Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Candlelight service
Joy to the World sang with real joy
presents given and received
Rutabaga casserole baked and eaten
--or just tasted by some:-)
Tea with cinnamon and vanilla
coffee with desert trifle
Laughing and enjoying
the company
surrounded by love!
Next year 
might be so different
children moving, growing up
will traditions stay or 
The place to celebrate may change
but the message stays the same:
"Joy to the World, the Lord is come"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Life's Treasures

I bought a gift card for a needy family;
does this make me a better person?
I hugged somebody at church today
even though I am naturally not a hugging person.
I went to help serve a dinner for the needy;
I even helped feed a man who struggles to eat by himself.
I answered some e-mails;
tried to send words of encouragements.
Then I sat down in my comfy chair, and looked around:
I have stuff--don't we all.
Do I need all the stuff that I have around me?
I gather a few things to take as extra white elephant gifts on Tuesday.
Will I miss those items?
Absolutely NOT!
Why did I then hold onto them so long?
Feeling good?
I really don't  know.
But, what I do know is this:
there is a family at school that need Christmas presents
and I need to buy wrapping paper for their gifts.
I do know that when I listen to President Obama 
share his thought about Sandy Hook,
I need to remember to show love to my students;
I'll never know what words they will actually hear me say.
Hopefully, those words will be the words of
encouragement and  love.
Caring, challenging, and then again
loving, both the small and the big students,
that is my mission today.

Our pastor has challenged us this month to look at how we spend our time and money. He has also made us re-evaluate our possessions for their importance. How do I need to respond? This is my work in process.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tomorrow is Today


When I was listening to Dr. Pamela Moran's TED Talk (find it here: Dr. Pamela Moran's TED Talk) I started thinking about my life and my teaching in the framework of "Tomorrow is Today."

I had never heard of Dr. Pamela Moran before (maybe I should have...), but she definitely made me think about my teaching and how I do it. These are some of my thoughts as I listened to her:

"No standard solutions to standard problems"
Maybe I am a linear thinker, but I am (almost) always expecting a standard solution or at least a solution that I know about--and have encountered before--to  a problem that I face at school. Dr. Moran's speech challenges me to think more creatively: Is the problem that my student has really a standard problem? If it is not, then the solution cannot be a standard either. In other words, I am being forced to come out of my box to look at both the problem and the solution in a new way. And I am not just talking about my students, but also my teaching, curriculum and its delivery methods.

"Create problem solvers NOT problem makers"
Once again, I am faced with a new challenge: look at my students in a new light. I am basically telling myself not to put my students into a box, where they are forced to make noise, and act out in order to get out of there. Instead, I need to put on my thinking cap and figure out how my lessons can create problem solvers. I believe this is especially important for my mentees (more about this next week). This all takes time. Where do I get it from?

"Today's students are tomorrow's designers"
Dr. Moran talked about the 1960s and the race to the moon. Could I create that kind of designers in my class today? Do I want to? ABSOLUTELY!! But how do I make it happen? How do I need to change my classroom and my teaching to be aware that there are future designers in my class, and I need to foster that creativity in them. I have some ideas....maybe you get to read about them as I work on changing some thing in my classroom.

"Make each day a reflection of tomorrow"
I think this is really hard. Think about the day that everything went wrong in your classroom, and in addition, the phone never stopped ringing. How do you redeem that day and make it a reflection of tomorrow? Wait a minute, maybe I look at the day as an opportunity to create problem solvers to non-standard problems. Maybe I give students an opportunity to design a plan from their perspective that would change the "disaster day" into a redeemed day. But first, I have to jump over my own learning curve and give students the chance to be the designers and creators.

"How do we make "maker spaces"? Spaces where kids actually create not just consume."
This is hard!!!!!!!!! We live in consumer society where satisfaction is almost instant, and if it isn't, people complain. How do I create a classroom (even the furniture placement) that encourages these maker spaces where students can be creative? Do I need to do all the changing or should I also involve my students in the choice making? After all, my classroom has to function for everyone K-12 graders. What about supplies? Can I do this with really no budget?

I have ideas, but at this point I also have more questions. What about you? Do you have ideas that have worked in your classroom? Please share your ideas, and let's CREATE creative learners for tomorrow together today!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Multicultural Baby Shower

This past Saturday I had the joy of attending a baby shower for one of my Indian friends. But what was even more fun was how international it was.
We had people from four different continents attending the shower. There were even more languages spoken.

