If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wise Words

Today is a holiday to honor a brave and wise man.  He stood up for what he believed was right and encouraged others to do so as well.  As a statesman, he brought about positive change with his words.  He didn't point a finger or call names, he just shared a vision for what is right and what is wrong.  There are so many quotes from this man which could be used today to honor his accomplishments and the foundation he built, the shoulders on which others stand to continue that mission.  Here are the ones I'm choosing today:

Monday, January 8, 2018


Coaching is a part of my job and, to be honest, has been for the entire time I've been in the education business.  Basically, what all teachers need to be doing is coaching students to learn.  Well, recently, another family member entered the world of coaching.

Our granddaughter, Lydia, informed her mother that she would play basketball in the recreation league again this year but only if her Mom served as her coach.  So, of course, Bridgette agreed.

We have been hearing tales of her experiences and how the young girls - second and third graders - are learning and growing as athletes.  Now, for those of you who don't know our daughter, Bridgette, you may not realize that she takes things seriously.  She is competitive and she doesn't mess around.  When she does something she intends to do it right.  By taking on a responsibility, she is All-In. 

So, the tales we have been having in regard to her coaching these children who are between the ages of six and nine, we have chuckled a few times.  You see, Bridgette also played recreation league basketball when she was about the age of her daughters.  I want to think she started at about sixth grade.  There were not enough coaches for the number of girls who signed up to play in the community league.  So, the mother-in-charge of coordinating the league asked a co-worker, an accountant who was a newlywed with no children of his own to coach a team.  There was only one girl who had played on a recreation team before.  The rest of the girls were newbies like Bridgette.  So, the team was probably a group of misfits and unknowns - a basketball team of Bad News Bears.  Coach Dan did a great job of teaching the girls plays, working on developing skills, and, really, just teaching them a bit about the game of basketball.  They didn't win a single game during the season.  Yet, they played and had a big time and they learned and grew as athletes and young women.  When the county tournament came along, this team of misfits and unknowns won game after game and wound up in the finals.  Sadly, they lost their last game, primarily because two of the girls fouled out - Bridgette was one of them.  Along the way, Coach Dan was amazingly patient with them and he and his wife became lifelong family friends.  We still chuckle at times over things that happened in practice and those games. 

Advance the clock about twenty-five years and Bridgette has found herself in the shoes of her former coach.  Her team was assembled by a blind draft.  Most of the girls have never played on a team before and those who have are not little girls who have played with older brothers or sisters all their lives and know the game - far from it!  So, Bridgette has found herself saying many of the things we chuckled about over the years - things like, "Dribble.  The.  Ball!"

From the first practice, these little girls have learned drills to develop their dribbling, passing, and shooting skills.  Bridgette claims she even told another coach, "We aren't here to just play around.  We are going to learn the game of basketball!"  (He spent his first practice allowing the girls to do some loose shooting and play around a bit in order to get to know one another.) 

If the little girls have had half as much fun as Bridgette, the venture has been a success!  Bridgette seems so pleased with their progress and when we went to their first game Saturday morning, it was obvious that they had learned some plays and had practiced rebounding.  Oh, there is still lots to be learned by these little athletes as was evidenced by their losing score but on another day, the numbers could easily have been reversed, I think.

Throughout the game, Coach Bridgette is clapping, cheering, encouraging, reminding, and, well, coaching.  Even when one little girl fouled out before the end of the game, she was complimenting her for going after the ball and for being aggressive. 

During a break between quarters, she asked the girls, "Who wants to score some points?"  Hands went up all down the row of hydrating little girls.  So, Coach Bridgette said, "Well, let's get out there and get some rebounds, go down the floor, and shoot!"

Mike and I have teased Bridgette and told her that she is trying to be the next Pat Head Summit!  You know, her intensity is almost measurable and her eagerness to motivate and prepare the little girls is quite admirable.  Even at the end of the game when she and her family were on the road to another gym for Lillie to play her game, Bridgette confessed to us that she was already thinking of what they would do at the next practice and how she needs to guide them differently and plan for the next game.  She thinks she needs to add some options and knows that there are a few things that need to be tweaked.

