Not Forgotten


I wait in the hall, watching them come in from recess.

“Which line is hers?” I wonder.

I see her walk through the door from recess.  Purple hoodie, her favorite color, leggings, hair in ponytail.  She doesn’t see me yet.  I walk towards her and pivot turn, falling into step beside her.

“Hey, you!” I whisper.

She looks at me and rolls her eyes.  A seven-year-old going on seventeen.  She turns her head and stares at the wall as she walks by.   She won’t give me the gift of her smile.

“Let’s go read.  Do you want to?” I ask as I grab her hand.  “I like your hoodie.  Purple is a good color for you.”  I’m still whispering.  I don’t want to draw extra attention.

“Why are you whispering?” she asks.

“I don’t want to bother anyone,” I reply.

“It’s weird.”

“That’s why you like me.”  I give her a big grin.  “Which one is your sub?  I want to tell her I’m stealing you for a bit.  I want to read with you.”

She huffs.  Rolls her eyes again.  Drama queen extraordinaire.  “That one.”

I pull her out of line and down the hall with me toward the sub.  I tell the sub I am “borrowing her” for a bit and we duck into the Title room.

“You said you would be back in 16 days.  What happened?”  The words burst out before she realizes what she has said.

Now I understand.  She was worried I wasn’t coming back.  That I made a promise I wouldn’t keep.  That I had forgotten about her.

I turn and face her and give her my best smile.  “Oh, don’t I know it, Chicky.  My schedule has been all sorts of messed up lately.  I’m sorry.  But look what I brought for you to read today!”  With a magician’s flourish, I pull out Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider.  “Check out how Eric Carle illustrated this book.  You can feel the spider web.  How cool is that?”

We make ourselves comfortable on the couch, the book spread between our laps.  And she starts to read, “Early one morning, the wind blew a spider…”

When we last read, she promised me she would start taking action at difficulty on her own and not wait for me to prompt for it.  She stops.  She is stuck.  I hold my breath, wondering what she will do.  She looks at the word.  Her fingers go in and frame the chunks.  Her lips start to blend the word.  When she is sure, she says it.

I smile at her.  “You’ve been working.”

She grins at me, eyes sparkling.  “Yeah.”

I couldn’t be more proud!


How to Walk A Rabbit


On Wednesday, March 18, we added a new member to our pack.  My son’s fifth-grade class rabbit had babies and the students were able to adopt a bunny with parental consent. (Side note, only parents who really love their children, or who aren’t thinking clearly because they are so tired from driving or feeling guilty from being gone would give consent to bringing home a bunny. You might want to check your mental state before you agree to such a folly.) Oshie (named after St. Louis Blues Hockey player TJ Oshie, the one who made the shootout goals in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games against Russia that gave the US the gold) is now a member of the Baker zoo.  Our total list of pets is one husband, two boys, two dogs, assorted fish, and one bunny.  Ha!

We were told by the vet to take Oshie for walks.  It will keep his nails shorter.  So, Sam and I went to buy a rabbit leash. (Did you even know there is such a thing?)  Getting Oshie into the leash is not an easy feat.  I have dedicated this post to all of you rabbit lovers out there who want to take your rabbit for a walk.  (Is there even one of you out there?  Please tell me I’m not alone in this!)

Before you get started, you need to know this is a two person job.  One person holds the rabbit and tries to keep him calm. This person is truly taking their life into their own hands.  The second person manoeuvres the leash around the rabbit’s paws.  This job is also risky, but is a tad safer because you won’t get scratched.

First, you need a leash.  Notice that the leash has two circles. Put the rabbit through both loops so the loops are resting in between the front and hind legs.


Next, you need to pull each of the front paws through one side of the bottom loop.  Watch your fingers.  Rabbits don’t like this part and will bite if they have an opportunity.


Finally, you need to pull down the clasp and tighten the leash around the rabbit.  Be careful not to pull the clasp down and catch the rabbit’s long mane hair; however, you need to make sure the clasp is secure and tight or the rabbit will get out of his leash and hop away.  Rabbits can be very tricky to catch.  They also don’t like this and will bite if given the opportunity.


Now your rabbit is ready to go for a walk– if you have enough blood left in your body to get him out the door without passing out. While walking outside, don’t let him eat any wood mulch, hide under the deck, or eat certain leaves. This can cause the rabbit to become very sick and possibly even die. Happy walking!


The things a mother does for her son!



My sons are 15 and 11.  They are not on social media yet.  They are probably the only two in the world their age who aren’t, but what can I say, I am a protective mom.  They had no idea I had been blogging about them.  They had no idea these blogs are linked to my facebook account for all of my friends and family to enjoy.  I am not sure how they found out.  My husband must have let it slip or something. It doesn’t matter.  Now they know.  Sam, my youngest, is not too happy about it.

