Tag Archives: family

#SOL18: March 17

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Once upon a time, we celebrated in a city where they turn the river green, have a parade that is hours long, and a college graduation with tents, champagne, and fancy, fancy parties.  It was St. Patrick’s Day. The city was Chicago.  It seemed as if the entire city was celebrating. (And here’s a link to 2018 St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Chicago.)  Literally, the Chicago River is dyed green!

We were there for a college graduation; my brother was graduating from the University of Chicago. Fast forward a couple of decades, and he’s now back in the Chicago area.  A pizza lover. A Giordano’s pizza lover. And we have made many other trips:  wedding, graduation, and football games.

How many of these Chicago attractions do you know?

Lego Store

Navy Pier

Soldier Field

American Girl Store

Giordano’s Pizza

High Tea at the Drake

Ryan Field

Lincoln Park Zoo

Grant Park

Sears Tower / Willis Tower

Lake Michigan cruise

Museum of Science and Industry

Field Museum of Natural History

Frank Lloyd Wright home

Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple

VanderCook College of Music Graduation

“L” Train

What memories do you collect on your travels? 

Is it the wonder and awe of that first visit?

Is it the joy of sharing your love of the city with others?

What else would you add to the list of “must see locations” in Chicago?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016


#SOL18: March 5

Because this is my 550th post and I have a special love for “55”, I decided to be brave (last year’s #OLW) and try another new format today. Inspiration for this post came from Lisa Keeler here.


I come from Orange Avenue, a rock road,

that now has a fancy address

so E911 operators can locate and dispatch assistance or help,

a mile long stretch with four houses

which we left to ride a bus to school.

I come from parents as the third child of seven

born on Father’s Day, and ever my Father’s favorite,

a father who served during the Korean Conflict and

parents who believed in family, faith, and responsibility.

I come from vacations as a family,

where we visited cousins or Army buddies across the country,

with 4 am starts and travel in pjs,

experts at free and low cost entertainment.

I come from a love of learning,

from a father who graduated from high school and

a mother who wanted to attend college but didn’t have the money.

I come from escaping into books and reading by the evening light

in order to find some peace and quiet.

I come from a family of teachers,

learning how to treat others at my grandmother’s knee.

I come from farmers and workers who speak plainly

and know the difference between silos and grain bins and

the value of stories repeated and shared.

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“Outlaws”                                                     “Aunts & Uncles

I come from red-headed ancestors and outspoken aunts and uncles

who worked on labor issues with Bobby Kennedy

and many national church issues.

I come from a place where

family matters, where traditions are respected, celebrations rule.

and stories are told with quilts and pictures at family events.

“I come from Iowa

the Heartland of America.”


Crocheted hearts made by my mother now in multiple states and countries!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

slice of life 2016early morning slicer

Original poem here

How do you celebrate “Where you come from?”

#SOL17: Memories

13 years ago this weekend . . . 

“Are you driving?” Sherry asked.

What an odd question?

“No, I just pulled into Hy-Vee to get some groceries.  What’s up?”

And I knew.

“Please, don’t tell me!” 

I just wanted to hang up the phone.  

I didn’t want to hear it.  


And the tears streamed down my face as I learned that Dad had passed.


Without undue suffering


Suddenly and Unexpectedly!

To this day, I remember where I was parked at North Hy-Vee that afternoon.

It’s a section I have never parked in since.  

Not tempting fate.

The sun was shining.

It was a relatively nice day.

Done with work.

Planning to buy a few groceries before heading home.

Immediately shifting gears . . .

A dying phone battery.

Phone calls to make.

Returning to work.

Using a land line and a cell phone.


Leaving messages.


Asking questions.


Asking, “Are you driving?” when using cell numbers.


Barely able to say the words.

Numb. Shocked. Confirmed.  

Yet short on details!

Making lists of more phone calls.

Already exhausted.

Where do I need to be?  When?  What’s next?

I’m in limbo.

