Sunday, December 30, 2007

Things I Know For Sure

As I read my Christmas cards this year, I saw a reoccurring theme: "I miss your Sunday Message". Yes, I stopped writing it. Yes, I began blogging--irregularly. Yes, I'm way too busy. I decided that I, too, missed my Sunday Message...and writing. I can't promise I will write weekly, but I can promise to write once in a while. Who know, maybe it will be better this way. For right now I want to write: Things I Know For Sure, thoughts to end 2007 with. The idea is from The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan. (A good read about mothers and daughters.)

1.I know for sure that I am in love with my husband. I know because after 25 years of marriage, I'd still rather spend time with him than anyone else. We have so much fun together and think alike about so many things. He really is my best friend.
2. I know for sure that I was born to be a teacher. There is no greater feeling than to see a child love to read or write after you've shown him/her about your love of books.
3. I know for sure that I will never get done reading all the books I've bought. I can't help it, I just keep buying them. Even when I went to buy Darrell a book as a gift, I had to buy one for me, too! That was my favorite gift for Christmas: Barnes and Noble gift cards!
4. I know for sure that I have a deep love for my pets. Why else would I drive my orange tabby cat to the vet once a week for blood tests? Or why would I massage my elderly golden retriever's back legs after a two-mile walk?
5. I know for sure that I have the best friends anyone could ask for. Vacation is so wonderful because I get to catch up over breakfast or lunch.
6. I know for sure that I am blessed with a loving family. From a sister to cousins, to an aunt far away, to a brave, smart son and wonderful stepchildren, to all eight grandchildren, how fortunate I am.
7. I know for sure that I am blessed also to be working with the brightest and smartest people in my profession. That includes my facilitator buddies, who are so willing to share their knowledge and encourage me daily. It includes the teachers I work with in the classrooms around the district who share their knowledge as easily as their students. It includes my All Write mentor friends who provide a network for not only teaching but life itself.
8. Finally, I know for sure that I have a Savior who loves me unconditionally. Without His guidance and direction, love and companionship, I would know nothing at all for sure!
Have a wonderful, blessed New Year 2008!!! Think about what you know for sure!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Seven Things About Me as a Reader

My friend, Jen, has tagged me for this meme. Here's what I think:
  1. I absolutely love reading...anything, any time, any where!
  2. I have several books going at the same time: professional and personal.
  3. Currently I am reading Love...the sequel to Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, plus about 3 professional books.
  4. I bought my favorite read for my mother-in-law's Christmas present: Thousand Splendid Suns.
  5. The main thing I miss about not having my own classroom is the read alouds.
  6. I am a member of a great book club. It is made up of writing teachers and we can talk forever about our current book. Our last book? See #4
  7. My favorite saying: I spend my check on books, if there is any left we buy food and clothes!

There you have it. That was easy, since I read, read, read! I will tag Ruth and Lou Ann. Now, it's off to finish Love, Oh, yes, I keep a reader's notebook, too!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Can you spell that?

I promised you more stories. I will give you one. For the other one I was going to tell you, go to my friend Sarah's blog. The story I will tell here, is again about a kindergarten class. It was the same day that the Bradley story happened.

The kiddos were writing their stories. I had been circulating around the room. I stopped to work with Jessica. She is a tiny, blond cherub with expressive blue eyes. As she was putting her words to her story, she stopped and looked up at me.

"How do I spell we?" she asked.
"Can you find it on your word wall?" I asked her. She wasn't sure where to look.

Just then a little girl from the table behind her spoke up confidently. "I know how to spell it!" she announced.

"You do? Then go ahead and help Jessica," I encouraged her. She moved over to be close to Jessica and proceeded to give her all the help she could.

"Jessica, you spell it like this: w-i-i!"

Then the little girl moved on to her table. I guess the techological age is here!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It is a Workshop After All!

It has been a long time since I blogged. Life happens! It happens in rushes, it seems. But now, I'm back. Sometimes in my teacher-life things go by fast, but nothing earth shattering, or so it seems. This last week was different. So many little moments leaped out at me. Once again I thought, I HAVE to write! So this is my message board, my outlet to the world, my space to express my inner-most feelings about kids, teachers, and adventures in their lives.
My favorite experience happened in a kindergarten class. I love those babies. They are so fresh. They expect nothing from you except your attention and honesty. They give so much...hugs, smiles, and whatever is in their pockets at the moment. On this day we were going to work on basic stories. They had been reading a lot, but not their own stories. It was time to begin that. It is December after all!
I gave my mini lesson on how they read and listen to books all the time. They have stories, too. Say, why not write them like the authors do. I shared my story and wrote it for them on one sheet of paper. Didn't want to overwhelm them after all. Then I sent them out to write.
They scurried off to their tables and passed around the paper. They grabbed their pencils and began to sketch (not draw) their pictures. I went from table to table conferencing with these new writers. They didn't hesitate to begin. They all had stories. Stories about their pets, about the snow that had recently fallen, Christmas trees that had been put up the night before. They were great stories and they were eager to tell them.
But then I came to Bradley's table. Bradley had used the Magic Word of Story: ONCE on his paper. Then he had designed his picture. It was three stick figures. Two were larger that the other one. The smaller of the three was in the middle. There was a line running between all three of them.
"Tell me your story, Bradley," I said. He looked up at me with big, brown eyes.
"Well, Once I took a walk with my grandma and my grandpa, " he told me. I complemented him and then he looked up at me again.
"I need another paper," he stated.
"Okay, what do you want it for?"
"I have to add another page." I told him to go get it and he scurried off to find the paper.
Soon he came back with two more sheets of paper and began writing. As I watched, he added two figures to the second page and then three like the first page to the last.
"Tell me your story, Bradley," I said, while smiling with a heart full of pride.
"Once I went for a walk with my grandma and my grandpa." He turned the page. "Then grandma was lost. See, right here? She's gone." He turned the page. "Then she came back and we all held hands." He looked up and smiled.
He wasn't finished though. He started to search the room. When his teacher and I questioned him, he told us he now had to find scissors and a strip of paper. Why? Well, his book had to have a binder, didn't it?
Naturally, I had Bradley share with the class his book! Guess what most of the kids were making the next day! That is what workshop is all albout!!!! I LOVE IT!
I promise to tell you my other stories tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Meet and Greet Time

