Monday, April 30, 2012

Running With Dave

Tomorrow is the day that I planned on starting my running training for the Peachtree Road Race 10K.  It is in Atlanta on the 4th of July. Being a 10K, that means it is a 6.2 mile race.   Being in Atlanta, that means it will be full of hills. Being on the 4th of July, thst means it will be the biggest party in Georgia. Yes, 60,000 of your friends running along side you in the Atlanta heat. They don't call it Hotlanta for nothing!

I have been walking four-six miles a day all winter along with working out for 15-30 minutes on the elliptical. I am hoping that will help with the transition to running. I will start out with walking/running the two-mile route I usually take on my walks. I have been running this race for many years, so I feel I am capable of knowing what to do to get in shape for this hot race. 

I am fortunate to have two running partners to train with.  One is my husband, who will run the race with me.  We like to run together in the race and keep close to each other. With 60,000 runners, that is almost a least for us. My other running partner is our two-year old golden retriever, Dave. He loves to take walks with us, so running with us will be fun for him, too.  When I go with him alone, I take him on a leash. It is a retractable one, so he can still run ahead of me. He has been trained at the Fort Wayne Obedience Training Club, so he is smart about his running.

Running with Dave creates challenges. I must be sure to watch him and not let him over extend himself. Goldens are known as pleasers, so I have to be sure he is running smart, not just trying to please me. I never let him run when it is too hot. That's okay because we usually do our runs in the early morning before the sun is even up. That helps with no people around. Goldens are also known as people dogs!

As we get started with our training and go about our journey to Peachtree, I will keep you informed as to how Dave, my husband and I do!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Memoir to Think About

Memoir: record of something noteworthy

As many of the elementary students in our district will be writing Memoir in May, I thought it might be a challenge for me to write my own memoir. This idea is something that I have been playing around with as a project for my closely approaching retirement years.  My thoughts  have been: write about the changes in teaching from the 1970's to 2012.  Now, I should be able to come up with some examples and stories during that time!

When I first think about what was different, I think about one specific time. It was the beginning of a school year in the early 1970's.  The day was warm and the principal had called a teacher's meeting after school.  It was to be held in an upstairs classroom, so that meant it was going to be HOT. No air-conditioning for that building. Even with the windows open, those rooms facing the west were like ovens since the sun had been beating down on them all afternoon. We struggled in and took seats at children's desks. This was a fourth grade room, so the desks fit fine.

The topic of discussion was: Should women teachers be allowed to wear pantsuits to school. It was always a rule that female teachers must wear skirts or dresses.  If they had playground duty, which they did quite often, they could put pants on under their dresses or wear long coats to fight off the cold.

The discussion went back and forth about why and why not this was to be allowed. The women all felt that they could be better teachers in pants since many primary teachers sat on the floor with their students. Naturally, the issue of cold weather also came up. Most of the men felt that if they wore pants, the students would not learn as well due to the fact that they would not look professional.

The way I remember it, the topic was not settled that night, but left to be discussed again. Of course, we know now that eventually the dress code did change. I don't remember when exactly that happened.  I just remember the heated discussion that went on that night. For a new teacher, it was scary and frightening to see professionals get that upset about what someone was wearing and not an issue about how students were learning...not really.

As I look back on this episode, I wonder...what is it that we are hotly discussing in 2012 that has more to do with our pride than the students' learning? Something to think about!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's Hear it For Best Friends

I have a best friend who is now on a long vacation. She has been gone for several weeks and won't get back until another couple weeks.  I miss having her near enough for me to just pick up the phone and call her. I have gotten a couple post cards and emails whenever she is near to a wifi spot.  Still I miss her.

We have been friends for almost 45 years. We started our teaching careers together. When we met I was married and she was single. She became the god-mother to my son. Then she got married and I was the maid of honor in  her wedding.  I got divorced and she was the one I called after late night dates. When I got married again, she was the only one that we took to the ceremony besides our kids!

She retired before I did even though she is younger. Now she is walking me through the journey of becoming retired. We have walked through the stages of our life together, I am so thankful she has always been there for me. She listens even though she might not agree with me, she gives me advice and doesn't get upset when I don't follow it. She knows more about me than anyone else and yet she still keeps me as her best friend.

That's why when I saw this quote, I knew it was perfect to discribe us. One of my blessings in life is having her for my friend!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Will Prepare and Someday My Chance Will Come!

