what I could write or what I should write knowing it would be a great healing strategy. Meanwhile the deep fear that if I didn't start journaling about my son, Trent that all those memories would be gone forever and that he would be forever be forgotten.  That wasn't helping it only put more pressure on me that I shut down further.
Fortunately for me my two friends and colleagues coincidentally began sharing with me this notion of Slice of Life.  Thus began my blog!
I didn't even care if anyone even read my posts but then Betsy and Robin faithfully read as well as commented on all of my posts.  It was the encouragement I needed and I began to write again.  It helped me personally and professionally.  Empathizing with my students when they hit a roadblock, understanding how just a little encouraging could be that little nudge to write.
So to my friends Betsy Hubbard I'm Living My Words   and Robin Sheldon Teaching Tomorrow's Leaders  Thank you so much for saving my passion for writing which allowed me to not only share my life's journey but also record memories of my son so that his spirit can carry on forever!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Children and Restaurants

Tonight we had an informal farm business meeting at a restaurant. My daughter, her husband and kids came along.  One year old Clair was impatient, fussing about sitting in the booster seat and Kasen, three years old, sat by Pappa hiding his head in his side obstinate about everything.  
As the discussion got deeper and more serious the children became more restless.  Clair worked her way out of the booster into her dad's lap where she climbed her way into mom's lap.  Finally, able to wiggle her way down she waddled off towards the big giant claw machine.  
Kasen perked up then, "Where is Clair Bear going?"  he said in a very concerned voice.  Not because he was concerned something was going to happen to her but more so that he might miss out.  
So, I decided to do a grandma intervention.
"Come on Kasen let's take a look" I replied as I grabbed his hand.  
About $10 later in quarters we managed to be successful at the claw machine while Clair was entranced by the whole process.  The definition of successful is all in the situation.  We "won" a stuffed item, it was a Betty Boop with a crazy eyed look sitting cross legged in her trade mark short skirt on a birthday cake with candles with big letters that spell June.  Good grief I thought!
Kasen was thrilled at first when he reached in the round hole for the prize.  When he pulled it out and took a good look at it his response was, "Well, this can be Clair Bear's, and the next one will be mine".   When we handed it to Clair she immediately chucked it on the floor.  Even she thought it was hokey. 
As soon as he said "next one" my mind began churning trying to decide what the odds were that we could actually hook two items in one night considering we were even lucky to retrieve one.  Pretty sure I knew the outcome we used up all the quarters that everyone had and the claw came up short every time latching on to nothing.  
Kasen was disgusted to say the least but took it like a champ after I gave him my phone to play with . Although he didn't win anything except a Betty Boop doll he did learn to distinguish a quarter from the other coins because they don't work in the machine.  Hopefully he learned that the claw machine is a rip off too but we will see.  
Taking small children to a restaurant is challenging but they behaved better than can be expected.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Auction fever

Whenever I hear an auctioneer a rush just goes through my body.  The sing-song voice of the auctioneer is mesmerizing.  It's in my blood you see when my dad turned forty he went through what I would now call a mid-life crisis.  He announced to my family that he was going to auctioneering school in Missouri and we would have to do chores while he was gone.  We were shocked! Our dad was going to leave the farm for two weeks without mom!  That was unheard of and to top it off he was going to fly in an airplane to get there.  My dad was deathly afraid of flying but nothing was going to stop him from achieving his dream.
While he was gone we had to step it up around the farm making sure that the 200 - 300 hogs and 50 cows were well taken care of including feeding, birthing, health care, etc.  It seemed like our dad would never get back but soon he was back and with a renewal on life.
My dad was excited to put his new skills to work.  He practiced day and night.  I would often hear him in the basement long before the sun rose in the morning auctioning every stick of wood that he threw in the wood stove.  When we were getting ready to eat dinner at night the food and dishes were sold over and over.   While working in the barn the livestock sold for an exorbitant amount.  He chanted the tongue twister, "Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers" over and over again dedicated to perfecting his new found skill.  We were even sold to the lady in the red shirt and the man in the blue hat although they never claimed their prize.
Finally, he had his chance and our family rallied around him doing their part to support his dream.  My brother was the ring master, I was the clerk, my mom and sisters took care of registration/ check out.  The auctions were a lot of work but so much fun.
Those auction days spent with my dad and watching him fulfill a life long dream were great memories.  My dad isn't a man that will sit you down to fill you with words of wisdom but I did learn  lot by just watching how he chooses to live his life.
I learned that your never too old to fulfill your dreams!
So, when my daughter got married a few years ago on the farm it was only natural that before the  dollar dance we asked him to auction off the first dance with the bride and groom.  To my daughter's chagrin her new husband was sold for more money than her.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Weaning Time