I think Pat would be proud.  I'm pretty certain Coach Dan would be.  And, I know that Mike and I certainly are! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sporting Events Can Be Entertainment

Mike and I are not really armchair quarterbacks.  We really could be considered more coaching from the couch.  We enjoy college football immensely.  We also like watching college basketball, baseball, softball, and even little league baseball.

Of course, we really enjoy watching the grandchildren playing sports.  At this stage, we don't anticipate that we will be coaching their college games from the couch but, I guess, one can never tell.  After all, the eldest is only eleven years old. 

For the past couple of years Lillie and Lydia have played softball and basketball.  They are pretty fun to watch and the stress level is really low because they and their teammates are truly at the learning level.  It is always interesting to think back to the first game of the season and compare it to the end of the season games.  Their progress is always quite obvious.

(Faces of other children have been blurred because I didn't get permission to post.)

Yesterday was the first game of the season for basketball.  It was also the first basketball game Mike had attended and watched court-side in years!  I don't think I have ever seen him laugh so much in such a short span of time.  He would get a chuckle out of their reaction and actions. 

(Faces of other children have been blurred because I didn't get permission to post.)

Of course, he and Luci (and when she wasn't playing, Lydia) were interested patrons at the concession stands.  After all, there is no better hot dog or popcorn than what is handed across the counter of a concession stand! 

We spent most of our day yesterday after driving a little longer than an hour and a half to see Lydia's game, coming back a bit closer to home to watch Lillie's game, and then driving a bit over an hour home. 

Even as we were watching TV last night, Mike and I would recall different things the girls said or did during the ballgames or concession stand visits and chuckle.  From when Luci ate almost an entire bag of popcorn before sharing one little piece with Mike to how Lydia seems to enjoy sitting on the sideline, sipping her water, and watching the game about as much as she does playing!

I got so involved watching the game - and, Mike informed me last night, sideline coaching - that I didn't get many photos.  Maybe next game!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Writing A Letter To Me

Just like last year's resolution, I'm not making any resolutions this year.  I simply set goals last year and that worked out some better - at least mentally it did!  I had no guilt as I went through my days and I simply had programmed a few reminders to pop up in my calendar as to what goals I needed to keep in mind.  Some of them were met and some were not but I was mindful and realistic about it all nonetheless.

I recently saw this blog post about writing a letter to self and I really like that concept.  Like I mentioned in last year's blog post, years ago I set a goal and didn't have it dangling in front of myself all the time to keep the guilt trip going and I actually achieved that goal. 

When I was in the classroom, I would assign my students to write a letter to themselves at the beginning of the school year and give it back to them a little bit after mid-term.  Then, have them write a new letter to themselves that was given back at the end of the school year.  It was a good exercise for eighth graders who were preparing to enter high school, I think.  So, I guess that is why I like the concept of writing a letter to self offered up in the Anderson + Grant post.

I love the concept that a new year is a blank slate and is somewhat magical allowing us to put the past in the background and begin fresh.  It does make it seem as if anything is possible.  I agree that there is something to reflecting back over 365 days and realizing amazement.

Last year I remember thinking that I was entering the first year of my life that I would be navigating without my father.  While Daddy had not been an earthly part of life since earlier in the year, the thought of navigating a whole, brand new year without his presence was certainly a new one.  Looking back on that thought, I am amazed to realize that although his earthly presence isn't with me, his memories, his guidance, his wisdom, and his influence will always be with me because I carry it around inside of me.  So many of his ways, his sayings, his values, and his expressions bubble up in my life daily that I've realized he does indeed live on inside of me.  Oh, there are times when I miss him terribly and wish I could pick up the phone to share something with him and I really think that will never go away. 

Recently, that very thought bubbled up in me when my daughter was sharing her experience as a basketball coach for one of her daughter's team.  The thought that just kept prickling at me was that I wish Daddy were here to witness this and laugh about it.  I could see him in my mind's eye with a Pepsi bottle about half full in his hand and a grin on his face taking it all in.  The memory served to remind me that I need to catalog and treasure these moments so that I can share them back later because that is certainly what he would have done.