Last night I hurried from the building I had facilitated in that day. It had been a full day of read alouds, All About books and comprehension talk. I had a full evening planned. But first I needed to make the stop at Haley Elementary. They were having their first "Meet and Greet" time and I was invited. I couldn't miss it. You never know what that group will come up with at any time. I wasn't disappointed. The teachers all piled into a first grade room that was ready for us with wonderful snacks. I saw Kindergarten teachers, first grade teachers, second grade teachers, third grade teachers, fourth grade and fifth grade. AND two principals! How awesome. They were all there to share and learn. How could they be disappointed? The air was full of comprehension lessons, writers notebooks ideas, new professional books as well as picture books. I even shared an All Write conference coming up soon. As I headed out to drive my 35 minutes home, I had a smile on my face. I was so proud of these teachers taking the risk to open themselves up to who knows what from their peers. But what I saw was a true school community: sharing and learning from each other. Isn't that what it is all about! Great job Haley Elementary. ALL of you are doing amazing things. I am so blessed to be part of you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Notebook Celebration

The day started off with sprinkles coming down as I tried to unload my heavy cart from the back end of my car this morning. I pulled it behind me as I made my way into the building to set up for an 8:00 meeting I was presenting. No time to unpack my computer or check out my email. I had a last minute set of papers to run off for the extra teachers I was sure would come to the training.

That was the way the day started. It was scheduled full of ISTEP prep work, teacher visits, and other last minute details to handle. Then I got an invitation I could not refuse. One of the fourth grades was having a celebration of writers notebooks. I was invited to celebrate with them. How could I refuse?
I made my way down to the classroom. As I approached the doorway, I heard soft music coming from inside. The room looked dark. Did I make a mistake? What was going on? I carefully entered the room. The teacher was explaining the procedure for the celebration.
Each child had decorated their own writers notebook. The notebooks stood open on every desk with a child standing behind their chairs looking expectantly at the teacher. Their eyes were full of wonder. Their faces were glowing with anticipation. She told them they would wander the classroom and stop by someone's desk and leave them a little note of what they liked about the notebook cover. This was followed by their initials. A sticky note was stuck to the front of the desk just waiting for compliments.
I rushed out of the room and down the hall to grab my camera. This was too good to miss. It had to be captured. I got back just in time to watch them carefully walk from desk to desk. They would stop, write, smile and move on. No rushing. No pushing. No talking. The teacher was not standing back yelling out orders. This was totally child led. They oohed and ahhed over the pictures, stickers, individual designs that their friends had used to decorated.
"Where did you get the picture of that cat?"
"That is MY cat!"
Aww. he's cute."
This really was a celebration. Soon they will have the special day when they will enter their first writing into these notebooks. Another day to celebrate. Isn't that what school should be...days of celebration. Celebration of Learning.
Who care if the state test is in a few weeks. Our learning is for a life time...not just one week of testing! This is what learning and teaching is all about: Learning for a Life Time!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


I got tagged for a meme from Sarah. Since my husband is gone right now visiting his very sick mother in Utah, I miss him, so this will be an easy assignment. It is just 8-10 facts about your marriage. Here goes:

1. We have so many, many things in common. We both love to walk/run and go for long walks every morning. We even get up at 5:30 in the morning, just to walk together. That time is so wonderful for discussions, jokes, and review of our life apart.
2. We are totally in love with each other. I always wanted someone who was madly in love with me and I have that. But the neat thing is: I am madly in love with him, too.
3. We have been married for 25 of November of this year. It hasn't been easy. We have had our rough times. But it has been worth every minute of it. I can't imagine my life without him. We have blended into two people who compliment each other with our strengths and weaknesses.
4. He helps me grow into a better person. He challenges me. He won't let me just take the easy road. He is always there questioning my thinking and my view points. I love that because I DO have lots of viewpoints!!!
5. He is my biggest supporter and cheerleader. He is ready to listen to bad days and good days. He will listen to things I have written or stories that kids have written. I am sure he has other things to do, but he is always ready to listen to me. (Even though he calls me Chatty Cathy).
6. We both love to help coach people with interview skills. We do this mostly within the area of pageantry. We are judges for both the Miss America preliminary pageants and Miss Indiana State Fair preliminary pageants. The funny thing is, we usually agree on how to help these people become better. I guess that is why we work so well together.
7. We love working with our golden retriever, Murphy. We both take him to do his Visiting Dog work at Nursing Homes and Hospitals. Most people do it alone with their dog, but Murphy has two parents who love him. So, we both go.
8. We have raised four very different, very wonderful children. Three of our children work for the state: firefighter, teacher and police officer. Our youngest is a server at a local well-known restaurant and he is awesome.
9. We have six adorable grandchildren: two girls who will be in kindergarten this year, and four boys. Our oldest just turned 12! YIKES...almost a teenager.
10. Even though we both have different religions, those beliefs are very important to both of us. We have always agreed to disagree on some issues but the issue of God being the center of our lives is important to both of us. We know this is a hard spot but we feel we handle it well.

