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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pause and Think

When I saw this post, it stopped me in my tracks.  It made me start to wonder.  It made me think about the legacy we leave behind.

Lately, I've stumbled across a few reminders of places where a little piece of me - my legacy - has been left.

The other day I was reading a trade newspaper and saw a photo of one of a student who was in my last class of eighth-graders before I left the classroom to become an instructional technology coach.  She was identified as a college student who had won an award in a discussion meet.  I thought about her in class and how at first she seemed frustrated with the expectations I set for my students and later how she blossomed as a writer with a purposeful voice and strong opinions.  Congratulations on your latest accomplishment Samantha!

This past summer, I watched online as two of my former students joined their lives in marriage.  The young man was a part of my first class of seventh-graders at Community School.  He had such a vivaciousness and energy for life and he brought that to the classroom.  His writing showed an inner soul that was at-one with nature and his voice was that of rural-down-home flavor.  His bride was a member of the first class of seventh-graders at Eagleville School.  She was a quiet student whose inner deep-thinking was showcased in her writing.  I will always think of her as a daisy with a fresh, cheerful countenance because of a writer's notebook entry she shared.  It was interesting for me to see the two of my former teaching worlds collide with the joining of this young couple.  Best wishes for a long and happy life together Michael and Ashton!

I see my legacy as a teaching coach when I visit classrooms and notice that teachers are incorporating resources I suggested or implementing practices I model in professional development workshops.  My hope is that their students are growing and developing as a result and will make our world a better place because of the educational experience they have in these classrooms.  Oh, there is the immediate feedback of a re-Tweet or a +1 but I certainly hope these quick clicks result in a much deeper impact down the road.

Recently, my husband shared a statement that Bridgette had made in regard to my reaction to an encounter at a family function.  I think her perspective is one that sees me as having mellowed over the years.  I know she has seen me pick my battles at times and her recent statement makes it clear that she understands how we all evolve.  I think she saw me in that situation as taking on the attitude of 'just-let-the-rain-roll-off-my-my-back-like-a-duck.'  After all, not reacting to adversity squelches the satisfaction of those who tend to stir the pot.

So, that post really made me stop and reflect.  I wonder...

...will my children or grandchildren think of kindness and sense of humor when I come to mind?

...will they recognize my love of family and home and how I value them above all else?

...will they have an attitude of celebration at the intangibles they've inherited from me?

...will they see my life as a model of service?

...what are they learning from my story?

Saturday, August 29, 2015


I've been working ten, twelve, fourteen hour days for the past month and




This morning I had the wonderful luxury of sleeping late and I did! I slept till eight o'clock!

Then, I took a cup of coffee out onto the back porch and sat and sipped and enjoyed the breeze.

When the sun popped out and made things a bit toasty, I stepped back inside and perused the blog posts I've been pushing down in my inbox and slurped some coffee.  It has been a quiet morning with nothing requiring my energy and it has been beyond delightful!

I think I've been too tired to be inspired to do anything and that has added to the sapping of my strength and energy.

One of the clicks this morning took me to this blog post where even the title was calling out to my lack of energy. Do you know anybody who doesn't need to slow down and live in the moment?

I visited the #LetGo link and embraced the concept of having a Hush Hour.

I loved so many of the blog posts that I cannot even begin to list them.

I don't know if the facts and figures are research-based and I really don't care.  I know that I am one of the forty percent.

And I see my daughters (Bridgette, Jessica, and Bonnie) scurrying and trying to do

it all. 

So, I consistently encourage them to pause and just BE.  I hope they will take some time to let go and stop trying to be the perfect ... fill in the blank.

I realized that I might have begun to take steps in this direction even before this morning.  I created my 'to-don't-do-list' earlier in the week when a dear friend asked me to join her and work colleagues for some snacks and drinks on Friday afternoon.  While I love these girls and I truly enjoy spending time with them and feed off their youth and energy, for some reason, I was at a place where such an invitation sort of felt like one-more-thing-to-do.

So, I said no.

