Definitely not a traditional home life. By any stretch of the imagination.



Someone might ask…just what is a traditional home life? What is traditional in Texas might be different from a traditional home life in California. What is traditional in Japan might be different from a traditional home life in Brazil. Differences are understandable and expected. Everyone can define a traditional home life in their own way.

However…I would hope that traditional in any part of the world would (or could) involve the basic levels of need for sustainable life. Abraham Maslow, a noted American psychologist, wrote “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943. His findings stated that the basic needs are arranged in a Hierarchy of Needs. A pyramid is often presented as the foundation for a person’s basic needs. Lower needs must be met before a person can reach the top level called self-actualization. When this level is completed, a person reaches their full potential, according to Maslow

Those lower needs on the pyramid include the very basic needs of water, food, sleep and shelter. When I was in graduate school for Educational Administration, the presentations on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs made a serious impression on me. To me, it represents the eventual motivation that is especially needed for a young child to successfully progress through school with a sense of joy in learning, pride in accomplishment and a feeling of creative thinking.






In my own classroom, I have sadly seen the effects of the absence of these basic needs. When I was thinking of the word “traditional”…I thought immediately of the small child who was in my classroom more than ten years ago. I cannot help but think about currently young children who are in the same situation. Is there someone there to hear their voice? I only hope that someone at their school listens like a group of educators at my school listened. I wrote the following post in the second month of my blog…




Listen: A Small and Quiet Voice is Talking.



The child walked quietly into my elementary school classroom.


His eyes were cast downward. His smile was absent. His walk was slow and hesitant. His smile was absent. Other children walked in laughing and talking and skipping. Most everyone had something to say…”Good Morning, Good Morning”, “Want to hear something funny?”, “Hey teacher…look at my new backpack! I found it at a garage sale! Do you love it?”, “Today is pizza day in the cafeteria. Is it lunchtime yet?” and on and on.


Yes…most everyone had something to say and all of the children greeted me with a smile. All smiled except for one small, fragile boy. He sat down at his table and put his head down on his folded arms. He was asleep in less than 30 seconds. I tried to wake him up for circle time, for the main lesson of the day, for the teacher read-aloud. Clearly exhausted.


He evidently came to school to get some peace and quiet. I never consider my classroom to be particularly quiet and sometimes I don’t consider it particularly peaceful. I do know that my classroom is filled with love and care…love from me to the children, from the children to me…love and care is always my goal.

I rarely know right away about a child’s life away from school. I listen, learn and discern information in bits and pieces for a few weeks. I would eventually know what type of home life they bring to school. With this sad little boy, I knew that things were certainly not right. Something was missing. Please, please…help me find the missing part to the puzzle.

I asked the mother and step-father to come in for a meeting. I sent a note home in his daily folder. I called repeatedly. I left messages. The number was quickly disconnected. A relative picked him up in the afternoon. She would barely talk to me. She muttered a quick greeting with the same look of despair as the child.


Everyday, I spent extra time with the child while his classmates were busy with projects. Little by little, he started talking quietly to me.

He was hungry. He usually did not eat at night. The breakfast and lunch provided at our school were mostly his only means of sustenance. He did not have a bed. He slept on a couple of blankets on the floor. Sometimes a sibling would take the blankets away from him.

His mother had two jobs. I was glad that she was working, but worried about the care he was receiving or obviously not receiving. I doubted that she had time to talk with me. I began trying to get the step-father to talk with me. No luck. Collaboration? Not from these parents.

A few days after the child began talking to me, he said his leg hurt, his tummy hurt. The story came out in a blur of words. I immediately talked with all of the appropriate people at my elementary school and beyond my school. The counselor talked with the child. The sad truth was indeed the really sad truth. Things were very wrong at his house.


Action was taken very quickly by the appropriate agency. He was sent to foster care in another school district that very day. I hope he found love and support. I hope he found a warm and comfortable bed. I hope he found a good dinner waiting for him every evening.