Half-way between my family farm home and my family home.

Is someone with Mom?

Which direction to go?

Plans to make.  Plans A, B, and C.

Not ready?

No longer an option

A hurricane is headed for Southern Florida

So Sherry is not yet on her way.

I want to return to the childhood days,

My treasured days,

As the best gift to my dad on Father’s Day!

The easy days of childhood.

Fast Forward to the present . . .

2017:  What a year!  And it’s not over . . .

If I could turn back the hands of time?

I would definitely rewrite March and April. Those days when I wanted to huddle under the quilt and cry for all the changes in our family.  Too many losses, way too fast!

I often come back to this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Moving forward may seem to be at a turtle’s pace but forward motion is ALL that is required.  Some days it’s not necessary to measure the miniscule change.

Does it ever get easier?

Saturday I stopped by the family cemetary (after a neighbor’s funeral – age 91).  A few minutes of conversation with Joey, Grandma, brother Joe and Dad . . . and aunts, and uncles and so many more!

Was it missing the opportunity to say an Earthly “Good-bye”? 

Was it not knowing how or what to say?

Was it the shock of the “suddenness”? 

Taking comfort in our memories,

And remembering the JOY, the LOVE, and the many celebrations.

Never taking a single moment for granted.

Precious life!  Precious time!  Precious family!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL17: First Day

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The bus turns the corner.

My last check to see that everything is in my car.

One picture down.  It’s kind of gloomy.  No sunshine for this auspicious day.

The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.  I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended.  “Smile!  Just one more picture!”

He takes three steps, turns, and looks.  I snap the photo. He starts up the steps.

I’m sure it’s blurred.  Tears stream down my cheeks.

This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.

I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat.  Third row. Behind his friends.  He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.  Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.

The driver looks down.  Closes the door and the bus lumbers down the road.

  I hop in my car.  Five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.  It’s 1995.  The First Day of School. No digital pictures.

As a teacher, how do your own personal “First Days” impact your attention to detail in your classroom?

What are you planning for this year?  Why?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL17: Just Wait . . .

What sentences or words caused


Fear, or


in your Impressionable Growing Years?

Was it the dreaded . . .

Dum, ta Dum . . .


Just wait til your dad gets home?

It was a dark and stormy night

(Sorry, Snoopy, I had to borrow that, but it’s so untrue

so that’s why the strike through was used!)




One memory

That persists

Decades and decades later . . .

Waiting . . .

Waiting . . .

Waiting . . .

Waiting . . .

for Dad to get home.

What had I done?



Apprehensive . . .

Running to the door.

Announcing to all,


Then running to get the tools.  It was time.

The house was brand new!

It took an

“Act of Dad”

For measuring, drilling holes and pounding mollies into the wall.


It wasn’t drywall.  A nail couldn’t just be pounded in.  A different form of gypsum board.

Not really a control issue.

A forward-thinking Dad who did’t want to spend future days patching holes and matching paint.

“Just wait ’til Dad gets home to hang items on the wall!”

Where do your ideas come from?

What techniques do you use to build anticipation in your stories?  

Could this structure work for you?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      

Idea Source:  A one line memory (often-used phrase)

Technique:  Like a riddle, give clues, without revealing until the end.

Graphic:   Giphy search for “waiting for dad”

#SOL17 and #DigiLitSunday: Problem Solving

In Real Life:

“Gramma, sit here.”

“H’mm. It’s a long way down to the floor.”

“Here, Gramma.”

I sit.  I can guess the activity by reading the clues in the area.

I don’t know for sure the plan but does it matter?  

Doesn’t the world revolve around my grandson?

How do I wait, without talking/leading, to see what “our play” is going to be?

In My Professional Life:

Book studies have popped up everywhere.  Which ones should I join?  Which ones are quite intriguing?  Which ones should I avoid?

My professional “shelfie” looks like this: (+Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst)


How do I determine what groups to participate in?  