Weaning Time
Ewes on one side 
Lambs on other
Constant blaating!
Mamas calling their babies
Babies frantically calling back
Echoes back and forth
Night is still 
All but the sound of the bleating  
every now and then
into the silence of night
Until tomorrow
when all is quiet 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dear Old Friends

Dear Old Friends,
What's happened?  We used to have a lot of good times before the accident.  I thought the good times would never end and that we would always be friends. It seemed as if my life was perfect, enjoying those carefree moments.  
After the accident you were there for a while but you soon began to slowly fade away.  Not calling, making other plans, finding different people to be with.  You would invite us over occasionally with your new friends but that soon stopped.
When the funeral was over some of you just avoided us all together, looking away when we were around, or trying to have a conversation with us but not know what to say causing you some discomfort.
Did you know that being able to talk about the accident was the only way to deal with the shock of what had happened?  Did you know that when you talked about your children that it was a stab to the heart?  Did you know that so many things would trigger a memory or a thought of him? Did you know that we had flashbacks of the night we found him that made us want to be sick and it took every ounce of energy to push those visions out of our mind?
For so long the grief made us physically sick.
I am sure it got old and annoying to hear about him all the time but it was extremely hard to be without him. To many we probably appeared to have lost our minds and for a while I really thought we had.   Those of you who tried to give us advice on how to deal with the grief I am sorry but you really had no clue about our hell that we were going through.  All we needed was some friends to listen.  You could have never completely understood and we would have never wanted you to.
I realize that I was no longer the same and that I was not the fun loving person but I needed time.  Time to heal my broken heart.  Time to deal with the shock.  Time to understand why.  Time to start my life over without him.  Time to learn to care. Time to want to live.
So, I guess I am wondering why you couldn't stick with us through thick or think?  I've learned to accept that some of you, I will never again have a relationship with and others will only be acquaintances.  A few of you lasted the storm and I am thankful for that.
Still, though I feel betrayed at times that more of my old friends are long gone and it will never be the same again but then again I will never be the same again.  So, I guess I don't blame you and since then I have learned to just accept the way things are knowing that there may never be answers.
The New Me

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Give in or Give up!

This is a personal reflection on my character.  I am an all in kind of person.  Jumping in with both feet, when I take on a job or task.  If I strongly believe in something then I hold fast to those beliefs. There are times when this trait works on my behave and then there are times when it causes me aggravation. 
At this moment in time this attribute may be pushing me over the edge.  
Too many outside factors that are out of my control are pushing what really matters to me off to the side.  Each year it seems that I am incorporating less and less of my personal teaching touches into the classroom. It's beginning to feel more and more like a cookie cutter classroom where I am  focused mostly on what everyone else tells me to focus on.  Fitting more in is not an option anymore without squeezing out something.  
I feel I am losing my uniqueness as a teacher.  How can I be all in when I don't agree which then leaves me with only two options; speak up or give in.  
I have done a lot of speaking up but it seems it is out of my control to change the movement.  So, that leaves the option of acceptance.  If that is the way then am I losing my personality?  

Monday, March 21, 2016


Wringing out the icy cold towels I lay it across the lambs back.  He tries to shake it loose and I catch it just in time before it hits the ground.  Ashley is holding the cool towel on the other lamb with one hand watching the class in the arena. 
I just keep fussing offering the lamb a drink of water it just turns it's head away.  The sun beats down relentlessly hot I can feel the sweat dripping down the middle of my back.
Suddenly the crowd cheers and I look up to see the judge shaking hands with the winner of that class. Parents crowd around the arena gate as the other 4-her's slowly make their way out the gate.  Each child is holding a different colored ribbon which they either stuff it in their back pocket or hand it to their waiting mom.  Grandma's are snapping pictures of children holding trophies and ribbons. 
The show ring attendant opens the entrance gate to let the last round of anxious kids in with their lambs.  It's down to the best of each class.  A show down.  Ashley pulls the rope halter off and flings it in my directions.  I catch it mid air.  "Good luck"  I say.
It's lame I know but it's all I can think of at the moment because my heart is about pounding out of my chest.  I feel a bit sick.
The final contestants lead their prize lambs around the arena and they are staring intent on the judge.  Signaling them to circle the ring the judge is just as intent, watching as each lamb takes a step.  Everyone stops and quickly gets to the front of the lamb pushing into it's chest with their leg so it will brace up showing every ripple of muscle.  Ashley's lamb looks awesome not a leg out of place due to the months of intense daily training on the farm over the summer. 
The judge walks confidently down the line of lambs sliding his hands over the top of the lamb's loin and leg to check the amount of muscle each one had. 
I hold my breath when he gets to Ashley's.
Leaning on the fence I watch as the judge steps back looking down the line of really high quality lambs.  Which one will he chose?  I don't dare to think it would be Ashley's. 
With big strides the judge heads toward the winner.  I suck in my breath, as he heads in Ashley's direction.  Ashley is not taking her eyes off him keeping her lamb perfectly set up, slightly pushing into him so that his muscles are accentuated. 
As the judge gets closer he thrusts out his hand to congratulate the winner.  The crowd claps and cheers as he picks the grand champion lamb.
"Congratulations, Mom!" someone on the rail next to me says. 
The pride flows through me as I watch Ashley accept the trophy.  I smile because I know  all the years of hardships, the drive and determination that went into this one small moment of glory.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