Last year I also remember that there were many areas of my personal life in which I was struggling.  Some of them were given focused attention and hard work.  Most of those situations have grown, morphed, and changed and most of them for the better. 

Some of the things that were a nagging worry are still nagging a bit but some of them are also only a vague memory.  As a parent, I don't think we ever stop worrying and hoping for the best for our children.  When I stand back and observe them in their stage of life, I certainly recall that there were struggles and stress and I always wished there was a manual to guide me along.  I'm sure they feel the same way at times.  I'm sure they often feel like they are groping in the dark and hoping for the best.  My hope is that they will see me as a resource - not always as the model, because there were loads of mistakes made when I was in their stage, but sometimes as the how-to and sometimes as the not-as-I-did kind of resource. 

So, like Jamie suggests, I am working on that letter to me.  Again, I may add a link to it somewhere along the way in my calendar so that I can revisit it, update it, reflect, and recenter.  As a believer in the power of writing, I am also going to encourage those of you who read this and my family to take a little time to write out a letter - actually commit your thoughts to the page (either digitally like I am or physically with a pen and paper).  There is something strong about committing words to a page that motivates people and makes what is there more real.  Like I used to tell my students, sometimes we don't really know what we think till we see what we write. 

Success certainly isn't all about checking something off a list.  Success is more of a big picture view looking at the horizon of the journey and knowing that eventually that point on the horizon is going to be right in front of you and another point will be staked far away on the horizon.  Success is knowing that some days will be like THAT and there will certainly be a new one that is different to follow it - a day when we get to begin all over again and go forward.

I'm encouraging you to strive toward your vision by starting with writing that vision down today.  Then, in 365 days look back and see that pinpoint of where you started and realize the great world that has rolled out between it and where you will be at that place which was far away on the horizon the previous year.  I think we are going to see a world of things that will amaze us.  Best wishes for turning the page into a new year!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy Anniversary!

We are celebrating with a quiet day at home.  Together since 2009, we feel like folks are celebrating with us when the new year rings in!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year in Review

At this time of year, we tend to do a bit of reflecting back on the year we are wrapping up.  I guess I am no different from anybody else.  It is time to look back on the year and appreciate our progress.  I took a glance back at the year by looking back at what I took time to post on the blog.

Instead of making resolutions, last year I set some goals for myself.  In looking back on them, I see that, once again there were some that were met and some that fell by the wayside.  Oh well, maybe next year.

I started off the year doing a bit of organizing.  I worked on the pantry and did a pretty good job of keeping in in shape throughout the year.  There are still a few things that I would like to have to aid in organizing it and keeping it straight but all in all, I think we accomplished what we intended and met that goal.

The month of February found us writing a book.  I'm still not certain whether this was a good thing or if it was the beginning of creating a problem for Mike and me!  At the time it seemed like a great idea and we really enjoyed putting Easton's ABC Book together.  We were excited when it arrived from the publisher and pleased with how it turned out.  I think Easton and his family enjoyed it (and we hope they still do) as well as us.  Another thing we began in February that has continued is that we started watching our quarters.  We have a collector in the family and Mike and I want to be sure she is provided with a representative of each kind of quarter made!

In March we got itchy feet and were looking toward spring.  We had a late snowfall and some cold weather that put spring on hold for us and Mike and I both were battling cold weather and winter.  Neither of used to be bothered by winter weather and really sort of enjoyed it.  However, as we get older, we seem to wish for warm weather more and more.  As a school teacher, I always look forward to and hope for a snow day.  So, if we are going to get any weather, as the old folks say, I certainly want to be rewarded with a snow day!

