* Take your Houseplant for a Walk Day — Jennifer Nichole Wells

Jennifer Wells creates some amazing photos!  I hope to tag along with this one later today.  Have you walked your plants today?   Mine are all dead, so that would look odd.  

There are so many “holidays” every day – this is my attempt at a daily photo response. Join in if you’d like. Just tag your post #todayis. Today is also… Walk on Stilts Day Scotch Whisky Day Learn more: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/

via Take your Houseplant for a Walk Day — Jennifer Nichole Wells

* 50 Easy Steps to Make Life Better — Suzie Speaks

At first glance, you might run as fast as possible from this post.  50 STEPS?  Are you CRAZY?  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that these are DOABLE.  As Suzi points out, you don’t do all of them in one day.   You’ll find many that resonate, so start there.  Consider these as timesavers for the school year that looms ahead.  Many of them are perfect for keeping your classroom well organized.  Teach them to your students (I wish I had learned some of these when I was younger).  I am going to make them my Bucket List for the next month and keep you posted on how I’m doing.  Thanks, Suzi, and let the journey begin!!  

This was a list of physical, psychological, financial and emotional things that I created a couple of months ago to make life that little bit easier… and it really works. Of course, it’s impossible to do all of these in a day, but I have broken it down into smaller chunks – I’ve found that […]

via 50 Easy Steps to Make Life Better — Suzie Speaks

* #BeReal – DREW SHELDON — cabbagesandkings524

Written by an abuse survivor, this post describes the lifelong journey of accepting the truth, dealing with pain, and acknowledging personal failure.  Can you be that teacher, that mentor, that relative, who will make a difference in the lives of abused kids?  I covered up my wounds to avoid repercussions, but many teachers loved me.  Reach out to needy children.  Make a difference in the lives of silent sufferers.

Originally posted on HASTYWORDS: Please welcome Drew Sheldon to #BeReal. I couldn’t believe it when Hasty invited me to take part in #BeReal, I was quick to say yes. I was not, however, quick to write this. Writing has been quite a slog recently. The more I work at being real, the more I struggle…

via #BeReal – DREW SHELDON — cabbagesandkings524

* Blossoming in the new school year

It won’t be long before school is back in session.  For those on a year-round calendar, the new year has already begun.  How do we help our special needs kids flourish this year?  I’ve been inspired to write this by Cee’s photography, of all things.  Here are two images to consider.  (The crepe myrtle on the left belongs to a neighbor; the one on the right is ours.  Bummer.)  Which image best represents our hopes and dreams for kids this school year?


Since I am far more adept at teaching than growing plants, here are some tips as you prepare for the new year:

  • Make sure you start adjusting bedtime schedules.
  • Start building stamina for longer periods of sitting and listening.  The local library is a good option for this.
  • Let your child help select lunchboxes and backpacks, where possible.
  • Get your child the school’s tee shirt (often available from thrift shops).  I have seen these add social credit by creating a sense of belonging.
  • Start preparing a daily/weekly routine for school days, most likely with some kind of break when kids get home.  The light at the end of the tunnel is important.
  • Assuming your child has issues with behavior and/or attention, plan or resurrect a reward system for extra motivation.
  • If your child’s IEP does not already include an individual orientation with the classroom teacher, ask for one.
  • Start spending time around the school with your kids.  You could probably find a garden bed to weed and trash to collect.  You might ask the secretary for some other ways to help.  Perhaps there are boxes to recycle or catalogs to file in teacher mailboxes. I’ll bet the office staff would enjoy a homemade treat.  Bribery works.
  • If homework was an unresolved nightmare issue last year, face it head on.  If your child is too worn out after school to effectively complete homework, strategize how you might approach this problem more successfully.  Talk to other parents and/or sympathetic teachers for advice.
  • Watch some “back to school” movies as a family.  Care has a list of 10 good ones, including a favorite of mine, “Akeelah and the Bee.”
  • Parent’s Choice also has a great list of back to school books.  “Thank you, Mr. Falker” by Patricia Polacco is terrific.

Do you have any other tips to share?


* Older than 50 years

Cee’s Black and White Challenge this week is “older than 50 years.  My great uncle John was a chauffeur and gardener for a wealthy family that owned the estate later called Strawberry Fields (as in the Beatles song).  At least, that’s what we were always told.  Uncle John, as I called him, loved to drive.   These photos were taken in the 1940s.