Thanks, Sarah, for making me sit down and think about this. I challenge ALL married people out there to try it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A New Roxaboxen

My Roxaboxen has changed. I've only had it for about two months and it has changed. I can't really complain. After all it really isn't "mine". I just thought it was. It may just have become someone else's Roxaboxen. You see, I first figured out that it had changed when I saw scooters and bikes parked along side the road and no kids around to be seen. The next clue was when a mother driving a big SUV came bumping over the unpaved road where only construction vehicles travel. She stopped, yelled and then was seen herding about three eight and nine year old boys up from Roxaboxen. I know she had no idea that she had just routed them from this magical place. She was only concerned that there was a pond there and the boys were playing too close with no supervision. As a mother of a grown "boy", I can understand her concern. Still, it WAS Roxaboxen. Now, in place of my imaginary house with the big patio door overlooking the pond and the doorway leading out into the woods, there are many pieces of plywood standing on end. These have become paintball targets. This Roxaboxen is much different from mine. I secretly am glad, however, that these boys have discovered it and are using it to spend the last of their summer days. Memories are made in so many different ways!

Friday, July 20, 2007


The poem I am posting today is from the book: His Voice by Gene Michael. Gene is my oldest cousin and loves to write poetry mostly for the family, but has also done things for special occasions. This poem is written about him visiting the farm where our grandparents lived. I was too young to remember this time, because they had moved into town by the time I was born. I still love to read the poem and visualize what it must have been like!

Grandma's Place
by G.E.Michael
I remember the first visit there,
Excited as a child could be.
Fresh cut clover was in the air,
And new adventures and places to see.
Each morning I would awake,
Hearing the sounds of birds as they sing,
And smell the fresh air like a spring-fed lake.
Everything was so crisp and each sound like a bell would ring.
The days moved quickly, each and everyone,
Savoring each and every moment,
Remembering the good times and all the fun.
Those days I spent each summer, the days so warm,
Will be remembered for a lifetime, and then some.
Oh, how I looked forward to the time on the farm,
For it was grandma's place that all this was done.
What memories I have of the days gone by,
Of all those summers I spent there under the sun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Weddings

The weddings are over and we are trying to recover from having two children get married within seven days of each other in totally separate parts of the country. They both were wonderful in their own ways. Todd & Beth got married in Gatlinburg in a tiny chapel in the mountains. Jay & Angie got married in Indiana in a large church wedding.

Todd and Beth had only a few guests, mostly family. They then had a catered dinner back at the cabin with everyone changed into comfy clothes. We did take pictures there with a gorgeous mountain backdrop. The trip to the top of the mountain had me hiding my face in my hands for fear we'd drop off the side.

Jay and Angie had loads of guests both friends and family. The ceremony was performed by an old friend of mine from my hometown. The reception was at a big hall with a local D.J in charge. We had a buffet supper with a darling wedding cake. We danced and danced all night. I even got Todd to dance with his mommy! What fun!

Now that the weddings are over, I can finally experience summer and relaxing. We do have a few weeks left, don't we?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lester!

Today is Lester Laminack's birthday. I remember that he told us the date at our summer institute. On this day, I'd just like to first of all wish him the best birthday ever. Second, I'd like to thank him for all the wonderful stuff he does for teachers. Third, I want to thank him for all the children that he helps through those teachers.

I just came back from Atlanta and got to visit a school and principal there. She also talked about how great Lester is and what an impact he has on teachers and students. So from northern Indiana to the south in Atlanta, Lester, you are loved! Keep up the great work and the great work of being yourself. We love you just the way you are!

Check out Lester's website:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


We drove into Gatlinburg through the Smokey Mountain National Park. The road meandered through paths that felt like the end of the world with their cliff-hanging passageways. There were times where I had to close my eyes and pray we would make it without falling off the sides. Cars went slowly up the steep sides of the mountains bumper to bumper. Still I was frightened.

The city of Gatlinburg was filled with tourists for this July 4th weekend. Yes, and it was 07-07-07 and many, like my son and his bride, were planning on having that date as their wedding day. We spent the first few hours of the our trip walking the streets of the village. It was packed with people walking the street, up and back, up and back the narrow main passage of town. It was filled with places to eat: pancakes, flapjacks, ice cream. It was filled with shops to buy: t-shirts, Thomas Kincaid pictures, hats. Then there was the entertainers. They had cloggers, minstrels, singers on every corner. Crowds would stop and stand or sit and just watch and listen as they did their best to keep us interested in their craft. The air was hot, but not sticky or humid. It was, in an odd way, relaxing to simply walk the street up and back, up and back over and over again.

The day of the wedding was bright and beautiful just as any mother would want her son's wedding to be. We traveled with his aunt and uncle to the tip top of a mountain where we found a darling little chapel...and Todd. He looked so handsome in his tux with the lime green vest and tie. We entered the chapel and took seats on hard stiff benches with backs that left no room to slouch. Soon the groom, best man and little 8-year old Kiann entered in their tuxes and stood beside the preacher. From the back of the tiny chapel the music from a CD flowed into the room. The traditional Here Comes The Bride. First came Beth's niece in a dress that would match her aunt's. Then came the sister of the bride in a beautiful lime green dress that flowed as she carried her bunch of peach roses. Then came Beth escorted by her mother. She looked awesome in her dress with lime green accents. The ceremony was the shortest I have ever seen, but all the necessary components were there. After the preacher pronounced them husband and wife and Todd and I wiped our eyes, they walked down the aisle together.

