Saturday, December 31, 2011

You can never have too many

Quotes by Gary Paulsen

“Why do I read?
I just can't help myself.
I read to learn and to grow, to laugh
and to be motivated.
I read to understand things I've never
been exposed to.
I read when I'm crabby, when I've just
said monumentally dumb things to the
people I love.
I read for strength to help me when I
feel broken, discouraged, and afraid.
I read when I'm angry at the whole
I read when everything is going right.
I read to find hope.
I read because I'm made up not just of
skin and bones, of sights, feelings,
and a deep need for chocolate, but I'm
also made up of words.
Words describe my thoughts and what's
hidden in my heart.
Words are alive--when I've found a
story that I love, I read it again and
again, like playing a favorite song
over and over.
Reading isn't passive--I enter the
story with the characters, breathe
their air, feel their frustrations,
scream at them to stop when they're
about to do something stupid, cry with
them, laugh with them.
Reading for me, is spending time with a
A book is a friend.
You can never have too many.”
Gary Paulsen, Shelf Life: Stories by the Book

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm Electric!!" width="420">

Boogy Woogy Boogy Woogy -

My cell phone keeps shutting down on me  --- I thought it was my cell phone - sigh bad luck - and now it has dawned on me - that it's actually me.

I'm Electric!!! Boogy woogy woogy...

I am the static queen - I get electric shocks everywhere I go -  I can barely touch electronics - or zap !!  Also, I stop watches.  I wonder if it is special powers - maybe I'm a secret wonder-woman?  But then, I think that's fairly common - 

So - guess I'll be keeping my cell in my purse -

Monday, December 19, 2011

On Nicknames

 This weekend, I visited my mom and dad while mom was still recovering from surgery.  Last week, a town local passed away from complications from lung cancer.  As we talked about his life and all that he had been involved in, I asked my dad about this fellow's nickname, Splash.

"It's because when he jumped in the river, he made a big splash.  He was kinda one of those chubby-type kids."

"I love our local nicknames."

"Hahaha" mom called out, "Remember Hollywood?" 


"Yeah, she was a dancer at Sivard's  Remember Sivard's?"

I shook my head, no.

My mom nodded to my dad, and he told me the story of Holly wood.

"Well, Hollywood wore too much make-up, so they called her Hollywood, but never, ever to her face. Even when Hollywood was older, she still wore so much make up. She was a waitress, and one day Smith calls out her her, 'Hey Hollywood!' She walked quietly over to him and says very quietly and serious, 'Don't ever call me that again, if you do, you won't be welcome here.'  So, that was a nickname that stuck, but she didn't like, so we didn't say it to her face."

I need to write these nicknames down.  Of course, there's Splash and his brother Spluck.  There's Blackie, Traffic Jam,  Schmidty, Pierre, Hockey Bob (my dad), Bear, Turkey, Julio, and Julio Jr.   Of course, there's many, many more.

Of course, not all nicknames are wanted, and it's probably not nice to document them.  The imagination says something. These nicknames bring our history that much more alive.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Let the Honey Soak Through

“Place a beehive on my grave and let the honey soak through, when I am dead and gone that's what I want from you. The streets of heaven and gold and sunny, but I'll stick with my plot and a pot of honey. Place a beehive on my grave and let the honey soak through.”   
―      Sue Monk Kidd,        The Secret Life of Bees

I had heard the news that a young man from an area town had died.  I hadn't heard his full name until yesterday morning.  I hadn't heard that he had committed suicide until that moment. 

When I connected the dots, I realized he had been a student in one of my first classes. I felt like I had been punched in the gut.

I had remembered his smile and how we talked about his family's honey business.  Jason was into bees, too.  We had a lot to talk about.

It's a nightmare to think he would take his own life.  He was twenty-one years old - a bright, beautiful boy- a charmer. His girlfriend broke up with him.  I suppose he felt as though his over.

Oh beautiful boy, you would have made an excellant man.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What She Left Behind

When Jason's grandma passed away two years ago, I inherited some of her UFOs (UnFinished Objects).  This railroad quilt will be my father--in-law's Christmas Gift.  I love lookng at the fabric - everything is old-fashioned and made from scraps.  I love that since the dear never let anything to waste.  I may even wrap this in a cereal box - like she used to!   As I stitch in the ditch, I remember all the laughs we had shared and how much she loved us all.  I bet Paul will be able to look at the fabric and remember a sister's dress or another project she had completed. I can spot some material used in a baby quilt I'll be presenting to Jason's neice born last week. 

  Grandma had given me some of the baby blocks she had made over the years and asked if I would finish this one for Justin's first born.  Of course, the newest one is a blondie - like her cousins - so this quilt is perfect!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Our Picasso

School is more difficult for some.  I'm so glad that my dyslexic's teachers have compassion for that.  Over the past three months, her academic, self-esteem has soared.  Grades have steadily climbed. There are actual As from spelling tests on our refrigerator. 

Our little one is involved with Title - she goes to a specific teacher who helps her target reading skills. This teacher stopped me in the hallway one day last week and told me that he was so happy to report that he has been so proud of her progress, too. She has went from "Echo Reading" to more fluent reading.  At home, she is always quoting his strategies and telling me what they are doing in class.

In fact, she quotes all of her teachers, and they all have been so patient as her brain tries to find different connections to learn to read.  Reading better means better success in the coming years.  Thank God for those teachers - what would she do without them?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

OH - Chapter Three

Dear Chapter Three,

I am just a lowly Spanish teacher in the cold of Minnesota trying so hard to help my students learn twenty-three new verbs.

I realize Chapter Three that you a pretty excited to have students learn so much in BAM! those twenty pages, but I'm finding that most students are scared and unsure of themselves after having to just learn only one verb in Chapter 2, the verb tener.

I stress over and over how learning a language involves study every night And I know, they don't study their vocabulary every night.  I know that most of the learning takes place in the classroom. I was like that, too.  When I was their age, I was a bit ditzy myself.  But, Chapter Three, you confuse even the brightest kids in the class and golly gee - sometimes even me.

We are learning about AR verbs, and I knew that I had to learn something from my teaching experiences last year.  Chapter Three, you  assume that kids have more background knowledge and assumption skills.  You forget on page 95 that it doesn't introduce the AR verbs found on page 100 until page 100.  Got that?  Oh dear Chapter Three.

Chapter Three, if it wasn't enough to teach students twenty new AR verbs, why did you throw in ir, dar, y estar? And again, there are those questions on page 95 that assume we know what you will teach us on page 102. 

I'm sorry to tell you this, but Chapter Three, I had to lay you off for the last two weeks and make my own materials.  These materials included verb charts and tranlsation sentences - and dare I say - sentences the students wrote on their own. 

At the end of the week, we may find ourselves back within your pages.  I just hope you have learned your lesson. 

La seƱora Aakhus

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quilts for Kids

Hooray Hooray!  Snip-n-Stitch Quilters have surpassed last years 45 Quilts for Kids with 53 this year!  Hooray!  It took me a while to spot my quilts within the picture and sure, my sewing still leaves much to be desired - but I keep on sewing - it improves ever' year.  Maybe one day I won't be embarassed by my sloppy stitches - and it may even help that I started using reading glasses to quilt and stitch my materpieces!  (Oh dear - bifocals are not far off  I'm afraid )

I was a bit late for this years send off so I missed the opportunity to be photographed, but I wanted to share this picture because I just love all of these quilters so much!