I came home, crashed on the couch, and had a Hush Hour, instead.  As I saw that image on the #LetGo page, it was frustrating for me to realize that a photo of my feet would be dramatically different because I haven't made time for a pedicure - not even one by myself - because I have been pushing so hard at getting things done and my feet - my whole body - show that.

Let me issue a challenge to you to be kinder to yourself.  Be kinder to others.  Indulge in those things that really are most important.  Spend more time being, not doing!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Picking Your Battles

Last week I noticed that Mike had left his shaving cream can on the bathroom counter.

I didn't say anything about him cluttering up the counter.  I didn't fuss or complain because he got it out but didn't put it away.  I didn't even touch it.  I decided that I would just give him the chance to put it back in the drawer the next time he used it.

The next day...

The shaving cream can still sat there.

So, again, I left it.  I said nothing.  I did nothing.  I just left it awaiting his attention.

The third day...

I sighed, shook my head, and put the can back in the drawer.  I decided that I wasn't going to make a big deal out of it.


...that night at the dinner table, Mike asked me this question...

"Why did you put that empty shaving cream can back in the drawer?  I left it out so you would know to buy more the next time you went to the store."

What do you think was my response?

Yep, I just laughed!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Random Tuesday

Yesterday was a random day.  I spent the day catching up on tasks that had been allowed to slide for a while.  It was a productive day.  My uncle and aunt came over and completed some random updates and repairs.  His second career has been in carpentry and he is a master and a perfectionist.  They installed a new door at the basement entrance.  They also added a wood piece at the laundry room door entrance.  Plus, they re-attached the back deck flooring to the corner support post.  It was a lot of randomness that turned out wonderfully.  Guess who my favorite aunt and uncle are today?

In other randomness...

Have you noticed any of these new fall flavors? 31 of them that you need to get your hands on!

I think I'm going to have to try out this recipe for dessert sometime.  I might top it with ice cream, though.

I also want to try out these ideas for pie that are not really pies.  I might top that with ice cream, too.

I am wishing that a Trader Joe's would move into our small town - not because I am a big shopper there.  I think this article explains exactly why.

I would sign up for this paint-along class if I thought my efforts would turn out to look like the example.

Finally, I think I need to share these 22 things with my Mama...and maybe I should take her some ice cream, too.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Years and years ago...

...when I was a single mother of two who was trying to make her way in the world as a classroom teacher...

...one of my students tried to play matchmaker for me - the professional woman with a Master's degree and professional high-heels and teacher-attire.

He invited me to a major local event where his father had box seats.  His little seventh-grade self offered up all of the niceties for the evening.  He mentioned that we could enjoy fine dining from the country ham sandwich booth and the fresh home-made donut booth and could cheer for every entrant right at ringside of the horse show.  He was a bit disappointed when I declined the delightful invitation.

Later in the year, his little basketball-playing self informed my cheerleader coach self, as we were riding the team bus to the middle school basketball game, that his father was coming to the game and I should be on the lookout for him.  He was so proud of himself because he had already let his dad know what I was wearing and that I would be seated near the cheerleaders during the game.  I'm sure my face had that frozen look of, "Oh.  My.  Goodness!"  when I reminded him that I was still officially on duty as a school employee and didn't really think it would be a good idea for me to socialize.  Again, he seemed a bit disappointed but still optimistic.

Near the end of that ball season, I was sitting in the stands one evening - grading papers and half-watching the game as I always did.  It was play-off time and I was more than ready for the season to end so that I could get home to my sofa for grading papers and not be driving home after the last person was picked up at the school following a long bus ride.  Engrossed in reading an essay, I didn't notice the first couple of times when this fellow sitting beside me cleared his voice.  However, I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard him say my name with a question mark at the end.

I looked up to see this fellow wearing a golden yellow do-rag on his head.  (For those of you who don't know what that is, a do-rag is a bandana tied around a person's head in a sort of pirate fashion.)  The fellow introduced himself - my little seventh-grade student's father - and asked me if I would care to join him at the end of the quarter for a cigarette and a soft drink.  I'm sure there are few words which could describe the look on my face.  I'm sure I have never stammered quite so much as I politely declined his invitation.  However, he simply smiled and told me he would be back and would like to chat.  So, I watched him leave in his shirt with the sleeves cut out and jeans with a bulldog wearing a studded collar embroidered on the pocket of his baggy jeans.