Pictures were taken and the couple invited us all back to the mountain cabin for a catered meal. The cabin was breath-taking in the lovely mountain scenery. We took pictures of them there also. Everything went well and the rain even held off.

If you want to see pictures, just ask! I already have mine developed!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sounds and Thoughts of the Peachtree Race

Sounds and Thoughts of Peachtree
by Kathy Douglas
Good morning, Atlanta!
Stretching: sides, back, touch the toes.
Up at 5:30 to catch MARTA
People everywhere
Number group 30,000-39,000
55,000 runners on a cool
July morning.
We're moving
Her we go
I'm so thankful I can do this.
Walkers move to the right.
Thank you, Volunteers.
Watch out for the barriers.
"It's as far to run a 10 minute mile
as it is to run a 6 minute mile."
Matadors dressed in white
Running from Styrofoam bull
So much Red, White, and Blue
Thanks, Volunteers, we
couldn't do it without you.
Here comes Heartbreak Hill,
Music, music everywhere
Bands, D.J.'s, boom boxes.
Go Runners, you can do it
How far is it?
Have you seen a t-shirt yet?
You're almost there.
Look at that hill!
Watch out for those girls,
They'll knock you down.
Another water stop ahead,
Here comes the cameras
Only .2 left
There comes Piedmont Park
The Finish Line, The Finish Line,
The Finish Line!
There's the water
We did great.
Look at the t-shirts: nice color!
Hey, FREE Coke
Free Power aide
Free Health bars!
Thanks, Atlanta, for another
Wonderful 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

We're Not Old

Since I am at Atlanta and ran the Peachtree 10K this morning, I thought it only appropriate to do a reflection. Tonight at supper my husband said to me, "We are NOT old!" That got me thinking of a poem. Here it is:

We're NOT Old!
by Kathy Douglas
Run the Peachtree 10K
We're not getting old!
Walk back two miles to MARTA
We're not getting old!
Walk from the Varsity: 2 miles
We're not getting old!
Hey, Sarah, look
No flabby arms!
We're NOT getting old!
Tomorrow I will post another poem all about the Peachtree Race. Atlanta is not as hot as usual and we are having a great time.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Today is Poetry Friday. My first poem is inspired by the book Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. This was one of the Top Ten Books featured at the Summer Institute. My second poem is taken from the morning walk Murphy and I went on this morning. ENJOY!

My Roxaboxen
by Kathy Douglas
Did you have a Roxaboxen?
A place that was magical?
Mine was in a dirt driveway
Filled with stones, pebbles and dirt.
I'd lay out my house
The rooms,
The doorways,
The closets.
My Roxaboxen.
Do you have a Roxaboxen?
A place that is magical?
Mine is a pond hidden away.
The dirt approach is perfect
Plenty of stones,
Plenty of pebbles,
Plenty imagination.
Here's the front door,
The window overlooking the pond,
The patio stepping into the woods.
My Roxaboxen.
by Kathy Douglas
Large brown placemarkers in rows
Each sitting by a driveway
All facing the same direction.
No fancy calligraphy of names
In silver, blue or gold.
But, with x-ray eyes
You can see identification.
The trash inside tells
Who lives here...
What's important here...
Why do they live this way?

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Have you ever had a moment, a week or a day that was filled with such joy, so many pleasures that you don't want it to end? You don't want to let go of that feeling? You continually go back to it in your mind and try to savor the feelings you experienced. You can't let it slip away.

That is the way I feel now. I just got home from the most amazing summer institute. I spent two and 1/2 days in the company of energetic teachers, inspiring speakers and wonderful friends. Just when I thought I couldn't gather any more feelings into this body, this mind, another experience or speaker filled me with more sensations. Kirsten said, "I am on overload." I think that is exactly what was happening with me.

It reminded me of running a marathon. I would look forward to the race for weeks and months, practicing, training, preparing. Then the time would come and I'd put my whole effort into the race. I would spend every bit of energy, every muscle. I would hold nothing back just to finish that 26.2 mile race. When it was over, I was depleted. The next day I would think about running again and I couldn't do it. I had to give myself permission to rest and reflect on the race behind me before I could go on to conquer other quests.

That is what I am doing now. My brain is exhausted. I am going to spend the next few days just reflecting on the experiences, the thoughts, the emotions that those two and one half days brought to me. I don't want to lose that feeling. I don't want to lose that excitement. I don't want to lose those memories. And I won't because my teacher friends, the books I bought and the notes I took won't let me.

I'm already looking forward to next year. I'm already looking forward to how I can share my knowledge. I'm already looking forward to new experiences. Enjoy, Relax, Reflect. I only hope this was as great an experience for others as it was for me.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I've been tagged! Here are my 5's!

Five Things I was Doing Ten Years Ago:
  1. Running marathons! No kidding!
  2. Taking Murphy to dog class. He was the star!
  3. Teaching second grade: Douglasville!
  4. Shopping with my mom. I still miss her.
  5. Baking. I never do that any more.