I do not know what happened to him after his placement. I hope that he learned to smile. I hope that his mother learned that she needs to collaborate with the teacher and the school and anyone else who would help her. Fear keeps so many parents from seeking assistance. If only she really knew how much effort we put into finding a bit of a future for her child.


I certainly did not find a chance at a better life for him all by myself. It took a group of people working together. And it all started because a group of educators listened to his quiet voice. That is why I believe that it takes a truly committed village to raise a child.





beyond the fog

Summer of 2017...the child who was in my class is now grown up. My prayer is that he made it…that he became the happy child that he deserved to be. I hope that his basic needs plus more were met.





One Teacher. 22 Children. There’s Always One You Wonder About…Years Later.


When I first started teaching public school, I had no idea what I was getting into. I did not know how sweet the children could be. I did not know how difficult the children sometimes could be. I did not know about the huge amounts of paperwork. I did not know about the long hours of preparation. I did not know that a teacher could become so overwhelmed by preparation…that the teacher could easily forget to understand each child…   to give each child the individual attention they needed. I did not know how to savor each moment spent with a child…how to make the best of each moment.


class four


That first year…almost 20 years ago…I learned so much about me, about the children, about their needs…I learned so much that the professors never mentioned in my education classes…


Such as…how poverty can cause a child to be fearful and withdrawn.

Such as…the fact that hunger is real and it exists where you least expect it.

Such as…the school might be the very best and cleanest and prettiest place that they have ever been.

Such as…just how much the teacher can impact a class by simply cherishing their very presence.

Such as…that their family might be in the survival mode instead of the loving their child mode.


classroom one


Cherish? Survive? Love? Teach? Protect? So many roles all at the same time. So many children. How in the world could I do it? Maybe I was not meant to teach…



Johnny was in my class for two different grade levels. The classes just turned out that way. It was a very large elementary school…well over 1,000 students. Some grade levels had seven or eight classrooms. It was just a lucky coincidence that I had Johnny for a second year. I was thrilled!


class three

However, Johnny’s family life had changed in the two years since I had him in a lower grade level. His mother couldn’t come to the school very much. I never heard anything from the father. Johnny came to school hungry. If he arrived at school a little late and missed breakfast…he would cry. I would get someone to go to the cafeteria to find something for him. I started keeping snacks in my desk for just such an occasion.


class two

Johnny did not have all of the supplies that he needed. This never happened when he was in my class before. Clearly, something was going on at the house. The parents would not show up for conferences. Johnny would not talk about what was wrong.

I concluded that the parents perhaps had lost their jobs. Or perhaps that one parent had lost a job. There were multiple children in one small house. Too many mouths to feed…too much worry to give much love to this boy… this boy who needed so much attention.


I looked for a way to reach Johnny. I knew that he was an excellent artist even as a younger child. I found him a drawing pad and special pencils. Johnny was instantly a brand new child. A happy child…at least…at school. The whole class was in awe of his obvious talent.

Johnny had a good year. Things seemed to get a bit better at his house. He started making it to school in time for breakfast. He started doing his homework. He started answering questions about stories from the basal reader. He started checking out library books and writing book reports. He started to be a strong leader. He started to grow up and to know that someone indeed did care…in fact, a lot of people cared besides just me. The music teacher, the P.E. teacher, the art teacher, the janitors, the principal…everyone cared about Johnny.


Actually, everyone cared about everyone at that particular school. And that is how one little boy learned about confidence and courage and friendship.


And one new teacher learned about the power of listening to a child, about the power of observing a child, about the power of caring about a child. And one teacher learned that she could do the same for all of the children in the class.


And it all started because of a drawing pad and a set of special pencils.


class six

The Elephant and the Tailor. A Short Story with a Moral.

“An Elephant and a Tailor” is an ideal story for an early childhood class. As with quite a few children’s short stories, the meaning of the story can reach out to many adults. Let me rephrase that statement…some adults need to listen to the moral of the story!