One of the interesting moments came when a man from India (yes, both females and males were present at the shower) came to tell me that he had lived in Sweden. Somehow another man heard us talking and came over speaking Swedish! He was not even from Sweden, but from Africa! I was trying really hard to recall any Swedish, but unfortunately, none came to my mind--except: Va heter dej? (=What is your name?) So sad when years of language learning disappear from lack of practice.

Nevertheless, what a fun way to spend time on Saturday afternoon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Three months till my birthday

By twowritingteachers.com 

It is three months till my birthday. It is not a special birthday, but I thought to write my last November thankfulness blog about my birthday and everything that I associate with it.

I am thankful for my childhood birthdays. Books from my cousins and aunts, visits from friends and neighbors, treats that my mother baked at home, and loving parents who wanted to make that day special every year.

This could have been taken at our coffee table.

I am thankful for the birthdays that I spent in Asia. The love that strangers showed me on my day. The gifts that I received and the special surprises that my friends and team mates provided. I still have some of these treasures--but most of all, two of these special friends just called me last week!

Happy Birthday in Chinese.

I am thankful for the many birthdays that I have been able to spend with my daughter. I think of the coupons that I received as gifts (think foot massage or dish duty) to the many breakfasts that I have enjoyed in bed. I think about the one winter when she braved the freezing temperatures and walked to the florist to buy me flowers for my birthday! Could I ask for more?

Aren't they just lovely!

I am thankful that I have been able to celebrate my birthday with my students as well! I have received gifts, balloons, cakes and special cards that I absolutely treasure. This year one of my new students has the same birthday as I (well, obviously a different year, but who is counting, right?), so I am already planning to do something special on that day--it will be a school day after all.

I might not get to do this, but I am so glad someone did

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanku for Thanksgiving

This is my “Thanku” for this Thanksgiving.

sun shining through today
joy bursting out with delight
thankfulness welcomed

So much to be thankful for. Not the least is my new stove. Happy cooking everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Phone calls, text messages, e-mails and in-person meetings

I love phone calls, text messages, e-mails and meeting friends in person. Yes, I haven't ventured to the world of twitter yet. Maybe because I still have a really old phone--you know, no data plan.
Keeping with the idea of "thankfulness" here are some of my favorite surprises:
I had worked a long day and partly cleaned  the house; my feet were up and my favorite show was on TV. Phone rings. Do I answer or not?? Well, the election is over so it must be someone I know!
My friend from Pennsylvania! She always calls at the most interesting times; and it is always a joyful surprise! We chat...and I am already feeling her energy reaching me.
A couple of Sundays ago I was sitting at church. Towards the end I stood up and was watching down (I happened to be sitting higher up this time).  I had to look again, really, could it be???? I had not seen him or his family in a really long time. Moving to a different state, we had somehow lost touch. But here he was! What a wonderful surprise!
My weekly surprises often come in the form of a text message: "Love you mom, have a great day!" I also love this one: " Are you still at school? Want to go for dinner?"
There are also the e-mails that include an invitation for coffee, a movie, listening to a friend play music at a club. Wonderful surprises to brighten the day.
I am SO thankful for friends--both close by and far away. I count myself blessed!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thank you my fellow teacher

I have so much to be thankful for! But one of the most important people in my life is you, my fellow teacher. This is for you!

Thank you for the cheery "good morning" yelled loud enough across the hallway.
Thank you for the Diet Coke on a weary afternoon.
Thank you for the "encouragement" to go home when I was not feeling well.
Thank you for sharing your 
industrial size whole puncher and fancy fonts with me.
Thank you for covering my class 
during a meeting.
Thank you for filling the copier
with paper.
Thank you for the funny joke that made me laugh so hard I almost didn't make it to the bathroom!
And thank you for letting me know that
there is kleenex in the bathroom--but no toilet paper.
Thank you for sharing your cookies with me;
they sustained me to complete my grading.
Thank you for the blanket to keep me warm as I
traveled to say goodbye to my mother.
Thank you for the surprise of copied handouts
on my desk one morning.
Thank you for the dinner, and the nodding head 
while I vented.
Thank you for remembering my birthday
because this showed me that you took
a personal interest in me!
Thank you, for checking if I am still 
at school--and yes, I was.
Thank you for sharing your students with me--after all,
without them my life would be much less interesting!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful.......for so much

Thankful for people like you
who read my blog
who bring me a coffee and a bagel for breakfast at school
who remind me to go home and not stay at school too late
who leave comments on my blog and encourage me to keep on writing
who love me.