Friday, November 25, 2011

This is What Real Teaching Looks Like -

I love how Senor Wooly takes learning Spanish so seriously while not taking himself too seriously.  He's willing to put himself 100% into his teaching. When I showed this to my Spanish classes, they wondered when I would make my very own video for them.

We'll see - I'm not sure how I could top this guy though.  Senor Wooly has his own site for which I bought complete access.  One girl wasn't catching on to the irony of the video - she thought he was kind of a mean guy making fun of bald men like that.  "I think he's making fun of men who make fun of bald men."


It's like I invented this guy or something - no, the only thing I did was buy the dvd and dance along to the video.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Day an Angel got Her Wings

A year ago to this day, the world lost a great lady.  I never met this lady, but I know all she did all she could do to survive.

I had heard about the ITV Spanish class in Oklee, and I knew they were looking for a long-term sub.  I assumed they had found someone.

It turns out, no one applied.

One day, as I was subbing in Red Lake Falls, I heard that Spanish class was going to be cancelled because their teacher was dying from a rare form of brain cancer.  It broke my heart for this woman.

When I got home, my phone rang.  A woman who used to sub for me in Fosston called to tell me I needed to call the  school about the Spanish job.

"You're what the school needs."

So, I called the principal and got the job.

Only, how does one rejoice in the job knowing there is a woman losing her battle to cancer?   I couldn't rejoice.  I had to accept my job with all humbleness.

A week after I accepted my position, the dear lost her battle.  I'm not sure how we made it through the day.  Some schools asked me to turn off the transmition while the students grieved privately.  Some schools kept their transmitions on and told me stories about their beloved teacher.  They made homemade cards and expressed their sympathy to her family and children.

I remember wondering how I found myself in front of this classroom and thinking it was an angel who led me there.

I think it's the same angel who gently reminds me that my sisters' prognosis is so hopeful and for this, I am thankful.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Homeward Bound

Missi and Nathan are on their way home for a week.  Dad is driving them home.  Missi is on her 82nd day after her transplant.  After a bonemarrow transplant, a patient usually stays 100 days within the area of where the procedure took place so the staff and doctors can closely monitor their patients.  These 100 days are the most crucial with the grafting of bone marrow of donor and patient - and most likely a patient will experience Graft v. Host setbacks.

It's a relief to know Missi is on her 82nd day - and know that the worst is probably behind us.  We didn't realize that marrow patients may experience Graft V. Host disease for the rest of their lives.  The story doesn't end after 100 days, and the happily ever after is a bit different than what we envisioned as little girls in flannal pajamas dreaming of our futures as our dad tucked us in at night. 

But, I guess there's a lesson in here somewhere. My spirit is a bit tired, but it's not defeated.  The seven month marathon of life without Missi will end - and our ideas of priorities will continue to change.  We'll be just so dang glad to be alive.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thinking on thinking.

My school year has been going pretty smoothly. Teaching Spanish has been an intellectual challenge that I adore.  I've decided that even though I adore my Spanish book - it's too difficult for most of my students.  They introduce things at step five and steps one through four will need to be addressed within my own "learning activities."

I have to sit and think about how my students think.  I have to recognize the hurdles they will have before they get to those hurdles.  Today, we are testing on our grammar portion of Chapter Two  - and well, I have a feeling that they haven't put the time into understanding the material.  Is this my fault?  Of course not.  I still feel the need to find a way to inspire that they study their notes a bit more -

I'm thinking on how they think - and how they learn -

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Best Medicine

It turns out that getting rid of cancer was the easy part for Missi.  The hardest part has been the last 73 days. Missi has bravely battled mucusitis having a nurse sit by her 24 hours a day to going legally blind over this past month.  Compared to the transplant, chemo was a breeze.

Missi's eyesight is slowly coming back, but she is still legally blind.  She wears special contacts to protect her eyes from the dried mucus that forms near her cornea.  When we visited her over fall break, I was surprised at how small she was and how my big sister was so vulnerable and needed us to constantly find her things for her.  Allison and Natalie led her around by the arm and warned her of steps and cracks.  We knew she was blind, but we didn't know what that meant.

Missi told me that it was ironic how she became blind for a month when she had always worried about my eyesight.  When I was a little girl, I almost lost my eyesight.  I wore a patch over my left eye to strengthen my right eye.  I remember how hard I worked to see out of that eye - and how I wanted to cheat and open the patch "to sneak a peak.'  I remember how tired the patch made me.

Now, Missi wears special contacts.  These contacts protect her eyes from any jagged spikes of mucus or debris and allow her to use her own eyesight.  Right now, she's at 20/60 in both eyes.  And well, that's really not so bad.

After much thought, Missi's doctor gave her a pass to come home for the weekend.  The time the doctor spent deciding was agony for her children.  I knew they miss their mom, but I never really put myself in their point of view.  How they must be frustrated with being bounced around from my house to grandma's house and their own home.

The best part is that Missi got to see it.  Missi got to see her home with her own eyes - a sight she hadn't seen for THREE MONTHS.  I could tell Missi's resolution to overcome her obstacles of "Graft v. Host" became stronger.  Being home and kissing her children good night was really was the best medicine.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Too Bad

It took me a while to figure this out - even as an adult! Even life though life isn't fair, it's beautiful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Thailand flood reaches Bangkok - The Big Picture -

Back in the Global Studies Days, in Red Lake Falls, we had about five students come from Thailand. When they got together and spoke in Thai, they produced some of the most amazing sounds.

I've been following some of their feeds on facebook the last few weeks, and it reminds me of the flood of 97 in Grand Forks. The flood water shown in these pictures bring a pit to my stomach. The flood water makes me feel nauseous.

And I know, it's nothing like Grand Forks. We had it so much better in Grand Forks. We had not lost any lives. They have lost 400.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lessons from Louie...

I learned some of the best life lessons at the pool as a young lifeguard.  I mostly learned those lessons from my boss, Louie.    When I started at the pool, I was a junior on my way to be a senior in high school - and well, I was super immature.

I remember my first day of work at the pool I had to leave early to talk to the school board. I knew that the pool was open until 8:45 and the school board meeting started at 8:30.  I told whomever it was I was speaking for that I would be late to the meeting because I had to work.  When the pool closed at 8:45, I told my boss, "Well gotta go to the school board meeting."

"WHAT?"  He was shocked - "We have clean-up to do.  The other guards are counting on you."

He let me go because somehow this meeting was "important," but I learned something that night - my coworkers count on me and not to let them down. 

Louie was also very cautious and made sure to point out to us every chance he got that we should always have our eyes on the pool.  He showed us ways do get down from our stands in the proper form - one guard standing at attention while the other guard got down from their post and then, the other guard standing at attention while the other guard got comfortable on the stand.  He would  watch us from the guard shack making sure we did it just right.

He hated it when we twirled our whistles.  "It looks arrogant.  I don't want that."  He was right.  It does look arrogant.

Also, many mornings Louie had us come to the pool early and practice our techniques and swim laps.  Over and over we drilled - he wanted it to be natural for us.

I was driving my mom and girls home from Rochester when I got the news that he died suddenly.  He was only forty.  He had a massive heart attack.  All week I've been thinking about everything I learned from Louie.   I'm sure I'll write more about my old-time boss and friend.  He was one of a kind and made a big impact on my life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Soul Mates

I like this.  It's mature.  I'm lucky enough to be with Jason for more than half my life - nineteen years and married fifteen...  I believe in soul mates, but I also believe in timing.  It turns out we had perfect timing.  There may be other soul mates in the world that would suit us fine, but we're happy right where we are - so we're not looking.

