The Important Statue of Liberty Cruise.

The Statue of Liberty

When I first saw the Statue of Liberty standing proudly across the the Hudson River as it flows into the Bay of New York, I was filled with unexpected emotion. I knew that I would be thrilled beyond measure to actually see the Statue of Liberty. However, what I really saw were the images in my mind of my great-great grandfather arriving from England in the mid 1800s.

The Statue of Liberty had not yet arrived in the United States when my first relative arrived. Most likely, he first arrived at an immigration station located at Castle Garden in the Battery. As the number of immigrants grew larger, Castle Garden was determined to be too small and unprepared to handle so many people. A new immigration station was built on Ellis Island and opened in 1892. The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor in 1885 in 214 crates and was dedicated in 1886.


Pictures of Battery Park in New York City. A wonderful place to view the Statue of Liberty across the water.

Arriving from the Port of Liverpool in England, my great-great grandfather was not greeted by seeing the Statue of Liberty or the hopefully organized and professional atmosphere of Ellis Island. However, I can only imagine his excitement, his fear, his plans for the future, his expectations. My great-great grandfather was the first to arrive. He was in his very early twenties. So young…and I think…so brave.


Paintings of early immigrants to New York City.

That is why I felt such a surge of emotion to be looking directly at the Statue of Liberty. We were in New York  City for a wedding, but we had a few days to take some sightseeing tours. We booked a Circle Line afternoon cruise to get a closer look at the statue and other sights along the river.


Circle LIne one

Honestly, I was like a child at a birthday party even when we were waiting in line to board. Our daughter thought that I had lost my mind. Upon boarding, we realized that our tour was full of an equally excited tourist group from Japan. I fit right in with them and started talking with the group sitting near us almost immediately…of course, I had to get to know them.


Circle Line two


As we moved closer and closer to the statue, every single person in the tourist group from Japan stood up and started singing America the Beautiful! What a truly memorable moment! I was impressed that they knew the song… one of my favorites. There were so many people standing up that I was worried about the safety. But…who can worry at a time like this?

So…I stood up too and started singing the song. Our daughter was totally embarrassed and told me to sit down right away since I was certainly not part of the tourist group. The look of distress was evident on her face and almost enough to cause me to chuckle, but I held myself back. She was just too young to grasp the importance.


Today…she would understand the implication of a group from Japan standing up and singing American the Beautiful. She would understand the implication of a group from Japan taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty. She would understand the implication of a group from Japan being proud to be actually seeing such a grand representation of freedom.


Schools. Transparency vs Opaque.

school two

Tree of learning at elementary school.

Think of an elementary school. From my last several classrooms, I could take just a few steps and see the front and back doors at the same time. The glass doors were sparkling clean with no smudges except from children’s hands. Those spots appeared to be cleaned immediately. The sparkling glass made the school doors transparent. Therefore, it is assumed that the school is transparent and not opaque in any way.

Is every aspect of the school transparent? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The sparkling glass can possibly be a mirage in many ways.

One way that the sparkling glass may not be completely transparent occurs because of necessary security. In many (if not most) schools, parents and other visitors are not readily allowed to walk into a school of their own volition. This is incredibly important. Visitors may have to punch a button on an intercom for possible entry to the school. There may be several monitors in the reception area of the office to show visitors at the door. Parents also should be given explanations for security measures at the school. Security plans vary from school to school, from district to district.

school glass door one

A person in authority may look at one of the screens and either allow the person to enter or not approve entrance. In this case, the door would be automatically unlocked to let the visitor in and automatically locked back again. A security guard might spend the day near the front door… monitoring every move of the children and visitors. Teachers might not be allowed to enter the building at free will when arriving at school.

Did I feel safer and in a good position to keep the children safe when I was teaching? Absolutely. Security measures were in place. No doubt, a safe environment moves teaching to a new and more confident level. Have these security measures taken away a sense of total transparency? Yes, they have and thank goodness for that!