Five Snacks I Love:

  1. Popcorn
  2. Snickers
  3. Ice Cream
  4. Pizza

Five Things I'd Do If I Were a Millionaire:

  1. Build a new house
  2. Travel to Ireland
  3. Get D. a Harley
  4. Get D. a corvette
  5. Get a heated pool

Five Things I'd Never Wear Again:

  1. Tights
  2. Two piece swim suit
  3. Size 9 shoe
  4. Knee socks
  5. Footy p.j's

Five Favorite Toys:

  1. Cabbage patch Doll
  2. Stuffed animals
  3. Clifford dogs
  4. Barbies
  5. Treadmill

Five Things I Like to do:

  1. write
  2. read
  3. walk with Murphy
  4. run Peachtree
  5. Meet with my teacher friends

Five Bad Habits:

  1. Sneak Snacks
  2. Buy books
  3. Drink too much pop
  4. Eat a whole bag of microwave popcorn
  5. blog, blog, blog!

There you have my "5's". Thanks to NYC teacher! I am tagging Education Blather and Annie's Attic!

Let's Have a Tea Party!

When was the last time you went to a tea party? When was the last time you had a pretend tea party? Yesterday I went to a Bridal Tea. My step daughter is getting married this summer and since I hate showers I refused to do that. So, instead we had a tea party!

We were all dressed in our best party dresses. Even 5-year old Shelby had on her darling pink dress, lacy socks and white shoes with the strap across the front. We piled in, arranged our gifts and then Shelby had to try on the hats. She settled for a white one with a big flower on the front. It only came off long enough to eat.

We were treated to a delightful table laid out with fancy folded napkins, an assortment of dressings and plates full of food. We had sandwiches made with the most delicious bread. Then came the hot tea and desert. The cake was angel food with whipped cream topping. Everything was just as we had pictured it.

Angie opened her gifts: a tea pot and cup and a picture album with a heart front. Shelby was delighted with her Bridal Barbie and the heart shaped bracelet and necklace along with heart shaped sunglasses. We took loads of pictures, had lots of fun and enjoyed Angie's gifts.

As the day was winding down, we put the hat back in the box, gathered our gifts and headed for the door. It was fun pretending to have a tea party once again! Thanks to the Maple Leaf Inn for a wonderful afternoon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer For Teachers!

Have you ever heard someone say, "Boy, I wish I had a job with the whole summer off?" People even think we get paid for the days we are not in school over the summer. After all, we get a pay check, don't we? This week I have been attending the summer institute our district provides. The amount of teachers attending is amazing. Yes, they do get paid, but not enough to give up a beautiful summer day. These teachers are sitting in those classrooms working, listening and gathering all the information they can get. Why? They are wonderful educators dedicated to their careers.

I have heard things like: "It doesn't even seem like summer has begun yet, does it?" "Are you going to the All Write!!! conference next week? I can't wait for that, can you?" "I've been reading all kinds of professional books to get ready for next year. I'm excited about a new class."

Yes, I know. That is not what the public thinks teachers are like. Maybe some aren't, but the ones I've been around this week and will be with next week ARE like that. Tomorrow I am meeting with a group of teachers after our class just to discuss a book we are all reading. Will we get paid? No way! Is someone making them do this? No way! They are just hungry for information to make them better teachers, to help them reach kids.

The next time you see a teacher this summer sneak a peek in their beach bag and I bet you see a book...a professional book, too! Thanks all you wonderful teachers out there who inspire us and keep us as educators excited about learning!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Personal Policies

I have been tagged to leave my personal policies. I didn't even know I had any. Boy, these girls sure make me think. And it's summer when I'm not supposed to think! I thought. Oh, this is getting too complicated. Here goes:

  1. I have to live with a dog. I have had dogs in my life since I was born starting with a Scottie. At one time we had three dogs at home. Every time my dog had puppies we would have to save one for us. Now I have a spoiled golden retriever. He is smart and loveable. The only problem is he is getting old. We will have birthday party next month.
  2. I have to be active. I can't just sit for very long...unless I am reading. My passion is running and walking. I love to be outside doing something even in the winter.
  3. I have to be reading. I usually have about three or four books started. They are in different genres and different types but I am reading!
  4. I have to have some sort of trip in the planning. This year it is to Atlanta for the 4th of July and then Gatlinburg for my son's wedding. After that I will start planning again. Maybe New York this time.
  5. One of my most important policies is my faith. Everything I am revolves around that faith. I believe I have a purpose in life and that is to touch as many lives as I can and make a difference in those lives. The difference comes from the God I believe in so strongly.

There you have it folks. Those are my personal policies or at least the ones I can think of right now!

Friday, June 15, 2007

An Old Dog

An Old Dog
by Murphy Douglas
My days of romping are getting shorter.
I seem to be sleeping more these days.
Still new friends,
Old friends,
Or friendly people
Inspire me to
And try to jump to give them a kiss.
Time is now spent
Dreaming of catching that rabbit,
Instead of running to try to catch it.
My greatest pleasures are:
To follow my master,
To walk in tall weeds,
To roll in fresh cut grass
And to gobble any kind of treat available.
I'm an old dog,
But a loved dog!
Murphy will be 11 years old next month. He has been a Visiting Dog since he was two. He has his Canine Good Citizen title as well as his CD title. He loves to meet people and play with his girlfriend, Lucy. Murphy is loved by all the children in the neighborhood and loves them right back!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Many of you have been talking about looking at little things in nature and viewing them with fresh eyes. For the past week I've been walking in a part of our addition that isn't developed yet. It doesn't have sidewalks, paved roads or even a resemblance of houses to come. I love that area.

Right in the middle of it is a pond. You can't see it until you get off the beaten path a ways. The first day I visited it, there were mounds of dirt that a builder deposited. I think they were trying to level the ground and get rid of a big dip so the houses would eventually be on an even plain. The next day the mounds were leveled.