My one little word this year!
It's been a few months since I carefully debated and chose my One Little Word so I thought on the first day of spring would be a good day to refresh my focus. 
When I chose my word, PROGRESS, my focus was on my new business adventure.  Just two years ago about this time of the year an opportunity presented itself and I pursued.
It has been a lot of hard labor to get it up off the ground and I have a long ways to go before I can breath a sigh of relief.  Every day I have many doubts about whether it can be successful. 
Starting a business is like having a baby.  It's absorbs all of your energy when young and needs lots of nurturing while growing. You hope that it'll  grow up to be independent so that you don't have to worry. 
This journey I am on is bumpy and rough but the vision in my mind is what keeps me traveling in that directions. 
So, I need to keep focusing on the progress that I have
made so far to keep me moving forward.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Girl Power!

Girls that grow up on the farm don't always develop their feminine side. When I was growing up on the farm I would do anything not to be stuck in the house dusting and cleaning.  You would find me following my dad around the farm fixing fence, cleaning pig pens, giving shots or feeding the livestock.  I became a good at running equipment, doctoring animals, figuring out feeds, and doing back breaking labor around the farm.  My dad's right hand man!
When I got married, my husband and I started up our own farm. Brad drove truck to bring home a paycheck so that we could survive.  I stayed home to raise our children and run the farm. My upbringing on the farm prepared me for this lifestyle.  So, I learned quickly how to run different equipment while Brad was at work.
As my daughter grew up she didn't have baby dolls and Barbies but instead had her animals - lambs, rabbits, piglets and barn kitties. Ashley was content to be hanging out in the barn.   She learned to drive stick shift at eleven and had her very own farm pickup (a Ford Ranger). When she was sixteen years old began to drive semi for her dad.  She became her dad's right hand man!
Now she is married, lives on the farm, runs our family trucking company that she took over at nineteen years old and expanded to a fleet of trucks with her husband.  She also has a one year old daughter. 
As I watch her daughter, Clair begin to develop a personality of her own it's becoming very clear that she is also going to follow in her mom's footsteps.  Clair is a brute at one year old!  She is tougher than nails.  Clair is only content when she is outside with the animals and loves to be out in the shop with her dad or papa. Mud and grease don't bother her either. 
 Her great grandma was determined to have a girly girl bought her a Barbie but much to  her chagrin Clair loved Barbie literally to pieces.  Barbie came to an untimely death in the shop. 
It's inevitable that Clair will probably become her dad's right hand man as it is in her blood.  Having a feminine girl on the farm will probably not happen. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Tricycle

Tricycle's these days are definitely more sophisticated then when I had my kids.  One evening while I was pushing my granddaughter around on her tricycle, all bent over. I made a decision that I needed one with a push handle on it so my back wouldn't get all cricked up.  My husband and son-in-law are very handy when it comes to fabrication, which is a fancy way of saying they can  modify or rig anything up, if they want.  They didn't want to.  So, I went home and got on the Internet and low and behold they sell tricycles with a push bars on them... lots of them.  After a lot of deliberation, reading reviews and weighing out each option, yes, each brand has their own bells and whistles. So, choosing one was difficult, I finally made a purchase.
It finally arrived at the farm in a box with lots of pieces and parts.  The guys all said that it had too many parts and it was going to take some time.  Really!  They are putting together a semi right now, rebuilding a motor, transmission and fabricating axles for it.  How hard can a tricycle build be? 
Today, I pulled out the instructions and made a big deal about how I was going to get this thing together.  Then I pulled out all the parts in the box, there were about ten at the most, and I began the project.  Really, that's all it takes because the men have to take it over sure that I'll mess it up. 
The bike is done and Clair loves it and so do I!  I can push her around the shop and steer from the back. Clair thinks she is riding a bike like the big kids.  I wish they would have had these when my kids were little. 
Job done!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Luck of the Irish