Thankful for the opportunity 
to vote 
to serve
to teach
to help
to write
to sing 

Thankful for the
examples of others
challenges that help me grow as a person
choices that I have
coworkers that I have
family that surrounds me
and friends that keep me sane!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why are names important?

Can you spell it?
Can you remember it?
Even tomorrow?
What about next week?
What about the children's names? 
And the spouses' names?
Can you really remember them all?

My pastor's wife Nancy, who passed away two weeks ago, really did remember every one's name! She also remembered your children's names; and most of the time even details about your children! How did she do it?

For those of us involved in a ministry with her, have become aware of that we had always counted on Nancy remembering the names of people; at our single mom's dinners, we counted on Nancy to remember the moms' names  and the volunteers' names. Now we, who are left behind, have realized that we have to find ways to learn the moms' names! Easier said than done.......But think, what a difference it makes when someone calls you by name; you feel special, important, valued, appreciated, welcomed; just because someone took the time to learn and remember your name! I want to make people feel special because I know their names!

I don't ever forget my students' names, but why do I have such a difficulty remembering other peoples' names? I don't forget faces, but names.....

Has anyone found any good strategies of learning AND remembering peoples' names?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

If you can't make it to London, England to experience a Shakespeare production, the next best thing is to see a film version of one of their productions!
With many sad events in the recent past, it was wonderful to sit down and laugh!
Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is my absolute favorite play. I love the cleaver dialogue between Benedick and Beatrice. Many times when "have to" teach Romeo and Juliet, I dream of teaching Much Ado About Nothing. Benedick and Beatrice's has a lot more sense and spark than Romeo and Juliet's childlike dream about marriage and death.
I also loved seeing the Globe Theater audience, and how they were included in the  play I could hear them laugh, see them put on the rain ponchos (as it was raining during the production), and observe how the actors made direct eye contract with the audience members.
I think I will have to start planning a trip to the Globe Theater! So, if they are showing a film version close to you, go see it! You will  enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Goodbye

I am sitting at home and wondering what shall I write this time. We have another funeral to go to this week: our pastor's wife suddenly passed away on Sunday. Nancy's passing is leaving a huge whole in all of our hearts; but we are also left with wonderful memories of her. Nancy was always ready with hugs and smiles. She had so much love to give! Maybe that was because she felt that God loved her so much that she could not help loving others in return.
Below are the words my daughter used to describe Nancy. I think she said it so well that I asked her if I could include her words in my blog. Here is Nancy as remembered by Dorothy:

Let me tell y'all about what Pastor Nancy has done for me. Nancy started the Single Mom's ministry when I was about six years old, a place and a community where single mothers and their children could meet, have fellowship, and be blessed. My mother and I were a part of the ministry from its very beginning, and I know that we have been so blessed by it over the years. Society looks at the child of a single mom with low expectations, with the probability that the child will grow up to become another statistic, another failure. But through growing up with the wisdom of my my mother and my family, the Vineyard Church family, Pastor Nancy Wilson (and the single mom's ministry) and the love of Christ, I have been brought to a stage in my life where I am ready to serve God and people through ministry in any way I can. Now let me tell you folks, that ain't no ordinary story; that's a miracle. Nancy, we will miss you more than words can describe. We love you.
Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Potential energy turns into Kinetic energy

It is Friday. Last hour of the day. 6th graders have a quiz. I have a small group of students in my room who need help with the content material and/or reading.
I had been looking some visual materials for the students in order to help them understand the difference between kinetic and potential energy. I found this You Tube video. I thought the students would like the visuals along with the music.
Boy,  did they ever like it!! There was new energy in the room! Students were singing along with the song!!  (And I did not even think the song was that cool!!) Even my ELL students understood the difference!
We also looked at Paint can up and down demonstration about potential and kinetic energy along with How roller coasters work? All the students were engaged--on the last hour on Friday!!!!!!
 Could I say that the potential energy in my class turned into kinetic energy???