During that quarter break, I certainly couldn't concentrate on my essay grading.  I also didn't concentrate on my cheerleaders' center-court performance.  All I could think of was to ask myself if I projected myself as someone who would consort with a student's father and with a father who was certainly of a different style than myself.

All that came rushing back to me the other day when I came out of the doctor's office and climbed up into the truck with the man of my dreams - my beloved, sophisticated husband.  Hmmm...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"It has your name on it."

Last winter when I was visiting one of the schools I support, a friend who was the assistant administrator there told me that she had a table for me.

I'm sure I looked a bit confused.

She went on to say, "It has your name on it."  I'm sure I looked even more confused.  Then, we went on our merry way because we were in the hallway during a class change and students were buzzing by us.

On my next visit, she told me the same thing.  So, I paused and asked her what she meant by that.

She explained that they were cleaning out an old computer lab and were shipping some of the old typing tables to the surplus warehouse to be sold or putting broken ones out at the dumpster.  In the shift, the pull-out writing ledge slid out onto the floor and she saw that it had lots of graffiti on it.  Part of the graffiti was my name.  So, she quickly said she needed an extra table in her office and to just take that one there instead of out to the dumpster.

It had been in her office for several years and she thought no more about it.  Then, one day, she was cleaning things out because she was preparing to retire.  That writing ledge slid out when she was moving the table around and she decided that I probably needed it.

I just chuckled and told her that she probably was mistaken because I wouldn't write on a desk.  If my mother found out, she would have killed me!

Just the other day, this friend called.  She just dialed me up out of the blue.  Well, not really.  She was letting me know about a surprise party for another friend who was retiring from the classroom.  She also asked me when I was going to come and get my table.

I asked her what she was talking about and she said, "When are you going to come get this little old table...the one that has your name on it?"

So, a week or so later, I pulled into her driveway.  We went out to her garage and she pulled out the little writing ledge.  There in my own hand-writing, the largest piece of graffiti on the whole piece was my maiden name.
No denying it, there it was - in my school-girl handwriting.  The table did have my name on it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Great Cover Up

My daughter, Bridgette, recently painted her back door.  Looks great, doesn't it?

She thought it was due for a paint-job but hadn't really planned to paint it this past week.  She really thought she would let the family get into the swing of back to school first.  However, Somebody nudged her to go ahead and get it done last week before they hosted Luci's first birthday party.

She said she had been painting earlier in the week and asked Lydia to bring her the paint brush she had been using outside where she was hanging things to dry.  Like a good girl, Lydia did.  Bridgette finished her work and went into the house.  A few days later, after going somewhere and returning home, Bridgette noticed this:

Maybe you need a closer look.  I did.

So, remembering who she sent to retrieve her paint brush, Bridgette asked Lydia, "What happened to the back door? I noticed a navy blue blip on it."

To which Lydia's huge, brown, guilty, brown eyes responded, "Well...we had this robber come and do that."

So, Bridgette asked when this robber came.  She said, "Must've been while we were sleeping."

So, Bridgette asked, "So, they just painted that blip and didn't try to get into the house or take anything outside?"

"Nope.  Just painted that spot."

So, then, Bridgette asked, "Is this robber coming to paint the rest of the door?"

"Probably not."

Bridgette asked me, "Mom, where doe she come up with that stuff?"

I responded, "She is just like her mother used to be."

Bridgette let me know that Lydia didn't get a spanking and didn't even get a fussing-at.  She said, "Lydia knows I know she did it but I love the story she concocted trying to avoid trouble!"

Sometimes creativity is rewarded - even when it is a bit of a cover-up!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Exciting Times!

We were so lucky to be invited to our daughter-in-law's and my Bonus Son, Stephen's home the other night for a big birthday celebration!

The food was scrumptious and the company was invigorating.

We supped on hot-off-the-grill, Bar-B-Q Chicken, fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes and squash, and lots more.

