My 6th grade students have been working on writing an argumentative paper. They are all working on the same topic – should bugs be a part of our diets? This is a district assessment, therefore they all need to be using the same prompt.

Although they could not choose the topic of their writing, they have become quite interested in the idea of eating bugs. Not that they all think we should be adding insects to what we eat. Many of them think it is a disgusting idea. Grossed out or not, when one student proposed we all taste bugs, most of the students were all for trying. AND they suggested they donate ingredients or money to help cover the cost of the flour (at 15.00/lb.).

So the inquiry process has begun. Research has been completed on foods that are commercially manufactured and can be purchased. It was discovered that what is available is quite expensive when trying to have samples for 56 students. Research continued and recipes for chocolate chip cookies and brownies are available that require cricket flour. You CAN find anything on the internet! Of course, they knew that!

It has been decided that we will make brownies. (With Ghirardelli chocolate no less!) Permission slips will go home tomorrow with a warning that children allergic to shellfish should not partake.(Insects share the same exoskeleton as shellfish which contains a protein called tropomyosin.)We will have regular brownies for them or the feint of heart.

I am actually excited and will be sampling the brownies right along with my students. Their unexpected enthusiasm is quite contagious. You never know when your students will grab an idea and run with it. When it happens, better be willing to hang on enjoy the ride!


Something to “Crow” About?

I’ve always had a fascination for crows. At the last house where we lived for several years, there was a flock of crows that congregated in large pine trees in a side yard of the house across the street. They were sometimes loud, cawing and calling to one another. They were always interesting, flying in and out of the branches or walking comically across the street or down a sidewalk. They watched out for one another, one always surveying the landscape while its comrades searched for food.

Crows tend to be viewed negatively. Because they are scavengers, they will often be found eating dead animals. But their diets and characters are so much more. I have read that crows are extremely intelligent. They are able to reason and have terrific memories. They are able to distinguish between one human and another and will remember a person that has been a threat or one who has been especially kind. It is the latter characteristic that especially interests me.

Recently, there was a report of a young girl somewhere in Europe who had befriended a crow. Suddenly, she began finding little gifts that crows would leave for her. Little objects that had been found and collected. Small rocks, pieces of metal, small parts of jewelry, glass. Items that they obviously found attractive and worthy of scavenging. Items that were worthy of presenting to a cherished friend.

Is it weird to be envious of this young girl and her special relationship with what I consider to be a special bird? Maybe. But I continue to be fascinated secretly hoping that someday a special crow will find me worthy of a special gift.

A Bit of Joy

When I decided to start a blog, it was on a whim, thinking that maybe, just maybe, I would try to write every Tuesday for the SOL. Then the challenge went out. I pondered writing everyday. Would I be able to find something to write about for 31 days?

For several days I went to the instructions and thought about the challenge. I stared at the form to register. The final call went out and I gave it one more thought. Why not?

What I can’t believe is that I have found something to write about every day and have now reached day 15! And in the process I have been fed by the responses of other writers. I enjoy the process. Although I sometimes struggle to find something worthwhile to write about, I still enjoy the process.

Thank you to everyone that has read my posts and taken the time to give me feedback. It means so much and makes me seek out others’ posts to read, ponder and respond to.

Monday Nights

I love Monday nights. After school ends and I have prepared for the next day’s activities, I wheel my teacher cart to the staff bathroom and change into my barn clothes. They aren’t very attractive. Because the barn is unheated and still holds the chill of the evening, I am wearing an old wool sweater under my jacket and faded, fraying jeans that have seen better days. When I get to my car, I slip into my rubber muck boots and I’m ready to go. Monday nights are barn nights.

Steering onto the farm’s gravel drive is challenging in my little 4-cylinder sedan. The mud is like thick pudding and I feel lucky to make it to the parking space, but I am glad to be here. I grab the horse supplies I need tonight and enter the quiet of the barn. It is dark, but I can hear the munching of hay as I make my way towards the sound.

I find the light switch and several horses whinny at my entrance. I spend a lot of time here, including Saturdays, when I muck stalls so many of the horses nicker when they see me. They associate me with treats, so I am a friend. My own horse watches me with anticipation, and I enter her stall with her halter in my hand.

And this is the time of day that we both enjoy. I relax as I whisper her name and rub her neck. She stretches her head in enjoyment. As I brush her and pick the bottom of her feet, my thoughts seem to disappear. I am in another place. One where the only thing that matters is Belle and her needs.