Last year when we went to Arizona for the second time, it was in May.  We were located right across the road from ASU.  Being the first part of May, it was graduation time for the area colleges, including Arizona State.  We walked the campus as we normally do when we visit the city of Tempe.  On one of our morning walks we looked up at a building on the campus and saw this quote: "I will prepare and someday my chance will come."  I loved that quote.  It is full of promise, but not without work. It is a quote of hope with responsibility included.

This year we are not heading to Arizona for the second time.  We are not walking by the tall glass building to see if the quote again is posted on the wall. Instead, I am living the quote. I feel that each time I finish a blog or spend time reading another professional book when I only have 29 more days to teach, is a way that I am preparing.  Unlike most of the graduates, I really have no idea what I am preparing for.

My method of preparing then is not classrooms full of curriculum or a plan list of tests I must complete. Instead, it is doing things that I enjoy and yet push me to be a better writer, teacher, grandmother, wife, and all-round person. Whatever the future has in store for me, I know it will be something that challenges me to get out of my comfort zone.  I know it will be doing some sort of problem-solving because that is what challenges me the most. It will probably have something to do with people. In my last few years I have realized that I do enjoy being around all kinds of different cultures, backgrounds and ethnic races.

I am now just waiting for my chance to come.  I am continuing to prepare the best ways I can. Until the chance comes, I will enjoy everyday working on my skills!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's a Graham Day!

Today was the day that I usually stop and visit/play with Graham. This morning he had just gotten out of bed and was finishing his milk and watching Sponge Bob. He was in a cuddly mood so I got to give him lots of Grandma kisses without him running away. I love the way he is now discovering words.  His favorite color is BLUE and he says it over and over. He would like everything to be blue!

We then read a book together.  He turned the pages and told me what the pictures were. The first book we read was a truck book. He could find the truck, the tree and various colors of trucks. Then we read the book: The Wheels on the Bus.  I naturally had to sing it to him.  That had been one of his daddy's favorite songs as we would drive in the car. What Graham liked to do was find the animals in the bus. We tried to get him to tell us what the cat said, but he wasn't interested in that.

When I left he and Daddy walked to the door with me. I got my farewell kiss. Then I asked him where the car was.  He pointed outside to my Yellow VW bug, and said, "Car!"  He then waved his arm back and forth and said, "Bye!"

I love my Graham visits and am so excited that when I retire I will have more time to spend with him and his new little sister coming soon!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

All Write!!!! Summer Institute

Warsaw High School

I have to take the time to blog about one of my commitments for the month of June.  It is to go to the summer institute put on by the All Write Consortium.  It will again be at Warsaw High School and will be from June 21-22.  There are loads of great authors coming again this year.  The evening Author Dinner will be one of our favorites...Ralph Fletcher.

I just had to talk about it and let everyone know that if you haven't registered yet or gotten your room, you better do it soon.  Tammy and I got ours on Friday and they are going fast! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Birthday Parties--Bamlaku: 2 & Meron: 4

Tonight we went to two birthday parties wrapped up into one!  Meron turned four this month and Bamlaku turned two.  They each had their own birthday cakes. Meron's was a mermaid and Bam's was a cake with horses all around it. That is what they each love right now!

Their house was full of grandparents, brothers and sister, and aunt and uncle. We had a great supper of pulled pork sandwiches and extras. Then we watched while they each opened their presents of clothes and loads of toys.  Each person giving the present got a kiss from each and a thank you.

Next it was time for the singing of Happy Birthday and the blowing out of candles. After that we got to eat cake and ice cream. Shelby even entertained us with the two dances she is currently working on for her June recital. She even did them in costume and without music!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Welcome, Karen Caine!!!

Today I traveled to Goshen to hear persuasive author, Karen Caine.  She was brought in by the All Write!!! consortium. It was an amazing day with her sharing parts of her book: Writing to Persuade.  She gave all sorts of ideas and suggestions for students from 4th grade to high school.  The auditorium had around 150 teachers and instructional coaches there to listen to what she had to share.  Her samples, videos and stories inspired all of us to instruct our students in this genre of writing.

"She is a writing consultant who works with elementary and middle school teachers.Karen specializes in "breaking things down" in order to give teachers and administrators practical usable information and teaching techniques."

We were so fortunate to get to spend time with Karen today here in northern Indiana. Just another great author that is now part of our All Write!!! family!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

VOTE For Our Friend Lester's book!!!!

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Monday, April 16, 2012


One thing I have not blogged about lately is my exercise routine.  Again this year we plan to go to Atlanta for the Fourth of July and run the Peachtree 10K Road Race. That is our one run of the year, but it is the focus of our fitness program!  My running has not started yet and probably won't until the first of May when the weather turns warmer. Still my exercise routine has been going on all year.