Moral of “An Elephant and a Tailor”…

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”



Read the story and see if you agree with the moral…



Tailor two


There are several different versions of the story…all with the same moral viewpoint…


Pine Cove: Half a century of ministering to the whole family –

Pine Cove two

The following is an article about a wonderful summer camp in East Texas…Pine Cove. Both of our children attended Pine Cove from third grade through their senior year in high school. Our son-in-law also attended Pine Cove. What an amazing experience for our entire family! The friendships, the beautiful setting, the life lessons and the camaraderie of the entire staff are still impacting our lives today!



***click on the link below for the entire story!***


Every year, at a camp by a lake in the piney woods of East Texas, the lives of tens of thousands…

Source: Pine Cove: Half a century of ministering to the whole family –

Inspiration. Contemplation. Adversity. Strength…From A 2017 Children’s Book.

life one

LIFE, a new children’s book from Cynthia Rylant, gave me a feeling of tranquility and hopefulness like I have not found in any recent books. I am including books written for adults and for children during the last few years. Often, we overlook children’s books as being simplistic and not laden with strong content. Life is a different type book… indeed, it is a book that can be the catalyst to acquiring a wider viewpoint of our world. I am thinking that we surely need a stronger outlook in every aspect of our lives.


life four



To find strength and resilience through the adverse times we all sometimes face.

To find freedom through appreciation of the wonders of nature that surround us.


life five


In the harsh rhetoric of discord that we hear in our own lives or through the media, our nerves easily become jangled and discordant.  LIFE by Cynthia Rylant offers us the opportunity to find a sense of beauty in the world around us and to also recognize that we are not alone in our concerns.



life three



We all struggle. Sadly, we do not all look for the glass half full. Why settle for the glass half empty?



Simon & Schuster published LIFE and wrote the following review…



Written by: Cynthia Rylant

Illustrated by: Brendan Wenzel


“Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel explore the beauty and tenacity of life. There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals–including elephants, monkeys, whales and more–Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing gift for readers of all ages.”


life two

Shopping for our grandson! WOW! I need to get this, that, this and definitely that!

baby boy closet


It happened…I held myself back as long as I possibly could. And then I was at a department store yesterday and I just by accident walked towards the baby area. There was a force pulling me to the back of the store. A force stronger than the pull that was being emitted from the shoe department. I love shoes. I have found something that I love more than shoes…our baby grandson!  He will be born in December…I am trying my best to be very patient and not get carried away with shopping!


My patience was truly tested in the baby department and this is not even my most favorite store. I looked at every possible piece of boy clothing in the entire area. I left not even a blanket untouched.



Will he like blue best?


Will he like red best?


Will he want to wear dress-up outfits?


Will he be a farmer boy with overalls?




Decisions! Decisions!


I suppose that I might as well calm down…after all…he will be a tiny baby! He won’t be deciding what to wear for quite a while! I will choose the most adorable things that I can find! We are just very excited about our grandson!


What I possibly bought for our grandson…not admitting any purchases…



baby four





baby six




baby nine




baby eight




baby two




baby three 



 Which one would you choose?!!

A Collection of 4th of July Crafts For Kids!

fourth craft

A favorite…the clothespin wreath…our wreath was a bit disorganized compared to this one! However, it was still very beautiful to us!


I loved making any and all crafts with my Kindergarten students! Of course, we were never in school on the 4th of July! So our own children had fun making some of the same crafts pictured below.



In fact, I am sure that we still have most ~if not all~ of their creations. Where?! Who knows?! Just tucked away safely in a box! Some things are just to special to simply throw away!!!



#1 Idea!

fourth craft seven



#2 Idea!

fourth craft six


#3 Idea!

fourth craft two



#4 Idea!

fourth craft five



#5 Idea!





#6! An idea from Parent’s Magazine!!


Patriotic wind socks






And one super cute watermelon idea!


watermelon fourth of July