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bullying and Romance Novels

        This past weekend I took some time to relax by reading a novel by Sherryl Woods. I had read some of her novels previously, and thus I knew I would encounter some old characters that I had met at previous novels by her. I had requested an e-book a few weeks ago without even really reading what the novel is about (just because I had enjoyed her other books), therefore I did not realize the timeliness of her message in Catching Fireflies .
         The novel's message deals with bullying--and especially bullying on the Internet. Needless to say, I was surprised! I would have expected this in a young adult novel, but not really in a (romance) novel for adults. But I was hooked!
         Sherryl Woods describes so well the feelings and actions of high school student who is a victim of the bullying. When she feels alone and helpless, I am right there with her. When one of the adults reveals a tragic encounter with bullying from his past, I am reaching for the tissue. And when the community works together to stand up against the bullying, I was cheering them on! Yes, I have to admit, it would be nice to live in a community where people care so much about each other, and where friends are always ready with a party--or just a margarita (even if I don't like them).
        So, if you feel guilty of reading something "relaxing" instead of another book on writing or reading, I would recommend Sherryl Wood's Catching Fireflies. It deals with a current topic that many of us have encountered at our school. Perhaps it will encourage us teachers to look a little deeper if we suspect bullying is taking place near us. Or perhaps one of us will save a life by getting involved! Or perhaps you are lucky and will never have to deal with this topic during your career!
       Relax with a novel, it just might surprise you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Books and Memorial Service

This past Saturday I attended Edna's memorial service. Edna was a neighbor, friend and a fellow book lover.

I first met Edna about 17 years ago while attending a Friends of the Library booksale at  my local library. Year before I met Edna, she and her husband had been the founding members of our local Friends of the Library group. When I met Edna, the friends group was already organizing monthly booksales and generating a nice income for the friends.
Edna encouraged me to volunteer and told that I could bring my young daughter with me. That is how my volunteering with the local friends group started. Edna was always there--sometimes with even a walker when walking was difficult. She always smiled! She was patient with us volunteers who sometimes had ideas that did not mesh with hers. Edna never minded my daughter sitting on the floor while I was organizing books or cleaning selves. Maybe this is one of the reasons my daughter grew up admiring Edna as well.
Edna was involved in many other ways in our community as well, but I will always remember Edna and her books. She was always reading. She knew so much about books! And after a career at a university library, she still had the passion to volunteer, and make sure books got "recycled" in the right way while at the same time raising money for our local library.
Edna is gone, but her legacy will live in our community and in our lives. Because of Edna and the other founding members, our local friends of the library group now operates an actual bookstore at our library! It is staffed with volunteers and open daily! I have the privilege of volunteering there once a week and I love it!
Edna, you will be missed!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sometimes, when I write....

Inspired by Kate Messner's blog on September 21, 2012:

Sometimes, when I write the words that scream to be out and put on the paper (or screen). Other times, the scenarios are quite different:
I want to find the write word, but I don't know it in English.
I know that I am a good writer, but the words that I want to use don't translate into  English in the right way.
I know the vowel sounds in English--at least the simple ones, but why does /a/ have so many different sounds? Wouldn't one be enough?
And what is with the /ck/ when you only pronounce one of letters anyway?
Sometimes, when I write, I just can't the write vowel sound no matter what I try. Should I rely on the spell checker?

Sometimes, when I write, I want to use an online dictionary to help me. I know the word I want to use--just not in English. I write the word /tärkeä/ on the online translator, and I get 12 different words as the translation! Which one should I choose? See the difference:
This message is very important.
This message is very urgent.
This message is very consequential.
This message is very material.
This message is very seminal.
This message is very grave.
Sometimes, when I write, translations confuse me.

Sometimes, when I write, I get all mixed up with the prepositions in English.
I mean, think: You have to "turn off" the lights but you "close the book". Why can't you "close off the book"? And please don't tell me that would change the
meaning--I hear that all the time. What about the word "at"? We are "at" school, and don't yell "at" me? How is there consistency in this usage?
Sometimes, when I write, the mechanics of English pull me down.

But other times, when I write, I don't care if  my language is perfect; I just want my words to tell the story. I want my words to touch somebody. I want my
words--even when they are imperfect--to carry a message to  my readers.

Sometimes, when I write, it is not about perfect grammar or following an English lesson, it is about the fun, the enjoyment that writing brings into my life. I write because I want to!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mandatory conference attendance and God's strength

