Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Thinking of you, Harry

As a young child, my family had friends that Mom and Dad enjoyed doing this with. It seemed that every weekend we would spend an evening with them. They would come to our house, or we would go to theirs. The parents would play board games or shuffle board or croquet. The kids would watch or go off to play games of their own, like hide and seek or ball toss or something new one of us had dreamed up. My sister and I were about the same age as their two oldest boys. We were close friends.

One of my favorite memories is of when I was about twelve. We would go to their house on a Saturday evening. Dad would say: "Go get your money if you want to drive that car." We would hurry to our piggy banks We would each grab a quarter. That was how much a gallon of gas cost. We had to pay for the gas we would be using.

All four of us would get in the old car situated in the field beside their house. When it was my sister's turn to drive, she would sit on Leslie's lap because she was too little to reach the peddles...brakes and gas. We would each take a turn driving that car around the outside "track".  That's where I learned to drive.

Harry and Lois were as much a part of my growing up years as my parents and grandparents were. They were part of the person I have become.

Now, the hard part. Harry turned 89 today. He is in the hospital fighting for his life. As his daughter-in-law said today. He is ready to go, but we aren't ready to let him. He is an inspiration to all of us. We love him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as he travels this last journey.

Happy Birthday, Harry.  We love you!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Celebration Saturday: Memorial Day Memories

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 As we get ready to celebrate Memorial Day, I am celebrating those who came before me in a way they taught me. Every year my mother, grandmother and sometimes my aunt would gather at my grandmother's home and organize flowers.  We would pick peonies from Grandmas bushes. We would go to Aunt Reita's and pick irises. We would also find some lilacs to add to the bunches.  We had saved large juice cans for weeks to hold the various groupings. Each bouquet looked amazing! Then we would take off in cars for the cemeteries where our loved ones were buried.
Today we made those same trips. This time I did not have live flowers, but I did the next best thing. I chose flowers that I thought would look the best in bouquets. We drove from cemetery to cemetery decorating the graves.
Our first stop was at the Alden cemetery which is near the church we used to attend. The graves are of people I knew. This is where my parents' grave is located. I usually get wreaths that have Mom and Dad on them. The church always loads all the kids on a wagon and drives them just up the road to the cemetery on Sunday after church. The children are each given a flag and flower to put on the graves of soldiers. That is why we always spend Saturday decorating the graves. We want them to look nice for the visitors.
We also travel to Butler to the cemetery there to put flowers on my grandparents' grave. This time my cousin had already been there with flowers, but we just added to it. We had individual flowers this time. I wanted a red, white, and blue theme, so that's what I bought. The town celebrates Memorial Day with a parade on Monday, so again, I wanted it to look nice.
Also at this cemetery is my uncle. He has a grave close to the entrance and we can always find it. I know my cousin, his son will put something on his grave, but I like to do something, too. This is our last stop of the day. Each time we stop we get the gallons of water and a brush out of the trunk. My husband cleans off the moss or the dirt so the stones shine.

This is our celebration for Saturday. A way to remember those who mean so much to us. A time to think back on old memories and keep the flame alive. I love this tradition!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: It's All About Memories

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Our memories are all we have at the end of the day. Our slices of life are made up of three parts: Anticipation, Event, Memory. We look forward to a happening. The event actually happens. We then have our memory. The anticipation is short lived. We plan for it, prepare for it and maybe even worry about it. The event also seems short. We have waited and waited for it to happen, but the time goes way too fast and it is over. But we have the memory for a long, long time! That's why I believe in taking pictures and writing!

Today I was living the event. I anticipated it for several days. We did a lot of planning yesterday. We did our prep work and did the research to be ready. There were no worries. Now we are left with the memories.
We got up early enough to catch the trolley and headed to Sea World just up the street. It was an amazing day! I had my camera out snapping pictures as I experienced this wonderful event.  We were able to fit in four shows, plus a lunch watching sharks swim in a huge aquarium right in front of us as we ate. We watched sea turtles and stingrays eat breakfast. Now comes the memory-writing to save the day.
As we sat and ordered our meal, we were distracted by watching the sharks. Our waiter, DJ, was fabulous. When we told him how much we enjoyed him, he said, "I love my job!"
We went to the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin exhibit and saw up close these adorable penguins above and below the water. However, I think my favorite show was One Ocean featuring Shamu. It inspired everyone in attendance. We also saw Blue Horizons, a dolphin theatrical performance. Then there was the Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island. We enjoyed the sea lions, but also the antics of the three human characters in the show. 
When we first got into the park, I saw this sign. I had to take a picture of it. The teacher in me came out. Where is my red pen?  Also, while in line to get reservations for our lunch, the cashiers would call the next person in line to come up to get help. We were at the end of a relatively short line. One of the cashiers was ready for the next person to help, but the man who should come next was not paying attention. He was talking and talking and talking!  I could take it no longer. I leaned out of line and shouted at the man: "Sir!  Go!" and pointed to the cashier. A girl in front of us turned and said, "Thank you!"  I said, "Sure, I'm a teacher!"


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday Clelbration: The Dave-Sitters

 One of the best parts of being retired is being able to travel whenever we want. We received an invitation from a major hotel group inviting us to spend five days and four nights in a resort in Florida.  It was at a much cheaper rate. We decided to check it out. Yes, the price was correct. So we made reservations for later in the spring.

The time for that trip is getting closer. We have lots of things to do to plan and get ready. One of the main things we do is contact our Dave-Sitter to see if she is available. Molly has been coming to our house and watching over Dave since he was just a puppy. Dave now is almost excited to see us go so he can have some Molly time!
The last time we went away, Molly took him for a ride to the Farm Store in town. He isn't a big fan of riding, so that was not fun for him.  But going to the store was a real treat. He loves people and isn't afraid of new places. To top it off, he got to pick out his own toy to bring home!  He loves that toy! He loves Molly.

