Racko, Mom’s favorite.
(just to annoy the kids, actually)
Parcheesi, Maxson’s gift from Grandma and Grandpa upon returning from their sabbatical in India
Rummikub, Scrabble (regular or speed), .
Tanner challenges me to chess for the sheer pleasure of beating me.
Bunco with the church ladies.
Multi-generational Euchre tournaments with the Harris family.
Cribbage. Pegging on the Dreuke game board or on the Ipad.
Sequence, Mancala, Hearts.
Canasta. A family tradition. Queen of them all.
Today my family and I visited Leland, Michigan, one of the most beautiful places on this green earth – I swear! It has been years since I visited this place known for the old fishing shanties lining the Leland river. It’s a great place to get smoked White Fish, Salmon and Lake Trout brought in fresh daily by the fishing tugs such as the Joy (pictured above) and Janice Sue. Fish Town has, in recent years, been the benefactor of a preservation society. There are wonderful placards placed around Fish Town to relay the history of the families who made their livelihood there. These families were the Carlsons, the Johnsons, the Steffens, Langs, and Bucklers to name a few. The area was originally one of the largest Ottawa settlements of the area. There has always been fishing along the Leland (Carp) River. Fish Town emerged in the 1880’s and was a prosperous commercial fishing center until the early 1980’s. There is still a commercial fishing presence in Fish Town and the Carlson family has been a mainstay from the beginning. While the Carlson family still operates commerical fishing tugs, they also have a wonderful place where you can purchase fresh and smoked fish. The Carlsons, originally from Norway are now a fifth generation fishing family. In the August of 1941 Will Carlson and his son, Lester, had a tragic fire aboard their wood fishing boat, The Diamond. The Diamond’s gas line sprung a leak, the boat was in flames. Sixty-three year old Will and his son Lester tried to swim for the Manitou Islands offshore. Tragically, the boat and Will were taken by the lake. After twenty hours in the water Lester was rescued. Because the family depended on the boat for their livlihood, the townspeople took up a collection and donated a boat so young Lester could feed his family. They called the boat Good Will. Again, just recently, the townspeople and Bill Carlson rallied to preserve Fish Town. The townspeople, many whose parents and grandparents chipped in for the Good Will, now dug into their pockets to put together 3 million dollars to buy Fish Town for preservation. I find the story of Fish Town to be a love story. A story of love for community, love for the lake, and love for the heritage of commercial fishing as a livelihood.
Jane Goodall is one of my heros. I admire her dedication, curiosity, love and respect for chimpanzees and the entire animal kingdom of which we are a part. I reread her book, “The Chimpanzees I Love, Saving Their World and Ours” published in 2001 and dedicated to her mother who encouraged her to follow her dreams. Here is my poem constructed of excerpts from my reading.
Chimpanzees are more like us than any other living beings.
There is a great deal in chimpanzee relationships to remind us of our own behavior, more, perhaps, than many of us would like to admit.
I was very sad and shocked when I found out the chimpanzees, just like us, have a dark side to their nature.
The more we have learned about chimpanzees, the clearer it is that they ..do many things that we used to think only humans could do.
Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. And we have a choice: what sort of difference do we wan to make?
I have hope for the future because of the energy and commitment and persistence of young people around the globe.
Everywhere more and more people have begun to understand that their own lives do matter, that we are all here for a purpose, and we ca each of us make a difference.
There is not, after all, a sharp line dividing humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.
Make the world a better place for all living things.
PARKING TICKET written on a highlighter yellow envelope lying on the white kitchen counter. It screams! It’s been there for a week.
Initial Fine doubles if not paid within 10 days.
