Awesome Quote Challenge

frank lloyd wright house

   House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

An Interesting Quote:


“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.”            

By…Frank Lloyd Wright



Thank you so much to 


for nominating me for this fun and interesting quote challenge! Today is Day #2 for me doing this challenge.



1. For three consecutive days, you have to post a quote.
2. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
3. Each day you have to nominate three different bloggers.
4. Let the bloggers know you have nominated them.





1. Olive Ole

2. Too Full to Write

3. Natalieslovelyblog

#2 Super Engaging Book

The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree

I can’t figure out the concept of starting to teach the alphabet with any other letter besides “Aa”. Oh…I have read different theories like “TEACH THE VOWELS FIRST”! Oh…don’t do that! However we do start the vowel march around the room during the first week of school! “WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS TO TEACH EACH CHILD HOW TO WRITE THEIR NAME!” That way… every child is learning the first letter of their name. Therefore, most of the children are learning a different letter. CHAOS!!! Might as well bring in the clowns.

Let’s just start with “Aa” and head through the alphabet. Of course, I bring in other letters constantly as new subjects are being introduced. We talk about new letters for the months of the year and the days of the week…and on and on. Early Childhood curriculum should be integrated, not separated. Blend the information together so that new items compliment old items. Well…it makes sense to me!

 If you are one of my children, you will start with the letter “Aa” and be ready to learn all about APPLES. If you are familiar with FROG STREET (a wonderful Early Childhood curriculum)…you most likely know this song:

“Apple Annie, Apple Annie…How are you today? Tell me all the things you know that start with letter A. Alligators, astronauts, apple trees that sway…these are all my favorite things that start with Letter A!” (sung to the tune of  Jingle Bells).

There are 25 more songs after “Apple Annie”…like “Benjamin Bunny”, “Elmo the Elephant”, “Henrietta Hippo”. We learn the songs, read the small books/big books of the songs, read the words to the songs on the Smart Board, make our own books, and make a paper bag puppet for each letter (a new addition this past year). They love the songs and they actually love the entire process. It is true that children feel comfortable with predictability and repetition. This just might be something that is missing elsewhere in their lives.

Our puppets for the 2015-16 school year…I made one for the wall and the children made one to take home:


Back to “Apple Annie” and the first letter of the alphabet. This is the perfect place to read…

#2 Super Engaging Book:

The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree

by Gail Gibbons

This is the story of a beautiful apple tree as it transitions through all four seasons. For children in Texas, the four seasons are not particularly distinct in some years…more like hot, cool, a few days of cold, cool again, a short warm time and back to hot. The leaves fall, but the colors are not as stunning as in other parts of the country. And the snow is rather non-existent in most parts of the state. A snow day is a very BIG DEAL!

Arnold’s Apple Tree is changing in amazing ways all through the book. At one point, Arnold can climb up the tree and see far off into the distance. Before you read the book to your class, take a picture walk through the story. Make predictions about what you and the children think will happen next to the tree. Talk about the vivid fall colors and the stark white of the snow on the tree in winter.

I’ve been reading this book for years and it never gets old. Like the apple tree that lives near Arnold, the book comes back each year…to be loved by another group of children!






#1 Super Engaging Book.


A wonderful parent that I know mentioned the other day that her son had stayed by himself at an activity for the first time. Of course, there was constant supervision and friends would be there. However, his mom was not staying. Everything that he was involved in prior to this experience involved his parents. His parents right there…parents right there that very minute. Not this time…the time was right for a bit of separation. A fun birthday party was the ideal opportunity to let the child do a little growing up.

Growing up is tough when you really want mom and dad to stick around. When I first went away to college, I felt the same way…I sort of wanted my parents to stay a little longer. I guess that it took me a bit longer to be really independent. Our own daughter easily and happily waved good-bye after we moved everything into her dorm. She walked back in with her new friends…all talking at the same time. Every phone call was filled with excitement!

Our own son waved good-bye from his dorm room as we pulled out of the parking lot. When we came back a few weeks later for a visit, he knew everything there was to know about Austin. Every place to hike, to climb rocks, to canoe…he was so excited. I’ll never forget the words that he wrote in an email…”Thanks Mom and Dad for sending me to college!”…makes me have a few tears even today. Yes, it is wonderful to have a grown-up child.

It takes some help to get them to a more grown-up state of mind…either as a parent or as a teacher in the classroom. Children in elementary school (and perhaps beyond) can more easily grasp the meaning of growing up through books. Teacher read-to time is so very important for grasping any new knowledge. I intend to write about some excellent books during the next few weeks. When I was a brand new teacher, I would have loved for someone to tell me about some special books. Actually, I probably needed someone to say…”What? You haven’t read a book to the children today? What are you thinking?”…now I know that meaningful and real instruction should be based on an engaging book.