“Mom, are you going to blog about me again today?”

“I don’t know.  Why?”

“I’ve decided you will owe me $3 every time you write about me.”

My husband bursts out laughing.  “Three dollars?  What’s the deal with $3?”

“Fine,” Sam fires back.  “Two dollars then.”

“Two dollars, you are going the wrong way, Jack!”  My husband is laughing harder now.

“Sam, I hate to break it to you, but I am not paying you squat!  And I will be blogging about this conversation!”



Our pastor is in the middle of a series about miracles. Tonight, he posed some interesting questions that got me thinking. He mentioned that many of us have our own miracle stories to share. I have a miracle story of my own, but that is for another post. The question he posed tonight is, “We know God is in the miracle business.  He is still doing them.  They are not a thing of the past.  But what about when He chooses not to do a miracle in your situation?  Why?  What then?”  He listed several lessons he has learned in his life about God and His work in different situations.  The lesson that hit home to me was “Posture”.

Back in 2008, my husband found himself no longer employed through no fault of his own.  We had two young sons, two cars, a mortgage, numerous bills, tuition payments, and we were down to one income.  It was November.  A month before Christmas. Christmas passed, and January rolled around.  Things became harder.  I constantly questioned God, “Why are we in this situation?  When are You going to do something about it?”

January turned to February, February to March, March to April. Still nothing. I knew God could solve this problem easily. Interviews came and went.  Jobs looked promising, and then they faded away like the morning dew. The “right” position remained elusive. I remember pleading, “Why?  If You would just show me why, I would accept.”




School started.  Still no job.

During these months, I started to realize what God was doing, instead of what God wasn’t doing.  We were somehow making ends meet.  Bills were paid.  We had food on the table. My boys had clothes that fit their growing bodies. And my husband and I were starting to rely on God, more than ourselves. It seemed that it took us “losing” what we thought mattered most to realize where we were.  God was holding us ever so close to Him, helping us realize where every good and perfect gift comes from.  Helping us to learn that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. He was waiting for us to adopt the right posture.  As soon as I stopped gripping everything in sight, opened my hands to Him and His perfect will, bending my knees to His sovereignty, things started to change in my heart.

In October, my husband had an interview that seemed totally out of his element.  But he went.  A month later, one year after he lost his job, he started as the director for the newly created Missouri Food Bank Association.

In his first years, he wrote a grant that brought $12 million in food to our state.  Scott and I smile at that.  We know who brought that money to this state.

Now I can look at this time and realize what God was doing.  Then, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Now I can truly sing,

I’m living my life for you,

I’m giving everything to You.

No holding back, but every part

I’m giving it all to you.

The Sketch


Last week, I had the pleasure of coaching teachers in one of the 3-5 schools I work with.  This is their first year with balanced literacy and the teachers are doing an amazing job trying to implement the various structures I have shown them. This coaching round focus was on whole group teaching.  The teachers could choose from Interactive Read Aloud, Shared Reading, or Close Reading for me to coach them on.  In this fifth-grade classroom, the teacher decided to try doing a close reading lesson for the very first time.  (I love how brave and bold she is!)

When the teachers and I had discussed the characteristics of close reading, we discussed the text had to be short and complex. This teacher selected the lyrics from Garth Brooks’ song “The River”.  She thought this would be a good fit for her kids because they had just finished a unit on figurative language and this song would give them the opportunity to apply what they knew.

The River

As you can see this text is full of figurative language, which makes it a very complex text for ten and eleven-year-old brains. The teacher did a great job introducing the close reading lesson the day I coached and after her teaching, we sat down to talk about the lesson and where she was going next.  She knew her students were going to have trouble understanding the text and “getting” the true meaning of the author’s words, but she wasn’t sure how to get them to the point where they could even have a general understanding of the text and look deeper than the surface level.  After some discussion, we came up with the idea of sketching the stanzas and labeling the sketch with both the literal and figurative meaning.  The thinking was if they could really see what the text was about, then they could have the basic understanding needed to go deeper into author’s purpose, etc…

The teacher, who is amazing, decided to try it the next day.  I came back a couple of days later to do more coaching with other teachers.  The secretary gave me a note from Mrs. A asking me to stop by her room if I had time that day. I made my way down towards the end of the day.

When she saw me, she lit up like a Christmas tree.  “I did it!  I did what we talked about after you saw me with my kids.  We sketched the song, and you have got to come see what they did!”  The words tumbled out in a rush.  There was no way I was leaving without seeing what her students had done.

When the kids saw me enter, there was the usual, “Hey, you’re back again.  I bet she wants to check out what we did,” comments flying around the room.  They started opening up their reader’s notebooks so I could take a peek.  This student’s sketch caught my eye.


Next to the paper of the sketch, I read what he had written about the text each day.

