Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Sometimes as I sit in front of the computer I wonder what my story is for today. What do I really have to tell that makes any difference. That's what I was thinking today as I visited two of my four schools that I am assigned to for the summer.

Then I thought of D and K who are English Second Language learners. They were telling me the story of them playing soccer in the afternoon. D would kick the ball and K would catch it. Then K would kick the ball and D would catch it. They drew the pictures and then wrote two sentences on the two sheets of paper. To add details, they added a sun and then wrote: It was a sunny day. They had a story. They really did have a story!

And, I thought of Maria who told the story of going on a field trip to the zoo with her class last spring. She and her partner had sack lunches. They loved the monkeys best because they would run and fight with each other and made her laugh. She had a story She really did have a story!

Then there was Lauren who wanted to tell a story to share with her last year's teacher, Mrs. A. She wanted to share the story about going camping with her family and playing in the sand and sleeping in a camper. She had a story. She really did have a story!

And, I can't forget the teacher who told me about the boy in her class who has trouble writing but when he shares what only he can read, it keeps the rest of the class on the edge of their seats. The class sits breathless when that child shares his story...because he has a story. He really does have a story.

So, when I sit today in front of the computer, I think what is my story? My story is helping those teachers to get the stories of all these children out in the world. My story is to help them give those children the tools they need to tell those stories. Because I have a story. I really do have a story.

What is your story?

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Julia signs people up for the author dinner!

Everyone else helps to register the 400+ people who came this year!
It was great seeing old friends!

Jaqueline Woodson was awesome!

I even got to meet Aimee Buckner

Monday, June 15, 2009


For several years now, The Big D, Ty and Lane have participated in the Amazing Race. One year they did it with Michelle and one year with Brandt. This year I had the chance to participate in it also, only with another team. Kathleen and her two boys needed someone, so I was it!

We did this way back in April, but my new camera wouldn't let me download them. I finally figured it out so here are a few of them. The two teams are on top. The feet/hands picture shows our nails painted. We had to paint each others feet and hands with the polish brush in our mouth! Thankfully we got a very light pastal paint and so did The Big D's team! We had beautiful weather and the day was a complete success. What fun!!! Thanks Kathleen and boys for letting me join you!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Going to the mailbox in the summer is usually one of the highlights of my day. You just never know what surprises you may find there. Today was no exception.

I opened the lid, pulled out a stack of mail and thumbed through it. There they were: the 8 x 10 envelopes with red, white and blue lettering...Peachtree Road Race. I hurried inside and ripped open the one with my name on it. It is always exciting to see what number you get each year. The Big D and I never know, but they are always consecutive numbers. They could range anywhere from 10,000-99,999. Well, probably not the 10,000-24,4000 sections...those are for the really fast runners.

I pulled out all the many inserts. There is a brochure with 2009 Official Instructions (The 40th Running) with everything you ever wanted to know about the rules of running in the Peachtree. Then there are all kinds of advertisements stuck inside. One for UPS, one for AJC, Atlanta's newspaper, and of course, REEBOK. But what I was looking for was my number. I felt it's smooth silver peach that always is in the top right hand corner first. I slid it out slowly hoping to find something in the 30,000 range where we have been for the last couple years. A perfect spot.

The paper it was on was green. That didn't mean much, because each set of numbers is a different color and each year they are different. Green is nice, I thought. Then I saw it!!! The number!!! It was 99,772. Yes, 99,772!!! WHAT??? That can't be! That means I am at the END of the pack...the VERY END!!

I quickly repressed any guilt I might have, and opened The Big D's packet. I was sure he would have 99,771...we were always one number apart. But, NO....his number was...37,616. Right where we BOTH should be!!!

So, here's the deal. If we want to run together, and we do, he will be running at the back of the pack with me. Unless, there is someone out there who would be willing to trade me numbers for anything in the 30,000 range. AND, if you got 37,617...you have MY NUMBER!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Today I tried something different. A principal friend of mine who lives in Atlanta, home of the Peachtree, invited me to join some educators for a Webcast with Aimee Buckner. That sounded exciting to me, but a little scary. I had never done that alone...only with my colleagues. Still, I am in the process of reading Aimee's latest book: Notebook Connections AND she is going to be presenting at the All Write!!! Summer Institute in a few weeks.

I took the challenge. I clicked on the link, dialed my phone and there was Aimee, well, really a picture of Aimee. It was a thrill to hear her talk about her book while I thumbed through it to the pages she discribed. I underlined and highlighted things I had already read, but now it seemed more real with the actual author talking about it.

I am even more excited to finish the book. I am even more excited to get to meet her in person in just a few weeks. So, for a rainy, dreary Thursday I got to speed away to another place and listen to one of my favorite authors. Hey, Aimee, I am a FAN!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Audrey looked super cool in her new shades. She was ready to open all her presents!

Time for the cake!She was a very neat eater and kept looking at everyone as if to say, "Can I really do this?"

In her new car she is ready to take off for a wonderful summer. Happy First Birthday, Audrey!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


All-Write Summer Institute.

