Grandma Kessler {Slice of Life}

December 17, 2013

The conversation began through a picture memory my cousin posted on Facebook of her mom, who passed away a year ago. Cousins across the country began commenting, missing her smile, love, and joy she shared.


Thoughts turned to our yearly gathering at Grandma Kessler’s house for Christmas. This holiday was about Love, belonging, and sharing stories.Grandma had ten children and with grandpa passing early in life, she held the family together. We lived the farthest away and being an only child, I was thrilled belonging to a large, lively family. I was home there at Grandma’s, spending a month in the summer with her, visiting the uncles and aunts at the farms.


The comments began and my cousin Brett brought in the laughter to our comments. You see by the time I married, we had close to 100 people in Grandma’s house. We laughed. We were loud. We shared. Then, we opened presents. The secret name we drew back in September, known only by Grandma. We started with the youngest and circled around the room finding the next person. We would open the present, announce the gift, thank the gifter and then the gift from Grandma.

I am thankful for family and memories and connections today. We have a legacy passed on to us that we pass on to our family and others around us.


Slice of Life: Organizing My Week

March 14, 2010

Sunday afternoons, I love to sneak a short nap.  It’s the only time during the week that I do not feel guilty napping.  Being a gray and rainy day,  I was snuggled under the covers.  I had a long day yesterday, traveling to Holland, OH, and back, and then  up early this morning.  My body was ready for the relaxation.

Somehow my brain did not get the message my body was sending.  I began to think of one task and then another, and oh ya, don’t forget to do that.  Why is it that my brain has to go through a checklist of the weeks activity before I could rest?

I finally pulled a pad of paper from the drawer and began to write down a quick “to do” outline of the weeks activities.   I guess like the weekly nap, my brain is use to having the weekly tasks organized.  After the jots, I was able to finally shut my thoughts off and relax.

Now, I’m fully awake, taking the list and transferring the details onto the family calendar.  I know the week will run smoother, and the family will be on the same page.  Hopefully, the week that is organized will sun smoother.

Slice of Life: Charlie Brown

March 13, 2010

Today I pulled out my notebook to write something down.  My niece said, “Oh how cute.  Snoopy.”

I replied, “I love Charlie Brown and the gang.”

When I was a little girl, I use to think that I was related to Charlie Brown.  You see, my last name was Brown.  Charlie had the same last name as me.  We had to be related.  Beside, I had a dog and so did Charlie Brown.  I always felt sorry for Charlie Brown.  Why did Lucy always have to pick on him?  Linus was such a true friend, and Snoopy was adventurous.  I still love reading the Peanuts Comic strip.

Someone finally told me about a guy named Charles Shultz.  They said that he had created the Peanut Comic Strip.  I thought for a moment and then replied, “What does he have to do with Charlie Brown?”  I really believed that Charlie Brown was a real person.

Charlie Brown and Snoopy grace my room as a special memory that lives on.  I laugh remembering the innocence of my childhood.

Vacation Pictures

July 10, 2009

My eye was drawn to the title during this summer break, Pictures from Our Vacation.  Pictures are so fun to take, and vacations are packed with memories.  Lynne Rae Perkins creates a seasonal sensation that you can use with your kids at any time of the year.  The story begins with a family getting ready to go on vacation.  The mother hands her two kids a notebook and small camera to record their memories.

They will be souvenirs of our vacation,” she said.

Pictures from Our Vacation [PICT FROM OUR VACATION]Throughout the book, you will notice a small notebook with a quick record of the kids’ thoughts and memories.

I also love the way she creates mental pictures of their thought-shots.  This visualization could be used during a reading lesson to show how the kids have a movie in their head of what they are thinking, just like readers have thoughts in their head during a text.

The other unique skill that I have not found in many books is map reading.  Lynne sprinkles in maps of the journey with a map key.  What a fun way to build background when teaching map skills to kids!  Plus, kids could make their own maps based on the ones illustrated in this narrative.