         Friday night I just started feeling it. Saturday morning, tired, but no other problems. Saturday late afternoon, exhaustion arrived. Didn't get much done. Sunday morning I had to really push myself to go to church. After church I had lunch with my daughter. Part of the conversation dealt with doctors; when to call them; appointments; new insurance and actually making the phone call.  Then it was time to go to my classroom and make sub plans for two days so that I can attend the Special Populations two day conference. Sub plans done, headed home.
         After a few texts to firm  up Monday morning meeting time and place, it was early to bed. I was ready. I could hardly keep my eyes open. Then it happened; the cough started! I would get up, and I would be fine. I would lay down, and it would start. I was supposed to get plenty of rest before driving to the conference!!!! 4:45am....I had to get up. Thought that maybe a cup of tea would soothe my throat and easy my cough. Come to find out, all the teabags had gone with my daughter! Really??? Oh yeah, I found candy cane tea bags, but they just did not tempt me that early in the morning.
        Little before six I texted my coworker and asked if she could drive instead of me. I felt that my reflexes might not work as fast after not really sleeping much. I was also thinking that I could have possible called in sick if I did not have this conference to go to. Well, a trip to the CVS and a chat with the pharmacist equipped me with the right kind of medicine--with promises that it will start working in an hour.
       My coworker and I met at a dark commuter lot (why they don't have even a single light there is beyond my comprehension). She drove and we chatted! (Translate: I am staying awake!) About 45 minutes into the trip I noticed that I am starting to feel better! Thanks Mr. Pharmacist! The trip went fast. We had not really had the chance to talk much since school started so this was a great chance for that. Now I am at home again, thankful for good friends and coworkers who care! Getting ready to go to sleep early, so that I can wake up again early. After all, I am planning to post this before I leave for the conference!
       What is my lesson learned? God will give you strength when you feel week; He will sustain you with energy when you feel yours is disappearing; He will provide friends and coworkers for this journey that education is; and He will help you stay awake even if the speaker (or speakers) are not the most engaging!  And remember, He will walk with you, before you, and at times, He will even carry you! I really think He carried me for a while today!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day Reflection Poem

Binders on the shelf
files--well, still a bit of a mess.
Books organized and
checkout clipboard is ready.
Smartboard is working
just need the sound.
Phone rings, but
what is my extension?

New teachers
excited and willing to learn
Veteran teachers
still excited
to welcome 
the new school year.

and lets us not forget
Just a few for all
of us to memorize and use.

Writer's notebooks are 
waiting for students
Ideas are stirring in my brain
they want to exit really fast!
What am I forgetting?
Oh yeah, syllabus is printed
and copied. 
First day survey is on the table
Rules and procedures--we
will write them together
a bit later today!

Students--can't wait to welcome you!
Whether you are new
or old
I will welcome you!
Whether you speak English or not
I will teach you.
Whether you want to be in school
or not
I will do my best to teach you.

Students--can't wait to welcome you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Needs, wants and wishes for the new school year

I was looking at some of my older posts, and also what other slices are thinking at this time of the year--right before of after the new school begins. I decided to write
my needs, wants and wishes for the new school year. Here it is:

I need to prioritize! It is not like I have never tried this before, but I am actually thinking that this time I need to keep my priorities for the WHOLE year!
I need to read books that inspire me as a teacher so that I can then in turn try to inspire my students. I think this might also be a want.....
I need to make sure that I get the most out of my fitbit--walking, swimming, eating right AND sleeping enough.
I need to get paperwork done in order to start a Science Olympiad Club at school this year.
I also need to get parents involved with the Science Olympiad as I don't know anything about building bottle rockets etc.
I need to guard my quiet times in order to sustain myself spiritually, and listen to what it is that God wants me to do in the midst of all the things that I feel that I should be doing.

I want to show my students what good writers and readers do--not just telling them what they should do.
I want to write stories and essays that I can use in my classroom. Maybe even a story for the younger students??
I want to have joy all year long! I want to enjoy teaching!
I want to encourage our new teachers. Maybe remind them occasionally that no matter what happened yesterday (or earlier this morning), each new day starts fresh (or each new class)!
I want to make new friends as many of my old friends have moved away
I want to get a new hobby as home feels a little quiet (daughter has moved to live closer to campus for senior year in college.....) Or could I revive an old one???
I want to spend time with God. Maybe He has some new things for me to do?

I wish to travel someplace sunny when it is so dark here in Michigan
I wish for students that want to learn and are willing to work hard (don't we all?).
I wish (and pray) for babies for those fellow teachers who struggle with longing to hold one of their own children.
I wish for wisdom to solve difficult situations
I wish for patience and linguistic ability (that would suddenly materialize in order for me to understand all the languages that my students speak).
I wish for more computers in my room, and smartboard that would work every time!
I wish for ideas to improve my blog--not sure where I am going with this....Maybe I also need to wish for clarity in my future endeavors that relate to blogging.