What do these people all have in common?
Carl Anderson
Max Brand
Aimee Buckner
Dan Feilgeson
Candace Fleming
Kelly Gallagher
Lester Laminack
Stephanie Parsons
Gary Schmidt
Frank Serafini
Jacqueline Woodson
Besides being leaders in the field, they are all going to be speaking at the All-Write Summer Institute on June 22 – 23 in Northern Indiana. Interested in registering? Go here

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Not sure if it is an age thing or a man thing...but the Big D got a motorcycle today. He has been wanting one for a very long time. Last winter he took the bike safety course and passed that. He had his license. I knew what was coming next, just not sure when it would happen.

Last week he told me he had heard of someone who wanted to sell their bike and it was a bargain! Yes, a bargain! He and Brandt went to look at it this week, but they were closed so he could only look through the window. Still, that was all he could talk about...the bike.

He called the owner and made a very good deal for it. Today we drove to the big city and looked at helmets. We tried two places until we found TWO that I felt were safe enough. They made a very good deal on us buying TWO...matching, of course. Then we were off to check out the bike...with checkbook in hand.

He went in, talked to the person doing the selling and made the deal. In a few minutes he was out with a big grin on his face, grabbed the helmet and climbed on the bike. I rode behind him just to be sure he made it home safely.

We are now officially bikers...yes, I AM a biker-chick!!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009


It's Friday night and anyone who knows me well, knows that you will find the Big D and me at a local restaurant and then on to Wal-Mart for our weekly shopping trip. That happened again tonight. But now it is June. Now it is summer. Now things are different.

We live in a small northern Indiana town. Small Hoosier towns are the best place to be in the summer. Tonight was the beginning of a new tradition, I think. We went out to eat at Applebee's and then off to our shopping adventure. We unloaded the groceries, grabbed the foldable camping chairs and jumped in the "yellow-bug".

Our small town has an addition this summer. We now have the DeKalb Outdoor Theater. Tonight was a special night with our local radio station: Froggy, sponsoring the performance. We pulled the bug into a parking spot in a big field/parking lot. The band was already playing and people were walking up the lane with chairs, coolers, and jackets on their arms. They just kept filing into the area. We walked over, unfolded our chairs and listened.

The place was full. People were clapping along with the music. Kids were playing catch in the background. Families had carry-in food in plastic containers. Everyone was smiling, talking and enjoying the weather and the music. The band was a local favorite with one of our neighbors on drums and other friends on guitars. Choice has always been a band we love!

Summertime in a small town in northern Indiana is the best place to be! Check out the schedule of events and if you are in the area, stop by. Did I mention: IT IS ALL FREE!!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


The last day of school was yesterday. I had gotten an invitation to go see another one of my fifth grade classes. The teacher emailed me and said, "The kids want to know if they will see you one last time." I chose to run over before their graduation. I am so glad I did.

I would love to share pictures of what they all looked like, but due to privacy laws, I can't. I will try to paint a picture with words for you. When I entered the room, all the chairs were lined up in the order they would sit for the graduation. The students were sitting quietly talking in small voices with each other. The girls had their hair all combed nicely with braids or bangs or just flowing free. They were in cute little sun dresses with flip flops to match. Their legs were crossed and hands in their laps. Was this really the class I taught just a few months ago?

The boys were even better. They were all cleaned up. One had a suit on. A couple others had vests and ties. One looked so cute in a big bow-tie. They too were sitting quietly just talking to each other. When I told them they looked so handsome, they smiled shyly and sort of looked the other way.

The teacher gave them the last minute orders and it was time to line up. As they left the room each of them gave me a hug, or a high 5 and said, "Thanks for all your help this year." I snuck around them and hurried to the gym where the ceremony would take place.

Parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers filled the bleachers and spilled out into the sides. There was a large table in the middle of the room with flowers and balloons decorating it. The orchestra was off in a corner with the seats and music stands already in place for them to file in and start warming up. I slipped down the side and sat where the teacher had a seat for me...right behind where the class would sit.

Before long the music of the orchestra began. The strong chords of Pomp and Circumstance filled the gym. The principal, dressed in a long dress with a sparkly jacket, stood. The entire gym full of anxious parents stood, too. Then the graduating class marched in with each class behind their teachers. I was so proud of those kids. They were serious and walked slowly across the gym. I cried!

After watching them grow up, watching them discuss books, watching them write pieces that took over a month to publish just the way they wanted it...it was just the feeling of: this is why I teach! Way to go Weisser Park 5th graders!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009


One of the hardest things about Final Days is to say goodbye to the fifth graders. These kiddos were in second grade when I started working as a coach in their building. I have seen them grow as students, writers and readers. I have used them in studies for me to grow and watched them grow in turn. I have tried out ideas on them to see if lessons were really as good as I thought they were. They never let me down.

As the days wind down, I am sure their teacher is having anxiety attacks and many sleepless nights in tears. She has lived with them for two years day in, day out. I only visit once in awhile...but still, it has been four years. I knew them as babies and here they are almost teenagers for heaven's sake!

I am so proud of them. They are thinkers. They push the bubble and try things that I never thought fifth graders were capable of pushing. They can talk about books like an adult...they make ME think!

I know they will be wonderful middle school students. I only hope those schools are ready for THEM! I hope they will challenge them and keep them thinking. I hope they will see what they can do and push them even more. Someday we will see these wonderful kids as graduating Seniors going off to college or trade school. There is nothing they can't do!

So, good-bye fifth graders! Keep up the great reading...don't stop. Keep writing...persuade people with your challenges, entertain with your poetry and keep your thoughts and ideas in those terrific writer's notebooks! Make us proud!!!