#1 Super Engaging Children’s Book:

I AM THE PEACH  by Louisa de Noriega

In this book, a peach takes on a life of it’s own as a peach blossom becomes a real peach. By the end of the book, the peach blossom has become a big, strong tree. The birds come to the tree’s branches and sing to the peach blossoms. The illustrations are simple, yet powerful. Better yet, they are understandable to a child. The important part to me was that I could draw a few of the most important pictures on my white board easel. If I can draw these pictures, I am certain that you REALLY can draw them! Drawing pictures from a book and adding a few words to describe the illustration can encourage a child to make their own take-home book! Another something that I certainly didn’t realize when my teaching career began.

Before we made our “Peach” take-home books this year, we discussed our favorite pages from the I AM THE PEACH. The majority of the students in my class were from  a Hispanic heritage. In the book, our “main character” peach is sold with all the other peaches at a market full of fruit and vegetable stands. The illustration is very colorful showing a market area with canopies over the displays. When I read this page, my class ALL called out…”THE MERCADO!” They saw a place that is important in their own lives! My favorite sentence in the book comes on the next page…”A boy came to my stand and from among all the peaches, he chose me!”…a real confidence builder!

I AM THE PEACH…#1 Super Engaging Book!

Market page








Heartless. Enough.

Struggle: Daily Prompt from last week when pingbacks were not working correctly… and not at all working for me. My story is finally posted with the other Daily Prompts!


I would rather smile. Sometimes I struggle to find one. But I do. I would rather laugh. Sometimes I struggle to make my laugh sound real. But I do. I would rather see the bright blue sun-filled sky. Sometimes I struggle to appreciate this gift. But I do. Sometimes I struggle to feel the much needed renewal of the rain. But I do.

The fact is that I like the rain, I like sunny days, I like to laugh, I like to smile as much as possible. So why do I sometimes struggle? I would say that it is because I am just a regular person. I am not a comic book super hero. And I doubt you are either and I am glad. To be a super hero would just be too outlandish. And there is enough happening in this world that is truly outlandish. Enough happening that is cruel. Enough happening that is negative. Enough happening that is heartless. Enough. Heartless…now that is something to truly struggle understanding.

Regular people struggle over individual worries and problems. Perhaps we really need to struggle over solving problems that are much bigger than ourselves. To look at the big picture. To accept differences. To accept compromise. To accept and respect. We need to stop struggling over small and insignificant problems. We need to widen our focus.

To focus on building tolerance. To focus on appreciating the rainy day. And not fear the struggle.

Empathy taught by children’s book.

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant opened my eyes to understanding those from different circumstances. I previously just thought that I had empathy. I taught for 18 years at public elementary schools that were all designated as Title I…schools with a population percentage predominately disadvantaged.

My former experience was at private schools…day schools for early childhood. Quite the opposite situation compared to a Title I school. The day school students were from financially successful families with most every opportunity available. The parents were college educated and most planned to send their children to the most highly ranked private schools. To say the least, the expectations were incredibly different.

My day school children did not have to worry about the electricity being turned off on a regular basis. They didn’t know about high crime neighborhoods where people placed bars across their windows. They didn’t have to worry about not walking on the other side of the street past a known drug house. Honestly, they had few worries at all.

And then I began my journey through the real world that many children face. The sixth graders at one school were already in gangs. I just did not understand.

 A third grader regularly crawled to the front of the classroom and laid down in a fetal position behind me. The other children would yell…”Be careful and don’t drop your book! It might fall on his head!”… this is teaching? HELP! The child spent three months of the school year in a mental facility. I just did not understand.

Three or four years later, I had a class of lively and bright second graders. There was just one problem. NONE of the children could read even one word. NONE of them knew any letters of the alphabet. New meaning to the words “start at the very beginning.” I just did not understand.

And then I found an incredibly special children’s book titled When I Was Young in the Mountains. Cynthia Rylant based the book on her own childhood in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. What her life lacked in personal comfort was completely overshadowed by her grandparent’s love and care. And besides…she was in the mountains. She had her world and her world was enough. Suddenly, I understood.










Hello Breckenridge.



Breckenridge, Colorado. What can I say? Breckenridge is near ideal…at least, the town is near ideal for me. Encircled by mountains, Breckenridge is a small ski (plus more!) town about two hours west of the Denver International Airport.  If it is snowing, count on more time. If it is icy, count on more, more hours. Or better yet…don’t count the hours or miles at all. Just enjoy the mountains and the clear mountain air. Unless (of course) you have problems with altitudes. At that point, please stop and steer clear of my car. After all, I probably rented the car (surely, I was able to get a SUV) from Enterprise. I don’t want an accident–colliding with a dizzy person– on my record with Enterprise. They have good rates…even going to a ski town.

Yes…Breckenridge is definitely a ski town. So…you must think that I am an excellent ski person. So untrue. I want to be one. I tried to be one. I took lessons for 20 minutes at least 20 years ago. I thought that the snow would be soft and fluffy…very similar to petting a little bouncy, fluffy Bichon Frise puppy. The snow was the exact opposite of a Bichon. The snow was really ice wrapped in a few snowflakes here and there. Early spring melting. The mountain tricked me. The snow looked so beautiful when I was riding the ski lift up the mountain. My entire family was going to take ski lessons that day. Our son was already enrolled in a kiddie class at the bottom of the mountain. My husband was enrolled in the same class as me. He made it through the class. He probably got some kind of first day of ski school golden ski medal.