And for you who have read this far, I wish you a few extra blessings for today, sunshine to shine on your path and one positive surprise to brighten your day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boxes, mess, botanical garden and time with my niece

Unpacking boxes in a new room
sitting and trying to visualize how to organize everything
Why is the space between the windows too small for a bookcase? Shouldn't there be a standard??
How about a magic fairy who comes and puts all the bookcases together, and moves them into the correct places without anyone straining her back?

Uniform rules, sign in procedures, tardy rules, supplies, sub plans, so many things to think about and I don't even have my files in the cabinet yet!

But while I sat in a meeting this morning my daughter and my niece came and helped me file reports! Sunshine moment!
After work, having dinner with my niece, and then walking around the botanical gardens. Sunshine moment!
At home, watching my niece eat an ice cream cone that only took three bites! I guess we should have read the label a bit more carefully! Sunshine moment!

And tomorrow I get to go back to work and continue to organize my bookshelves--hopefully in the correct places in my new classroom. Sunshine moment!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

End of Summer Vacation Thoughts

In the beginning of my vacation I had written a poem/list of things that I would like to accomplish this summer. Now I have five more days before going back to school--what have I really accomplished?

Summer thoughts

What are my plans for this summer?

I want to write, so I joined the Teachers Write Virtual Writing Seminar.
I did really well before leaving for Finland, but no so since then. I am hoping that the assignments will still be on the blog, so that I can do them later on.
I want to clean my basement, so I am avoiding going down there.
I have a plan for this, and I will start taking stuff back to school on Monday.  Basement should look a lot different in a week.
I want to see friends that I have not seen in a few years, so I am flying solo first time in over 20 years.
I want to read more "teacher" professional books, so I have them piled on a table in the living room--I am still waiting for inspiration to open one of then hit me.
I have started doing this!
I want to eat healthy, so I had french toast for dinner and then ate some cherries and raspberries to make me feel better.
Well, I think I have done this partly. Hoping to do better once I am back on schedule--in five days!

I want to keep watching TV, so I finally had to buy a digitally equipped TV.
I did watch the Olympics!
I want to watch some new shows, so I am hooked on hulu.com
This is a lot easier when only one at the house us streaming shows on the computer.
I want to buy some new clothes for my summer trip, so I am searching for coupons.
No coupons, but sales!
I want to go to sauna, so I am flying across the Atlantic.
Oh Yes!
I want to improve my writing, so I am writing more, and thinking about my long term goals regarding writing.
Used my journal, but I have done more thinking. I have read blogs about writer's workshop and trying to figure out how to make it work better for my Sheltered English class in high school.

I want to spend time with my daughter before she moves away.
I want to watch funny movies and laugh, so that I can live longer.
I want to watch the sun rise with a great cup of coffee, so that I do not waste any time during this summer.
I want read a romance novel, so that I can be transported to a different world.
I want to search for a deeper reason to serve, so that I can remember that I am part of a greater community that works together to help others.
I want to remember that everything has a purpose.
I want to spend time by the lake and just be amazed by the beauty of creation!
YES! Thank you to my wonderful friends in Finland, and a surprise board meting at a members house by a lake here in the US.

I believe I also accomplished many more things that never made my list in the first place; like meeting Terje in Estonia!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finnish cousins

I loved my trip to Finland! One of the special days during the trip was to go to a family reunion. This was family on my paternal grandmother's side (mind you I never met my grandmother as she had passed before I was born).
It had been at least 21 years since I had seen any of these relatives. I went with my cousins. It was a beautiful summer day. Raining while driving but sun coming through just as we arrived at the reunion.
The reunion took place at the farm where I rode a horse the first time, heard the cousins (or actually my dad's cousins) talking with a specific accent (signaling where they were actually from), and getting to taste foods that only my dad's family would cook.

Meeting with the cousins again was truly special! All of them are in their mid to late 80s. Possibly the last time that I will see these cousins. I had the opportunity to talk with them, look at old photos together and try to figure out the dates and people in the photos. My dad's cousins are also singers. So it did not take long after dinner when the signing started. It was a treat! Too hear their harmonies and familiar tunes that I had not heard for a long time; and a chance to sing along (with lyrics provided).
I am so grateful for this opportunity! And yes, we had the younger generation with us as well! And let's not forget: Finnish summer=cream cake with fresh berries!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meeting Terje in Estonia