We start by waking up early in the morning, like 5:00 and heading out with Dave the Dog for our walk.  We go two miles around the neighborhood in all kinds of weather.  Then in the evening when we get home from work, we take another two mile walk with Dave the Dog. Dave needs the exercise routine as much as we do!

After supper on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, I do my weight lifting.  I focus on upper body strengthening. Then we hit the basement for some Hip Hop Abs. That might be a 30 minute routine or a 40 minute. The 30 minute is for Ab Sculpt and the 40 is for Total Body Burn. We try to get that in two or three times a week. On days that I don't do weights, I do the elliptical for at least 15 minutes and burn around 150 calories.  If it happens to be raining or stormy, we just take Dave out for his duty and then hit the elliptical or the treadmill.

With all that being done, we are hoping we can insert some runs and long bike rides into the mess as soon as the weather gets nice. I am looking forward to retirement so I can spend more time walking with Dave the Dog and exercising any time I want!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Are You a Fan or a Follower?

I have reviewed books on my blog before.  They might be books that my Book Club is currently reading or a book that I am reading professionally, to become a better instructional coach. This time I am going to talk about a book that I am just starting. The book is not a fan by Kyle Idleman.

This is a book that my church family is reading and we are hearing sermons about it on Sundays throughout April and May to support it. I could say that it sounds like a really good book.  That would be true. I could say that everyone should read it. That, also, would be true. But there is more to it than that. More to the reason I decided to do my blog on this book today.

The question that has been asked, both in our sermon and in the book, as I started reading it today is: Are you a follower of Jesus or are you really just a fan? The definition of a fan is: "an enthusiastic admirer". Doesn't sound like a bad thing to be, does it? But then when you think about being a fan you realize that a fan does not get into the game. In fact, as the book pointed out, someone who is a fan of a celebrity might know all about that person, but not really KNOW that person.

As I read into this week's assignment, another question came up that caused me to stop and think.  Has following Jesus cost you anything? That was tough for me. Another quote to help this along was: "...Jesus wants to interfere with their lives." Is He interfering with mine? I know He is a big part of my life and everyone I am around knows I am a follower, but is He interfering?

That's when I decided it was time to blog about the book and therefore, blog about my belief. Yes, I am a follower and not just a fan. I am so excited to read this book and find out how I can become a better follower of Jesus. I encourage you to go to and purchase the book. Are you a fan or a follower?

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Friendly Fox Cafe

Today at noon three of us took off for lunch. We wanted to go somewhere different. We had been going to the same spot all week and even though we love it, we were ready for a change. A few times in the last weeks we had passed a great place to eat, but just didn't stop. Today, we made the choice to go there.

For some reason, it was even better than I remembered it. I just love this place. It is The Friendly Fox in Southwood Park. Nestled right in the middle of a neighborhood it is just perfect to get away and relax.  I feel like I am in a New York Coffee House.  The atmosphere is great. I love the little tables by the window and the hutch with games for kids on the side. Hidden to the side is another room with a fireplace to quietly eat with friends or have a small meeting over lunch. 

Two of us had the quiche---ham and cheese and the other one had a wrap. Both things were awesome! In the background quietly playing was Bach. It made the experience even more relaxing.  I can't wait to bring my best friend here next summer for one of  our Road Trips. 

Put this on your list, Marsha!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Makes it My Space

As I sit in my new space having a little free time tonight, I know I have done the right thing in reinventing my basement.  I had to get rid of several things like: a bookshelf my dad made, three large boxes of books, and loads of old lesson plans. Some things were easy to pitch. Old lesson plans? There is no way I am going to need those again. I have enough plans with the new Common Core Standards to keep me up to date. The books were ones that I knew needed to be in the hands of kids, not in my basement unused. The bookshelf was tough, but knowing it went to my son who loves it as much as I do and knows the history behind it, made that easier to handle.

Now I have some of my favorite things around me. I am sitting at an old library table that used to sit on my grandparents' enclosed front porch. It is not refinished and beautiful because I want the character to live on and I want it to look just like it did for Grandpa and Grandma. I have my writing tools in one corner on the top and a file with old journals and a small dictionary on the other corner. There are regular desk-top things there too, like a stapler, paper clips (large and small), pens and pencils. I just feel comfortable sitting behind that table.