Some nights we become a team and ride in the arena or out in the pastures when the weather permits, feeling each other’s movements, sensing one another through an unspoken language. For me, there is nothing more freeing or joyous than being atop Belle, enjoying the ride. Other nights are spent like tonight, just enjoying the peace and quiet and the moments together.

As I prepare to put her back in her stall, she nuzzles my pocket knowingly searching for a treat. I pat her neck one last time and give her a smooch. As I leave I realize – again – how much I love Monday nights.

Motorized Mama

As I watched her steer the motorized cart around displays and through the aisles of the store, I realized that my mother continues to surprise me. Even now, as I find the need to be protective.

My mom has had Parkinson’s disease since it was formally diagnosed 43 years ago at age 43. She has done remarkably well. She still lives on her own. She still drives, though now mostly to church and back home. It has only been recently that walking for an extended period has become a challenge. A visit to the market requires her to be more adventurous.

I was not privy to these adventures until I was visiting her and we needed to go to the store. So, I was surprised as she confidently approached the motorized carts and checked each one for its power level.

Initially I was nervous and felt the need to be the vanguard, leading the way and making sure the coast was clear. I quickly realized that my mother is very capable and had learned to maneuver the motor vehicle through the store. She needed no help from me.

I smiled as I watched her swiftly move from place to place, managing to snatch needed provisions from shelves at the cart’s height, while gingerly stepping from the cart to get things that she couldn’t reach. Occasionally, she would enlist my help, but I began to feel that it was more for my benefit, to give me something to do, rather than because she really needed assistance.

Although my mom has become less physically able, she has learned to adjust to what life brings her, as she always has. I too am learning to adjust. Just because she seems frail, it’s all how one look at things. She wants to be independent and I must let her be just that, as long as she is able.

I’m seeing my mom in a new light, a light that tells me she will be okay.

For now.

Spring Ahead

Tomorrow we lose an hour. Daylight Savings Time. What is it really saving? Not our sleep. Not our health. Statistically, there are more heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents after Daylight Savings Time. I know there was once a legitimate reason for creating this day. But I’m not sure if it is even relevant anymore.

Spring ahead. Lose an hour of sleep. Lose sanity trying to motivate myself and my students, whose parents let them stay up late rather than try to accommodate the time change (I don’t think most adolescent kids have bedtimes anymore anyway).

For the next week I will continually think about the lost hour. The alarm will ring at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning and as I look at the clock I will think to myself, “It is really 4:30 a.m. Ugh.” I will think about it again when my stomach starts growling at what had been, lunchtime. Later that evening, as I prepare to call it a night, I will try to push myself to go to bed a little earlier to bridge the time gap and make getting up Tuesday morning a little easier. I’m not sure I can trick my brain into doing so, but I plan on trying.

Eventually, my body will adjust to the change. I won’t think about the time change again until the fall when , once again, the time is adjusted. Fall behind. Gain an hour. Now THAT I can live with, though I wonder if any health studies have been done about that.

How to Read More Revisited

I found a post on a blog recently and with the permission of the author, Austin Kleon, I am sharing it, along with my own thoughts on the subject.

How to Read More
1. Throw your phone in the ocean. (or keep it in airplane mode)

I can add to this one. Turn off any type of technology that requires your concentration to be elsewhere and is mindless. It will interfere with your reading!

2. Carry a book at all times.

I carry a bigger purse because you never know when you may have moments to sneak in some extra pages. Waiting in line somewhere, sitting in the doctor’s office, etc.

3. Have another book ready before you finish the one your reading.(Make a stack of books-to-read or load up your e-reader)

I have a large pile of books next to my bed. Sometimes I find it frustrating because I don’t have time to read as I’d like to until school ends in June.

4. If you aren’t enjoying a book stop reading it immediately.(Flinging it across the room helps provide closure)

It took me a long time to decide to follow this advice. I had always felt obligated (to whom I don’t know!) to finish every book I started, like it or not. But now I don’t waste the time. Why spend precious minutes in drudgery when you can pick up another book that you can enjoy?

5. Schedule one hour a day for reading on your calendar like you would an important meeting. (Try commutes, lunch breaks, or getting into bed an hour early.

This is a wonderful idea and easier said than done. Maybe on spring or summer break?

6. Keep a reading log and share it. (People will send you even more good books to read)

Another wonderful idea that I have never done. I belong to a book club and one of the women in our group keeps track of all of the books we have read, but I have never logged the books or how I feel about them.

Maybe you have some ideas to add to the list of “How to Read More.”off