It was Tuesday evening. I met my friend, Shelli, for a beautiful evening on the patio at Hop Cat. We had fish tacos and crack fries. We got caught up on her move to a new home, her summer vacation at the cottage, her granddaughter. The sky was the perfect color blue. The sun illuminated the city scene. The sweat on the glass gave testimony to the humidity in the air. It was a perfect summer evening on the patio. I walked back to my car parked along the city street. I had been careful to put enough quarters in the meter and crank the knob to the right each time. The sun was still up because it is only a few weeks past the summer solstice. The heat rose up from the sticky pavement and radiated up my legs under my sundress. My rule of thumb for a perfect summer evening is one in which I can sit outside on a restaurant patio and not have to wear a sweater over my sundress. Yup, this was it. The perfect summer evening. Then I caught a glimpse of the parking ticket tucked under my windshield wiper. Its edge fluttered slightly in the soft breeze. My smile relaxed a little. My sense of self satisfaction was slightly tinged. If I had only put in two more quarters I could’ve saved myself $20.00. My summer evening had been perfect. I felt very alive. The summer evening sun was still warm on the back of my neck. The conversation was still swirling in my head. The parking ticket was just a tiny annoyance. I swatted away the thought of it as I tucked it away in my purse for the time being returning my state of mind to perfect.
Sunday night was one of those unforgettable Michigan summer nights. Sometimes living in Michigan takes a lot of fortitude. However, it is all made worthwhile by our exquisite summers. They are absolutely splendid. After a long, cold, dark winter I expect a sweltering hot summer. Anything less and I feel cheated. This summer started out slow. Winter was brutal. She was cold and long and the snow piled high in our driveways and parking lots. We had five snow days! Almost unheard of in my district. I hold on to the hope of an idyllic Michigan summer to get me through the dark days of winter. This year however, spring came late. Spring break came early which meant that after a lovely vacation in Mexico, we had to endure cold and yes, more snow. May came and went. It was rainy. I passed a sign at a church that read, “Dear May, April called. She wants her rain back.” Then, June came – and went. June was not very June like. During the last week of June we hosted an exchange student from Germany. Many of the activities scheduled for the group of Blue Lake International exchange students were planned outside. You can usually count on late June. But late June let us down this year. Not only was there pouring down rain on the morning we decided to go walk around downtown and get hot dogs from the Dog Pit but the weather was cold. 54 degrees on June 28th. A concert in the park should’ve been a sweltering, buggy event. But it was freezing. And then finally, after all of the suffering, Michigan did what Michigan does best. A gorgeous, clear night, with a stunning red sunset. We spent the entire evening on our boat on the Thornapple River with good friends. We started out sunning ourselves and when the sun started to wane and our stomachs started to growl, we looked at each other and wondered aloud – “Should we head in for dinner?” Not wanting to call it quits on such a beautiful evening I quietly floated a balloon – “Or, we could get pizza…” We started checking for cell phones, numbers for the pizza place, and debit cards. We called and ordered pizza to the boat. An hour wait? No problem. Not tonight. We’ve only got time. We are enjoying such a lovely evening. The pizza was gingerly handed over the bow of the boat by the delivery guy. Success! Got the pizza and the boat got no bumps on the rocks. We munched and cruised. We cruised and chatted. Nightfall finally came. The watermelon colored moon followed us as we drifted up river. Reluctantly towards midnight we headed into the slip. Although I had to get up early the next morning, I wasn’t going to let perfect night on the water slip through my fingers. I wasn’t going to let this moment get away. Not after waiting so long. Thank you Michigan – you finally made good on your promise of a beautiful summer night.came
Today I woke up late. Disappointment.
6:50 a.m. The alarm didn’t go off.
I am a set the alarm early, stumble to the kitchen kind of gal.
But not today.
I felt cheated by time and circumstance;
My professional development session would start in 70 minutes leaving 50 minutes to get ready and 20 minutes of drive time.
I am not a jump out of bed and hit the shower kind of gal.
I like my mornings to unfold slowly. I like to…
boil the water in the tea kettle, five minutes, pour it over the dark grounds in the French press, stir…
Ease my still half asleep body into my reading chair, check social media on my phone and wait for the coffee to steep. Three more minutes.
I give my body permission to sink deep into the spacious, leather chair,
Inhale one, two, sip long and slow, pause, savor, exhale three, four.