I think of friends who've had heartache and not spent their lives with their soul mates and were separated either by divorce or maybe even a hard break-up.  I hope their anger doesn't lessen the love they had shared.  It's probably hard to be as mature as Mr. Coehlo in this circumstance, but it's something to strive for anyways.

I like this guy, Mr. Coelho, he has a way of making everything beautiful, even hearbreak.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Letting Go

Once in Junior High, I had to break up with a friend.  I loved my friend with my whole heart - she was funny and pretty, and I loved our conversations. 

One day, I realized that I was starting to get angry with her.  It seemed as though I loved her a bit more than she loved me.  She didn't invite me to her parties unless I pouted, and it seemed when I walked up to her in a group of friends there would be a lot of eye rolling and whispers.

It hurt.  I decided to not be her friend.  I decided to spend time with the people who made room for me at their lunch table.  I made room in my life for the girls who smiled when I smiled at them.  There was no eye rolling.

I  never made a scene - I just quietly went my own way.

Another time, a friend decided to let me go - she went quietly too.  One day in class, she stopped speaking to me and would walk away when I approached her. Ouch - that hurt.  I wondered long and hard if I had done something to upset her - was I rude? Did she think I was talking behind her back?  Finally, I gave up and moved on.

Of course, this was junior high and these girls grew up to be mature, fabulous women who do good things in the world.  At the time, I protected my heart and moved on from my friendships to find later that the qualities of these women improved with age as my qualities have improved with age.  (hopefully)

And even now, there are friends I let slip through my hands. I know that my family's health crisis isn't the worst thing that has happened to anyone, but it is the hardest thing that has happened to me.  I've had some friends leave me or not return my calls as I've reached out to them.  It's very lonely and surprising.  Just like junior high, I found many other glorious friends who return my smiles and reach out to support me during my current struggles.

I see my daughters go through the same pain, and I tell them the stories of me letting those friends go.  I know it breaks their hearts to have someone they admire not return the affection, but we must protect our hearts - even if, it's just a little bit.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wedding

This weekend, our cousin was married.  One of our little baby cousins whose cheeks we pinched.  I was the  lady at the guestbook - Gnat and Al were with their cousins handing out candy and programs. And little baby Sabrina got married.

I'm not a wedding cryer - of course, I say this even though I cry at every wedding I go to...  So in fact, I cried a bit at the thought of my cousin and her big sister and little brother and how I remembered when they were all born and how sweet they are.

And, I cried again at the wedding dance during all the sappy dances - -  and laughed at the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey... and I smiled when I saw the light-hearted dancing of my daughters and nieces as the littlest one chased a boy around the dance floor.  I remembered those days when it was Missi and I at our aunt and uncle's wedding and we were the ones in matching dresses ripping holes in our tights - dancing the night away.

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Spot is Taken

 Remember the scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest gets on the bus the first time?  I could only find it in French.

Funny how bullying translates accross langugages - a translation is not necessary.

I wonder what gets it into kids' head that they can only sit by "cool" people or sit by their friends.  And then, I remember "Ohhh  that's right....  Adults do that, too!"

Have you ever went to a staff meeting and see ladies put purses on chairs next to them so their "besties" at work can sit next to them?  Or notice that there's one person sitting at one table and six at another table? 

Or how about ever you ever been asked to slide over so one person can sit next to another?  Seriously? 

I've been working on this - personally.   I've been pushing myself to move beyond my cliques at work and church.   I've been pointing out to kids when they're rude to each other in this respect.  I wonder if I will ever get the nerve to call out an adult with this behavior.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I love Homecoming at our school.  The seniors planned out the entire week and most of the decisions are left up to them.  These seniors have taken intuitive to make their homecoming memorable.

Yesterday, our day was shortened to half a day and the other half, we reported to the gym and played some fun games.  

The staff put together a collection of volleyball players and presented a challenge to the students.  Of course, the staff one fair and square (cough cough).  Of course, I was the cheerleader.  It's always good for a laugh to see the staff act silly, even just for an hour.  We got booed - but it was in good fun - it sort of reminded me of professional wrestling - we each had a role to play and the day ended in smiles.

After the first hour, the kids played games class against class.  It was fun to see them totally get involved in the games.  I don't think I saw one kid be excluded.  It was just nice to be together and smile at being us - at being the Mustangs and being the Rebels and being in the moment.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In the Meantime... People just don't talk about colons....

Mom  had been seen at Mayo and had a colonoscopy years ago.  She was told to have a colonoscopy every ten years.  What she didn't remember at the time was that her dad, who died of Aplastic Anemia when she was 13 had also had colon problems.  Because, evidentally, people just don't talk about colon problems. Was it cancer?  We have no idea.  Mom's mom had died nine years ago and wasn't here to remind or tell mom about grandpa's medical conditions.

If the doctor's had known this, I  think they would have taken my mom's complaints to heart, but it's hard to put together a puzzle when the pieces are misplaced.

My point is, of course, write down your family medical history - your children may need it one day.

Mom has had a difficult time adjusting to the bag.  Mom and dad had many mishaps with her "bag" along the way to Rochester or in Grand Forks.  She had to learn to help gas leak out of her bag before it would explode.  Did I say that?  Do I just confess one of my mom's most vulnerable,  horrible memories to an unknown amount of people?  Yes because she asked me to.

Mom and I drove down to Rochester in July.  On the way, mom looked down and saw she had a leak so we pulled over into the next gas station.  When she stood up, she saw that her bag had had a terrible leak - and she needed to change clothes.  I told her to rush in while I got the supplies.  We found our way into the handicapped stall and locked ourselves in.

Thank God there is such a thing as colostomy bags.  Truly Thank God - but at this moment I knew that I needed to be sure to take control of my own health.   I became more determined with my Food Revolution....  

As soon as mom was diagnosed with colon cancer, I started experiencing symptoms of colon cancer - and of course, a lot of the symptoms of colon cancer are symptoms of stress.  Nonetheless, we had a colonoscopy scheduled, and I was given the order to quit my Diet Coke Habit, lose some weight, exercise, and eat fiber as tolerated. 

After quitting Diet Coke, my symptoms went away, but I still had the colonoscopy.  I did have a polyp - but it's gone now - because I had the colonoscopy it isn't developing into cancer.  I will have another colonoscopy in five years.

I just pray that my readers will see this and know what my mom is going through and think about the fear of a colonoscopy and know that a colonoscopy is nothing - especially if they are experience some of the symptoms of colon cancer - the evening in the bathroom of your own home prepping is NO BIG DEAL compared to the afternoon in the bathroom that mom had on her way to Rochester.

Mom has reconstructive surgery scheduled on December 12th.  We pray that everything goes according to plan, and mom's ordeal will be in the past.

April Fools

The night of mom's surgery, Missi and I went to see her in the hospital.  Missi and I walked from the parking lot to mom's room.  I remember looking at Missi and thinking she looked odd.  I remember thinking how strange it was that Missi was huffing and puffing with the short walk we had just taken.  I wondered why she seemed so bloated and had a yellow tint to her skin.  I thought she looked like she had cancer.  We walked into mom's room, and I was shocked that mom seemed to have the same tint to her skin.  I half-wondered to myself if both these ladies had cancer and pooh poohed myself with the thought that I was imagining things.