Uncle John, sister Hilda_0002(Great) uncle John_0003


At a slower pace, I was pushed around in some interesting relics. 1951, to be exact.

KE 1951 with mother's friendIMG_0064


* Sharing my world

I am so excited about blogging again!  The mental haze from my kidney infection is clearing, although I remain physically zapped.  Cee’s weekly challenges are still available, so it’s off to the blogosphere races!

Cee’s Share Your World challenge is exceptionally cool this week.

What is the perfect pizza?  Oh, how I labored for years to create the perfect pizza!  I told my dearest widower that we could save money, have the healthiest pizzas ever, and charm our small group members with homemade pizza.  He eventually convinced me that we weren’t getting a brick oven, so I turned to pizza stones.  I started with a small one since they are pricey, but who wants a 6″ pizza?  I HAD to buy a giant version (on sale!), which was so heavy that I dropped and cracked it.  I reassured my pizza widower that I could use it in pieces, but I also needed a huge wooden pizza-sized “spatula” to remove the pizza without losing our unique toppings.  I tried homemade beer crust, sourdough, and herb crusts until my bread machine broke, which meant I needed to purchase a much more expensive better model.  Since I was dissatisfied with homemade sauces (despite all the pizza cookbooks I purchased), I began experimenting with designer sauces from specialty stores.  Eventually, my financial widower remarked that our pizzas were costing us about $50 per slice.  We now order Papa Johns when the kiddos come over.

What is your favorite time of day?  It varies seasonally.  Summer evenings are delightful with the flicker of fireflies and rumble of thunderstorms.

Show us two of your favorites photographs.  The photos can be from anytime in your life span.  Explain why they are your favorite.  My favorite photos include my family, but I want to respect their privacy so I found some oldies….

M and Luke

Our sweet son and sweet Luke

Allison  1.jpg

Our sweet daughter-in-law

Complete this sentence:  I’m looking forward to…. BEING HEALTHY AGAIN!  

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?   I am grateful for all the love, prayers, and support I’ve received in the past week (and for so much longer!).  I look forward to returning to work, seeing those kiddos I love.

* Three Things Thursday

Okay, it’s really Free Fings Friday.  Thank you, dear Nerd in the Brain, for your inspiration to stop and appreciate the happy fings.  And to play Pokemon Go!

The best news this week is that my mind is slowing emerging from Lead Apron Syndrome.  You know that heavy lead blanket radiologists drape over you, the one that supposedly stops you from glowing in the dark after multiple x-rays?  Kidney infections wrap and seal that sucker tightly around your head.  I’ve been “shielded ” from sensible thoughts all week.  I thought I could work.  WRONG!  I thought I could muscle my way through this infection with will power.  WRONG!  Now I am in the “I can do anything” mode, as I sit here in my PJs.  I kinda like this stage.  If only my heart didn’t ache from not being able to teach.


I can see clearly now, the brain is gone.  I can see all obstacles in my way….

As usual for this time of year, the hill behind our house is a daycare center for fawns.  Mommy deer park their spotted babes who wait obediently for hours until mama returns.  I don’t know a single child who would do that for 5 minutes, much less all day.  It’s horrible out there: hot and humid, bugs and snakes everywhere, no sign of mama.  Is this instinctive or does mama threaten her babe with a lead apron?


My dearest widower has been SOOOOO kind.  Hot tea for the chills.  Hot tea for comfort.  Food and blankets and prayers and warnings (“You may not go to work!  You may not drive!”).  My precious sister has coated me with enough prayers for this infection and any for the rest of my life.  Their love, and that of so many others, makes me cry.  I’m not invincible, I’m not in control, and my will is not enough.  And that leads me to the arms of my Lord, who knew that all along.  He smiles at my feeble understanding and grips me tightly.  He will never drop me or leave me.  He gave me this strong will for survival, knowing that with His power, despite my will and the lead apron, all is well with my soul.




* When you get a kidney infection…

Urine trouble!  Yes, indeed.

beans no background.jpg

It’s bean 5 days since I could concentrate enough to write.  The irony is that I was chatting about chronic kidney disease (CKD) on my last Three Things Thursday, not realizing that the beast was already attacking me again!  My doctor said, “Rest or you’ll end up in the hospital.”  I tried a compromise and what do you know?  He’s a smart man.  I’m on the couch, waiting for Godot.  I mean, healing.