60 sweet succulent minutes sipping and reading a succulent book selection.
This is my morning meditation.
I love this picture book written by Peter Brown. It helps that I met him at the Michigan Reading Association Annual Conference in Grand Rapids this past March. Every time I read the book I fall in love all over again. I love Peter Brown’s wry humor. I think his dedication page sums it all up. He writes: “To misunderstood teachers and their misunderstood students”. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Bobby and his teacher, Ms. Kirby. We come to understand Bobby’s problem on the first page. His big problem is Ms. Kirby. Over the pages of quirky illustrations we learn all about Ms. Kirby through her actions towards Bobby. She is a monster. Literally and figuratively. She is green, has a large over sized mouth full of jagged teeth, and she roars at Bobby. He is terrified of her. Peter Brown has drawn Bobby very tiny. This mirrors how Bobby feels in Ms. Kirby’s presence. Ms. Kirby could be described as rude, mean, crass. Then one day, the worse thing ever happens to Bobby. He runs in to her in the park. He wants to disappear. If you’ve ever run in to your teacher in the grocery store, this might be how you feel. If, on the other hand, you are a teacher and you’ve run into one of your students in the grocery store you probably did not meet his expectations of you either. Bobby and Ms. Kirby are each transformed over the course of their morning together in the park. Back at school, however, Ms. Kirby was the same teacher as always. Only different. Pick up a copy of this book at your library or local book seller. You’ll be charmed as I am.
The illustrations are
Today I had my final observation and evaluation. With only four days left of the school year for my Young Fives, I am very relieved to able to check that off my list. One of the questions my principal posed to me as part of the post observation reflection was, “What have been your greatest successes this year?” I now realize that my biggest challenges this year are now my biggest successes. I have a few kiddos who were on positive behavior plans for a good part of the year. They have each been able to consistently meet their behavior targets and graduated from the plans. Each time, I celebrated with them. I am so proud of their successes!
I have worked very hard to create a positive environment in which the kids feel they have control and responsibility. They know our promises and they know how to solve problems with their words. They also know that they have the freedom to make mistakes. When a child says they made a mistake I will say, “Is it okay to make mistakes in Young Fives?” and they will echo “Yes, it’s how we learn!” I want them to know they can take risks and make mistakes.
Listening and following directions has been a real challenge this year and I think they have made a lot of progress. I use songs for this. I have also been doing a “craft activity” to give them practice for following directions. I go over the steps – draw pictures, they volunteer to restate the steps, and then they have a visual to refer to.
At the beginning of the year I met with the three Kindergarten teachers and they gave me a list of the things they most want for incoming Kindergartners:
- Follow 2 step directions
- Taking turns & raising hand to talk
- Fine motor skills such as cutting, tracing, and coloring in the lines.
I have put my focus on these things as well as Establishing classroom rules, routines, and procedures and involving students in designing routines and using classroom meetings to review rules and procedures and solve problems. I feel that this has been very successful! My little classroom has become such a positive, strong community. I hate to let them go on to Kindergarten but they are ready!
I can’t wait until my kids are grown.
I can’t wait until summer is here.
I can’t wait until I get a full time teaching job
I can’t wait until I’m old encough to be taken seriously.
I can’t wait until I have my degree.
I have wished my life away.
I have longed for until
and my life has passed me by.
1. Great Twitter Chats #TWTblog, #ReadAloud, #SharpSchu, #KSRAchat
2. Connecting with authors, @StevenLayne @Donnalynmiller, @kellydipucchio @amedyckman
3. Vines about books
4. Meeting new colleagues on Twitter
5. Sharing ideas like learning about Padlet
6. Keeping up with colleagues I met at Michigan Reading Association Annual Conference
7. Getting inspired to up my game with technology, hands on learning experiences, and ideas for my conferring tool kit
8. Sharing what I am doing in my classroom.
9. It’s always there!
10. It’s the best professional development and opportunity for networking and it’s free!