I never really thought much about what the saying "Luck of the Irish" really meant until I read Patricia Palacco's book Fiona's Lace and began to do a wee bit of research.
The book has a great message about family sticking together through thick and thin.  Patricia's quote in the end of the book says, "Home is where the heart resides" 
Her book tries to show the reader how life was difficult for the Irish when they were forced to emigrate to the USA with very few of their belongings, leaving all their family or friends behind to find a better way of life.  They often never saw their family or friends ever again.  Famine struck Ireland as well as a war torn country during this era. Starving and desperate they came to America hoping to prosper but were met with more hardships.  Some Americans were jealous when the immigrants  found success in their new life chalking it up to "luck" not the result of the hard work and determination of the Irish people.  And so became the saying "Luck of the Irish" which was meant as an irony, due to their lack of luck.

Buck Owens and Roy Clark's song on the 1970's Hee Haw show explains it all!

"Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all!"

This only proves though as we celebrate the Irish holiday, St. Patrick's Day in America that we should learn that working hard, having determination, and being strong willed are great traits to inherit from the Irish ancestors.  After all they survived many hardships. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Happy National Agriculture Day!

Today is National Agriculture Day!
This is a small celebration of what the farmer does for you!

If you buy it
It came from a farm
If you eat it
It came from a farm
If you wear it
It came from a farm

Just take a moment and think about what you ate tonight.
McDonald's burger meal:
Farmers raised the wheat and eggs for the bun,
Farmers raised the beef for the hamburger patty
Farmers raised the onions, tomatoes and lettuce for extras
Farmers raised the ketchup, mustard and pickles for condiments
Farmers raised the potatoes for the french fries
Farmers raised the corn for the soda pop

Just take a moment and think about the clothes you wear
Farmers raised the cotton for the t-shirt
Farmers raised sheep for the wool sweater
Farmers raised the livestock for the leather

Did you know that the crayons your students use are made from soybeans?
Or the fuel you put in your car or pickup truck has ethanol from corn and that soybeans can make diesel?
Or that many of your cosmetics, hair products, cleaning products, and paints are made from by-products of livestock?
Oh and by the way that gum you love to chew ... well, that is made from the hooves of pigs and cattle.

And if you think... wait a minute, my furniture didn't come from a farmer!  I hate to disappoint you because the forestry is considered part of the agriculture industry!
So there!

This is just a small list of what the farmer provides for you!
If you bought it, ate it, wore it, used it, sat on it...
Well you get the idea!
Take the time to thank the farmers!
They work hard for YOU!

Monday, March 14, 2016


One of our old time farmers in the neighborhood passed away this weekend.  His health had been deteriorating for some time and his body finally gave out.
As I prepared a jello fruit salad to drop off at the funeral home for the dinner it got me to thinking about how the neighborhood has changed so drastically. No longer the same.  Back before my time this neighborhood was a farming community.  Everyone knew each other.  As you drove by your neighbors you stuck your hand out the window, waved and honked your horn.  The housewives spent their days working on the farm; feeding livestock, collecting eggs, pitching out pens, tagging calves, or weeding in the garden.  If they weren't outside tending to the farm chores they were inside canning, cleaning, washing laundry, and preparing a three course meal for their family.  On sunny, warm days laundry was billowing in the breeze on the clothesline.
It was necessary for farm wives to stay home because everything around the farm was labor intensive and the family worked together to provide for their survival as well as sell some product for profit.  It was common to know your neighbors when you stop by to borrow equipment, talk about the local news or host gatherings.
Neighbors celebrated births and marriages but they also mourned their losses together. News was spread quickly through the neighborhood and they were at their doorsteps with home cooked dishes of food to show their support.  It was a way to help each other out when you didn't know what else to do. I have been in this neighborhood for about 25 years and there is only a handful of the old timers left and the number of farmers have decreased as well.
Changes are inevitable but the nostalgia of a tight knit neighborhood is a way of the past.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sharpen Your Saw