Mom and dad learned how to change mom's bag and practiced it over and over.  Eventually, mom was moved into a private room and was shocked on April Fool's morning when her doctor came in and told her biopsy had shown cancer in what they had removed and two lymph nodes close to the intestine.

When mom had told us, we were in shock. It seemed like a horrible April Fool's joke.  Mom was diagnosed with Stage 2.5 Colon Cancer and told that she would have 12 treatments over the course of 6 months.  She would have to wait six weeks after chemo to have her reconstructive surgery.  Mom wouldn't have her surger until December.

Mom was in the hospital that day that Missi found out she had cancer.  Missi had a blood smear test and found that she had "blasts" in her blood.  (Blasts are white blood cells that develop immaturely and cause platelet and red blood cells to drop)  Missi's husband and she waited for dad, and they all told her together that Missi would be fighting the fight of her life, too.

We Really Want You to Know This

After a good month of painkillers, mom demanded  a CT Scan.  She knew something was horribly wrong.  Finally, she started packing to head down to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and told her doctors she wanted all of her paperwork to be sent to Rochester. 

At that time, the hospital in Grand Forks admitted her.  After her CT Scan, they found an infection in her colon and treated it with anti-bacterial IV drip.  Mom's pain wouldn't go away.  After a week, they gave her another CT scan and told her that she would need surgery to have part of her colon removed.

She was so scared and wanted to go to Mayo.  She thought they'd be able to cure her without the surgery.  The surgeon gave her the option of transferring but made it clear that she would be having surgery.

My mom had her surgery on a Monday.

When she woke up, she had a colostomy bag.  They told her they would re-attach her colon in a month's time.

It  turns out one's intestine could burst like appendix do. 

Mom was horrified.  She looked down to find a belt wrapped around her abdomen with a bag to collect her waste. 

We were just glad she wouldn't be in pain any more.

What We Want You to Know...

The past few weeks, I've been avoiding writing what I really wanted to write about.  I asked my mom if I could write everything I knew about her colon cancer, and she told me she wanted everyone she cared about to take care of themselves.  She couldn't bear the thought of anyone she loves or cares about going through what she is going through.

I've been avoiding writing about it because it's very personal to my mom and family, and let's face it, it's not very classy talking about intestinal function.  

Since Christmas time, my mom hadn't been feeling well.  A few years ago, she had lap-band surgery to try and lose weight.  She had lost weight but since had had some digestive issues.  Frequently over the past SEVERAL years, she had an upset stomach and over the years had been treated for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.   She had colonoscopies and nothing abnormal had been found.

The upset stomach intensified over the weeks after Christmas and between dad, Missi and me, there were several visits to the emergency room because of pain.  One Sunday morning, my mom called and begged me to bring her in to the emergency room.   I found a sub for my Sunday School class and headed out the door.  We spent the entire morning in the hospital.  At some point, the doctor asked us the doctor asked if we felt she needed a CT scan.  WE SHOULD HAVE SAID YES. I think I even said out loud;

"It's not like she has Colon Cancer or something."

He sent her home with pain medication.

I look back at this missed opportunity and cringe every time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


These last few months HAVE been difficult, but truthfully, it's pathetic that I don't have more sympathy for my mom and sister.  I've mostly been thinking about myself and how I feel sorry for myself.  What a num nutz.

  I hadn't put much thought into how much my sister must miss her husband and kids.  It should have been an obvious concern - but I'm pretty self-aborbed.

Also, I hadn't thought about how much pain she really is in.  I think about the swimmer's itch we had when I was eight and she was ten, and I can barely imagine what she's going through.  This evening, she told me she cried all day because she was in so much pain.

When I told her that the doctor  had she a set-back, she argued with me that that didn't mean she'd have to be there the full 100 days.  She wants to go home in sixty days.  I told her "Well, if the doctor says you can come home on November 1st, that's when you'll come home.  We won't argue with him."  She started crying again I'm not sure if it's because she was relieved or just because she missed her kids so much.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How does one do this avoiding suffering?

A History Without Suffering  

By E. A. Markham

In this poem there is no suffering.
It spans hundreds of years and records
no deaths, connecting when it can,
those moments where people are healthy
and happy, content to be alive. A Chapter,
maybe a Volume, shorn of violence
consists of an adult reading aimlessly.
This line is the length of a full life
smuggled in while no one was plotting
against a neighbour, except in jest.
Then, after a gap, comes Nellie. She
is in a drought-fisted field
 with a hoe. This is her twelfth year
on the land, and today her back
doesn’t hurt. Catechisms of self-pity
and of murder have declared a day’s truce
in the Civil War within her. So today,
we can bring Nellie, content with herself,
with the world, into our History.
For a day. In the next generation
we find a suitable subject camping
near the border of a divided country:
for a while no one knows how near. For these
few lines she is ours. But how about
the lovers? you ask, the freshly-washed
body close to yours; sounds, smells, tastes;
anticipation of the young, the edited memory
of the rest of us? How about thoughts
higher than their thinkers?...Yes, yes.
Give them half a line and a mass of footnotes:
they have their own privileged history,
like inherited income beside our husbandry.
We bring our History up to date
in a city like London: someone’s just paid
the mortgage, is free of guilt
and not dying of cancer; and going
past the news-stand, doesn’t see a headline
advertising torture. This is all
recommended reading, but in small doses.
It shows you can avoid suffering, if you try. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Advice for Us

I love this.  I will try to live up to this.  We all have the opportunity to choose to help in some way every day - we might as well do it with as much energy as we can muster.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To Be

We are studying the verb "ser".   To Be. 

The most important verb in any language -

Being - and what we choose to be.

This so happens to be the first verb I learned - and the first attempt of pushing kids from their simple phrases and alphabet and make a personal connection - to think of themselves other than in their small, American boxes. 

Now they can be in a bigger world. - They can be in another language - even if it requires even more thinking and work and pushing their brain in a different way than they ever thought possible. 

Last week, I told them all the important reasons why they need to know another language... and when they brought up college - I stopped pacing - and said

"I hope you don't learn Spanish because it looks good on a college application.  Learn Spanish because you'll use it for the rest of your life. Think beyond college.  Your life is more than four years of college - Learn anything because learning is good for you; not because some teacher told you to memorize it."

I'm not quit sure where that came from - but I'm glad it popped out when it did.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Second Scar

Last night during supper, I felt under my chin and was reminded of my second scar.  I had forgotten about it over the years.  I smiled and looked at the girls.

"Did you know I have a scar here?"  I lifted my head and pointed to the thin line.

They were surprised and shook their head "No"

I told them my story.

   "When Missi and I were young, Grandpa Moe remodeled our old, square, pink house.  He ripped out the carpet in the living room and replaced the floor boards with wood - you know the orange kind, speckles?"

They knew what I was talking about. 

"It was perfect for rollerskating.  I had those rollerskates that strapped on to my shoes and was rollering around the living room like nobody's business.  Only I wanted to go faster.  So I had Missi push me.  And she did.  And I fell.  The only thing I remember is the bang on my jaw and looking at it in the bathroom mirror with your aunt."

I don't remember how old I was but it was before the  dog bite. I don't remember actually getting the stitches or having stitches.  I just remember the feeling of the thud and the sound of my sister crying because "she" hurt me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

On Learning languages.

