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!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Field Trip

My plans for today were changed, so I decided to go tour the Des Moines Art Center. I have been taking art classes there this year, but my classes were on Mondays, and the Art Center is closed on Mondays.  I have been touring the art center every year for seventeen years on field trips.  It was very nice to go without 50 to 60 fourth graders.  I could go where I wanted, when I wanted, and I didn't tell a single person not to touch the art.

As you can see from the photo, the building itself is a work of art.  I was grateful to have my own little field trip.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


What a difference a week makes!  A week ago I was at my sister's house and there were just a few crocus blooming, along with the beginning buds of some daffodils and hyacinth.  Now there are daffodils everywhere.

I just love this time of year!  That is one of the great things about living in a part of the country where winters can be cold and dreary.  Spring is such a time of beauty and hope for the seasons ahead.

I am really grateful to live where I do.  Every now and then, I need to remind myself of that.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kitchen Gadgets

I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets, and this is my newest one. It is an Air Fryer.   I have a couple friends who have talked about their air fryers.  Since I'm making confessions here, I also have to say that I am a QVC shopper.  The Air Fryer was The "Today's Special Value" about a week ago, so I decided to give it a try .  Tonight was the first time I have used it, and I have to say, I was impressed.

It was easy to use, and it only took about 20 minutes to "fry" my Corn Crisped  Boneless Chicken Legs and Thighs.  I usually do this recipe in the oven.  Doing it in the air fryer used only one tablespoon of olive oil, and it came out with a crispier crust than it does in the oven.  Dinner was yummy, and I'm excited to try some other recipes.