There might be parents who feel left out of their child’s classroom and do not understand the new stringent requirements for entering school buildings. Or they may not understand the need to make an appointment to visit their child’s classroom. Certainly, background checks on parents or guardians are appropriately made when a child enrolls at a school.

school seven

Without a positive background check, a parent would not be allowed to help on a Field Trip… plus other restrictions. Definitely a sign of the times! However, excellent schools can be identified to be positively transparent and not opaque in several other important ways. The U.S. Department of Education has published a document regarding best practices for school transparency.


The following information is from…

The U.S. Department of Education established the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) as a “one-stop” resource for education stakeholders to learn about data privacy, confidentiality and security practices related to student-level longitudinal data systems and other uses of student data.

PTAC states the following regarding the look of transparency concerning information collected within schools…

PTAC has published this document to provide several recommendations for keeping parents and students better informed about schools’ and districts’ collection and use of student data. The recommendations contained in the guidance can be divided into three main categories: (1) what information schools and districts ought to communicate to parents; (2) how to convey that information in a way that parents can understand; and (3) how to respond to parent inquiries about student data policies and practices.

school four


Some of the best practices for transparency covered in the PTAC document include:

  • making information about your student data policies and practices easy to find on your public webpage

  • publishing a data inventory that details what information you collect about your students, and what you use it for

  • explaining to parents what, if an, personal information is shared with third parties and for what purpose(s)

  • using multi-layered communication strategies that tailor the complexity of the information to the medium, and telling parents where they can get more detailed information if they want it

school six


Data indeed does drive instruction in many school districts. Privacy protection for any and all dissemination of student information is paramount in building parent confidence. This practice can begin the atmosphere of transparency on a school campus already questioning security measures. The key is dialogue between administrators, teachers, parents and students. The result is open discussion and trust without a hint of anything opaque.


Chocolate Angel Pie! A Favorite!



chocolate angel pie #3

Chocolate Angel Pie was one of my mother’s favorite pies to make. It just did not last very long around our house! My parents had so much company constantly coming over that it was a good idea to hover around the kitchen! The hovering person was the lucky one to get the first slice of any pie that my mother made!

While going through my mom’s recipes looking for a special brownie recipe, I recently found the original Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate wrapper advertising the Chocolate Angel Pie recipe on the back! I was SO, SO excited! I AM SO excited! I am going to make it today even though I have 1001 things to finish…like cleaning out closets or some other non-exciting tasks.

In other words, I have jolted the closets and everything else to another day! Making the pie is happening first!!


Advertisements for  Chocolate Angel Pie, meringue beater (yum!), Chocolate Angel Pie with fancy chocolate shavings…if you look closely you will see an extra recipe for Chocolate Icebox Cake!



Recipe for Chocolate Angel Pie



2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 bar (4 oz.) Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate

3 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy whipping cream



Meringue Shell: Beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Then continue beating to very stiff peaks. Fold in vanilla and nuts. Spoon into lightly greased 8-inch pie pan to form nest-like shell; build sides up 1/2 inch above edge of pan. Bake in slow oven (300 degrees F.) for 50 to 55 minutes. Cool.

Chocolate Cream Mixture:

Stir chocolate in the water over low heat until melted; cool until thickened. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whip cream, fold in chocolate mixture. Pile into shell. Chill for 2 hours. Serves 6 to 8.

 *****The top of the pie may be decorated with chocolate shavings*****






Tea Sets for Easter Bunnies…

Tea Set one

The Easter Bunny evidently climbed over the porch railing and came to our house when I was about six years old. My mother loved children’s tea sets and so do I…typical! I always like to collect things that are not that easy to find. At least…china tea sets that are still intact are difficult to find!

When I looked closely at my Easter Bunny tea set…I suddenly realized that it was…

Really Real Fine China!

I was thrilled. No wonder I love dishes today! The Easter Bunny tea set found a place on my corner shelves in my room. The tea set now has a place in my entry hall…on a shelf…behind glass. I am a bit protective, I guess!




A few special tea sets that might turn another little child into a dish collector…






Happy Easter sign

Pete the Cat…I Love My White Shoes!

pete white shoes

Come on now!! Do you think that Pete the Cat could really get cranky? Of course not! And no cranky acting is the most important lesson that Pete offers to readers in the bestselling children’s book… I Love My White Shoes! When Pete keeps getting his new shoes dirty, he put his best paw forward in a good way…

“But no matter what color his shoes are, Pete keeps movin’ and groovin’ and singing his song…because it’s all good!”