I have two large bookshelves sitting across from me. One is a three-shelf unit that was made by my dad. It is sturdy and holds many of the books I use for mentor text in writer's workshop. There are books by authors I love like Cynthia Ryland, Patricia Pollaco, and Donald Crews. The other bookshelf is tall and store bought. It is full of small tubs of books for young adult readers. Some I have read by other authors I like to read: Jacueline Woodson, Peg Kehret, and Jerry Spinelli.  The bottom three shelves have nonfiction books, holiday books  and poetry books. It just makes me feel safe seeing all my books right at my finger tips.

My favorite thing in this space doesn't usually belong in an office. But then I never said this was my is my SPACE.  In the northeast corner underneath the daylight window, is an overstuffed chair. It is maroon with two fluffy brown pillows nestled on the seat and a Clifford dog on the chair arm. The chair is a rocker/recliner. It has a box of books on each side of it with my dog books on one side and some adult fiction on the other side. This is my favorite because the chair belonged to my mother who left us 13 years ago. When I first got the chair I liked to sit in it because I could still smell her. That smell is now gone, but my memories are still there. I sit in the chair, read, and feel her presence all around me.

I just love my new space. I am so looking forward to spending lots and lots of time right here in my own space!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Andy

Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish our youngest a very happy birthday. We just came back from spending a week in Arizona where he now lives.  It was because of him we were introduced to that wonderful vacation land that we love. For the last few years we have spend Spring Break there doing all sorts of amazing things.

We are very proud of you, Andy, and hope your birthday is very special!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring Break Day Seven: Crazy Graham

This morning we had a visit from Todd and Graham. They came to help us load up a bookshelf that was going to their house. The bookshelf had been in our basement, but with the redoing of my "space" Todd said he would like it.  It is one that my dad, his grandpa, made. It has great sentimental value and means a lot to us. I am so glad he wanted it.

When it was all loaded on our truck we followed them down to their house to help unload. After the bookshelf was in it's new spot in their basement office, we spent some time with Graham.  He showed us how he could pick up his toys. He showed us how he  knew his colors. He showed us how he could play with his toys. Then he showed us how he could climb the stairs all by himself.

We went outside to see his new sandbox/picnic table and watch him play on the patio. He loved it outside! Then it was time for us to leave. We all went to the driveway. They told Graham to wave at us...and he did. They told Graham to give us kisses...and he did. Then they told him to tell us good-bye one more time.  Graham looked at us, waved his whole arm and said, "GO!"  I guess he was done with us!!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Break Day Six: Pokagon

We got  home from our flight last night at 10:20.  Dave came running out to see us. It was a crazy reunion. I don't know if he was happier to see us or we were happier to see him. We had a lot of catching up to do!

Today we did something that we had started several years ago with Murphy, our last golden retriever.  We always took him to Pokagon State Park in northern Indiana to run the trails and play in the lake. We have done that with Dave every year that we have had him.  We do this on Good Friday. This was Dave's third time to go.

Dave does not like to ride in the car. He gets in my little yellow bug and sits in the back seat. He then puts his head between the seats. He does not look outside. He does not lay down and sleep. He sits there facing front with his head down. Sometimes he glances out the front window, but then immediately puts his head right back down as if to say, "I'm scared." We rode that way the whole 30 minutes to Pokagon.

When we got there and opened the car door, he was outside in a flash and running around the parking lot.  The park is relatively empty this time of year, so he could just make himself at home.  We went to the lake edge first. He sniffed at the lake but the waves were coming in and he didn't want any part of it. We then took Trail 5 and headed for the woods. Dave loved it. He got to be off leash since he stayed right with us. If we saw someone coming we would tell him to SIT and hook him up to the leash until they had passed. We walked for about two hours. There was water along the way and we had to stop to change trails and decide which way to go. Dave would wait patiently until we made up our minds.

We ended back where we had started and took a break to sit and let him just roll in the grass. He loved it. He rolled over and over getting dried leaves all over his coat. He kicked his legs up in the air and just laid there. We all piled back into the car and Dave resumed his position of head down as we drove the 30 minutes back home. Another great day with Dave!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Break Day Four: Light Rail to Phoenix

One of the things we had been wanting to do every time we have come to Arizona is to ride the light rail. It is on the edge of Tempe and we have passed many of it's stops. We were not sure exactly where it went or where it could take us. This time we had it on our things-to-do list. We checked it out yesterday when we took our morning walk and one of the citizens even came up to us and answered a lot of our questions. So, today was the day of the ride!