If you have a friend for a teacher, you might get asked a lot of questions.  When I knew I would be teaching Spanish again this fall, I asked my friends from high school and college how they learned another another language and how it benefited them.

I got a lot of interesting answers.  My friend, Dawn, let me include her response in my blog.  Dawn graduated a year behind me in high school.  We were both a part of "The Global Studies" experiment.  Our town took our old hospital building and made it into a dorm.  The first year and second years, there were about fifty students each year.  The first year, about fifteen kids came from Hong Kong.  The second year, about twenty students came from Mexico and Spain.  I, of course, was in the Spanish program.  Dawn was in the German program.  Our graduating classes would have had 50 students without exchange students, but with exchange students there were about 75.

Meet Dawn - Fellow Lafayette graduate and facebook friend.

Hi Bobbi!

I don't think I have anything out of the ordinary. How about getting a native speaker as a boyfriend/girlfriend? ;) Or living with a host family.

You just have to really surround yourself with native speakers, read books or magazines that you're interested, study those things, try out your new vocabulary every day, listen to the radio - tape segments of news or TV and replay them again and again. I've heard of students transcribing radio/tv segments first, and if they need help, get a native speaker to fill in the blanks.

focus on overall communication - listening, reading, speaking, writing. Go to the country if possible. And just talk your head off, don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't take mistakes personally. You're just learning something new.

When I taught ESL, I noticed the biggest improvements in the students had native friends, a host family, and who didn't care about mistakes.

When I was in Germany, there was a young man (30s?) who didn't know really a LICK of German, he went as a part of his business training. I spoke pretty well out of our group - most thought that I was a foreigner but couldn't pin the slight accent. But by the end, this guy had far surpassed me (embarrassingly so, because I was quieter and didn't reach out as much). He had a lot of drive, native friends, took more challenging classes, studied all the time. Your level of devotion will give fruit to the outcome.


In my fourth year of teaching, I've realized that I've had 340 students and 460 with the students who I taught in Student Teaching.  I never thought of the number until tonight.  Wow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How does a Poem Pick You?

I am convinced that I need to dig into more Latin American/Spanish Poets this year for my Spanish classes.  I miss poetry in my classroom so much. 

My favorite days were when we studied for Poetry Out Loud.  Ok ok - I hated having to listen to my students whining about having to study poetry, but I was always rewarded in the final days of the program when students would recite their poetry.  

Students always found the best poems.  I remember the first time I heard this poem; I loved it.  

Sadie and Maud 


By Gwendolyn Brooks

Maud went to college.   
Sadie stayed at home.   
Sadie scraped life
With a fine-tooth comb.

She didn’t leave a tangle in.   
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chits   
In all the land.

Sadie bore two babies   
Under her maiden name.   
Maud and Ma and Papa   
Nearly died of shame.

When Sadie said her last so-long   
Her girls struck out from home.   
(Sadie had left as heritage
Her fine-tooth comb.)

Maud, who went to college,   
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.

I wondered how my student picked this poem to recite.  She never told me why she chose this poem to share with the other 8th graders in 6th period.  But, she picked it - and that added a layer to my enjoyment of the poem.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

On Giving Your All

This reminds me of a video our principal shared with us the first teacher day back.

He stated it was the theme of our school year - every single one of us giving 100%.  I'm so glad I work with colleagues who get pumped by this stuff.  People who want to better themselves everyday. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

An International Gift

Somewhere out in this world is a twenty-six year old male who had a thought that he could do something to make the world a better place.

Maybe he nonchalantly thought he would put his DNA in the database thinking he'd never be a match.  

And one day, he received a letter that he was a potential match.  They asked him if he would be willing to go through further testing, and willingly he went into his local clinic and had them send a blood sample for more testing. 

And they found he was the perfect match to a thirty-nine year old female living in the United States.

And so, willingly, he went to get more testing and shots to  build up his stem cells.

And at this very moment those stem cells are being harvested to go across the world to a woman whom he never even met.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Mindset List

Every year since 1998, Beloit College has created the Mindset List - to remind educators how different young adult's mindset is compared to ours.  Our principal sent this link out this morning.  I thought I'd share!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Facing a Nightmare

For the past four months, we have been fighting our own war for both my sister's and mother's lives.  Each battle has been in our favor so far.  I am so grateful for that.

A little over a week ago, my husband sent me  a link.  A young father, who is a soldier, lost his life in Afghanistan.  I saw his name and realized it was the older brother of a past student in Fosston.  It took my breath away realizing our biggest fear had come true for them - they had lost a their sibling, their son, their father, and a husband. They were facing my nightmares -

I always liked this family.  I sat with this soldier's parents one evening on a fan bus.  They were some of the nicest people I ever met.  I really enjoyed their son in my classroom, and I loved hearing their stories of their family.  Just real home spun people - - very modest and knew what was important in life to them - family, hobbies, God, and travel.  I talked so much to them I nearly wore myself out from all my laughter.

In a T.V. interview, the soldier's dad said that he was sad to lose his son, but he knew where his son is now, and that was a comfort, but he felt so bad that his grandchildren lost their father.  I get that.

Great Lesson Idea part 2 - The time-travel ad by John Silveira Issue #125

After students wrote their own journal entries, letters, short stories, or what have you, I would share the real story behind the ad. I would also ask them to write another journal based on the real story - a reaction or another short story. John Silveira has created a 13 year journey of imagination with those few lines - and according to him - the mullet does not even belong to him some guy added his picture to the ad claiming it was him - oh - geez.

John Silviera even signed a movie contract based on this small writing - and oh -I have high hopes for this movie!

Here is the real story - I hope you are inspired like I am.

The time-travel ad by John Silveira Issue #125

Monday, August 22, 2011

Great Assignment - Part 1

This ad has made the rounds over the internet quite a few times - but I think it has all kinds of possibilities for creative writing assignments and journal entries.  A student could write a response to the ad saying why they would want to time travel - or they  could write an imagined background for the writer of the ad.  Or - they could write a science fiction short story based on this ad. 

I'm sure other teachers have found this and thought of this before - I hope so!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Missi's Little Shadow!

Mykayla loved Missi's black hat with the pink flower.  For some reason, I really love that!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ha - Maybe we'll get all of our reporting from Comedy Central

Say what you want about whatever candidate - I think we have to take a closer look at our sources and their accuracy along with their priorities of omission.

Social Studies and English teachers will have lots of fodder for assignments on propaganda and accuracy for the next year and a half.  We'll have to challenge our students to find the truth and weed through agendas.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Brief Homecoming.

 Missi came home!  Even if for just a brief while, she got sit with her babies and watch a movie in her own house.s  She was able to see the changed we made throughout her house.  She was able to buy tennis shoes with the girls for school. 
Of course, she won't be there for Ethan's football games this fall or Mykayla's first day of Kindergarten. And I know she wants to be sure Mariah's hair is de-tangled.  I know that hurts for her, and I seem to forget that all the time. I forget until it's time to leave and how hard it is to leave.  

I have to keep reminding myself that Missi will be here for Mykayla's graduation, Mariah's softball games, and Ethan's golf meets. 

When Missi came home, she had Mark drive her around town.  She reported to me every house that was for sale - and noticed any additions any of her neighbors had made.  I hadn't noticed. I hadn't realized how much Missi missed the town.  Our town is such a pretty little town, and you wouldn't believe the colors in the fall.  I guess I would miss the town too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Say Goodbye to No Child Left Behind.