Pete has brand new white shoes that he is very proud to wear. He starts walking down the street, but has so many problems. The problems are really his own fault. The problems cause his shoes to keep changing colors. He steps into one gigantic mess after another.

Pete strawberries

When he steps in strawberries…red shoes! When he steps in blueberries…blue shoes…and so on! Pete’s shoes are a disaster, but no matter what…Pete keeps movin’ and groovin’. Even when his shoes are all wet, Pete is still happy…because it is all good! How many of us can think that way?

I guarantee if I step in even one gigantic mess when I wear my new shoes tomorrow…I may not think that everything is all good! CRANKY!!! Hmmm…an attitude change might be needed on my part!!


Listen to I Love My White Shoes


When I first read this book to my Kindergarten class a few years ago, they immediately wanted to hear it again and again. We did Pete the Cat projects so often that I started dreaming about Pete at night. I dreamed that he was on top of our roof…no kidding! Then the librarian showed my class the video and the excitement really escalated!


Pete the Cat was the first in an entire series of books about this ultra happy cat character! One of the newest books in the Pete the Cat series…

Pete the Cat and the Cool Cat Boogie!!!


Pete the Cat

Guess what! Pete is still not cranky in this new book…sure to be a bestseller!!

Measure of a Man. Powerful Lyrics.


Elton John is a prolific singer/songwriter as well as collaborator with a decidedly emotional voice… sometimes sad and even more often reflective and at times lighthearted. Beyond the quality of his voice, Elton John and his collaborator’s lyrics are arguably some of the best…at least to me. If success can truly be measured by the impact of one’s voice, then Elton John is a resounding success.

Measure of a Man, written by Alan Menken, Bernie Taupin and Elton John was featured in the Rocky V movie. Elton John’s rendition of Measure of a Man has been described as powerful and classic. I think that I had never listened close enough to the lyrics until now.


elton john five



Measure of a Man

These battered hands are all you own

The broken heart has turned to stone

Go hang your glory on the wall

There comes a time when castles fall

And all that’s left is shifting in the sand


You’re out of time, you’re out of place

Look at your face

That’s the measure of a man


This coat that fits you like a glove

These dirty streets you learned to love

So welcome back my long lost friend

You’ve been to hell and back again

God alone knows how you crossed that span


Back on the beat, back to the start

Trust in your heart

That’s the measure of a man


It’s the fire in the eyes, the lines on the hand

It’s the things you understand

Permanent ties from which you once ran

That’s the measure of a man


You’ve come full circle, now you’re home

Without the gold, without the chrome

And this is where you’ve always been

You had to lose so you could win

And rise above your troubles while you can


Now you can love, now you can lose

Now you can choose

That’s the measure of a man

It’s the fire in the eyes, the lines on the hand

It’s the things you understand

Permanent ties from which you once ran

That’s the measure of a man


You’ve come full circle, now you’re home

Without the gold, without the chrome

And this is where you’ve always been

You had to lose so you could win

And rise above your troubles while you can


Now you can love, now you can lose

Now you can choose

That’s the measure of a man



These significant lyrics…what do they mean to you?





The Lion and The Lamb. Timely.

the lion and the lamb number three

Where is peace? Hiding? Forgotten? A non-reality?What timely thoughts. Was peace also hiding and forgotten when the story about The Lion and The Lamb was written thousands of years ago? Or was peace a misunderstood commodity?

The hoped for peaceful relationship between the lion and lamb are mentioned time and time again in the Bible. The story itself seems to be a combination of two Bible passages from Isaiah…verses 11:6 and 65:25.


Thus, the phrase “the lion shall lay down with the lamb” helps to explain the meaning of these two verses and other similar verses about the lion and the lamb in the Bible.


A possible peaceful existence between the lion and the lamb are used as a symbol to show the differing or opposite qualities that represent both God and human beings. According to, the contrast of qualities show the lion to have strength and the ability to be ferocious. The specific qualities of the lamb are a gentle and docile demeanor. This appears to explain the relationship between human beings and God.

