Showing posts from 2017

A Christmas Past

I originally wrote this for a church choir newsletter in the year 2000.  I think it is still relevant today and hope that you do too! I'm writing this to confess.  I didn't put up a Christmas tree last year and I don't intend to put one up this year either.  I know what you are thinking.  What kind of a grinch doesn't decorate a tree?  Let me explain. It all began around this time last year during a routine visit to the vet.  Our adorable hound dog puppy, Zoey, was seven months old at the time and very much exhibited the joie de vivre that only hound dog pups can.  After several minutes of maneuvers that looked like something from a World Federation wrestling match, Dr. Jim looked at me and said,  "You aren't thinking of putting up a tree this year, are you?"  It was really more a statement than a question.  Not wanting to appear ignorant in puppy raising protocol I replied,  "Oh, of course not." On the way home I pondered how to brea

Baby Ben's Favorite Reads

Baby Ben enjoys story time at the library last summer. I recently got to visit with Baby Ben (aka Benny). I was pleased to discover that at the age of 10 months, he is into books big time! In fact, he spent a lot of time on that day looking at books, being read to, and chewing on his favorite bath tub book. Here are Baby Ben's favorites (as of now). Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin. This classic is written in rhyme and tells the story of a variety of animals and what they see. Benny loves the rhythm of this one. Good Night Moon , by Margaret Wise Brown. A little bunny bids good night to all the objects in his room before falling asleep. This book is also written in rhyme and Benny enjoys the rhythm of this one as well. Are You My Mother , by P.D. Eastman.  In this story, a little bird falls from the nest and begins a search for his mother. He asks a variety of animals and objects the same question, "Are you my mother?"  The repetition of the ques

I Have One Word.......Finland!

No, I am not making a trip to Finland, nor have I recently traveled to Finland. The one word answer of "Finland" was in response to my husband asking me what I thought would help "fix", "improve", "make better", (pick your favorite), the education system in our local town. The subject of school improvement has been on the radar for years and years now. It seems that a lot of people, apparently, feel like the education system in the United States is "broken", "poor", " not as good as other countries around the world" (once again pick your favorite). I, for one, and this is just my opinion, find basically three things wrong with the school system in my town and in districts around the country and they are as follows: 1. Standardized testing 2. Standardized testing 3. Wait for it, Standardized testing. I recently read Teach Like Finland , written by Timothy D. Walker, an American educator who spent two y

A Girl, a Horse, and a Lesson in Parenting

Not the real Fatima, but a good look-a-like. The following is a true story. When I was around 10 years old, I began riding horses. Almost every week-end, my cousin and I would go to a riding stable and enjoy each other's company as well as practice our riding skills. Then when I was 12 or 13 I began "pestering" my parents. I wanted a horse of my own! Of course, the initial answer was "no".  I'm pretty sure the next 20 or so answers were also "no".  However, I kept pestering  , begging, pleading , okay, I admit, whining, and as the saying goes,  persistence pays off.  I was finally going to get a horse! There was a pasture for rent right up the street from my house.  My horse was going to be only 3 blocks away!   It couldn't get any better than this, now could it? Wellll..... I quickly grew tired of carrying buckets, (very heavy buckets) of feed and water the three blocks from my house to the pasture. Since there wasn't a bar

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

When you are retired it sort of feels like you are on permanent vacation. Not that I am trying to rub it in or anything. In reality, retired people also have things to do, responsibilities to family, etc, so planned vacation time is still essential to a person's well being. That being said, I took three trips this summer that offered not only the good but also the bad and the ugly. The first trip was to Fairhope, Alabama and then on to Gulf Shores. Who doesn't love the beach? Using Airbnb  accommodations that allowed pets was a bonus and we set off with the two pups and high hopes! Traveling went well and we arrived at our vintage Airstream trailer all in one piece. Unfortunately, the Airstream was not all in one piece as evidenced by the use of duct tape. Duct tape, people, around the windows, on the door handle (what there was of it) and holding the screen door together. Let me go on to say, I am not anti-duct tape, so please save your indignant comments. But, reall

It's T-i-i-i-i-m-e !