When I started blogging this past March, I did not know if anyone would ever read my blog or comment on what I have written. To my surprise, people read my blog and they COMMENTED! I love you all!!
I was especially thrilled when Terje commented on my post the first time! Her name was both familiar and intriguing at the same time. I decided to see if Terje shared on her blog where she is from. To my surprise, I found out that she lives in Estonia! If you don't yet know, I am Finnish; Finnish language and Estonian language have many similarities.
Soon after beginning my blog, I started planning my trip to Finland this summer.
I wanted to go see my relatives and friends. About the time that I bought my plane ticket, I read a post about two bloggers meeting each other, and how much fun that had been. I started wondering if I might be able to meet Terje?? First of all, I love going to Tallinn, Estonia! Its old city is beautiful, full of small shops, lovely cafes and just walking the old cobblestone streets is relaxing.
I finally decided to be courageous and e-mail Terje if she would like to meet this summer. To my surprise and joy, Terje also wanted to meet!!! Everything about the timing of my friend and I going to Estonia, to Terje coming into town from vacation worked out perfectly. Even the weather honored our meeting! The rain stopped and we enjoyed a wonderful time walking in the old city of Tallinn and having coffee in this quaint cafe situated in one of the courtyards in the old city.

Here we sat outside and just talked!!! My childhood friend commented that we talked like we had known each other for a long time!
I know that I have a connection on the other side of the world!

Terje and I sitting in the cafe.


Enjoying these lovely chocolates! And of course, coffee!

I felt very blessed that day, and will remember that day with joy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Remember....from back home

I remember when the bus used to go straight right here--now the road is only for bikes.
I remember when I knew every building and street name around here.
I remember when I could tell which one of my friends lived on this or that street.
I remember the bookstore where I used to buy all my school books is located--now it sells sewing supplies (wonder what happened to school books??)
I remember the church where our youth group used to meet--it looks so quiet now.
I remember the lake where my dad and I used to go swimming--wonder what it looks today.
I remember walking to school and crossing the bridge on the way there--now there is a new bridge that does not shake.
I remember the second floor windows and my 4th grade class. Now the school is closing...
I remember the librarian who was always finding books for me to read--even in English.
I remember walking or driving with my dad to pick up my mom from work.
I remember many things with joy and happiness!

I love to remember, but I am happy to live in the present!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bon Voyage & Hyvää Matkaa

Today is the day!
I am flying out in the evening. Little nervous; I haven't flown by myself in over 20 years. But excited at the same time. I have my kindle ready, suitcases waiting to be packed, laundry is done, mental preparedness is almost completed and clear plastic bags are ready to be stuffed with items (you know to easily take out in case of suitcase inspection).

But now comes the problem: should I pack for 90° weather or for 65° weather? What about shoes?? I need shows for walking, some more walking, easy slip-ons and maybe a one nice pair too. Tennis shoes or Danskos?? Or both? Okay, I might be able to figure this out.

What about a handbag? Should I take a carry on and a small handbag? Or carry on and a little bigger purse? What kind of purse will I need for the next three weeks? One with a zipper or one with just a snap closer? What about a wallet? Do I take one for all the American stuff and another for Euros? Or do I take one and just put everything in it? 

What about books, pens, markers and journals? Do I still need to take at least a couple of books in addition to my kindle? Oh yeah, I can't forget the charger for my Kindle--otherwise what good will it be for me? What about writing? Will I feel like writing on the plane? Journaling? Plotting my next story? Maybe jotting down some observations I can later use in a story?? Or will this be just weird??

Why am I even pondering these choices? Because I can't predict the weather. Because I don't know if I will need a cross-body handbag or just one that goes on my shoulder. Because I am not sure if I will need beach attire or just hanging out attire. That reminds me, should I take a beach towel with me? Will I be brave enough to swim if the air temperature is only around 70°? 
What about an extra bag in case I will want to bring more stuff  back to the US? Or should I just ship the stuff as second bag will be an extra expense anyway? Will I bring mom's china back with me or sell it?? Decisions, decisions to make...

But hey, I still have few more hours before it is time to head to the airport. 
And next time, my stories will be about fun things, wonderful people that I haven't seen in years, and of course, delicious foods that I also haven't tasted in years. Until then, Bon Voyage! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer thoughts

What are my plans for this summer?

I want to write, so I joined the Teachers Write Virtual Writing Seminar.
I want to clean my basement, so I am avoiding going down there.
I want to see friends that I have not seen in a few years, so I am flying solo first time in over 20 years.
I want to read more "teacher" professional books, so I have them piled on a table in the living room--I am still waiting for inspiration to open one of then hit me.
I want to eat healthy, so I had french toast for dinner and then ate some cherries and raspberries to make me feel better.