When I left school on Friday, I packed my backpack full of school work promising myself that I would get caught up and prepare for conferences that I have on Monday.  I was sure that I would come in over the weekend and do some cleaning.
Let's just say my weekend flew by and I was so busy on the farm that my well intended plans never transpired which unfortunately, my daily slice suffered too.  
Saturday was full of babysitting my granddaughter, Clair. She is 14 months old and is VERY active. I have to watch her every movement because she is also mischievous and will take any opportunity to find trouble.  My house is not baby proof to say the least so when she leaves I have piles of "things"  on my table and counters that she finds laying around that she shouldn't have.  
We took a walk to the barn and I had to pull her away from every mud hole in the driveway.  Clair bleated at the sheep and neighed at the horses all the way to the barn.  Thinking the walk would wear her out, it didn't.  So, I took her for a stroller ride down the lane with a bottle of milk hoping that would do the trick. She loved it talked the whole time sitting up in the stroller pointing at birds, the dogs, and leaves blowing by.
Deciding that a nap was not in the future and neither was my dreams of sneaking some quiet work time in we packed up to go see her mommy working.
Finally, the nap came about a mile down the road, of course.  By the time we got to the woods she was awake and ready to rumble again.  Me? Well I was ready for my nap.  Ashley, my daughter, was working in the woods with her dad on a logging job.  Clair was happy to see her mom and Ashley was happy to see her baby.  
Just a peek into a busy weekend on the farm and I am not ready for tomorrow's conferences but having the distractions from the everyday school stress will sharpen my saw. So, even if I'm not ready it will be fine.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Barely There

My blog is called I survived today and that is about all I can say about today.  I made it and I am just now fifteen hours later able to sit down.  It's been nonstop all day long from before school writing intervention to wrap it up with babysitting grand kids and a whole lot in between. 
I literally have nothing left to give right now because it's all dried up! 
I apologize for not being more peppy and positive.
Hopefully tomorrow I will have enough energy to deal with my plate that is piled sky high.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pot Hole Conspiracy.

If you ever driven the roads in Michigan you have experienced the game called "Dodge the potholes".  It's a challenge!  Just when you think you can straddle one to avoid another, BAM! your wheel falls in the deep hole and jars all the teeth in your head let alone probably damaging the whatchamajigger on your vehicle.  Some potholes stretch across the entire two lanes on the road making it impossible to avoid them unless you try to drive on the side of the road. This can also prove to be dangerous as the roads are so thin that there is no shoulder only sticky, gooey mud and you definitely don't want to get sucked into the ditch.
You are probably wondering why I think it's a pot hole conspiracy.  Well, here are my reasons. First of all I think they allow these potholes to expand so that it gives the county workers something to keep them busy all day, every day hauling dump trucks
full of asphalt to fill one hole at a time .  Second, the government can hire official pothole engineers to figure out how to redesign them because repaving seems to straight forward.  Third of all, I think the car manufacturers are in on the conspiracy because after driving around on these roads the life expectancy of your vehicle has now been downgraded.  Therefor you will be shopping more often for new vehicles.
I used to worry about the deer leaping in front of me on the way to and from work but at least the odds were slimmer of hitting a deer than hitting a pothole.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

His Room

When you lose a child there are so many milestones in the grieving process. Phases.
Just writing about the lose is making my heart race mostly because it's like peeling a band-aid off a large gaping wound.  Always there because there is no cure, no treatment that can ever make it go away. Always dealing with it. It took a long time before I even had the courage to write about Trent. A phase.
Saturday, my husband and I began a conversation that I thought I would never have since the day we lost Trent.  
It all started when we tossed around some ideas of home improvements.  Then it shifted to  talk about Trent's bedroom.  Should we open it up to give us more living room and dinning space?  Should we open part of it up and make part of it into a spare room to keep his things in?  Should we box up Trent's belongings? Should we just leave it as is? 
My heart dropped!  
Brad said, "It's not like he's going to come home."  
"I know."  I reply.
Brad said, "Weill, I'm comfortable too just like we are. Do we really need more room?"

When Trent passed away, NO ONE was allowed to touch his bedroom.  My well meaning sister began to clean his room and I thought I was going to blow a cork.  How dare she touch Trent's stuff as if, now that he was gone that his belongings should be packed up where no one has to look at them.  It wasn't her fault she really had no idea and frankly I hoped she never could understand. His room probably looked like any other typical 15 year old, trashed! But it still smelled like him and it looked like he would come home any moment.  The night he was killed his lamp was on and I left it on until it burned out a few years later. That was a depressing day. Another phase. 

Two years after his accident I finally could bring myself to clean it. Another phase. My husband couldn't help so it was up to me.   While cleaning I buried my head in his clothes hoping to smell his scent of cologne or Axe bodywash that he liked but it was faded away.  I kept everything, throwing nothing away, scraps of paper, unfinished class assignments,  electronics, well ANYTHING!  I just tidied it up. When it was done I accepted that it would have to be different. Another phase.

His room is in the most difficult spot in the house. Everyone has no choice but to walk by it to go into the kitchen or family room.  With the door open you can look in to see that it is still decorated as Trent had it.  I purposely did that. A closed door meant that I was ok with moving on and forgetting that Trent was ever part of us. I was not ok with forgetting. Stop sign on the wall, posters of snowmobiles and farm equipment, farm toys displayed, his backpack hanging on a hook, deer head , ball caps hanging from the antlers.  Some walk by quickly, some look in, some don't even notice or chose not to.  I am sure thinking that we can't accept or move on.  