Each day as I stand in silence and gaze over the still water of the pond, I view birds of all types. There are ducks and geese but mostly killdeer.

Those strange long legged birds chirp and get close to you and then stiff-leggedly walk away. They are trying to get you to get you away from their nests. Without a doubt there are nests somewhere near the pond...somewhere near the mounds...somewhere near the dirt. Those birds do not want people around or mounds or dirt.

Yesterday as I entered the opening to visit my pond, there was a message written in the lose powdery dirt. I think it said, "Stay away from our nests!" It looked like cursive writing all done in bird tracks. They were wound around, over and under. Just like a message.

Tonight I'll visit again. I can't stay away. I love the quietness with just silly bird chirps, insect screeches and powdery messages written in the dirt.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Fitness Junky

Okay, it is time to confess. I have to finally admit it. I am a closet fitness junky. Many of you know that I have run marathons (that means 26.2 miles). That, of course, means hours of training. However, those days of marathons are far behind me. I don't want to spend my Saturdays running 15 miles or recouping from running 15 miles. So my new thing is walk/running and weights.

Since we are getting ready for the Peachtree 10K (6.2 miles), we decided we had better begin our running routine again. So, every other day we now run two miles. We run here in the addition. It has enough baby hills to keep us challenged. It is cool in the early morning when we start off and I sometimes even have to wear a light jacket. Our stretching time is not really sufficient, but we try to fit some in anyway. Since the Peachtree is mostly down hill, we try to run down every hill and then walk up the tough upward side. Our running vs walking has increased the running part. Soon, hopefully, we will be running the whole two miles. That is when we will KNOW we are ready for the 10K.

After our run we are back home for breakfast and Darrell is off to work. I, on the other hand, begin my obsession. I first head for the basement where I keep my fitness equipment. I have exercise tapes by The Firm. I think they are the best. I have tapes for everything imaginable. I alternate doing upper body weights one day and lower body weights the next. I also do some ab work. Since I just started this routine this week,I am already feeling the soreness of muscles that have been left alone for too long.

After the weight routine, I go back and do another mile outside...just walking. In the afternoon I meet my fitness guru. She is my coach. We walk a hard, fast four miles around town. I love that time because we can catch up on gossip and family affairs. Ususally it is so hot we are drenched when we get back. That icy, cold water from the frig sure tastes great.

When Darrell gets back home we jump in the pool for a few laps before supper. After supper we take off for another two miles when it gets cooler. Murphy usually goes with us for part of that walk, so it is at a much slower pace.

There you have it, folks. I really am a junky. I love every minute of this routine. I hate when I have to go back to school and leave it. My goal is to lose 10 pounds and many, many inches. I do have two weddings to attend this summer and those "mother" dresses have to fit!

Friday, June 8, 2007


My friend, Ruth, told me about Poetry Friday. I like the idea of once a week being forced into thinking in that genre. It doesn't matter if it is one you created or one you love...just so it is poetry. I have been wanting to get back to writing some poetry, so this seemed like the perfect excuse. I am not as good as my friend, Sarah, but I am willing to give it a try.

An Ode To Ingrid
Upon your leaving our midst
For loftier goals that you aspire
I find myself reflecting on our time together.

Ingrid: just the name alone
Causes one to visualize
A tall, striking, blond girl.
One full of life,
And beauty.
Upon meeting you,
One finds all those things to be true.

Your rich vocabulary,
Your knowledge of many languages
All bring forth a depth
Unlike any other.

Always searching for more knowledge,
For the latest research,
For new wisdom,
What inspiration to those around you.

Ah, yes, you now leave us
To seek higher aspirations,
But your spirit,
Your laugh,
Your memories,
Will linger long after you have parted.

Farewell, for only a short time,
For we will be following you with
Our Best Wishes!

By Students:

Today is a weird weather day
It's cold,
but warm.
Today is a weird weather day.
It will be
Sunny, and
Today is a weird weather day.
The sky is
Dark and bright.
Today is definitely a weird weather day.
Today I'm as mixed up
As the weather.

It was Saturday morning.
The pond smelled like morning fog.
My dad said we were going home
In five minutes.
It was my last cast.

The fog was so thick
You could cut it with a knife.
I wouldn't be able to see
What I caught.

I cast out.
I couldn't tell if
I cast 3 feet or 3 yards.
Something tugged on my pole
Like there was no tomorrow.

I reeled in.
Took out the flashlight.
It was a
Of seaweed!


Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I remember sitting at the sewing machine with the piece of material that was to become a skirt in front of me. Mom was standing over my left shoulder peering at the stitching. I would go slowly, guiding the needle by the way I moved the deep blue cloth. I wanted my stitches to be as straight and smooth as hers. I could visualize the skirt as I would wear it to school. I'd twirl and the skirt would flow around me. I stopped the machine and we both inspected the line of thread.
"No, go rip it out and try again," she'd say.
I hated to rip out. I hated to redo what I had already done. But this was for a 4-H project and had to be just right. So, rip out I would do. The slow picking, trimming, and pulling of thread. It took so much time...wasted time, I felt. To make a piece of cloth into something worthwhile, it always took time and patience. Two things this young girl lacked.

Mom has been gone for over seven years. I never did get those stitches straight enough. Sometimes I feel I never got anything straight enough. I would try over and over for her approval, for her praise. I wanted to know she was proud of what I did, but it never came.
"That's good, but I know you can do better," she would say.
I was a child that was satisfied with mediocre. I was happy with average. She wasn't. She knew more than I, what I was capable of, so she pushed.
I still, today, hear that voice, "Okay, Kathy, that's good, but I know you can do better." So I do. I try harder. I work harder. I rip out and do it again. She's making me into the woman I am today...still.