We played with the youngest grandson and enjoyed watching him assist his father at assembling the tricycle we gifted to him.

The best part, though, was when we got our party favor.

It was a sweet card which featured the birthday boy on the front:

I almost put it away after gushing over how adorable the photos turned out and how well the photographer had captured the little guy's personality.  Then, I noticed that on the back was not just a graphic logo.  It was another photo of our little fellow.

Then, I carefully looked at the message on the chalkboard he was holding...
I immediately started blubbering and tears were flowing because I am so excited.  We look forward to grandchild number eight after the first of next year!

Exciting times!

Sunday, August 9, 2015


I am a multi-tasker.  I try to do as many things at once as possible.  However, I think this crew traveling down the road had me beat by far!

Now, I followed this truck down the road for about 5-7 miles.  Look closely at the photo.  These are the things that I could see were going on:

1.  There was a neon shirt or something tied to the right side mirror and flapping in the wind.  Every now and again the passenger would straighten it out where it could flap more.  So, I'm guessing they were drying laundry or something.

2. Somebody in the back seat on the passenger side was standing up and I think they might have been changing shorts or boots or something.  Totally standing up - bent at the waist and changing clothes.  I saw the change of shirts but couldn't really tell what else they were doing before one shirt came off and another went on.

3.  Somebody in the back seat behind the driver must have been eating lunch.  See that white thing right in the middle of the back window.  It was a super-sized drink cup.  The cup was sitting on the tool box outside the back sliding-glass window.  Every now and again, the person would stick a hand out the window and get the cup and keep it inside long enough to take a slurp before setting it back outside on the tool box.

I saw some of this going on as we were going down the highway.  So, when we stopped at a stoplight, I picked up my phone and touched the camera app.  Then, I would just hold up my phone and shoot photos when I thought I might be able to catch some of the action.  After I arrived in the parking lot of the school I was visiting, I sorted through the many, many shots and could only find this one that was relatively clear.

I hate you missed the show!

Saturday, August 8, 2015


I've begun to notice that I'm slipping.

I don't think it is something that we should be alarmed about.


I just want everybody to be aware that I am.

Google Keep App Icon

For example, it is nothing new that I will get up to refill my coffee cup and wind up loading the dishwasher, hand-washing the skillet, wiping down the counter-top, and sacking the trash before...

I sit back down and realize, I have to re-fill my coffee cup.
Google Keep iPhone View

Another perfect example that is really nothing new is - I will leave the kitchen and walk into the bedroom and stand there for a few minutes...

...trying to remember why I came into the bedroom.

I've been doing that sort of thing for most of my adult life.
Google Keep Web View

I used to be able to blame it on having to think for two children under the age of three who needed dry pants and food to eat and something to drink and clean clothes to wear,

or two children in school with dance practice and ball practice and calves/lambs to feed and homework,

or two children in high school and me in graduate school while working full-time and ballgames/dance practice/livestock to feed and extra plates to set at the table unexpectedly and mountains of laundry to conquer and a household to keep and vehicles to maintain.

Now, I don't really have those scapegoats and I even have a supportive, helpful husband.  Yet, I still have those sort of examples previously mentioned and even more.

Google Keep Note - golden color
I've never remembered numbers and that problem has compounded - if that is possible.

I can find a place in the grocery parking lot and look at the app on my phone to confirm I have funds to buy the necessities.  Then, after I gather up my bags, select a shopping cart, push through the doors of the store, and wheel through the produce section, I realize I have left my list on the kitchen counter and forgot how much money I have in my checking account.

Whew!  Thank goodness for a new friend called Google Keep.

Google Keep Note - orange

Now, when I am at work, supposedly focused on formatting a spreadsheet of information or proofing a tutorial before posting to the web or revising a lesson plan, if it pops into my head that we are almost out of toothpaste, I can just add that to my online grocery list!