For example, I know of three different groups reading and responding to Disruptive Thinking. Do I just jump in?  It’s summer after all and I do have more “time” to spend on reading and writing.  Do I develop criteria?  What could/should that look like?

Last week’s #G2Great chat was with Patty Vitale-Reilly (@pattyvreilly) about her book, Engaging Every Learner:  Classroom Principles, Strategies, and Tools.  You can read Chapter 6 of her book from Heinemann here, check out the storify here, or even read my blog post about the chat here.

Where do I think problems with “being an engaged learner” might arise?  Where should I begin? Right now I believe I need to pay attention to actions 1, 3, 5 and 6 below as I develop my plans to participate in book studies this summer.

  1. Consider the three dimensions of engagement
  2. Cultivate engagement in the classroom
  3.  Establish routines to cultivate high engagement
  4.   Use assessments to build engagement!
  5.  Use choice to build engagement
  6. Cultivate my own engagement

My decision is to see which of the aspects of “engagement” hook me into summer book groups and provide the incentive for me to continue participating.  By planning to “problem solve” in advance, both when I get stuck when reading and when my participation wanes, I can gather additional information about both my problem solving and my engagement!

What are you going to learn / study this summer to move your literacy life forward?

When do  I want/need/crave choice and creativity and what role will that play in my decisions/actions?


Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      

Additional #DigiLitSunday:  Problem Solving posts with Margaret Simon and Reflections on the Teche.



#CelebrateLu: Reprise

The sun is shining. The temp is in the 60’s and rising. What a fabulous weather report that takes me back to my farming roots! It’s spring and I’m thinking of home (after a writing workshop last Saturday)!

And yet . . .

Spring is a time to celebrate . . .

rebirth  as plants nudge their way through the ground cover

life as baby animals appear with their families

longer days of leaving home in the daylight and still having daylight on the return at the end of the day

end of the year activities . . . concerts, track events, music contests

And all those dreaded LASTS . . .

The last time the seniors . . .  before they graduate

The last time the juniors . . . before they move to the senior world

And so on . . .

But today I celebrate last Sunday’s reprise . . .

All seven of us who went to Rome . . .

Together . . . plus a few more!!!

“We set off on a journey to Rome, yes a religious trip, but also a trip to the heart of civilization.  This is a city of 300 churches with 200 more in the suburbs.  It’s a city of many diverse nationalities and personalities.  It was a pleasure to be in a group of seven . . .







within a community of 52 pilgrims from an Iowa sponsored tour (plus folks from IL, WI, MO, and FL).”   “SOL16:  Travel Trivia”

Other posts about Rome are here, here, here, here, and here with this one quick photo from O’Hare before our international departure.


and here we were again . . .

But this time in Iowa

A band concert

Taking advantage of time together

Eight months later to gather for a celebratory meal (Leo & Shirley’s upcoming 9th anniversary)

And a high school band concert directed by a son / grandson / nephew/ husband / father   . . .

Central DeWitt:  Sunday, April 30, 2017

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band program

band zero

band one

band three

band four

And always, one of the fans in the seats!


Home can be family.

Home may not be one specific physical place.

Where do you celebrate and call home?


Check out for celebrations at the link with Ruth!

#SOL17: My Brother


There’s something about a farm and a farmer.  A sense of resiliency.  A sense of pride.  A sense of worth at the end of the day.

The end of the day for my older brother was last Tuesday.  The corn was in the ground.  He laid down to rest.

And our hearts are broken again.

He’s with dad.

He’s with our brother Joe.

He’s with nephew Joe and his wife Ashley.

He’s with our grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

No doubt, encouraging them to think of his view.  His stories. His love of family.

But our hearts are broken again.

We didn’t have the chance to say goodbye out loud to him.

We didn’t get to talk one last time.

It’s been a tough year.

An aunt,

An uncle,

My godfather (also an uncle)

My nephew

My nephew’s wife

And now my brother.

And our hearts are broken again.

Thank you, my friends, for your love and support.