Savorings for reading and writing for Pictures from Our Vacation:

  • Thought-shots – front page begins the visualizing from each person as they enter the family car
  • Life-like feelings – Lynne captures a person’s feelings of anticipation, boredom, day dreaming
  • Perspective – “Our dad saw happy memories everywhere he looked.  All we could see was old furniture and dust.”
  • Where writing ideas come from – “And it’s hard to take a picture of a story someone tells or what it feels like when you’re rolling down a hill or falling asleep in a house full of cousins and uncles and aunts.  There are a lot of things like that.  But those kinds of pictures I can keep in my mind.”

Slice of Life 10: Worrying

March 10, 2009

Slice of Life Challenge hosted by TwoWritingTeachers

I remember my senior year of high school.  I was sitting in government class when my name was called over the loud speaker to come to the Principal’s office.  The Principal’s office?  I remember wondering.  I immediately began worrying – what did I do?  I had never been to the Principal’s office and here I was going.  I did my best to listen in school and was respectful to my teachers.  I was quiet (yes, for those of you who know me, I really was).  I was unsure and always questioning myself.

So walking down the stairs and heading to the Principal’s office, my heart pounded.  What are mom and dad going to say?  I racked my brain and still could not think of anything that I had done wrong.  The secretary saw me enter, smiled softly  and said to go on in to the Principal’s office.  I hesitated for just a moment – oh, no!  Something horrible has happened to mom or dad.  I bet someone is in the hospital, a car crash.  Unpleasant thoughts went through my head during those few seconds.

Turning the nob, I entered.  I stopped almost immediately and then became puzzled.  What was Kevin doing in here?   A class mate of mine who I had in several classes, Kevin was smiling – smiling.  I wondered why we were here together.  Even then, I did not get a clue that something good might be happening.

I sat down.  Mr. B said, “Well, I want to begin by congratulating you both on an honorable job you have done here at SCHS.  I’m proud to know that you  have the qualifications to become whatever you want to be.  SCHS is proud of  you.”  I remember smiling politely, but still being confused.  It’s comical looking back.

Mr. B continued, “I want to be the first to congratulate you, Kevin, on becoming the class valedictorian.  And you, MaryHelen, on being the class salutatorian.”  Kevin was grinning from ear to ear.  Me, I was just re-leaved.  I was re-leaved that I wasn’t getting a detention or that my parents weren’t in a car wreck or any other horrible thought I had been having.

Salutatorian.  Salutatorian???   “Oh, thank you,”  I managed to say.  Because my heart still was racing, my enthusiasm was not at it’s height at that moment.  Who would have thought that I was being called in for an honor?  I learned a lesson that day.  I needed to be looking at the full side of the glass, not the empty part.

Scrapbook Memories (dedicated to Tonya and Emma)

November 17, 2008

IImage result for The most thankful thingf you enjoy scrap-booking, then you will want to read this creative text in The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt.  A daughter finds her mother reflecting on what she is thankful for.  Her daughter’s curiosity sparks the question, “In your long, long, long life, what are you the very most thankful for?”  Cleverly, her mother has her guess, sending the daughter to get her scrapbook.

Cyd Moore uses the background of the text as the black-based scrapbook pages.  He then blends the current conversation and reflections on the pages with bright thought shots.

This hybrid text becomes unique as you read picture captions and labels to bring meaning to the stories shared.  The mother always adds, “But even if...” adding a grand prospect, she closes with “it wouldn’t have been as great as my very most thankful thing.”  As the scenes of the young mother’s life pass by, the daughter finally gives up.  “Your most thankful thing must be awesome!  It must be amazing!

At that moment, her motherly love pours out as she acknowledges her daughters birth as being her “most thankful thing.

As I’ve reread and reflected on this book, my first thought was “this is a book for parents.  It’s motherly love.”  But then, as I savored and looked deeper, I did find nuggets to help teach our children.  I view this book as a resource to teach concepts during conferencing.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Most Thankful Thing:

  • Savor the moment
  • Time-line – highlights important scenes in a life
  • Summarizes events
  • Questioning – child-like curiosity explodes through this text, probing for more answers
  • Conversation – back and forth
  • Notebooks – personal scrapbooks of meaningful moments
  • Thought shots