A few years ago my daughter got married and with that came two step-children and we needed a place to hold the toys for them to play with when they came over. Another phase.   Now, that our daughter's family is bigger more room on the main floor would be nice but could I handle the change?  
It's not the same nor will it ever be because Trent's not ever coming to our home he has a new home. 
I often sit in there when I miss him.  Just looking around. Thinking. Wishing.   
I'm torn! 
I'm scared! 
Another phase.
We'll see.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

My Sweet Ride

While all my friends were getting cool cars like Volkswagen Rabbits or Monte Carlos.  The car that I was fortunate to have been handed down to me when I was a vulnerable 16 year old was an extremely large 1978 Chevrolet station wagon. 
This is what she looked like brand new!
 I remember the day my dad bought the car home from the local car dealership as a surprise for my mom.  It was almost brand new and was the most obnoxious solid maroon color. My dad was pleased as punch with it because he loved red vehicles but my mom liked to be unobtrusive and a solid maroon five door station wagon screams attention. 
I had three other siblings and I was next to the youngest so my assigned seat was the rear-facing seat in the far back.  Not a fun place to be especially when you are waiting at a stop light and another car pulls up behind you.  Talk about an awkward moment.  What do you do?  Look them in the eye, turn away, pretending not to notice them or make faces at them.  
When I was lucky enough to inherit this beauty she had cancer spots over her entire body which added to her eye appeal.  Driving it to school, I felt anything but cool.  I tried to find the farthest parking spot away from the school.  Hoping that no one would notice that I was the one driving the ginormous red bus.  It was hard not to notice.  My friend Christy would roll in with her Jeep Wrangler wheeling into a spot with ease while I had to do a three point turn just to attempt to fit in a parking space.  
Since, I was lucky enough to have a car given to me I also inherited the responsibility of driving my absent minded brother to school every day.  One day on my way into school we got about a quarter mile down the road and my brother announced that he forgot his book and had to have it.  Furious, I forgot for a moment what I was driving and decided to make a U turn in the middle of the road.  Let's just say she didn't turn on a a dime.  Ending up in the ditch stuck as we sat reclined in our seats because our front end pointed straight up with the wheels just touching the black top I firmly told my brother it was ALL his fault.  
The only time I was proud of my beauty was on my way home from work in a blazing snow storm. She plowed through the two foot snow drifts like it was a cruise ship sailing on the sea.  I believe I passed two or three small cars abandoned on the side of the road because they just didn't have the pushing power that my girl had.  
I was so sad the day she began to burn a lot of oil and began to overheat.  This was the only time I was so excited to be stranded on the side of the road.  It was pure elated joy when my dad gave me the news that the motor was shot! She went to junkyard heaven and I didn't even
cry over her.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Conquer Self Doubt

"The best way to conquer self doubt is to follow your dream.. and work your face off."  Meghan Trainor

~This quote collided with me this morning~

Worst enemy - ME

What can I do?
Not much.

Who cares about me?

What do I know about...?

I was stupid
I am fat
I am frumpy
I'm a failure

Look at ....
They're so brilliant
They're so successful
They're so beautiful
They're so eloquent
They're life is so put together

Don't listen to that voice!
You can do it!
Make up your mind
Work hard
Good Times - Bad Times

Who cares?
I do!
That's all that matters!
I will succeed!

I have a wealth of knowledge:
I am a writer!
I am a crafter!
I am a teacher!
I am a farmer!
I am an entrepreneur!

Beauty cannot be compared
Different forms
Life  Struggles

Follow YOUR Dreams!
Don't let Self Doubt Consume your Self Worth!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Life Lessons