April brought some spring temperatures and a wee bit of time to enjoy it.  I certainly enjoyed my time off during spring break even though about all I had to show for that week was a hole filled with rocks.  I took some time to rest up and faced the rest of the school year with some strength.  My entire team at work changed over during the last year and then my boss retired in December of last year and we were assigned a new supervisor who is as different as the former one as daylight is to dark.  Needless to say, that certainly has made the job a struggle this calendar year.  My team-mates and I are surviving but that is about all I can attest to at this point.

In May I was ultra-busy at work and barely had time to meet myself coming and going the entire month.  So, things here at home were put on hold.  My only blog posts were for celebrations - Lydia's Birthday, Mother's Day, and Memorial Day.  I think I went through the motions and just survived that entire month!

We did a little more celebrating in June with Father's Day and Bonnie's birthday but it also saw me welcoming a couple of weeks off from work.  Having the month during the summer to rejuvenate made a huge difference.  Having time to relax and do a bit of rambling and chilling-out with Mike certainly helped me to stop and notice lots of other things.  It also made me do some introspective looking at the job our children are doing and appreciate their stage of life.

Summer Days for my family means it is time for the grands to come and stay with us for a few days each.  They get individual attention and we spend time at the swimming pool.  Mike and I always love those times.  I used the time to post lots of here on the blog with twenty-two posts for the month of July!  First of all, we thrive on the summer temperatures, the long days, the opportunity to spend time in the garden and preserving what he has nurtured and grown for us to eat, and the time with the grands.  We both look forward to when life is basically always like that!

The dog days of August found us looking forward and getting ready to welcome grandchild number nine into our fold.  We celebrated the bounty of Mike's many hours of hot work in the garden and did loads of canning and freezing.  We had lots of squash and okra and tomatoes.  We canned and froze and enjoyed the fresh veggies so long as we could.  August also found me back at work and working with new teachers.  There is always a learning curve for new folks coming to our district.  No matter whether they are new to the profession or just new to our district, there is so much for them to take in and lots of support is needed to help them get off to a good school year start.

In September we did lots of celebrating of birthdays but the one that was the most monumental for us was the one where we welcomed grandchild number nine.  We are so blessed with healthy children and grandchildren and this is certainly something that comes to mind when a new one joins our family.  We are thankful and excited about each and every one and love them to pieces even when we get so tired it seems we cannot hold our head up!

By October we were embracing fall and a bit of cooler weather.  We truly enjoy the warm summer weather but we also welcome a break from the heat when fall rolls around.  I was lucky enough to have time to spend a bit of it getting to know the new baby.  One of the things we do here on the farm when we just need some down time is to get on the ATV and take a ride around to just enjoy the beauty of where we are lucky enough to live.  Mike picked up a passenger one afternoon for some rambling and is continuing the tradition down through the generations.

November may have been a busy time for us but it was also a time when we had a chance to share time with family.  I think Thanksgiving might be the favorite holiday for Mike and me.  I have a bit of time off from work and we get to spend time together.  We welcome the children into the house and share some time and good food with them.

I started off December by leading three different workshops at a state educational conference.  Then, it was semester wrap-up time.  Before we knew it, Christmas was upon us and I still had pumpkins sitting on the dining room table!  We did get our act together and get a tree decorated and gifts bought and wrapped to give to the children and grands but it was by the skin of our teeth!  I don't know if we are slowing down way too much or if life is speeding up around us.  At any rate, we have certainly had a busy month of it.  I haven't even had time to put together a December post other than to just snap a quick photo of the kitchen tree and wish everybody a Merry Christmas.

Through the year we had some bumps in the road - one of the grands was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic, I struggled to stay afloat at work with a new direction and a new supervisory team.  We bid goodbye to a few friends who were taken from us way too soon.  We are also still grieving the loss of our daughter-in-law's mother who was taken from this world long before we ever imagined.  We flounder and we question.

We also recognize how blessed we are even when we are traveling along this journey with some difficulty.  The light that has been shining in our lives and seems to be snuffed out is something we eventually realize shines on through us and our memories.  We are grateful for those memories and grateful for the blessings of having those in our lives even for the short time.

We look forward to the new year and we are anxious to celebrate each milestone and each blessing.