Perhaps you have other explanations or references to this quote. What the quote means personally to you is the important part. The real prospect of peace between opposites…with distinctly opposing views….is decidedly intriguing. It seems like such a prospect of peace within opposition would be a hope for everyone.  Our past…as far back as we have recorded history…certainly shows that not all people buy into the idea of opposing groups achieving peace. Just the opposite is true.

Peace…a misunderstood commodity? Peace…a sought after commodity? Peace…a shared problem with shared solutions? Hopefully. Timely? Definitely.












TEACHER! Pleeeeeese Play Our Video!


Yes! Very pleased with classroom technology!!

“Teacher! Please play our video!” is exactly what my Kindergarten students would say immediately after returning to the classroom after lunch. Every day. Every week. All year long. They would start by using my name instead of “teacher”. To make the request more serious, they would resort to…


TEACHER! Play our video! Please!!!

Our video was any of the videos from Little Baby Bum or LBB Productions in London, England. My bilingual students absolutely loved the British accents!


Of course, we would watch the videos…over and over again…for 15 or 20 minutes…every day. These five and six year olds would have gladly watched them for at least an hour or two. Alas…we still had Math and Social Studies to complete! The videos are that good and that professional and that good of a learning tool.

We watched Little Baby Bum videos on our technically savvy and very large SmartBoard in our classroom. Hooked to my computer, the SmartBoard seems like a Birthday and Christmas present every day to teachers! No worries if the sound suddenly does not work! There is most always a Kindergarten student who already can answer just about anything about our computers in the classroom. These children…so smart!

Thank you to Little Baby Bum for adding an extra dimension of learning to my classroom! They love the ABC Baby Bum and the Numbers Baby Bum. You name it…they love it! The following is a favorite…Please and Thank You Baby Bums…




Pretend that you are a child again and sing along! Fun! However, now that I’ve heard this song again…I will be singing it for hours and hours. Oh no!!! I doubt that my family will be pleased at all!!!

Blue Sky Tag Award! Thank you!


blue sky three

Thank you to the very talented writer…The Chicken Grandma…for nominating me for the Blue Sky Tag Award! Here is a link to her inspirational, fun and always interesting blog…


The Award Rules…

  1. Thank the person (people) who nominated you!

  2. Answer 11 questions!

  3. Tag 11 people for the award!

  4. Give them 11 questions!

The questions that The Chicken Grandma gave me to answer…and my answers!

  1. Best Childhood Memory: My best memory is of our family Christmas Eve parties…with my Aunt Lois & Uncle Cupp, Aunt Doris & Uncle Merton, Aunt Ethel & Uncle Doyle and my parents. Plus…all of my very fun cousins!

  2. My First Pet: My first pet was my very sweet puppy named Pat. I named my dog with my own name! I have no idea why I did that…oh my goodness! Pat was part Border Collie and part everything/anything else. My dad made a big white doghouse for Pat and I thought that it looked like a playhouse…and treated it that way!

  3.  Funniest Family Memory: We had a very difficult time finding a car-seat that our daughter could not unlatch and get out of…we bought at least three. After the third, we had a brand new car-seat…the newest model. On the way to church one day…our son started yelling from the back of our van: “The baby did it again! Stop this car! She is walking on the back seat! Is anyone listening to me? Where did we get this baby anyway?” We got off the freeway at the next exit, put her back in the seat, put her bow back in her hair, calmed him down and were on the way. The baby” was almost two years old and he had just turned seven years old. The NEXT car-seat sort of worked the magic trick…no way could she get out… it took her six months to figure it out! When she and her husband start their family…I am thinking… PAYBACK TIME!!

  4. Best blog post so far: The post that is definitely the most meaningful to me is titled Our Son’s Words. His Legacy to Us…written on October 5, 2016. So sadly, we lost our much loved son in a car accident on October 4, 2004. He was 26 years old and driving to our farm before returning to Austin. There was fairly heavy rain and a car came over a hill, lost control…and hit him head-on. Justin was gone in an instant. He was an absolutely wonderful son and an absolutely wonderful brother for our daughter. He was a writer, a musician, an environmentalist…we remember and love him every day.