Summer Goals

I have been tagged by my friend Jen to make a list of goals I have for the summer. What a good way to get me motivated! Here goes:
  1. Read, Read, Read anything and everything.
  2. Go to the All Write Summer Institute and hear loads of authors, share with friends and have a blast!
  3. Start running again so I can finish the Peachtree 10K on July 4th in Atlanta with 55,000 other runners.
  4. Walk four miles a day with Sarah L. and catch up on all the town's gossip. She knows everything!
  5. Get through two of our kid's weddings which are only one week apart.
  6. Start lifting weights again so I can wear the dresses I bought for the weddings and not have flabby arms.
  7. Write in my writers notebook and readers notebook.
  8. Blog, blog and blog!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Summer Book Read

This weekend I have been working on our book for my book club. Yes, I know the meeting date isn't until the last week in June. Yes, I know I should at least wait until summer vacation to start it. Yes, I know I should be reading professional books now. But I couldn't wait. The cover called to me. The title called to me. I AM reading the book NOW!
The book is called The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry. I am hooked. I won't tell you a summary or anything about it since some other members of our club may sneak a peek at this page. This I will tell you: it has me on the Edge of My Seat!
I also will tell you that I am using my comprehension skills. I thought it would be fun to use some metacognition as I read. I took a notebook that I keep as a Reading Notebook. I put the title and date at the top of a page. I then began with Questions I had BEFORE I read the book. As I read each chapter I underline and make notes in the margins of the book. (I only paid $.01 for it, so I think I can do that.) At the end of each chapter, I transfer those notes into the notebook. I write my questions, my connections, my predictions. I write all the new words I am learning. This is a Victorian mystery set in London in 1881. There are lots of words I don't know! I am learning so much. I will have so much to talk about.
I can't wait to talk about the book. I can't wait to see who done it! I can't wait to read another book by this author. The cover says: "They were the finest of families--until murder set skeletons rattling in their closets..." Why don't you add this book to your summer beach list and then we, too, can talk about it! Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Today I had lunch with my oldest friend. Not oldest because of age, but oldest because of years we have been friends. We like to say we were friends in the womb. You see, our mothers were friends and our grandmothers were friends. So, it was like we didn't have a choice, of course we would be friends.
Our grandmothers were farm women, simple women who loved God and their families. I remember getting off the bus at her grandmother's house. There were cookies and milk laid out for me. Her grandmother would say, "All children need a snack after a hard day at school." I loved that women and have practiced that motto to this day!
Our mothers were best friends. They even dressed like twins and were inseparable. As teenagers they had the same friends and did the same things. I think there were adventures that we would be shocked to find out about. They made sure we spent loads of time together as we grew up. We have the pictures to prove it.
Today was a day to celebrate her birthday. I won't tell you which birthday because that would give away too much. We have had so many experiences together. We had our first sons only a few weeks apart. We both were teachers. We both have been married twice and now have wonderful loving husbands. We have been through all kinds of trials like her cancer that brought us even closer.
Today we celebrated her birthday with memories that only we can share. We caught up on our families and adventures to come. Her life to me is a treasure. I know so many others that feel the same way. I am just so thankful that I have had the chance to have her as a friend for so many years and we have this wonderful history together.
If you have a friend that you've had for years, cherish it. If you have a new friend, grow that friendship. Friends like mine are rare but a life experience no one should miss! Happy Birthday, Friend!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

4 New X 2....

What in the world is a meme? We did learn questioning for our comprehension strategy today. Okay, Miss Sarah, I have to do this. What are you thinking! Here I go.

4 New Things I Have Done in The Past 4 Years:
  1. Retired from a job I had for over 30 years.
  2. Started a new job in the second largest school system in Indiana.
  3. Got a new cat.
  4. Got a new VW yellow bug!

4 Things I Would Like To Try In The Next 4 Years:

  1. Learn to dive.
  2. Publish something...anything a book, an article, a poem, whatever!
  3. Take more trips with teachers to visit teachers in NYC.
  4. Take a trip to Las Vegas and visit my friend Laurie

Okay, that's it for me. I will try and find some friends out there who are willing to be as crazy as you guys are!

I've Been Tagged...

I've been tagged so here are eight things about me:
  1. My golden retriever, Murphy, is a Certified Visiting Dog and he visits a nursing home once a month.
  2. I have NEVER been without a dog.
  3. I have run in three marathons: two in Washington D.C. and one in Detroit, Michigan.
  4. I used to coach high school track.
  5. Two of my favorite cities to visit are: Atlanta, Georgia and New York City.
  6. My favorite food is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.
  7. I absolutley LOVE books....especially professional books that make me think.
  8. This year I will have been married for 25 years to a wonderful, handsome man!