Many times, Molly brings her niece with her. Jayden is eight years old and she is a big help with Dave. I think Dave feels that Jayden is his personal playmate! They do all kinds of things. She plays games with him, cuddles with him and even sleeps with him. I think Dave is ready to celebrate just thinking about having Molly and Jayden spent some time with him!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday Celebration: Happy Birthday, Grandma!

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For my Saturday Celebration today, I want to celebrate the birthday of my grandmother. Even though she has been gone for fifty years, the impact of her life lives on and on and on.. For the first four years of my life, my mom and I lived with her and grandpa. She was my full time babysitter 
I still remember the times she would tell us we could not go to the park behind her house because we would get dirty. Actually, the whole park was one big dirt pile with various pieces of equipment scattered around. We ALWAYS came home dirty!
She made the best hamburgers. When she would ask all  of us grand kids what we wanted for lunch, we would always shout: "Hamburgers!"  She told the best "Joanie" stories.  My oldest girl cousin just seemed to always be doing something funny and Grandma would remember, telling the story with details! She taught my first Sunday School class and all the kids in the class called her Grandma, too. 
Now that I am a grandmother myself, my goal is to try to be as good a grandmother as she was. I love you so much still today, Grandma.  Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Graham's End of the Year Program

Today is my grandmother's birthday. In honor of her 120th birthday, I am writing about Graham's end of the year celebration we went to this week. My grandmother was a wonderful role model for being a grandmother. I hope I can be just like her. I still miss her every day!
We watched as Graham and his class sang songs, used wave sticks in songs and received their certificates. This is his first time in preschool and he loved it!
They not only sang songs with their own class, but with the entire preschool. Graham had six kids in his class and only one was a girl. Of course, he thought she was his girlfriend!
We are so blessed to have all of our grandchildren close to us. We are so glad we got to attend this special day with Graham and his family.
We are so proud of Graham and so happy that he loves school and enjoys learning. We look forward to many more graduations and celebrations with him!  Way to go, Graham! We love you bunches!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday Slice of Life: Watching Young Writers Grow

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For this school year, I have been visiting a fourth grade classroom during their writing time. It has been an adventure for me.  I could watch the children with different eyes than ever before. When I was in my own classroom, I saw the students daily. I knew each of their likes and dislikes; their hobbies and favorite subjects.  When I was a coach, I knew what the class was studying and what each teacher needed in his/her classroom. But, now, I can watch at a distance over a period of time. This time I see growth in a new way.

Today the students were starting their unit of study on short stories. They had done lots of fiction work throughout the year. Many of them have their own novel they are writing or a chapter books they are developing. Several even have a series of books they are writing. All on their own time! Today's focus lessons was: Writers Use What They Know About a Genre to Plan For Writing in That Genre.  These children know all about what makes up a short story. They were using Fireflies by Julie Brinkloe as their mentor text. They even made a list of what they know about writing fiction. So, today they planned!

I first sat down by Nick. I could tell he was in deep thought about what he was going to write. He did not really want to write a short story. He already was working on two books...novels, about science fiction ideas. I knew if I didn't get him on the right track he would waste the time being discouraged about not doing what he wanted. So, after much talk, he agreed he could write a short story using his science fiction idea and it would just be a short story to turn into a chapter for his book later.

Next came Ariana. She also had a chapter book going. She had started on the short story, but actually, it was the next chapter in her book. This "chapter" would focus on getting bullied. Her main character was also the narrator. This presented problems for the reader to understand who was talking. She agreed that she needed to add some dialog tags to let the reader know who was doing the talking.

Last of all was Alizae. She wrote about Lost Boys. They had gotten lost in the woods, saw a large pink rabbit that chased them off the side of the world. Don't worry, the world froze and they got back on. The whole story took ONE page of writing. We talked about how to slow down a moment and add scenes with details.

The sharing part of the day was a large circle with the students telling what kind of planning they did or where they got their ideas: from another piece, a beginning of a series, from a Read Aloud book, brain storming titles, plot map, a sketch, a theme.

As I look at these writers seeing where they came from since September, it is amazing how they have grown. They understand that fiction writing has a beginning scene, an exposition with details, and finally the climax of the story. They know that every story has a conflict. They have many tools in their writing belt to plan a story. They can write poetry, short stories or long novels, even a whole series of stories!

What a great group of budding authors!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Saturday Celebration: Build-A-Bear with Grand Kids

This year for Meron's (6) and Bam's (4) birthdays, one of the things we got them was a gift card to Build-A-Bear with the promise to take them there.  They were excited when they got the gift cards, but as the day got closer, they were even more excited. The day would not only be going to get these gifts, but also a trip to McDonalds!
They had so much fun picking out their new friends. Meron got a pink heart bear. She named it Princess and got to pick out a t-shirt with the Disney princesses on it for her bear. Bam picked out a pug dog and named him Tanner. He sings Happy Birthday when you press his foot!
Next came the birth certificates. It took us a little while to figure out the computer and get them printed. They both knew that today was the first day of their new friend's lives.

Next was the trip to McDonalds. Tanner and Princess stayed in the car to take a nap while we went in for lunch. Bam got a big spider in his happy meal and loved to tease Grandpa with it! Meron sat with Gramma and shared her fries!
We had so much fun with these birthday gifts.  They will be able to remember their time with Gramma and Grandpa whenever they look at their toys. What wonderful memories. This is a celebration Saturday for sure!