It was another snowy morning on the farm here in Michigan.  My daughter, Ashley stopped by my house to bring me back my pan that I had brought them dinner a while back.
"What's up?" I ask.
"I'm heading to the bank and feed store this morning.  They close at one o'clock so I better get going," she says but makes no move to leave.
"Where's the kids?" I reply.
"In the truck, buckled up. They are driving me crazy!" Ashley says.
So, here it is, I know why she dropped off the pan.  It had been at her house for a while so I know.
"Do you want me to go with?" I ask.
"You don't have to." she says with a sigh.
Scrambling around, I change, throw on a ball cap to cover my unwashed hair and head out the door. As I jump in her truck, Kasen is in the back yelling my name, Audrie is in the middle smirking and Clair the little one is giggling.  Glancing in the back I smile and think to myself, "Wow! what a crew!"
We make our rounds leaving our last stop, Family Farm and Home store where everyone gets out.  You see when I go on these excursions I usually just stay in the truck while Ashley runs in to get the errands taken care of.  A lot easier!
All we needed were a few things but when you don't go into town too often it seems like everything is fascinating at the farm supply store.  Slowly making are way around the store grabbing; sawdust, heat bulbs for the new baby lambs, vaccinations, dog treats, all the farm basics.  Audrie spotted a green and blue lamb halter and then Kasen wanted one for his lamb so he picked out a blue and red halter.
We purposely left the toy aisle last, hoping to strategically avoid it but no such hope.  Kasen spotted it right away.  Let's just get things straight, I am one of those types of grandmas that like to spoil my grandkids. They all chose something small, Audrie loved the eight ball, Kasen found a John Deere farm set and Clair got some farm animals.  Awesome! Everyone is happy!
As Ashley and I are looking at the clothes because of course we want something, too.  Kasen gets mad about something, still not sure what, and storms off by himself.  "Oh boy" I think to myself.  As I am looking at a rack of clothes I glance up at Ashley to see how she is going to react.  I certainly don't want to be the one to discipline if I don't have to because after all I am the grandma.
"Don't worry! I've got this one!"  She replies to my look as she starts"the walk".  You know "the walk"?  The slow but firm walk that mothers do, trying to gather themselves before getting to the naughty child and thinking about how to deal with the situation without losing your cool in front of everyone in the store.
I of course look away for two reasons: first of all I know this could be painful for my grandson and second of all I refused to be one of those gawkers who judge.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Ashley hauling an unwilling and limp Kasen back down the toy aisle.
Yes, she made him put the toy back.  She firmly explained to him that he is not allowed to take off in the store by himself or talk back and that naughty boys don't deserve special treats like a toy. Unfortunately, this just made the situation worse as Kasen sat on the floor at the cash out counter, sobbing but Ashley stayed firm.
Heading Home!
When we got back in the truck and headed home.  I looked over at her and said, "I am a very proud of you!  I am sure that was hard but that was small consequence for a big lesson."
"I won't lie," she responded, "I really wanted to go back and get the toy to give to him later but I stopped myself.  It wasn't something he needed and maybe when he watches his sisters play with their new toys today he will think twice about throwing a fit in the store."
It's official!  My daughter is a earned her way to the motherhood club!
Nobody said being a parent is easy!  We often have to dole out tough consequences that hurt a little bit now but it's an investment for their future to be someone with good character.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Lost Dog!

Lost Dog!

Have You Seen Me?

I look kind of like a bloated sausage with short stubby legs.
I am a pure bred possibly inbred red heeler cattle dog.  My purpose is to herd livestock but I have ADHD!  Unfortunately,due to my condition, I get too excited and run my master's sheep all over the pasture barking incisively or grabbing a mouthful of wool as the sheep leap over my head, crazy to get away from me.
My other job is to let everyone know when someone new has arrived at the farm.  You could say that I am the Shrontz Farm greeter.  I get a thrill when I sneak up behind them poking my nose into their calf because they always freak out.  I just smile and trot away knowing that I've done my job.
My colors are a blended mixture of yellow, orange, white and occasionally poopy brown or streaks of green shows up on the side of my face, back or sides.  And for some reason whenever I have those occasional poopy brown and green colors on me I can't get anyone to pet me let alone let me inside my house to curl up on my couch.  No matter how much I bang against the door with my hard nose!  All I hear is more yelling.
If found I answer to several names: Hoss, Hossy, Hey #*#*#*, Shut up, Get over here, or Out!  Some names I respond a little quicker than others.
Warning! If you find me don't try to shut me up in the house or garage as I have a phobia of being locked up or left out.  I will go completely berserk and trash your house not because I want to but because I completely lose my mind.  One time I ripped the screens out of ALL the windows, pulled the shower curtain off the rod, strung the trash over the whole kitchen and my last but not least a pile of poop somewhere special.
These are my neighbors!
I was last seen hanging out in the neighbors house eating snacks and playing with the little people.

On second thought ...

