Saturday, June 10, 2017

Summer School

Summer school begins on Monday!  The room has been arranged, the plans are written, and I am excited to begin.  This summer I am working as an AmeriCorps Tutoring Member, which is a new position for me. I already know a lot of the kids I will be working with.  Unlike most summer school situations, I will be meeting with students one at a time.   In my volunteer work, I have really enjoyed working with kids individually or in small groups.  It is a much different situation than being a classroom teacher with 25 or more students, and it gives a teacher the opportunity to connect and get to know students.

I have a lot of people who tell me that when they retire, they won't be going anywhere near school. That's the cool thing about retirement, you get to decide for yourself. I feel very blessed to be at a point in my life where I can choose my own path.  I love being able to connect, teach, and learn with kids, because I am always learning something new.  This is my idea of retirement, at least for now.  I am very grateful for this new opportunity.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Garden

The vegetable garden is about two thirds of the way planted.  The tomatoes and peppers are in, and a few things are beginning to sprout in the raised beds.  This year I am trying "Lasagna Gardening"  I put down ground cloth in the fall, and covered the garden with leaves.  The leaves have broken down over the winter.  I left the ground cloth, and will put down layers of mulch as we go.  I read about this on a gardening blog.  It should help me control the weeds, and there is less damage to the soil.

I started the tomatoes, peppers, and some other herbs and flowers in the house about six weeks ago.  This year I ordered my seeds from Henry Fields.  I was frustrated with how long it took them to ship my seeds, but I have to say, the plants have done well.  

I built my raised beds out of 5 hole brick that I bought at the Habitat for Humanity Restore.  This is my first time working with raised beds.  I'll let you know how it goes.  One has been planted with Yukon potatoes.  The other has green beans, radishes, lettuce, carrots and beets.  They are covered with net for the time being, to keep the bunnies and squirrels out.

Along with the vegetable and herb garden, I have lots of flower beds, which have been overtaken by weeds and grass.  I am working on them a section at a time.  My next door neighbor has raspberry bushes along the fence.  Some had crept into my garden.  I transplanted the volunteers to a corner of the flower bed.  They are looking pretty stressed right now, so I hope they will make it.  My sister also gave me lots of Day Lilies from the house they just moved out of.  It will be interesting to see what I get in the way of blooms.

I have a love/hate relationship with my garden and yard. A lot of times I have to force myself to go outside to work, but I find it deeply satisfying as I begin to make progress.  I feel proud of myself when I can feed myself with vegetables that I have grown. Nothing tastes as great as homegrown veggies!  I am grateful that I have the time and space to do this.

Wow!  There is cause for celebration.  This is my 1,000th post on this blog.  Amazing!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Change and New Possibilities

The new dog steps, and I would like to point out that those are dog toys on my bed.  

My bed is tall, and the dogs need steps to get up there.  The ones I had were only 16 inches tall, so I recently purchased a new, taller set.  The dogs were not too thrilled with this change, and it has taken them about three weeks to get used to them.  I've been frustrated with the new steps too, because they took up more space in my already crowded bedroom.

I was sitting in church yesterday, and I started thinking about a different room arrangement.  Sorry, Pastor Dave.  During the afternoon I rearranged the room, and I am thrilled with the new set up.  There is room for the steps, there is much more room to walk around and get dressed.  For the most part it is the same furniture, except making this change also made it possible to move our childhood dresser into my bedroom, which is something I absolutely cherish.  There's even room for a dog bed!

So why did it take me so long to make this change?  I have lived in this house for 16 years, and I have never rearranged my bedroom.  The way the movers placed the furniture when I moved in in 2001, was the way it stayed.  I complained that the bedrooms were small, and this was just the way it had to be.  I hadn't even considered changing things and exploring other possibilities.

It was a good wake up call to embrace the changes that come my way, and there are several changes in the air right now.  My sister recently moved to a new house near Dexter.  It is a beautiful house on a lake, and I am very happy for her, and yet it is farther away, so I have had tinges of sadness.  On the other hand, it is because they were downsizing, that she shared some wonderful pieces of furniture with me, like that cherished childhood dresser.  I also get to sit on their wonderful deck and gaze at the lake, or walk out on their dock.  Another bonus was that my niece and nephew came home to help with the move, so I got to see them as well.  This a great change for my sister and brother-in-law, and the whole family will benefit from these changes.

My niece and nephew taking a break from moving furniture and unpacking boxes.