I received the first day of ski school earliest quitter medal. I was simply not able to stay upright in those expensive ski boot rentals attached to equally expensive skis. Maybe I should have upgraded to better boots and skis. No. Surely, there were not any more expensive than what I got. And the boots hurt. And that made my head hurt. And the continuous falling down hurt my pride and everything else attached to me. I quit ski school. A drop-out. I am just not a quitter except when it comes to pain. Let’s just say that the boots were too tight. Let’s not say that I didn’t exactly follow directions given by the ski instructor. I spent the remainder of the day sitting in a lounge (bar? coffee shop?) near the base of the mountain. I had countless cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows and wonderful conversations with other ski failure people. That is how I learned so much about Breckenridge.

By the end of the day, I was like a seasoned tour guide. I knew every special boutique (many to choose from), every excellent pizza place, every fancy restaurant, every tourist must-go-to place. There are so many fun things to do and things to see in Breckenridge…plus very friendly people. Plus an ice skating rink. Plus indoor pools at some resorts. Plus snowmobiles to rent. I am certain that I am a snowmobile natural.

Ah…the mountains! Rocky Mountain High in Colorado! The ski part does look fun, but there are lots more activities to do! Just find a hot chocolate place and start up a few conversations!

I joined the gym…again.


 *****News Flash!*****

I have actually hired a personal trainer at my gym! I am obviously in need of a lot of direction. When a machine has a knob that is supposed to turn right, I am certainly going to try for left. I am truly a problem for the immediate exercise world. I hope the trainer has a peaceful weekend. His Monday may be very frustrating. I am not normally so negative, but I have vast amounts of experience with me and this subject matter!


 The following is a reblog of my initial experience joining the gym…for those of you who are new to my site…a little background on my exercise procrastination! I know that I am sort of…well…not that good at gyms! However, I still think the gym is surprisingly fun!

***click on view original post for the rest of the story***

Monday would have been the perfect day for me to visit the gym. The perfect day to pay the registration fee again. The perfect day to begin my very exciting retirement on a positive note. I had so many ideas on how to spend the first Monday of my summer that I couldn’t decide what to do first. So I went shopping. Shopping in the middle of the day (when I am normally teaching school) is a total thrill. I needed to buy nothing at all. Well…except shoes. I always need shoes.

Of course, I needed to reward myself with shoes. After teaching elementary school for 18 years, I quite typically wondered if I should buy 18 pair of shoes. That would be so fun! How many stores would I need to browse through? A fancy shopping area is just seven or eight minutes away. Hey! I could really do some credit card damage there. Maybe buying 18 pairs of shoes is not a mature choice. Only mature people with self-control retire. Right?

Wrong! I have determined that I am no more mature this week than last week. I didn’t want to be mature anyway. Maturity implies totally white hair and I am just not ready for that business. Maybe I think that self-control means not letting my hair turn totally white. And maybe self-control means doing a little shopping at Wal-Mart. I like their huge array of plastic dishes for leftovers. Of course, it is difficult to have leftovers when you don’t cook all that much. We have to go to have Mexican food on Wednesday for the super enchilada special. We have to go to a home-cooking place for the chicken spaghetti special on Thursday and so on. Since I don’t need leftover dishes, I left Wal-Mart and went to Central Market. I proceeded to look at the expensive olives for 25 minutes.

The olives just threw me totally off schedule and that is why I did not go to the gym on Monday. It makes perfect sense to me. Plus, I bought one of those Texas chocolate cakes “like grandmother made”. They were on sale and I wanted/needed to save money and evidently not save calories. I could not face that front desk gym lady after having a slightly small piece of Texas chocolate cake.

On Tuesday, I actually made the trek to the local (not too close, not too far) Recreation Center. I don’t think anyone could tell that I had already had another piece of Texas chocolate cake. I was brave and told the truth about my over two year absence. I can’t help it that I stepped off the basketball court at school…a drop-off of perhaps four inches…and promptly broke a tiny bone in my foot. Five doctors later, I was able to get a diagnosis. I kept saying that something was broken. That tiny bone kept me from the gym for over two years. I thought that I heard the nice lady at the desk say “That’s ok, honey”…I suppose she had heard enough excuses.

Excuses or not…I went for the equipment orientation today. I have never been given so many verbal instructions in my life. Maybe I am not an auditory learner. I can’t remember anything at all except where the locker room is located. Plus, I need to buy a lock. The machines seem very complicated and fancy. What happened to simple exercise bikes? Some of these machines even have the internet on a display. I don’t think that I can read my email while exercising. I might break a really big bone if I fell off of a machine like that.

I am going to take my chances on falling off and I am going to the gym. No joke. The people were very friendly and they seemed to be having fun. Since I am all about fun, I think that I will fit in just fine. I will let you know.