I’ve loved the idea of OLW (One Little Word) since I first heard of it several years ago. People choose a word that symbolizes what they want to be/do/become/change/value to let guide them in their actions for the year. I am always curious to see what word people choose for themselves. Nine times out of ten, when I hear the word they have chosen, I think, “That is such a great word! That would fit me!” But, I don’t want to “copy”, and I want my word to be my own. This morning, as I was driving home from the library, my OLW found me.

All my life I have struggled with my self-worth. I put too much value on what others think of me instead of finding my value in God. I worry about pleasing others and making them happy sometimes at the cost of being untrue to myself and my own beliefs. I know this is crazy and realize how far from the truth this is, yet I still choose to allow others to define me. It makes my stomach curl when I think about it, yet I fall right back into the pit as soon as my nose peeks over the top.

Yesterday I was hurt by someone I called a friend. This hurt dug me further into my pit. Today, I decided I am finished being defined by others. I am a child of the Most High God. He will never leave me or forsake me. He goes before me. He loves me and has chosen me. I am His treasure. It is about time I lived my life in a way that shows I embrace that truth. My OLW is treasure. My hope in choosing this word is that by the end of this year, my identity will be found only in Him and not in this world.


The Final Christmas Concert

This past Tuesday, Max had his final Christmas concert. Since fifth-grade, he has performed/written a special piece for the concerts. This past Tuesday was his big finale. In October/November, he found some bell plates in the band room. After playing with them for a couple of weeks, he wrote a piece for the bell plates and piano to frame the Christmas story.  He asked some classmates to play the bell plates, he played the piano, and his friend, Cody, told the Christmas story. I hope this blesses you as much as it blessed me.

Merry Christmas!

The Email

When I taught preschool, the longest time of the day was the period right after lunch when we started settling down for nap. I would unstack the cots; spread out each child’s blanket, pillow, and lovey; put pacifiers where they were needed; and begin the bathroom process before nap. We only had one bathroom, so the process took awhile. While each child had their turn, the rest of the children sat on their own cot, or a friend’s cot, and read books. While this was the longest time in our day, it was also one of the best times in our day! There is nothing like 10 little preschoolers all reading and enjoying books at the same time.

While I waited for the bathroom process to finish, sometimes I would quickly check my email from the morning. I remember one day vividly.

I sat down in the green office chair, relieved to have all the diapers changed and the dirty clothes from lunch changed. I looked around the room. My kids were pleasantly content at the moment: Anders, Colby, and Jonah were reading together on Anders’ cot; Blair was reading/singing Fiddle I Fee to Paige on her cot; Macy had her own book–Five Little Monkeys; Sterling and Natalie were reading on his cot; Gavin was on his cot enjoying a Thomas the Tank Engine book , and Joe was in the bathroom. Everyone was accounted for. 

“I’ll just check my email real quick while they are all content,” I thought.

I pulled out my phone and pulled up my email account. Five new emails were waiting in my inbox. I began to go through them-in order, of course. “Junk, delete. Junk, delete. Junk, delete. Deal with that later. Oh, the library. What do they want?” I wondered.


The item you requested is available for pickup at the Columbia Public Library.

We will hold the material for 6 days.

If you are unable to pickup these items, you may cancel your holds at


To suspend your available holds, call the library at 573-443-3161. We will ask 
you to

specify the dates you are unable to pick up your holds. When that time is past,

you will be in line for the next available copy of the title.

If you have questions, reply to this email or call the library.

I scrolled down to see what was waiting for me and let out a gasp of delight. “Yes!” I had been waiting for that book for such a long time. Finally.

Jonah looked up from his book at me and asked,  “What is it, Miss Erin? Is it the library?Did you get a book you wanted?” he asked.

I looked at him, puzzled. “I did, Jonah. How did you know that?” 

“You always get excited when you get an email from the library.”

Surprised by this, I challenged him, “I do?”

All my kids began to nod their heads in agreement with Jonah.

“Every time, Miss Erin,” replied Sterling. “Are you going tonight to get it?”

“You bet I am!”

“Will you get me a book while you are there?” asked Sterling.

“Me, too!” The others began requesting books. They called out favorite titles and authors as easily as they called out favorite television shows. Finally I gave up trying to remember their requests and decided to make a list. 

I read in a professional book somewhere that children/students know what you value. You don’t have to tell them. They figure it out all on their own from observing you and listening to you talk. Furthermore, they will begin to value that same thing, too. Whenever I think about that statement, I always remember this small moment in time. It’s true. They did figure out what I valued without me even having to say anything directly about it. Books were a part of our daily life. Authors and characters were extended members of our class. It was who we were. We were readers. We read. Everyday. We believed books were to be valued and cherished. I don’t think I could have taught those kids a more important lesson.

And yes, I still get a little thrill when I have a book on hold to pick up. 🙂




I need to plan,

but the dogs need to be let out.

I need to plan,

but the laundry needs to be switched over.

I need to plan,

but my books are ready to be picked up at the library.

I need to plan,

but we are out of bananas.

I need to plan,

but the dogs need heartworm and flea and tick preventative.

I need to plan,

but the kitchen floor needs to be steamed.

I need to plan,

but there are too many papers lying around my office table and the clutter keeps me from thinking.

I need to plan,

but emails keep popping into my inbox.

I need to plan,


I am really good at stalling!


  • It helps me process
  • It helps me remember
  • It helps me identify the “gems” hiding in my day
  • It helps me reflect
  • It helps me confer authentically with kids
  • Because my favorite seven-year-old asked me to join her writing club


My favorite writing space.

Seeing the Sights

Traveling around the state offers me the opportunity to see many places I don’t see every day. Traveling the state with Google as my map planner ensures that I will only travel on small, two-lane roads through the back country of Missouri–not my customary choice when traveling the state.

On Tuesday, I drove around and over and around and over parts of Mark Twain Lake. I decided to take a break, stretch my legs, and see the sights as I’d never been there before.

I stepped out of the car and felt my shoulders relax and my lungs take a deep belly breath. I heard the birds overhead. I felt myself destress. I walked, breathed, and soaked up the peace.

These pictures don’t do it justice.


Who knows, maybe I will suffer the two-lane road again just so I can stop and do some more “peace soaking”.


Why do schools ask teachers to write curriculum for new standards but provide the teachers with no time or training to do so?

Why do states allow people who do not teach children to write curriculum for people who do teach children?

Why are the students who are behind and need to be in our classrooms the most there the least?

Why is everything in a classroom decided by one end of the year assessment instead of by the children who live in that classroom?

Why is a teacher’s effectiveness defined by the scores of her students on the one end of the year assessment instead of on how well they loved and learned together? On how compassionate they became? On how motivated they were to own their learning? On how many books they laughed and cried over together?

Why must low-level comprehension tests and nonsense words dictate everything a student reads and writes? Why can’t students have some choice in the matter based on what they are interested in and have a purpose for reading?

Why do teachers have to beg for supplies and materials to teach society’s children?

When will we ever get it right?