You know what I mean. It's that time of the year. It's time to hold that new box of crayons up to your nose and take a big sniff and think "all is right with the world." Okay, that's probably only me, but I'm sure everyone has their own special school memory. Today I would like to speak to teachers of young children. I have some tips that I think (hope) you will find helpful as you and your little ones begin the new year. First, remember since you are an adult the frontal lobe of your brain is developed and you have higher order thinking skills. This should give you a slight edge over the children. With that being said, remember that you are outnumbered, probably by about 10 to 1 at least. So, just remember when you are facing an angry mob that you are the adult, you are in charge, and you have got this. (Smiley face). Second, what ever you do, keep moving. I am talking the whole time that class is in session. Believe me, the children will b

More Fiber in Preschool? Seriously?

I recently read an article from the New York Times  written by Dana Goldstein that dealt with the results of a new study regarding the use of a more rigorous curriculum in preschool classrooms. The study suggested that preschools do not mix enough "fiber" into their curriculum and therefore might be doing their young children a disservice. The article told the story of a teacher doing a group geometry lesson extolling the attributes of a square. I have talked about group lessons before and I will do so again. When you sit all your little children down together in a small confined space, such as "the rug" and proceed to "lecture" to them with a flat paper object of some kind as an example, you most likely will not achieve the outcome you are hoping for! Dollars to donuts, at least one child will have their hand down their pants the entire time, another will have their shirt over their head, and of course, there is always one with their finger stuck in

Retirement, Simple Living and Me: An Update!

It has been one year since I began this little adventure called retirement. During this time, I have continued to complete part time assignments for my employer, take care of my aging dad, and have been trying to answer the question, "what exactly do you do when you retire?" I stopped to talk with a neighbor the other day. We did some catching up and then she asked, "So what do you do now that you have retired?"  I answered, "Well, I walk the dogs."  (I'm sure she had already deduced that since they were slobbering all over her feet at the time). Then for some unknown reason I added, "and I vacuum a lot". What? Seriously? That's all I could come up with? Surely I have accomplished something! I later remembered that I could have told her that I am studying to be a Tai Chi master. However, that's a bit of a stretch since I am beginning to wonder if the class I am in (there are three), is the remedial class. The instructor s

"You're Not Listening", said Lily.

On a recent very early morning flight, a couple with two small children in tow struggled down the aisle towards me. The man resembled a pack animal of some sort and held the hand of a blond headed little girl. The woman had a diaper bag over one arm and carried a blond headed little boy in the other.  They all collapsed into the seats in the row behind me. They lived in Vermont and had spent the previous night with Grandma in Connecticut (they already missed her) and were on the way to Mexico for a family vacation. The little girl was Lily and the baby brother was Waylon. I know all of this because, with the exception of about three minutes , two minutes  one minute (of the two hour and 6 minute flight), when Lily enjoyed a juice box, she chattered non-stop.  As we waited to taxi out to the runway, Lily asked her mom if she could have the phone. I'm not sure what a 3 year old was going to do with the phone, but apparently very young children using phones is a "thing"

Retirement, Simple Living, and Me: The Power of the Porch

I didn't grow up in a porch sitting kind of family. My house was ranch style and while we had what would pass as a patio, there was not a porch. You know the kind that had a railing and a place for a swing. I'm talking about that kind of porch. I do a lot of porch sitting now, however. Well, technically it's a deck with a screened in part that we call "the porch", but it certainly serves the purpose. It's my firm belief that porch sitting is essential to my physical and mental well being.  For me, it is a place to eat breakfast or lunch, read, write,  daydream, watch the birdies taking a bath, watch the pups  stalk squirrels, and simply "take the sun". My mother-in-law recently passed away. While thinking of what I could say at the funeral service, aside from the fact that she was a sweet and supportive mother to her three sons and a "non-invasive" mother-in-law to me and her other daughters-in-law, the main thing that came to my mi