School starts in twenty-five days. Because of the state shutdown, many school districts will know if they met AYP or not until sometime  in September.

I roll my eyes at this.  Our district deadlines have all been followed precisely.  The government shut-down was three weeks, so why should the state have an extra month to give the results to districts?  Are these tests all that hard to grade?  I don't get why the results  aren't available at the end of the school year.

A week ago, Arne Duncan announced a waiver program releasing the states from some of the requirements  from NCLB.  Mark Dayton announced immediately that Minnesota would apply for one of these waivers immediately.  Details of these waivers won't be available until September. 

What else happens in September?  Oh that's right.  School starts.  We should already have a plan on how to best serve our little darlings. 

Educators state-wide are cheering Dayton everywhere, and I've always been happy with Dayton's stance against No Child Left Behind since he was a senator back in the early 2000's.  But I want more from Dayton.  I want a complete thumb to nose to Arne Duncan - I want the state of Minnesota to stand up to the federal government and say what Dayton is really thinking...

No Child Left Behind is not good for our kids.  No Child Left Behind is not good for our schools.

Kids spend more time testing yearly than teachers, accountants, med students, and lawyers.  Of course, I have no idea how much time is used in each classroom across the state preparing students for these tests.  We are spending too much time worrying about kids' test scores rather than things that really matter.

Throughout the districts of which I taught, many students are in the red - Their basic needs are not even being met.  Students come to school hungry, and thankfully, the breakfast program helps with this.  The fact is that many parents can't even afford to feed their children breakfast, and that says a lot right there.  I remember one school district I taught in an 18 year old stayed in an abandoned farm house and would come to town early to shower at a friend's house.  I never realized how many homeless young adults there are.  How many sixteen-year-olds hop from one friend's house to another's. 

In another class, Maybe, a girl told me that she had been raped. Maybe another girl tells me she didn't make it to school because she was taking care of a her mother who had a hangover.   Maybe there's a kids in the corner with a new black and blue mark they can't explain.  In that same class, there's probably a kid or four who has ADD.  Maybe there's three kids who have a reading disorder or two.

All the while No Child Left Behind is pushing for results, district budgets call for bigger class sizes.  Which means all these kids are in the same classroom learning how to prepare for a test that is virtually meaningless to them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Education Rethink: A Note To Myself As a First-Year Teacher

Love this!

Education Rethink: A Note To Myself As a First-Year Teacher: "The following is a note I'm writing back to myself before entering my first year of teaching. This might be a bit cheesy, but I do this eve..."

I'm Using This! - Something that Doesn't Matter

 A young girl  posted this picture on facebook.  I poked around on the internet and found that this was an actual photo of an actual CNN news story.

I see this as a perfect springboard to many classroom assignments.

Journals -

Are Americans Superficial?
What is newsworthy?

Comparison/Contrast Papers -

Compare news stories from previous decades to now.
Compare and contrast different news organizations.
Compare and contrast what different chip bags and their noisiness (ha just kidding - CNN has already done that for us.)

I'm sure this just begins to cover what we could do with news stories like this - I'd like my students to bring in pictures and news articles like this so we could make fun of them - I think it's a lesson on priorities and what's important in life.   What should we focus on?  What do we prioritize? 

And also,  it's good to see someone young be critical of superficial priorities, isn't it?  Yay girl - you bring me hope.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Good News for Teachers

Wowwieee  facebook !  Thanks for making teaching look a real professional career choice!  Imagine this guy teaching your 15 year old.  Nice hickey teach!

When I saw this add on facebook,  I thought "Shazaam  Golly~! I'd better go and get my Master's in Education."

Which think about it... Master's in Education.....  Master is in education?  Master owns education?  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Time Travel

I had a rough morning yesterday.  Ethan's insulin pump was acting up and he was running very high.  He was lying low while the girls and I cleaned like crazy.  After lunch, my mom took the Peterson girls to the dentist.

My windows in my room were open.  The humidity had finally dropped to 43%, and the breeze was amazing. I decided to lie down on my bed and close my eyes for just a few minutes.

I was totally relaxed.  Suddenly, the sounds from outside reminded me of the when I'd lay down for a nap back when I was a kid.  The smell of a house being tidied up.  Cars driving by,  birds chirping, and squirrels arguing.  I felt like I was five. - Before ever having a job, children, having a spouse, or ever having to worry about other people's medical health.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Looking Out for Each Other.

This weekend, mom and I are taking Missi's son - her oldest to see her down in Rochester.  Ethan has had to put up with a lot this summer.  First of all, he misses his mom.  He worries about her a lot.  And this world has been put upside down while his aunt (me) has been on his case constantly with his diabetes.  Also, I've been giving his house an extreme makeover to prepare for the sterile environment his mom will need when she gets home.  He's watched me throw out so many of his family's personal belongings.  It ain't easy being E.

A week and a half ago, my doctor recommended me not drinking Diet Coke. I've loved my Diet Coke habit for the past awww  ? 22 years?  I knew with all the health issues in my family that I'd have to give up drinking pop, so when the gastroentoeolgist recommended I quit Diet Coke, I agreed.

The next day, I was going to buy a Diet Coke - to slowly taper off my habit.  Ethan was with me..

"What are you doing?" 

"I'm buying a Diet Coke."

"uh uh uh uhhhhh....." he shook his finger at me.  He was insistant.

So, I bought some water instead - because sometimes I'm an idiot who buys water in plastic bottles.

Yesterday, Ethan stopped me as I was putting some garbage away. 

"Bobbi ?  When we go to Rochester, and I'm mad at you - could you not ask me to check my blood sugar?"

At first, I looked at him like he was crazy - because most of the time when he's owly it's because there's an issue with his blood sugar.  But then, I got it.  Sometimes, people need to be respected.  Sometimes, he must be mad that his anger is only perceived as a blood sugar issue rather than something he might have a right to be angry for. 

"Well, Ethan, I get it. Sometimes, you have a right to be angry.  What do I do if I'm really worried about you?   If there seems to be a reason you are angry with me, and it seems unreasonable, is it okay if I ask you if you think you should check your blood sugar?"


I guess he thought he won there.


Minnesota Fabrics

I have to tell you that this weekend - the 2011 Minnesota Fabrics have been release for sale - for ladies like me, to buy.

Ok ok - I admit - I don't like all the fabrics included in this batch - some of them look like those ugly couches from the early 80s -

but some of them are So gorgeous.

Love these - and they are totally random together - so what would I even do with these fabrics?  I have no idea.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Class Reunions

Aaaahhh Penelope Trunk - she got me thinking about gossip in her her latest blog post How to See the Need for Change.  She said that her friend created a chart to understand the gossip of her new Small Town in Wisconsin.

My sister's class had their twenty year reunion this past weekend - and woo wee did the gossip spill all on over facebook.  Oooooo.  Juicy stuff.  But of course, I can't tell you about it.

Unless - well - you happen to invite one of the classmates to dinner - because then, well, see you'd have to have a clue in what not to say since a lot of people around here are related.

One thing I found is that I say the wrong thing all the time.  So - then, I may tell you so you don't have to put your foot in your mouth - see where this takes me?

Luckily, our class doesn't have gossip like that.  We're perfect angels.  Just you wait and see.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Confirmed Truth

The other day I was having a conversation with my mom about rumors and gossip and their differences.