Google Keep Note - teal

If a friend suggests a book to read and I know I won't remember the title because I will have to go online and renew some of the books on my bedside table in three weeks because I fall asleep when I sit down and things are quiet so I don't read as extensively as I used to do.  Then, by the time I've finished that stack of books, I will walk into the library and wonder what on earth one of the titles suggested by my friends might be.  If that happens, I can just add the title to my To-Read list!  Using the list view, after I have read a book or picked up an item at the store, I can cross it off my list!
Google Keep List - blue

If I take the drapes down in the den and drop them off at the dry-cleaners and the ticket they give me gets blown off of the sun-visor of my truck where I've pinned it, I can just add a little note to remind me to pick them up!

If I want somebody else to remember the information or so we can work on knocking out a list together, I can just share it!
Google Keep Sharing View

If I want to get a little reminder that I need to get ready for a birthday party at a certain time of the day on Saturday so that I don't get wrapped up in reading my library book or to nudge me awake after I fall asleep reading my library book, I can simply add a reminder along with my note!

My notes will sync to any device which has the app and I can access them through the web as well.  So, I always have access to the thoughts I've recorded on a note. So, I have the app on my phone, I access it using my laptop and my Chromebook as well.  So handy!
Google Keep Pop-Up Reminder

Well, I just got a little pop-up on my screen to remind me to get ready and go to a birthday party for one of the grands.  So, this post is done!

By the way, I was not compensated in any way for this post.  I just wanted to let you know that you might start slipping one day, too, and there is no reason you cannot hide it for a little while by using a little friend who keeps all your notes wherever you are and helps you hold on to your thoughts!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Luci!

Only a year ago we were head over heels excited and announcing, She's Here!
Since then she has been getting all those folks in her household into line and making them realize that it is really the one in charge there!

Today we celebrate her first birthday!  

Sweet, petite, and girly-girl all the way!

Happy Birthday, Luci!

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Over the years when I have moved from one house to another, I try to take some of my favorite perinniels with me to my next home.
It is rather comforting to see the same plants and sort of makes the new house feel more like home because old plant friends are there through different seasons.  
I have moved lilies, iris, day lilies, boxwoods, hostas, and such with great success.
I've also moved this grey, barn-shaped mailbox a couple of times because I like to keep my gardening gloves and tools hidden inside and handy for use.
At my last house, I had Baptisia australis, or false indigo that I had purchased in a pot because I liked the looks and color of the bloom.
When we sold that house, I dug up some of the other plants mentioned quite easily and moved them to their new location.
Digging up a root of the false indigo to move it was another story.  I dug and tugged and strained until I finally got a piece of a root.  I didn't really think it would grow, but I put it in the ground beside this mailbox post anyway.
At my last house, it grew to be about three feet tall as described in this article.
I am just now learning that it is a difficult plant to move because it doesn't like its roots disturbed.  So, I guess I should be grateful that it survived and thrived near the steps of the back porch.
I was thinking the other day that maybe I should move it because it is as tall as me and tends to flop over onto the path leading up to the steps requiring that I tie it up to the mailbox post.
Not only does it provide beautiful blue blooms early in the summer, but it also provides interest with these pea-looking pods after the blooms have faded.  They start off a beautiful green color like the leaves.
Then, they slowly turn to become a deep, dark, navy blue color that is almost black.
I learned that the blooms were used to create a blue dye at one time and that is how the plant got the common name of false indigo.
Since I was lucky and the transplanted root grew well for me after the last move, I guess I will follow the advice of the article mentioned previously and take some of the seed to plant in a different location rather than moving the plant I have and risk loosing it altogether.

Maybe I'll also start some little plants to pass along to the daughters and daughters-in-law like my Granny, my great aunt, and my mother have done for me.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

How many beans make a bushel?

I have seen a couple of public service announcements lately about canning classes being offered in different communities.  I think it has a relationship with the movement to cleaner, healthier, more wholesome eating and the fact that I am seeing more and more backyard gardens.

We have enjoyed canning and freezing vegetables and fruits for years.  I cannot remember a single year going by that my mother didn't make some sort of jam or jelly or preserves.  Mike says it is the same in his historical thinking about his family.  In fact, I have my mother's pressure canner, my Granny's pressure canner, and Mike's grandmother's pressure canner in my basement kitchen as I am pecking out this post.