Thank you, my friends and co-workers for your kind words and offers of assistance.

Thank you again, dear Lynn (and Bruce), for trekking across the state (and do remember that we take TREKS seriously in the town of Riverside).

A salute to farmers everywhere.  The salt of the earth.

The Life of a Farmer


Our stories are many:

Growing up . . . In a family of six kids

Birth order, #2 in the family, BUT the oldest boy

Sharing a bedroom with 2 sisters on one side of the wall and another brother on the boys side

Chores:  milking cows, raising pigs, feeding chickens, planting potatoes, watering small foot high evergreen trees one bucket at a time  . . .

Remembering . . . About age 8, ONLY getting one half of a hamburger when Grandma Ruth took the kids to MacDonalds

In 1970 working ALL the time on the new house and then being chief worker on tearing down the old house

Being 16 when the Mareks got a color TV . . . and the weekend shows were Lawrence Welk and Ed Sullivan

Chopping up Fran’s knee instead of the cockleburrs in the bean field

Being in the Washington HS Jazz Band when it went to Switzerland

Playing chauffeur and playing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out for Summer” for his younger brother on the ride to school

Paying his sister $2.00 at least twice a year to wash and wax the outside of his car

Playing ball out by the barn with our double first cousins

Roller skating on the cement in front of the machine shed, hopping the pipe, and completing the skating circle inside

As a prankster:  “Pass the green beans” at dinner to Frank (and it was really asparagus);

Putting baby powder in the vents of Gerard’s car at his wedding.  That car always smelled like baby powder.

Shaking and bouncing up and down on the suspension bridge at the Royal Gorge; and

Complaining about his oldest sister’s “pancakes” – EVERY Saturday night  – and a bit flat!

As an uncle . . .

Making sure the kids always had NOISY toys at Christmas.

Telling 3 year old Neel Chary to eat the chocolate kiss out of the peanut butter blossom and put the rest of the cookie back on the tray at Christmas

Telling the Chary boys to pinch off the frosting on Josh and Amanda’s wedding cake because no one would miss it

Promising to give Evan a horse and then forgetting it until the next time he saw Evan (Fran says “Thanks – for real”)

Being a godparent for Jessica Marie

And our hearts are broken again . . .


Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      

#SOL17: Memories



Moments in time


Perhaps captured with a camera flash

Or the stroke of a pen.



Moments in time

Experiences shared

As families, as friends, as spectators, as coaches


Perhaps a story told

Or laughter shared.


Moments in time

Voices murmuring

Beckoning here and there


Shared out loud

Multiplying our love!

How are you storing up each moment?  

How do you capture that smile, that glance, that word, that memory?

Thank you, dear friends, for all your kinds words, support and love these past few weeks,  There.are.no.words.to.express.the.depth.of.my.appreciation.

thank you pic

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

#SOLSC17: #OLW Brave

The past week has tested my #OLW – brave.  I really can’t write much about it YET.  But I’m here to tell you that last week had some REAL Highs countered by one humongous abysmal low!


Time with my son, daughter-in-law and 22 month old grandson

Time with my nephew, niece by marriage, great nephew and great niece

Time with my niece, great nephew and great niece

Time with my mother

Time with my sister

Time with my ex-brother-in-law

Time with my sister, brother-in-law and three short nephews

Time with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and step-niece

Time with my brother, sister-in-law and niece

Time with aunts, uncles and cousins galore

Seconds, minutes, hours, days and days!


Google images, retrieved 3/13/17








Playing cards


Checking math homework


Talking with friends

Time well spent!

One of my favorite roles





Last Tuesday’s news


Telling Mom

Two new angels

My godson (nephew) and his wife

No time for a last goodbye

No time for a last hug

No time for a last joke

A double funeral

Hug your loved ones

Tell them you love them

Every minute

You never know . . .

Don’t leave any “could have”, “should have”, “would have”. . .

All in! 


Folder from Funeral Service

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


early morning slicer


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