Today I found a website called Kidney Buzz for folks with chronic kidney disease. They have a “page” devoted to kidney jokes and there are only five.  Perhaps CKD is no laughing matter.  Here’s one of them.

A man enters the doctor’s office and walks up to the receptionist, who inquires, “May I help you?” 

“Yes,” he answered, “I have shingles.” 

The receptionist replied, “Just take a seat.  Someone will be with you in a moment.” 

After sitting for nearly a half hour, a nurse emerged and directed the man, “Come with me.”  She escorted him to a room, and once again asked why he was there. 

“I have shingles” he replied. 

Her reply was, “The doctor only has 3 more patients, then he will be in to talk with you.”  

The nurse left and the physician came in after about another half hour.  He also asked, “What brings you here today?” 

Frustrated, the man answered, “I have shingles.” 

The doctor motioned for the man to sit on the examination table and inquired, “Where are the shingles?”

The man almost yelled,  “They are in the back of my truck!  Do you want me to start on the roofing now or are you going to make me wait some more?”

Joking aside, I probably won’t be posting for a while.  Send chocolate, not flowers.

* Three Things Thursday

Thanks, Nerd in the Brain, for your weekly encouragement to share happiness with others!  I’ve been a bit sleep-deprived this week, teaching at 8:00 and wondering how I ever woke up at 5:30 for MANY years.  I’m grateful that being semi-retired usually allows me to sleep well past that time!  Despite the sleep deprivation, I do know that today is Friday.  Free Fings Friday?

Onward and upward….  My sessions with Christopher, my autistic nephew, are going VERY well.  I spend considerable time supporting his brain in developing filing systems of concepts and categories, under which he can store new information and access it more effectively.  I can “see” that organization developing, for which I am most grateful.  I keep emphasizing how smart he is, with specifics, because Christopher doesn’t feel smart.  He is now less adrift when I use praise such as “You are using context clues!” and “You identified the problem!”  Still, he’d much prefer to talk about Mario than problem solving!  No duh.

I had a delightful surprise visit from a former student this week!  We started our relationship when he was in 2nd grade and worked together through 6th grade.  Now he is 20 years old.  No way!  He was always a delight, but how awesome to see this self-assured, confident young man telling me about his goals for the future!  He’s in college and doing well, sorting out his plans, still an artist, and always a precious guy.  We laughed about some of our earlier experiences and hope to reconnect while he is still working in town.  His family was exceptionally devoted, always advocating and supportive.  What a joy to reconnect!  I told him I’d always kept his special card to me (the images were a representation of some funny and sweet memories):

I had somewhat miserable news from my doctor this week about cholesterol and kidneys, but given my allergies and genes, it’s a blessing that I am mostly healthy.  These are also signs of aging, of the natural process which will eventually lead me to heaven.  I’m going to redouble my efforts to eat well (i.e., vegetarian) but ultimately, I am on a journey to an amazing eternity.  My Savior is waiting eagerly for me, and although I am not ready to leave yet, I long for that perfect world.

I hope that you’ve had a wonderful week.  



* Christopher and me: brain breaks

I’ve been asked how to keep a young’un attentive during summer tutoring, especially one with special needs.  My nephew, Christopher, is such a joy to teach, but he does get tired, off track, antsy, and frustrated at times.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, he’s an ASD (A Sweet Dude) kiddo .  Here’s what I do:

  • Keep a visual schedule so he knows when we will take brain breaks.
  • Take a variety of brain breaks, including going outside for a few minutes to toss a minion (below) or to attempt hula hooping.
  • Encourage him to stand up as we work, if he looks fatigued.
  • Give him something to fidget with.
  • Keep the activities focused on his special interests.
  • Tally every off-task remark and praise him for the improvements he’s made as we work.  Many times, simply tallying or graphing is sufficient with kids.  No need for a reward, but…
  • Establish a small reward of his choice for each of our 3 major activities (thinking/language, writing, reading).  For example, he loves a sour small candy, so he’s gotten 3 miniature pieces after each session of working hard.  He DOES work hard all the time anyway, which I find very typical of kids on the autism spectrum.
  • Provide a larger reward for longer and more difficult assignments which may take a week to earn.  These are typically the “thinking” activities related to problem solving.
  • Stay playful.  We DO get off track and although I sneak in some language work as we banter, he needs to enjoy himself with those wild and crazy thoughts of blowing noses, beating Super Mario Bros, or endless discussions of “comic mischief.”

(Hover mouse to read captions.)