She defined gossip as "nontruths or rumors."   I define gossip as "anything you don't want the person you're talking about hearing what you just said about them."

"Whaatttt?  That's not gossip - if it's true Bobbi, it's not gossip - it's just sharing what you know - it's sharing knowledge."

Now, of course, mom doesn't think all knowledge needs to be repeated...  some knowledge can be kept to herself.  Mom won't go and repeat who is sleeping with whom with just anyone.  She's just saying that if it's true it's not gossiping.  I'm saying if you're repeating something that someone wouldn't want you to repeat then, well, that's gossiping.

This becomes my moral dilemna.  I'm a story teller by nature.  There's some mighty fine interesting stories out there - and well, there's some mighty fine stories that have come my way. The reporter I am makes me want to tell the story and make sure everyone knows how juicy it is - 

I've decided to button my lips.

It's not easy I'm tellin' ya - it's not easy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Even Rows

I wish wish wish I was a better quilter - I'm bringing this quilt with me to quilt club tonight - and well - it has uneven rows.  I don't mind the Xs and squares being crazy - they're supposed to be somewhat crazy - it's just my sashing and posts -  oh dear!

It'll take lots of time for an imperfect girl like me to sew in straight rows. 

I had sewn the bottem blocks together and feel frustrated with the posts Part of me wants to just finish it up and not worry about those imperfections - the other part of me stares at those squares and knows they're not right. 

I'll have to bring it to quilt class tonight and ask for advice on how to keep my rows straight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The past few days Missi has been the sickest ever. It's hard to think that we're seven hours away - but it's comforting to know that Nathan is with her.   At least someone is there washing her clothes and making sure she has everything she needs.  Of course, I tell the kids their mom is back in the hospital.  We go about our usual day in the calmest way possible.  I know they worry.

"They are keeping a close eye on mom."  I usually sneak a hug or two when they least expect it.  They pretend it's annoying - but I know they need at least their momma's baby sister to give them a hug.

One day I'll come across this blog post and remember - there were hard days with cancer.  Missi had made it look so easy.  She is bound to have some setbacks.

In early April, I took Missi in for a bone marrow biopsy.  The night before the appointment I kept having nightmares that I was taking Missi in for a bone marrow biopsy.  I'd wake up relieved it was a dream - and then, realize it was real....

There are times I have worse nightmares - and I remember my sister is strong, I say the Lord's Prayer, and I have a peaceful rest.

I wonder if Picasso would have passed the MCAs

Having a diagnosis of dyslexia in hand, doesn't automatically qualify a kid for Special Ed.  As a mandate of Minnesota law, students must be tested within the school district despite a diagnosis from a medical doctor in order to qualify for Special Education.  According to Minnesota Statutes, language has to be severely impaired to qualify for special services.  Allie's language skills are not severely impaired - they are only mildly impaired.

The good news is that Allie qualifies for Title 1.  I really like the Title teacher at our school.  Although a lot of his time is devoted to helping kids "pass the test."  He reads books with the kids and actively talks them through the reading process.  Last spring, Allie came home with the Stink series.  A lot of times, a child will get hooked with reading if they find a series they enjoy.  Harry Potter, Junie B. Jones, Stink, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson, Little House on the Prairie, and even the Twilight Series have done amazing things for young readers. 

After months of worrying if she was falling behind, I'm convinced I was more worried about her not passing the MCAs.  What I was a young reader, I never did well on standardized tests.  I  never understood the questions they asked of me.  I can see my own daughter having the same problems I experienced.  The major difference is the pressure placed on the teachers.

When I was in second grade, I had a hard time reading and often felt lost in the classroom.  Mrs. M, my beloved second grade teacher, had the luxury of inspiring me to want to read and not have to push me beyond my abilities.    Allie's teachers wanted to encourage her to read and inspire her to be the best she can be - but there was always an undercurrent of worry in our parent teacher conferences. 

School didn't "click" for me until I was in 9th grade.  I coasted by with Cs and Ds.  I still remember the first time I got on the B honor roll and never dreamed I ever would get on the A honor roll.  - and then, I did.

I have spent a lot of time writing about how I hate standardized testing.  As a teacher, I'm not fond of tracking students by their test score strands and seeing a score by their names.  As a young student, my teachers had the luxury of not having to watch me every step of the way.  Allie's teachers have to worry about her test score because it comes down to their reputation.  They don't have the luxury of stepping back - they have to hound her until they're comfortable with her abilities.  Unfortunately, that might take a while.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


"forgive everyone for your own sins and be sure to tell them you love them which you do"
Jack Kerouac

I think I have a grudge or two.  I'd try and think of what they were - but then, would that be helpful - would it give me a loving heart?  I'm not sure.  I think I should pray to let go of a grudge and feel forgiveness in my heart instead of caring the burden of a grudge.

I thought I had a grudge on some of the school bullies from high school - but I found that those same men, who were boys who made fun of me and my sister, were sending balloons to my sister in her hospital room or even visiting her when they were in town.  Those men were no longer boys.  They had grown up.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Norwegian Muffins

For the past ten years, I've been making Norwegian Muffins. My girls loved them.  Until one day, they decided they didn't like Norwegian Muffins.  It shouldn't have  mattered  so much to me, but it did.  This was one of my mainstays.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make Norwegian Muffins but couldn't find any muffin tins.

Is there a muffin tin thief?

So, I made it into a quick bread and called it Friendship Bread.

And wowie!  We were in business! Friendship Bread is the best thing EVA!

"Mom, when are you going to make Friendship Bread?"

So- here's the recipe

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
(whip until creamy)
Add 1 stick melted butter
(whip it up)
 Take 1 1/2 cup flour and mix it up with 1 tsp baking powder
add alternatively with 3/4 cup milk.

Before you bake, sprinkle cinnamon  and sugar on top.

Bake for 20 minutes for muffins.

I forgot how long I baked it for the bread.  Oh dear. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

While You Were Out.

I made a video and placed it on youtube for Missi to see.  We've been busy preparing Missi's home for her return - we're still waiting to find out when that will be and for how long.  But at least she's strong.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cool Stuff

Last week, Jason and I brought Allison, Mariah, and Mykayla to pick up Natalie at Lake of the Woods Bible Camp near Baudette.  It's a three hour drive.  It's long.

I love when the girls chatter.  I love to hear some of their ideas and singing.  All of the sudden, we heard

"Cool stuff!"  Mariah pointed to a lonely tree in a field.

"That is cool." Allie agreed.

"Cool Stuff!" Allie pointed to a field of mustard.  "Look at all those danelions!"

"Whooaaa"  Mariah agreed.  "Cool stuff."

We loved it.  Sometimes the kids surprise us.  We think they only want the expensive toy or to watch movies in the back of the mini-van, and here they were, finding such joy in such simple treasures.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pink Houses for You and Me

We were the girls who lived in the pink house -
across from the high school.
We ate homemade Popsicles
made from Kool-Aid
and came home for lunch
when the church bells rang.

We climbed trees in the neighborhood
and scraped our knees on our bikes.
Everyday was an adventure -
but it has to be if your the type
of girl who lives in a
pink house.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Allie's Mom Does Not Have Cancer

Since my mom and sister have been diagnosed with cancer, my Allie has been worried about me. 

"Mom, do you have cancer?" 