3/17:  Like a bird upon the wind these waters are my sky

3/18:  The author is saying that in life there are opportunities and people

3/19:  The author is saying take chances in life don’t let good people or good opportunities go by there are obstacles in life some can weaken your dream but don’t give up life is a river you don’t know how far you can get but you are fighting for your dream and that’s worth fighting for.  life is rough like a river. 

I read this and cold chills went up and down my arms.  I looked up and he was looking at me trying to gauge my reaction.  I asked him, “I noticed your thinking about this text changed quite a bit the more you read it and worked with it.  What happened to get your thinking to this point?”

He said, “Well, Mrs. A showed us how to sketch what the words were saying.  Once I started doing that, everything just clicked and it all made sense.  It’s a pretty cool message, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, I think,” I smiled and nodded. “Do you think it was worth putting in the extra time to read this over again and sketch it out?  Do you think Mrs. A chose this piece of text for a reason?”

“Yeah.  At first I didn’t get it.  I didn’t know why Mrs. A wanted us reading about birds flying. I thought it was just because Garth Brooks is like her favorite.  But now I see what she was trying to tell us.  I think this song is going to help me in my life.”

All I could think was, “Wow!”

I share this because I am so impressed with this young man’s thinking.  He is not the kid who “gets it” all the time in class. But he more than “got it” here.  Maybe you have a student in your life who doesn’t always “get it”.  Could sketching be the key to his success?



Today I have been a mom that broke all the “rules” of Spring Break–according to my boys.

I started last night when I made them go to bed at 11:30.  horrors

I put a limit on how many sodas they could drink today.

I made them carry 6 bags each of potting soil down the hill to the backyard.

I said, “No” to getting chickens.

I made them go to the dentist for their biannual cleaning.

I didn’t let them play games on my phone while they were waiting for their turn at the dentist and instead made them read Boys Life Magazine.

I refused to take them out to lunch and instead made them eat leftover pizza for lunch.

I didn’t fold their laundry for them after I washed and sorted it.

I made Sam call the vet and make his own appointment for his rabbit’s nail trim.

I put vegetables in the spaghetti sauce we had for dinner.

I used the crockpot to cook dinner instead of cooking “homemade”.

I wonder what horrors I can inflict upon them tomorrow??




The weather will be 69 and partly sunny


The frame for my raised garden will be carried down the hill to the back yard


I will spread flat the weed blocker material


I will build the raised bed


I will fill it with 12 bags of soil


I will divide the bed into 25 squares


I will plant the blueberry bushes


I will sow the bib lettuce and spinach seeds

It is hard to wait for tomorrow

Donut Traditions


“Mom, when can we get Krispy Kreme donuts while we are at Grandma’s this week?”

Sam is already thinking about donuts and we aren’t even in Springfield yet.  My son has a sweet tooth bigger than mine.

Going to Krispy Kreme is kind of our thing.  When we are at my mom and dad’s house, Sam and I will get up before all the others are awake and drive to Krispy Kreme to get breakfast.  We can’t go through the drive-thru because then we would miss our free fresh, hot donut.  So in we traipse.  Sam and I have been doing this together since he was two–maybe even before then.  We go in, munch on our free donut, order a ton more for everyone else, put the coveted Krispy Kreme paper hats on our head, and drive back.  We stop at my grandfather’s house along the way and drop off his donuts.  We are the donut delivery people.  We are a team-working together to spread a little sunshine in the early hours of the day.  It is our ritual.  It is our tradition.


It is 11:00 pm and I am saying good night to the boys.

“Sam, are you going to go with me in the morning to get donuts?”

“Don’t I always go?”

“Well, yeah.  I just wanted to make sure you still wanted to come.”

“Of course I do.  Let’s just not go too early.  After 8:00 would be good.  Ok?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

I smile at my donut buddy.  My heart has a happy glow.  My donut buddy and me.  Working to spread a little sunshine. Together.

Forever?  Probably not.  But we will do it together tomorrow.

I love my donut buddy.

krispy kreme

Green or Black?


Yesterday I went to Hy-Vee for dog treats and bath poufs.  We just needed a few last minute things before we could leave on our spontaneous mini-vacation.  As I walked into the store, I saw a spinning rack filled with seed packets.  Tomatoes, carrots, bib lettuce, spinach, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, peppers, corn, green beans, and peas.  And herbs.  Oregano, sweet basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro.   I lost focus.  I was absorbed by the seeds and dreams of summer and harvesting.

There is farming in my blood. My grandfather was a farmer once upon a time. His father was a farmer. Every spring, I have an itch to plant. I don’t know if there is any green in my thumbs, though. I’ve never had a real garden. I’ve had pots. I’ve grown small plants bigger.

I guess we will find out this summer if my thumbs are green or black. I left Hy-Vee with dog treats and poufs.  And seeds. Lots and lots of seeds.