Retirement, Simple Living, and Me: The Signs of a Small Town

I recently read a blog post about "slow" blogging. Slow blogging is basically not stressing out over creating new posts and not getting in a hurry to post new items. Since it has been over a month since my last post, I guess I really took the advice from that article to heart! With that being said,  take what you will from that little nugget of information and let's continue on to today's post. As many people can attest, retirement has many perks. For example, an inordinate amount of "robo" calls for new hearing aids, back braces, chair lifts, and walk-in bathtubs can provide entertainment on a daily basis.  However, today I'm writing about one of the more, to me anyway, desirable perks: more time to travel.  I have several short trips planned in the near future, but today I would like to share some photos from my trip to the northeast.  In a way it was like a time travel experience. I left my house in the spring (trees were budding), travele

Retirement, Simple Living, and Me: Warning! Talk of Physical Fitness

So I've noticed there seems to be a plethora of articles on the subject of retirement. Apparently, old folks need an enormous amount of guidance on how to spend their days, money, and leisure time. One article encouraged moving into a community of "like minded" people, whatever that means, and another suggested getting a dog. I guess that one is so if all else fails, at least you'll have one loving and loyal friend.   Although there are numerous articles that  deal with different subjects, they all seem to end up  with:  You need to get up off the couch and get moving!   Apparently, lack of movement is the number one hazard for old folks. Who knew?  I would have thought the only way to avoid a hip fracture or other catastrophe would be to stay completely still. But I guess that's just me.  I am not going to waste any one's time by saying I have always been and continue to be a fitness buff.  I wouldn't even know how to start making up a story like that

A Letter to Baby Ben

Dear Baby Ben, While I am currently calling you Baby Ben, I know that the day will come when you say, "I'm not a baby" and I will have to call you just Ben or Benjamin, but that's okay. Even though you are only one month old, I know some things about you already and one of them is that you will grow and develop as intended so I'm not worried about that. You will learn to roll over, sit up by yourself, crawl, walk, run, feed yourself with a spoon (after a fashion), talk, and probably scream a little as well. Sorry, I almost forgot about climbing, throwing, and riding a bike! You'll have plenty of help learning the names and sounds of letters, how to count, how to read, and how to write because your parents and others will help you do that. You will also have plenty of time for all of that "stuff" so please feel free to remind grown ups not to rush you! I also know that you are and will be loved by lots and lots of people. You have parents, a

You Are Suppose to Share!

The following conversation recently took place between two four year old little boys:  Boy #1-  You are suppose to share. Boy #2-  I know. Boy #1-  Well, you're not! Ahh. Sharing. Now that's an interesting concept in the world of young children.  What exactly is sharing? According to one definition, sharing  is agreeably giving one's possessions to others.  Sharing is also defined and viewed as a pro-social behavior. It is intended to benefit other people and society as a whole. For grown-ups this is not such a hard thing to do. We share our time, energy, and finances, among other things, with our family members and friends. For young children, "sharing" is not viewed in the same enlightened manner. This is sometimes hard for teachers and parents of young children to understand and come to terms with.  I n an article written for Early Childhood News , Sue Grossman, an assistant professor of early childhood education at Eastern Michigan University, talks

Little Kids Need A Lot....Of Grown-ups.

I'm sure everybody can remember a grown-up or grown-ups that played a role in helping them, teaching them, or guiding them through childhood. Teachers, doctors, Sunday school teachers, ministers, librarians, nurses, babysitters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and of course, parents just to name a few.  It seems to me that little kids had a lot of grown-ups involved in their lives back in the day. I know that I did and I feel very fortunate to have had them. So what exactly do little kids need from the grown-ups in their lives? In a nutshell, warm, nurturing, supportive relationships with significant adults is essential for optimal brain growth and development. Learning, both cognitive and emotional, can not take place until children feel physically and psychologically safe. By their very nature, little kids are not too knowledgeable about the world around them and they appear to have no visible means of support.  For those reasons, they need adults to provide nutritious food,