I'm not lost just waiting for my mommy to come get me.  I forgot to add that I don't like exercise and I only come home from the neighbors when the "cab" shows up to bring me home.  Until then I will continue to eat, sleep and play at the neighbors.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Amarillo Sky

Rocking in my leather recliner chair I watch my three year old grandson, Kasen line up the tractors, hook trailers on semis, and dig deep in the toy tub looking for more farm implements.  "Grandma who's was this truck?" Kasen asks me as he holds up a die-cast semi that was once white but now is roughly painted royal blue.  
"Oh, it was Trent's." I say matter of fact.  "He painted it blue." 
Chuckling he says, "Oh Trent! I love Trent and this blue truck!" 
"Me too!"  I respond with a sigh and a slight smile.
"These were all Trent's toys, right?" He asks
"Yep! Now your playing with them." I answer. 
"Why did you keep them, Grandma?" Kasen continues to inquire.
"Just in case I had a grandson that wanted to come over and play." I reply back.
Kasen nods his head.  "Look this combine has broken wheels! What happened to it?" He continues.
"Oh, Trent probably was rough on it and it broke." I respond.
Kasen nods his head again.  "Silly Trent!"  
I continue to rock slowly in my chair watching Kasen play with Trent's farm toys on the living room floor.  I stop suddenly.  Kasen starts singing..."He just takes the tractor another round...
And pulls the plow across the ground... And sends up another prayer...Another round...."   "That was Trent's favorite song," I say to my grandson.  "Mine too!"  He replies back with a smile as if he already knew.
Kasen's Uncle Trent passed away in 2008, four years before he was born.  "Amarillo Sky" by Jason Aldean was Trent's favorite song and we played it at his funeral.  It warms my heart that even though Kasen never met Trent he knows him and he will always carry him in his heart.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Turning facts into scenes - Nonfiction writing

My third graders are working on writing nonfiction. One skill that my students struggle with is elaboration.  So, I began searching through my professional resources that might guide my instruction in order to strengthen my students writing. 
Georgia Heard's book, Finding the Heart of Nonfiction is a great resource.

Two pieces of advice that Heard gave in this book were: 
  • Turning Facts into Scenes - Writing with Imagery
  • Precise Language - Concrete Nouns and Active Verbs
I've always found that first I have to experience the process before I can guide my students. A topic that my students are familiar with around our area in Michigan is white tailed deer.  One technique that Georgia Heard suggested is to take a fact bit from an encyclopedia definition and transform it into a more descriptive passage that paints a vision for the reader instead of regurgitating facts.

My attempt:

Wikepedia Definition:
White-tailed deer typically respond to the presence of potential predators by breathing very heavily (also called blowing) and fleeing. When they blow, the sound alerts other deer in the area. As they run, the flash of their white tails warns other deer. This especially serves to warns fawns when their mother is alarmed

Prompting Questions:  What pictures do you see in your mind?  What are the facts that you need to weave into the passage?  What concrete nouns or active verbs can you use that is precise?

My Model:
The white-tailed deer nibbles on the tall grass in the open field, her spotted fawn is curled up hidden on the edge of the field where the forest begins.  She twitches her tail, swatting at the flies trying to land on her back.  Occasionally the doe lifts her head, staring off in the horizon, motionless except the rotation of her large ears. Satisfied she drops her head, grabbing a mouthful of green grass until something catches her attention.  Her deep breaths, blowing, signals to the other white-tail deer who also pop their heads up.  The mother makes a quick decision to bound across the grassy field away from the forest, away from her baby.  With her long strides she leaps through the air.  A flash of her white tail pointing straight in the air waving like a white surrender flag warning other deer that may be also unaware that a predator could be lurking nearby. 

When I do this lesson with my students I will show my model and then give them a portion of a definition, highlight the facts and then brainstorm some concrete nouns or active verbs to fit the description.  Give them time to draft a descriptive paragraph and then share a few.  Hopefully they can use this when they write their own nonfiction pieces.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Lion or Lamb

Many of you have heard the old saying "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."  It's always a big debate at school, making a prediction about how Old Man Winter will treat us in our last leg of the winter race in Michigan.  This winter has been easy on us compared to last year with only a few snow days but if you are from Michigan there are never any guarantees when it comes to the weather.  
You may be wondering where this old proverb originated from.   No matter how many best practices that a farmer uses to grow a bumper crop their livelihood is still at the mercy of the weather. Farmers would have to make important decisions about planting crops in the spring.  Planting too early could result in a complete crop failure with freezing temperatures.  Without weather forecasters such as Al Rouker around farmers relied on beliefs and astrology. The Leo constellation was present at the beginning of March in the night skies which then gave way to Aries the Ram at the end of the month.  People believed that their lives centered around the spirits of the gods and if March came in fierce like a lion then in order to keep a balance of power among the universe then it had to leave mild like a lamb.    

Lamb - Sheep Photo (30710619) - Fanpop

Now that I think about it ...  weather forecasting really hasn't changed a whole lot because after all we are living in Michigan where anything can happen.
So will March prove to be in like a Lion and out like a Lamb?  Only time will tell for certain but the fact remains there is a 50 - 50 chance either way.
Here are just a few other farmer's life proverbs to ponder:
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about, ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
11454297503_e27946e4ff_hRemember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.
Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.