There you have it. If you are tagged you must do the same! Watch for your tag.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Family Memories

Memorial Day. I know it is Monday. I know it used to be called Decoration Day. I know it was started to remember the war heroes. When I was young my parents used to load my sister and I up in the car with cans of flowers, buckets, and shovels and we would take off for the cemeteries around the neighboring counties. We thought it great fun. Our parents would busily put the cans of flowers beside the graves, digging down to set the cans into the dirt. We would play around the tombstones and rest beneath the trees. I think we knew this was a serious occasion, but it was still a time of adventure for us.
Now it is my turn to decorate the graves. The graves of those who took us around to those cemeteries so long ago. Today as my husband and I drove to my grandparents' graves we discussed the appearance of the big heavy cement urns on each side of the stone. Each year we vow we will repair the cracks and patch the spots that have fallen off. Each year we never do. This year as we pulled up close to the site we knew it was too late. One of the pots was hopelessly cracked and falling apart. I was sick.
My gallant husband saved the day however. He said, "Let's go find some to replace these." I thought the task too overwhelming. I would have spent days hunting just the right size and type. But, no, we were set on finding them and finding them TODAY!
Home Depot was our salvation. We found two pots that were not cement, but looked it. They were the same size and rather classy looking if grave pots can be classy. We lugged them to the cemetery. Dug out the old ones. Carried them to the car and replaced them with the new. I carefully and lovingly placed all the artificial flowers and greenery into those two pots.
As I drove away, I felt that my parents would have been proud and happy to see that I really am carrying on the tradition. I am sure years ago they wondered if anyone would. Since my sister lives many, many miles away, it is my responsibility to do this act of love and honor.
As you get ready to celebrate the three-day holiday, be sure to spend some time thinking of the traditions you shared with your family and those who have gone ahead. May you have a blessed Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2007

A New Day

As I sit here ready to take on another day of teaching I am excited. Today will be different. Today I get to gather with my All Write friends and work on the Summer Institute that we will all be a part in June. Mindy says we have LOTS of work to still do and we will be super busy. That's okay with me. Stuffing envelopes, filling folders, oh, yes, and talking. We will do lots of that.
This is where so much of my learing has taken place. Here among the most talented educators in northern Indiana. These people are risktakers. They are the ones who are still working on things at home late at night. They are willing to leave safe classrooms to excite other students and teachers.
Who wouldn't be excited to spend a day with this type of teacher? My bag is packed with new books to share with them. Tidbits from other teachers who want me to deliver things to their mentor teachers they've met in workshops. It all reminds me that we are ONE big family of educators working for the same goal: KIDS.
I want to close with a poem from one of the fourth grade students I work with:
Outside can be dangerous
Screaming, crying, hollering
Outside can be dangerous
Dealers, robbers, junkies
Outside can be dangerous
Guns, drugs, stealing
Outside can be dangerous
But I'm going to live.
This is why I teach.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Proud Teacher

Tonight when I got home from school I took Murphy for a quick walk, grabbed the mail and began to read. The newspaper I was reading is the local weekly paper from where I used to teach. I love reading all the latest happenings, gossip and other news.
The information that took my attention this time was pictures of all the seniors graduating in a few days. There were 42 pictured in the paper on the middle pages, crossing the entire spread. Several of them I had never seen before because they were exchange students. However, I counted nine that I squinted and could kind of recognize because they were my former second grade students.
For each one of these students I could still remember bits and pieces of stories that were bouncing around in my memory. I loved reading what their future plans were, where they were heading for college and what they planned on being when they graduated.
This class was one of the fun ones. They were so creative and ready to tackle anything. I remember Jennica's writing. I used one of her pieces to get me into the All Write!!! mentor program years ago. That is why I am where I am today. I don't think I ever told her that. I remember Scott for having a kitten that I eventually adopted. (I still have him. The cat, not Scott.) I remember stories and class trips and crazy things we all did together.
Watching students grow into young adults, finish high school and become worthwhile citizens, is something every teacher wishes for his/her class. I know just looking over those pictures, remembering the past and dreaming of their futures puts hope and inspiration into my life.
Good luck, Hamilton Graduates! May you continue to soar!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Book Club

Have you ever had something fit the minute you tried it on? That's the way I felt last night. No, I didn't get a new dress, new shoes or even new jeans. My fit was a brand new Book Club.
There are five of us--all teachers--all lovers of books. We drove up to the new Starbucks in Auburn clutching notebooks, bags of books and datebooks. As we piled out of cars, the chatter was sporatic.
"How've you been?"
"How have the last days of school been for you?"
"When is your last day?"
After grabbing our favorite drinks from the counter we gathered outside--it was so warm--on couches and chairs with a coffee table in front of us. Then the serious business began. We had so much to decide.
We past books. We looked over handouts of book information. We made lists of possible titles. Finally, we made a book pick, figured out a future meeting date and place, and even made a promise to keep our eyes open for future reads.
As we were winding down we talked about personal plans for the rest of the school year and summer. We all loaded into our cars with new dates in our books, addresses to look up on the web and dreams of the newest read to start. As I pulled out of Starbucks, I felt so intelligent, but also so comfortable knowing that my friends would all be reading the same book and then we could talk!
Now, I can't wait to share the experience of a book club with my fourth grade students at Waynedale. They are starting book clubs and I had told them about mine. They had asked, "Why are we going to do book clubs?" My answer: "Because they are so much fun!"
And they are!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Moments

May 20, 2007
Today was our first day to sit by the pool. Granted, it really isn't ready for swimming yet. We did take the cover off and clean it, somewhat, yesterday. That in itself is a rather amazing accomplishment. We were still cleaning the pool cover at 7:30 last night, along with eating pizza from Pizza Hut.
But, back to today's events. We did get to sit by the pool, read, nap and just enjoy the outdoors. Our favorite thing to do in the summer is to lay on the deck chairs and listen to the birds and hear the water lap beside us. There was no water lapping today, but the birds were in rare form. Their silly spring chirping was loud and clear.
As we packed away our books, Cokes and chair pads to take an evening walk, I had to smile and think: "This is the first day of enjoying the pool and just sitting out here all day." I love doing that and can't wait for Sundays just to relax and be alone by the pool.
Summer can't be far behind, can it?