Monthly Archives: November 2010

Back to School after Thanksgiving Break

Olivia and William at the game!

It was a short break or so it seemed. I had five days and the kids had nine days away from school. The time went quickly as it always does when you are busy. As a family, we packed it full: Thanksgiving Day and dinner, cooking, wreaths, wreaths (did I really include it twice?), a little shopping, a high school football game, and some Christmas decorating in the yard. Continue reading Back to School after Thanksgiving Break

Saturday and Tiger Football

Today is the day! The Tigers play for the state championship in Champaign at Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois. Their opponent is the Lake Zurich Bears, who beat us for the 2007 state championship 7-3. It should be a good game. I have been on the fence about going, it is a two and a half hour drive; with the game and the drive together it is at least nine hours – but as the VISA commercial ends – priceless. Olivia and William will come along and Beth will get to watch in the comfort of home on television. Continue reading Saturday and Tiger Football

Happy Thanksgiving

Olivia helps momma with Thanksgiving pies and sweet potato caserole!

I’m thankful for my rambunctious dog, Ivy. I am also thankful for my family and my hamster, Hammy. I am thankful for Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, and ham. I am thankful for my brother and my pets. This Thanksgiving I am hoping that I will get to help my dad cook dinner and my mom bake pies. I am thankful for the Wheaton-Warrenville South Tigers football team and the chance to go on the field after the home game. After home football games, I get to go on the field and help clean up! I helped my mom make pies this morning. 


Olivia is a rambunctious 8 year-old in second grade. She spends her time with family and friends. She loves her dog, Ivy. She plays soccer, softball, and loves to swim. This is her first blog post.

Thanksgiving and giving thanks

I have been thinking about this post for over a week and wanted to get started earlier, but I didn’t. Before I began writing, I came across the quote below originally posted to twitter by

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order; confusion into clarity…Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” 

Continue reading Thanksgiving and giving thanks

Saturday and the Full Moon

My editor, Olivia!

Another Saturday, gone; it was a busy day as Saturdays during the school year seem to be. Beth had been busy all week organizing and preparing for wreath pickup and delivery for William’s Boy Scout troop and Saturday morning was wreath day. She is the wreath coordinator for the troop and managed the sale and delivery; last year she earned the nickname, ‘Awretha,’ and it stuck, so did the job. Next week, the troop will be selling their wreaths and garlands outdoors at a local grocery store and in front of our church. Continue reading Saturday and the Full Moon

Day 57: The Writing Process and the week before Thanksgiving

This is the week before Thanksgiving and the past several days have been busy – very busy. My students turned their narratives in Monday and they all look great. I did a quick scan of what was turned in and it seems my students learned from my instruction and did well with their writing. I will begin grading them this weekend with plans to return them after Thanksgiving Break. It takes time to read and respond to writing and I want to make sure I have time. This week has been too busy to even start grading. Continue reading Day 57: The Writing Process and the week before Thanksgiving

Veterans Day and Heroes

Grandpa, Beth, Olivia, and William pose beside the island on the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet, September 2006

Veterans Day is November 11th and for most schools in Illinois it is a holiday. But, Thursday morning found me at two schools on my day off. William had an honor breakfast and I was glad to attend. He is doing very well in seventh grade as he did in sixth grade. He is a solid young man, respectful and his character shines through. His school, Hubble Middle School, rewards students who display excellent character traits through their actions with ‘Hubble Huskie Coins.’  William had earned a ‘Huskie coin’ in the first quarter of the year and was being honored with other young men and women who had done something similar. Less than hour later, I was working as a crossing guard at Olivia’s school. When I can, I volunteer to be a crossing guard at Wiesbrook. It is always fun. After my crossing guard duty, I attended the Veterans Day flag ceremony.

Continue reading Veterans Day and Heroes

Day 53: Conclusion and my birthday, #49

The plane is pulled from Lake Michigan, read the story for more information

Today is my birthday and I had a flashback to seventh grade yesterday. Well, I have flashbacks to seventh grade every day, but this one was different. The headline for the Daily Herald was World War II-era plane recovered from Lake Michigan and I remembered my birthday gift, a plastic model kit probably a P-47 Thunderbolt or some other World War II era fighter. I remember I reading everything I could get my hands on about the WWII, War in the Pacific and Europe, and I enjoyed building plastic models of aircraft from the time period. Continue reading Day 53: Conclusion and my birthday, #49

Day 52: Sick Day and Falling Action

Warren, David, and I with Julie in the Red Sands

It is never fun being sick, especially if you have to prepare for someone to take your place and teach your students. Sometimes, it is just easier to go in and not feel well. Yesterday, I was sick and stayed home but not until I had prepared substitute plans driving to school to drop them off with materials the sub would need, including student papers to be handed back. I took a nap and rested when I got home. It was a beautiful fall day, sunny and warm and Beth was taking advantage of the Indian summer day by cleaning the windows and taking out the screens and getting ready for winter. I took the screens to the basement for her, but I did not feel well and did not do much else, except write the falling action. It took a while to get it finished but it is below. I will be sharing it Tuesday in class.

We were getting closer to Riyadh, to morning, and the hot desert sun of daylight. Sugar Land can get hot during the summer into the nineties, but dad reminded us temperatures in the hundreds, and sometimes even over hundred-ten were normal in July. The difference between home and here was in the desert it was dry heat with no humidity at all. The car was quiet except for the rush of air rolling through the open windows as we sped down the highway. The ride made me curious about this place there was enough moonlight to show the road ahead or far off to the side. It was flat and empty. There was the occasional car crash and dead camel, but not much else, even other cars.  Dad lived in a gated compound with houses just for Westerners like Julie and he. It had a pool and he told us we could swim while he was at work. Earlier in the ride, Julie chatted about visiting the markets and told us about some kids our age who were visiting relatives. Despite the day’s ordeal, she remained cheerful and tried to make us feel at ease. It sounded fun to have other kids and a pool all to ourselves. I wondered; what else could we do during the day? Suddenly, we pulled off to the side of the road beside my dad’s stranded car. He, Mr. Muffla, and the driver lifted the hood, looked at the engine trying to get it started, after a few adjustments it rumbled to life, but it was stuck in the sand. The three of them worked and tried to get it out, but dad would have to come back later with a tow truck. Our journey to Riyadh was almost over and we piled back into the car and continued on our way. I had slept, but not well and I looked forward to climbing into bed when we arrived home. I thought of my friends Robert, Jimmy, and David wondering if they had done anything this cool, ride across the desert in the middle of the night.

Tuesday we learn about the resolution and begin the process of putting it all together. The final paper is due this Monday and I am looking forward to reading them. It was good to talk with Julie on Sunday and get a different perspective on the ride and the entire summer. During our days with Julie we went to the markets, played in the pool, and played pool with our new friends in the rec room. At night when dad came home from work we had dinner and played in the pool. One weekend we went to the Red Sands and visited an Oasis in the desert not far from Riyadh. It was a better summer than I had expected and I was glad to get to know Julie better, it would be a friendship that would flourish later in life, when we both needed good friends.

All in all, Monday was a good day. I needed to feel better and the day accomplished it. Tuesday has to be a million and six times better, so I had better jump up, jump in and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time.