We took our two mile walk to Mill Street and went to the end of it where there is a stop for the  Light Rail. We went to where we could purchase a pass and looked at the box.  Then a young lady came up and swiped her card. We told her we wanted to go on it, but weren't sure how or what to buy. She walked us through the process.  It was quite easy! Then we waited for the train. We have ridden this type of thing in Atlanta and Washington DC and of course the subway in NYC.  We watched the stops and decided to hit downtown Phoenix.

We got off at the convention center and started walking. We went by the sports arenas for the Diamond Backs and the Suns. We walked the grounds of the Hyatt. We finally found a Subway that was opened and serving breakfast so we stopped there and ate at a table outside.  We then had to hurry to catch the rail back to our hotel so we could sign up for our seats on the plane tomorrow.

While riding the Light Rail, I saw something that I have seen on many of the transportations we have gone on.  It was someone reading. I have been collecting these pictures because it just reminds me every time how important reading is.  It isn't just important for our careers, our directions, or our ability to gather the news. It is important because it takes us places and makes us better citizens of the world.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break Day Three: Spring Training for the Cubs

One of the ideas I had for our trip this year was to go to Spring Training in Mesa for the Cubs. Every year that we have been down here, the training time was over and regular team play was on.  That meant any team we usually listen to was far from AZ.  This year we just made it.  They play their last game here tomorrow. We would be busy during game time, so we weren't sure it was going to happen even this year.

We checked the schedule again when we got here and sure enough there was a game at noon today.  The weather was perfect. It was 75 degrees and very sunny. It was suggested to us that we try and get seats on the grass.  It was cheaper that way and really not as hot and we could still be in the sun.  So that is what we did!

We took off at 10:30 since we really didn't know where we were going. After a couple mistakes, we finally found it.  We had a great time, got a lot of sun and the Cubs won. We did have to buy a Cubs towel to have something to sit on, but that was okay with us.  I just wanted to sit on a towel. I am not a Cubs fan, but I am a baseball fan.

We are making the most of every moment we are here. We start the day with a long four mile walk, have breakfast and then I sit on the patio or beside the pool and write in my journal. Sounds like a dream vacation to me.  Give me some sun, a pool, a good book and something to write on and I'm fine!

One more full day here in the Valley of the Sun!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break Day Two: Wickenburg, AZ

Today since the day started out cool, we decided to take a road trip.  We had heard about this "real" western town in a town north of Tempe. We had read about it and it looked like fun. We drove and drove and drove!  When we got there we did find a western town. The town was full of things for the tourist. One of the things that I especially liked was the six statues around town depicting the history of the area. The picture here is of a Vaquero with Guitar. This is something that citizens would have seen in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  These bronze sculptures were a gift to the Town of Wickenburg by the DeVore Foundation. Artist J. Seward Johnson is known for his remarkably realistic sculptures. His work is shown in private and corporate collections as well as the public realm worldwide.

We then ate lunch at Anita's Cocina.  It is Wickenburg's oldest and finest Mexican restaurant. We had authentic Mexican food. After that, we took off for our trip back to Tempe and the hotel pool. The weather was too cool to actually get in, but we spent several hours reading poolside.  What a great day!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Break Day One: Made it To Arizona

We made it to Tempe, Arizona after leaving home this morning at 4:45. We flew out of Indianapolis, went through Chicago to Denver and landed in Arizona. What a long trip!  We checked into our hotel and headed for Mill Street in Tempe. That means about a two mile walk, but it was worth it.

We got a tip that there was a big Art Fair going and today was the last day. It just happened to be in the middle of Mill Street and side streets attached to it.  The streets were closed and they were filled with vendors selling all kinds of arts and crafts plus on the sides there were various musical instruments with CD's to buy as they played their music.

We walked and walked and walked down one side and then up the other side. I noticed so many people had their dogs with them. Little ones and medium size dogs. The vendors even had bowls or buckets of water out for them, so it must be a common thing. After sitting all day on the plane we were happy to stretch our legs and walk.

We found a restaurant with a patio balcony and chose that for our evening meal...actually the only official meal we had all day! We had a great view of the street with vendors and people. The weather here is actually cooler than it is back in Indiana and with the wind blowing at a top speed, it felt even cooler.  The sun is shining though and it promises to get warmer as the week goes by.  I am SURE we will hit the pool tomorrow even if all we do is sit by it.

Our legs are now as tired as the rest of us and we are ready to call it a night.  It is 9:00 back in the Hoosier state, but only 6:00 here.  The balcony overlooking the hotel's pool is calling me.  I think I will slip out and take in the last of the sunshine as it gets lower in the Arizona sky.

Stay tuned for the rest of our adventures on Spring Break!