I want to keep watching TV, so I finally had to buy a digitally equipped TV.
I want to watch some new shows, so I am hooked on hulu.com
I want to buy some new clothes for my summer trip, so I am searching for coupons.
I want to go to sauna, so I am flying across the Atlantic.
I want to improve my writing, so I am writing more, and thinking about my long term goals regarding writing.
I want to think about the next school year, so that I can make plans how I can do more planning this summer.

I want to spend time with my daughter before she moves away.
I want to watch funny movies and laugh, so that I can live longer.
I want to watch the sun rise with a great cup of coffee, so that I do not waste any time during this summer.
I want read a romance novel, so that I can be transported to a different world.
I want to search for a deeper reason to serve, so that I can remember that I am part of a greater community that works together to help others.
I want to remember that everything has a purpose.
I want to spend time by the lake and just be amazed by the beauty of creation!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweet Little White Wolf and the Mean Loud Blue Riding Hood

These are the directions for the Quick Write this Thursday:
Step One: Pick your favorite fairy tale.
Step Two: Flip all the genders.
Step Three: Write a paragraph or two from a flipped character’s perspective.

And here is my quick write:

I really want some ma's cooking. It has been so long since I tasted a sweet cake with cinnamon. Maybe I will venture out of the forest today and go see that house at the edge of the maple trees. That red house always looks so inviting. Wonder what I could take with me on my first visit? Flowers? Coffee? Flameless candles?
"Dad, I am going to go visit the Blue family!"
"Okay, son. Be careful; I have heard that there is a mean girl that likes to play in the woods People say she is scary. You better not stop anywhere on your way. And, don't forget to come straight home afterwards."
"I promise!"


I can almost see the house behind those trees. Oh, but wait! I see some wild flowers along the edge of the oak trees. Maybe I should pick a few for the lady... After all, I have heard about the lady's coffee cake. It has even won ribbons at the village fair--at least that is what the newspaper reported.
"What do you think you are doing?"
"Excuse me?"
"Oh, hi! I am-
"I know who you are! You are not welcome here. This is Blue land! We don't want your kind in here!"
"Hello Ms. Blue! I have heard that your father has taken ill and-
"I already told you once, get off our land, OR I WILL KICK YOU OUT!"

Wow! Dad really was right when he mentioned the mean girl. She really does talk loud; she even looks blue in the face. I don't think I will be getting any coffee cake today.

"Little Blue??? Who are you talking to?"
"Nobody Mom!"
"I know what I heard! Let me see who you are talking with!"
"It is White Wolf, Mrs. Blue."
"Well, come a little closer child. I want to look at you a little closer."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Curriculum Murders"

Once a week I volunteer at my local library's Corner Bookstore (maintained by the Friend's of the Library). This past week one of the customers picked this book from the mystery section at the store. I was immediately intrigued.
My imagination started running (and I haven't even read the book yet!)

Here is my story (part 1) with the same title:

Common Core is coming. Another change that has to be made. I could have spent my summer relaxing by the pool, reading mindless romance novels, living in a dream world where all my students master all of the curriculum  by mid-year and then I can start finding enrichment activities for the second part of the year. But that is not reality. Here I sit in a small cubicle with a few other teachers analyzing the common core ELA for our grade level.
 "W.9-10.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence."
Is this really worth it? I look around. Everyone is really focused on analyzing the standard and thinking about the resources that we can use with it. My mind goes to mentor texts. Do I have mentor texts to use with this standard? What was that noise? The standards posters are all down! Nobody is working on the desk behind me....where is everyone?
I am thinking about the "relevant and sufficient evidence". That is really the hardest thing for my students to grasp. They can make a great argument, but then it tends to fall apart as they cannot sustain it with evidence. Really where are    the other writers? We only have a week to do this. Maybe I should write a model essay for my students? Oh yeah, where is that binder that we have organized all our existing samples/mentor texts?
No binders??? Where are they? Last year's curriculum??? Who took it? Where is everyone?? Maybe I need to stand up and stretch my legs and my brain. It's really quiet...
I walk around the office. It really is too quiet... I keep walking. I still can't see anyone else. Should I go outside? I peek in the back...WHAT?????? The sky is dark as the underside of my black sofa. But there is a fire burning with in a handmade fire-pit! What is going on? Are they researching Macbeth? Are we going to teach that next year? "Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble" (4.1.). What are we killing here at the back of the school right before the storm?? Old curriculum? Why am I the only one here?
Where is the evidence?