I borrowed Mama's canner because Mike came in the house with two bushels of green beans!  (We haven't had a chance to test out Mike's grandmother's canner to make sure it is still safe to use after many years of setting idle.)

A couple of weekends ago, I had two canners rocking and shishing and steaming at the same time!

I don't know if you have an idea of how many green beans it takes to make up a bushel.  Let me tell you - it takes a LOT of beans!

I think the hardest part is breaking them up into bite-sized pieces.  Maybe that is because my hands ache and cramp from just normal usage but holding and snapping beans really takes a toll on me.  So, Mike snapped each and every bean.  What a guy!

I think the TV western channel played for 48 hours non-stop.  Marshall Dillon, The Virginian, The Cartwrights, and The Barkleys joined the Duke in providing company to Mike while he merrily snapped bean after bean!  Then, my efforts were required.

First I would dump a large bowl of bite-sized beans into the sink and fill it with water.  Then, I swished them around a bit to begin washing the pieces to make sure that all the soil, bits of leaves, etc. were loosened and easy to rinse away.

Then, handful by handful, I would rinse them in clear water and drop them into a colander to drain.

The next step was to pack them into sterile jars.  I run my canning jars through the dishwasher because it has a cycle that sterilizes them.  Next, I place them into the oven set on 200 degrees to keep them hot.  I would remove a cookie sheet holding several jars.

Using my canning funnel, I filled each jar as full as I possibly could get it, shaking the jar and pushing beans down a bit to get one last handful into it.  The jars need to be as full as possible without having beans touching the lids.

Because I wanted low-sodium green beans, I sprinkled a half-teaspoon into each jar, measuring carefully.

I worked in batches of fourteen jars because each of my canners will hold seven jars at a time.

Next, I added a teaspoon of apple-cider vinegar to each jar.  I don't know why this ingredient is important but my Granny always did that and I do, too!

The next step was to fill each jar up to the mouth with boiling water and slide a plastic spoon handle down the side of the jar and give it a little wiggle to encourage all the air bubbles to float to the top so there would only be an air pocket in the mouth of the jar.  I think this is important to prevent breakage during the pressure canning process.

While I was filling the jars with water, I had my lids in a small pan of steaming water in preparation for adding them to tops of the jars.

As I got a batch of jars filled with water, I would add lids to each.

Then a screw-top was attached to each, tightening only till it was finger-tight.

Next, I trekked down the steps with seven jars and loaded each of the canners.  (I cheated a wee bit and had the water in each canner heating so that it wouldn't take quite as long after adding the jars of beans for the water to come to a boil in the canner to provide the steam pressure which processed the beans and caused the jars to seal.)

Once each canner was loaded with seven jars, I attached the top and let it go to work.

The old-fashioned, basement stove with the coil heating elements seem to work better with the canner than my glass-topped stove-top that is upstairs.  So, that is the primary reason that the actual canning takes place downstairs.

It is easy to hear when the canner seals and the little top pressure regulator starts to jiggle and the steam starts to shish-shish-shish.  I left the jars processing in the pressure canner for twenty minutes after the canner sealed and the regulator began to jiggle just as my Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving book suggested.

Then, I removed the canner from the heat and let it cool before removing the lid, lifting out the jars to cool, and starting the process all over again.  Almost immediately the lids began pinging to indicate they were sealing.

Together, Mike and I canned 52 quarts and 3 pints of green beans.  I'm telling you, two bushels is a LOT of green beans.  Everybody might get a jar of beans in their Christmas stocking this year!

Other things I learned from this experience:

  1. Two bushels is a lot of beans.
  2. Do all the prep work downstairs instead of running up and down the stairs.
  3. Two bushels is a lot of beans.
  4. Don't tackle this project the weekend before you go back to school and work long hours and through the weekend for two weeks without a day off.
  5. Two bushels is a lot of beans.
  6. Don't tackle this project after you have spent the week freezing squash and peaches and making peach preserves.
  7. Two bushels is a lot of beans.
  8. I may be getting a little too old to do this kind of thing in bulk like that.
Mainly, I know all this because two bushels is a lot of beans!