  5. Favorite book and why: My favorite book is titled Among Schoolchildrenwritten by Tracy Kidder. This book traces a full school year that the author spent with a teacher in an inner city, low income school in Massachusetts. It is a chronicle of what teaching is really like…especially in a Title I school in a high crime area. Since I taught for 18 years in schools very similar to the one depicted in the book, I identified strongly with every word. I read the book every year before school starts.

  6. Something that I hate to do: VACUUM & DUST!!!

  7. Favorite Food: Enchiladas and Tacos and Tamales!

  8.  One item on my “Bucket List”: To visit the San Juan Islands off of the coast of the state of Washington!

  9. Most beautiful thing you have ever seen: Our daughter walking down the long aisle of our church at her wedding…my husband walking with her…the smile on our future son-in-law’s face…a beautiful and happy memory!

  10. Favorite crafting thing to do: When I was teaching, I loved any craft that I helped the children complete …plus the door & hall decorations that I made.

  11. The first thing that I ask someone when I meet them: Where are you from…where did you grow up? I love to hear stories about where people have previously lived.


I would like my nominees to answer the same questions that I answered! My nominees are…

***Frank Prem



***Andy Oldham


***Jay Colby








Listen to JC Brando. Hear Adele.

  Legends in ConcertJC Brando stars in the Legends in Concert as Adele.

JC Brando has an unbelievably beautiful and strong voice. She has the kind of voice that would most likely not really need a microphone in a Broadway musical. Powerful and bold…emotional and bursting with deep meaning…JC Brando has the voice of a star.

We saw her Tribute to Adele performance recently in Branson, Missouri and were blown away by her talent. I have said before that I would love to be able to sing…to reach out to an audience with heartfelt words. No way! I just do not have any talent…I just like to sing. I listen to the true professional singers in my family and I wonder why the talent felt off the wagon when I came along. Oh well… let my relatives from Nashville be in the limelight! Some people…such as JC Brando are just born with truly amazing musical ability.


That is why…when I hear a singer like JC…I am totally enthralled. I am waiting to hear every melodic note…every crescendo…every nuance. I am literally on the edge of my seat.



Above video…JC Brando performs as Adele with Legends in Concert…World’s Greatest Live Tribute Show


The Legends performers rotate between such venues as the following…

Flamingo Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, Branson, Missouri

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut

Harrah’s Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls, Ontario

The Gateway Playhouse, Bellport, New York

Norwegian Pearl, Cruise Line

Royal Hawaiian Theater, Waikiki, Hawaii

Fireside Theater, fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

Resorts World Casino, New York, New York

Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona

Lexington Opera House, Lexington, Kentucky

Beau Rivage, Biloxi, Mississippi


JC Brandon as Adele

Biography–JC Brando…

JC started out singing in churches with her family and quickly progressed to professional training. She studied Voice and Theater at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles, and then she studied acting at Oxford University, where she worked with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Since then, she’s performed in theaters all over the world playing role like “Annie Oakley (Annie Get Your Gun), “Dolly Levi” (Hello Dolly!), and singing on Royal Caribbean’s luxury cruise liners. 




JC Brando performing as Adele.

JC Brando’s website ( describes her as “America’s #1 Adele tribute show” with the following…

“While someone may be able to resemble a celebrity in look or clothing, being able to capture the look AND the sound of an artist is far more rare. Especially when that artist is a unique powerhouse vocalist like Adele! However, acclaimed actress/vocalist/entertainer JC Brando truly embodies the 8-time Grammy-winning British superstar both in appearance AND voice.

A lifelong actress and vocalist, JC pours her years of experience and training into her role as “Adele”, constantly studying the superstar’s mannerisms and vocal characteristics to recreate the “Adele experience” for her audiences.”


After the show, we talked with JC for a few minutes…her onstage English accent changed back to her regular Southern California accent. What a friendly and outgoing person…we bought her current CD. On the self-titled CD, she sings two Adele songs…the remainder are her own choices. JC Brando is quite simply a wonderfully entertaining performer in her own right…her own personal songs are so very impressive! However…if you have a chance to see her impersonating Adele…the experience will be truly something to remember!