When I'm sitting next to her on the couch, she'll grab my face and look under the bags under my eyes to look for yellow - and then, look under my tongue.  She heard one of the ladies at church tell me that a lot of doctors could look for those signs to detect cancer.

"Mom, I couldn't handle you being away from me like Missi.  Please, don't get cancer."

It breaks my heart.

I promised Allison that I would monitor my blood levels so they could determine if I ever get cancer - and I would get a,  *cough,* colonoscopy as soon as my insurance permitted.  I also promised I would eat lots of fiber.

Allie has been writing letters to her aunt - most of them too heartbreaking to even want to send to Missi.

"When will you come home?"

a big


I've noticed a new game in the sun room.  It's called "MAYO CLINIC."  In this game, Allison and Mariah, (Missi's youngest) are doing their best to diagnose Mykayla, (Missi's youngest).

The've made checklists just like doctors and nurses have

Temp - 99.5
Heart - good
blood sugars - 124
poop- brown
Belly - hurts, tickles, hurts, tickle, tickle tickle, hurt
Under tongue - white
eyes, - white

And they've checked her over and over every three hours.

The two come to me and look under my eye bags, and then, again under my tongue and keep trying to really believe that Allie's mom does not have cancer.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Day in The Park

This weekend, we took our Girl Scout troop to Itasca State Park to do some hiking.  I didn't expect to have as much fun as we did.  The girls' excitement sparked a love for the park. 

We saw lady slippers - oh lady slippers.  I told them The Legend of the Lady Slippers.  The girls were amazed at the story of the young heroine.

The Large White Pine captivated their imagination.  I didn't remember the Wigwam Ruins.  I didn't remember the Forestry Tower - I don't remember climbing it as a kid. 

I bet these girls will remember the green of the Minnesota Forest - the cramps they got when they walked too far and didn't drink enough water - the big foot print they saw with their friends.   They'll probably remember me singing to some of them when they were scared to walk down the stairs of the tower.

We decided to come come back the next year and rent some bikes - and of course, drink more water.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Choosing What Matters--

When I grade papers, I always like to grade kids on an easy rubric for them to understand.  I use something from the 6 + Traits of Writing.  I like the well-rounded way of grading - and it's easy to use.  As a student, I always like to know how teachers grade - what they expect from me.  As a teacher, I've always tried to incorporate this into my grading - I want students to write and write well - but I want them to know that their ideas are important to me.  If they get a C-, it isn't because I don't think they're smart.  It's because they don't proofread!

In case you're wondering, these are the Six Traits

Ideas, the main message;

Organization, the internal structure of the piece;

Voice, the personal tone and flavor of the author's message;

•Word Choice, the vocabulary a writer chooses to convey meaning;

Sentence Fluency, the rhythm and flow of the language;

Conventions, the mechanical correctness;

•and Presentation, how the writing actually looks on the page.

from -

Each trait is given 5 points- and description on what 5 points looks like for each trait, what 4 points look like, and so on....   Uusually, I don't have a lot of questions on why the student got a 33 out of 35.  It's pretty clear cut and non-emotional.  I want kids to see What Matters - It needs to be clear cut.  Kids can't guess. 

A lot of kids take the grades on their papers very personally.  I like to take time for them to understand that I appreciate them opening up their hearts to me.  I want them to know that I think they have amazing potential.  Some kids don't open up to me - and that's ok - but they may not have a very high mark on their "ideas or voice" - and that's ok - they can still get an A-. 

I actually miss grading papers.  I will have my Spanish students write more this fall - I can use this rubric for them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Choosing What Matters

Of course, now that I'm pushing healthy on my kids.  I notice all the candy everywhere - and how darn hard it is to find healthy things on the road.  I pack a lot of snacks. 

Our staples include -

cheese strings
ham sandwiches
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Much to the kids' disappointment these are never included in my snack bag -

rice crispy bars
Little Debbie Snacks
Apple Pie
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hershey Bars

Last night, Missi's youngest celebrated her fifth birthday.  I made sure they saved their unhealthy snack for cake - they really thought I was cruel.

A lot of  other parents probably think I'm crazy, but I think they are crazy.  Really, pop tarts for breakfast?  Really?  Really?

 I'm having trouble watching the junk food being stuffed into faces... and the excuses -

"Oh we're on vacation  - one little treat doesn't matter."  Down goes the super size Dairy Queeen Blizzard....

Oh dear.

I have to remember that I'm new at this - I'm a born-again-nutritionist.  I have to have patience for those who aren't on the same page as me - and keep pushing my own family to choose what really matters.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to Teach so They Pass the Big Test

Last year, I taught a reading class at the ALC in Thief River Falls....  I tried to teach the kids how to love reading.  I ended up teaching the kids that they NEED reading.  I ended up giving them lots of pointers on how to thnk in the box instead of outside of the box.

Most of the time, the kids who aren't passing these tests are the kids who don't think like anyone else.  They see bull when it's in front of them.  They never danced for the camera - they'll never dance for the camera.  They know standardized tests don't show their potential, and they're only made to make a test making company rich.  A lot of these kids don't have the background knowledge other kids have in test-taking.  This makes taking a standardized test for lower income students ten times harder.

Here are some tips I gave students about taking the MCAs.

1.  The passages on the test are boring.  They are not going to put passages on the MCAs about your favorite band.  Sorry -

2.  Because the passages on the test are boring - you're either going to have to make a personal reason to read the passage or fake a reason.

3.  They will always need read for any job or any schooling they take for whatever reason.   - and they will need to read passages that are boring.  Sorrrrryyyyyyyyy.

4.  Different groups will tell you that the answers are clear cut.  SORRRRRRRRRRRRRRy  they aren't.  You need to find ways to think like a test preparer.  WWTPD  (What Would a Test Preparer DO?)

5.  Again, fake interest in what you are reading. REALLLLLLLLLLLLY pretend you like that Emily Dickinson poem because Cee Lo Green's lyrics are not on this test.

6.  Take your time.  Re-read.  Think of the test as a manual to put together the most awesome computer ever.  Go back to the passage over and over.  If you don't get the question, move on and come back to it later.

7.  Ask yourself questions about the material at hand - if the material is about how to make maple syrup - ask yourself "I wonder how much sap will make syrup?"  Even if you don't care.  Questioning is the only way to learn material.

Tips for teachers;

1.  Find things they won't be remotely interested in reading.  (Since this is exactly what test preparers do)

2.  Give the kids a purpose to reading the article - "We are going to read this article about making maple - I need you to find these vocabulary words (blah, blink, and blue) and define them. 

2.  Read the article together, model the way your brain works while you read - how do you question yourself. "I'm really wondering what type of trees maple syrup comes from?"  "Oh - it's maple trees - oh hehehe"

3.  Tell the kids about times you had to read to get information to do things you didn't know how to do.   Like maybe --- let's say you had to read up on how to make an awesome patio for your wife - how did you read to get the information - and was it enjoyable - naw - but it was necessary. "How will I make this incredible patio for my loving wife?  Will I need lots of patio rock?"

4.  Good readers do these things automatically.  Struggling readers need to be taught directly how to re-read. 

5.  Most teachers are good readers already - this is why it's important for us to slow down and figure out how our brain finds the answers.

Reading class is mostly about re-reading and emphasizing to students to slow down. 

Some awesome resources for articles we think are interesting but students probably won't. (there's an article on maple syrup in here.)