I begin my new AmeriCorps tutoring job on Thursday.  I am excited about teaching summer school and working with the kids, most of whom I already know.  It is mostly familiar, because it is at Phillips.  It is a bigger time commitment, so I guess I am not really retired any more.  It will be a change to work all summer, but I am ready for this change.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Job

Phillips has been an important part of my life for the past 27 years.  During my first year there, I taught second grade.  The next year, I moved to first grade, which I had also taught at Edmunds Academy of Fine Arts, and Granger Elementary.  Later I moved to third grade for a year, and then on to fourth grade, which I taught for 17 years.  My connection to Phillips actually goes back before those years.  At the very beginning of my teaching career, I often subbed at Phillips.  That was back in 1987.  Even before that, back when Phillips Traditional School had grades, kindergarten through eighth grade, I looked at enrolling my daughter there. It didn't work out, because at the time, I worked downtown and I couldn't work out transportation.  Later, my son was a student there.

Officially, I retired from Phillips two years ago.  I often joke that apparently I do not understand the concept of retirement, because I am usually at Phillips three or four days a week, either as a substitute teacher or a volunteer.

The past two years have provided me with a wonderful opportunity to try new things, and really reflect on who I am and what makes me happiest.  I am a planner, not a punter.  I love the creative aspects of education.  I like to take an educational objective, and create materials and projects to engage students.  I like to get up in the morning and have a plan for how I will be spending my day and the rest of the week.  I like to feel like I know what I'm doing.  I enjoy seeing how the lessons I am teaching today, fit the overall picture.  I like to have an ongoing relationship with students.

Pretty much all the things I just mentioned have nothing to do with substitute teaching.  I have been very blessed in that I only sub at Phillips, and many teachers have given me license to bring my own ideas into their classrooms.  I have very much appreciated that.  Most of my days have been successful, but I go through a great deal of anxiety prior to each substitute assignment.  What will I be teaching?  Will the kids listen to me?  How will I be doing things?  Will I be able to find what I need?  Will I understand the lesson plans and how to teach the skills?  Ah, yes!  I am a planner and a worrier.

On the other hand, I have really loved my hours spent volunteering.  I tutor kindergartners.  I work individually with them to improve reading and writing skills.  Teachers let me know about the student's needs, and I look for ways to address and support those needs.  I get to be creative.  I get to know the children, because I work with them on a regular basis.  I get to see them grow and learn, and that is wonderful.

Fortunately, I am at a point in my life that I get to make more choices.  If I'm not enjoying substitute teaching, I have the flexibility and opportunity to do something different.  I decided it was time to make a change.

It's official now!  I have a new job for the summer, and hopefully, into the next school year.  I will be an AmeriCorps tutor. . . .  at Phillips.  I am so excited and grateful!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Shades of Purple and Pink

It is that time of year, when my driveway smells wonderful.  That's because it is Lilac Season.  The hedge was barely budded a few days ago, and now the flowers are almost fully bloomed.  I really love lilacs, and I am very grateful to whoever planted these bushes years and years ago.

There seems to be a lot of purple and pink in the neighborhood right now.  I'm not sure what these other flowers are, but we found them along our walk tonight.

They are all so beautiful!

Monday, April 17, 2017


We had a pretty easy winter around here, relatively speaking.  Even so, it is such a treat to see all the beautiful flowers blooming.  These tulips were growing in front of school today.  Beautiful red tulips, the sun was shining, and I even got my mower started for the first time this season.  In fact it started on the first pull.  What a wonderful day!  Mowing wasn't that much fun, but at least the mower started and everything else was good.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Dad

A few days ago I was cleaning out one of the file cabinets in my craft room.  I decided it was safe to get rid of tax returns and teaching contracts from eighteen years ago, along with warranties and instruction books from appliances I no longer own.  I did a lot of sorting, reading, and shredding.  At the bottom of the drawer under all that clutter, I discovered this photo.  It's my dad!

He was so incredibly young!  He joined the army to serve in World War II when he was only 17 years old.  In fact he wasn't legally old enough to join yet, so he lied about his age.  Anyone that knew my dad can tell you that he was an incredibly honest man, so he must have learned his lesson after that.  Dad was in the infantry and fought in the Philippines.  After World War II ended, he also spent time in Korea.

As I looked at this picture, I was kind of amazed by how much you can miss someone who has been gone for such a long time.  We lost him in 1986.  I found myself getting emotional as I shared the photo with my sister.  He was a wonderful loving father, and I am so grateful to have had him for the time that I did.  He is with us still, and I think about him often.  He has been a profound influence upon my life, and he helped me to be who I am today.  I love you, Dad!