Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This is the time of year where teachers START to think they MIGHT make it to the end of the year.  At my school, we have THIRTY days left, and then BLESSED summer is here, and life slows down a little bit (actually a lot, and in a REALLY, REALLY good way!).

At the other end of the spectrum are some of our students.  Behavior "write ups" SOAR at this time of year, fights break out on the playground, and some members of our student body seem to spiral downward at an alarming rate.

The cause...instability at home.  I had never even CONTEMPLATED not wanting summer to arrive before starting at my school...even as a kid, being bullied all through jr. high and high school, summer was my refuge from the idiots and meanies that inhabited my small town in Iowa.  To think that school is the only stability some of our students have in their lives is UNBELIEVABLY heartbreaking to me.

Yet...the cycle continues.  Kids who are FREAKING OUT about having to leave the "safety" of school and spend three months with whatever their home environments involve start "acting up", and "freaking out", and generally causing disruption after disruption.

My heart BREAKS at the thought of NOT wanting to spend time away from school in the place that they are SUPPOSED to be happy, and protected, and safe...that was certainly the case for me.

Pray for our students...that they somehow find comfort while away from the reading, and writing, and arithmetic, and that they somehow make it to September, where we can again watch over them, and offer structure, support, and safety...!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


So...spring has FINALLY hit the twin cities! Here are some photos of the view from my deck, and the "neighborhood"!!!!

I hope spring has found you as well...WHEREVER you are!!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

FABULOUS in Fairfield!!!

This past weekend, I went back to my hometown to be a judge at “Superstar at the Sondheim”…an American Idol type talent contest held on the GORGEOUS stage at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. It was a DELIGHTFUL weekend, from start to finish!

I took a personal day on Friday, so I wouldn’t have to rush out after school, and then drive into the late hours of the night to get there. I meandered down…stopping at the antique mall in Story City, and picking up a BOX of goodies from Jaarsma Bakery in Pella. LOVE that place! Here are my “goodies”...

The tulips and daffodils were in full bloom, so Pella was beautiful. Actually ALL of Iowa was beautiful! They are a few weeks ahead of us in their spring, so the redbud trees were blooming, flowers were up, trees were leafing out, and it was wonderful to see.

I got to Fairfield around 3:30, stopped at Hy-Vee (LOVE that place too!) to pick up a few things, then headed over to Tena’s house. We drank a glass of wine, then I headed over to Rob and Donna’s for…wine and cheese. I hadn’t seen Donna in a couple of years. We used to do shows together at the 16th Street Theater, which, to this day, remains one of my FAVORITE acting adventures…”The Ghost Train”, “An Ideal Husband”, “Mousetrap”, “Twelfth Night’…such FUN shows! I hadn’t met Rob before, but he was a GREAT guy, and I’m looking forward to more wine and cheese with them the next time I’m in town!

After time at Donna and Rob’s, I met my dear friend Carol for dinner. Carol is such a delight to “hang out with”. We hadn’t seen each other for AWHILE, but picked up right where we left off, and had a LOVELY dinner at Vivo. It was great to catch up, and, although it’s NOT Regina’s, Vivo was quite good!

After dropping Carol off, I headed back over to Tena’s and we stayed up chatting until about midnight…oy!

Saturday morning, we took our time getting ready, then headed to ANOTHER favorite Fairfield spot…REVELATIONS! We got coffee and scones, ate them there, then walked around and shopped the square. They’ve really done some nice renovations, and some interesting stores have filled the area. In what other small town in Iowa can you find an auyervedic health food store, a chocolate cafĂ©, and Indian restaurant, a “church of the mother divine” (I don’t know what this is either…), and a hardware store? Fairfield is KOOKY, and I really LIKE kooky!

We drove around town for awhile, then headed to the country to walk part of the trail system. This has been built since I left town, and I REALLY wish it had been there when I lived there. It’s a great system of cinder path trails that loop around and through town, and you can either walk or bike them. We took the segment that went over the new bypass, and had a HUGE bridge that went over a creek near the wetlands south of town…very cool!

After our walk, we headed BACK to Revelations for lunch. Tena even suggested sitting outside! I had the Greek wood fired pizza (feta, artichokes, red pepper oil, and kalamata olives). Yum!

After lunch we went back to Tena’s to relax, then headed to the Sondheim to run through our song. We had a judges meeting at 4:00, went back home to get ready, then headed back for the show. 

Many good friends came to see the show, so I was able to catch up with some of them before it all started.  SO good to see everyone!!!

I had a REALLY good time judging the show. Having recently BEEN in one, I knew how nervous the contestants must have been, but they all did really well. The contestants ranged from 13 to 60, and covered everything from country to Broadway. It was hard to pick the winners (the audience had a part in that by voting with their ticket stub for their favorite…that combined with our choices, determined the winner).

I didn’t learn until earlier that afternoon that judges were supposed to make comments, so spent a little time trying to figure out “witty banter”…turned out I didn’t need it…what I mostly said (and the other judges as well) were positive comments. I DID insert a little humor when I said I thought I might have a little crush on the girl who ended up winning. She sang a 40's/50's style version of “Someone to Watch Over Me", and was REALLY GOOD!

After the contestants had sung, the cast of “Hair”, which is opening at the Sondheim this weekend, did a few numbers, and then Tena and I sang “The Song that Goes Like This” from SPAMALOT. We ROCKED! Usually I’m “okay” with my performances, and ALWAYS think I could have done better, but this performance was ABSOLUTELY what I wanted it to be. Tena and I NAILED it! The audience loved it, and it was really fun to perform. I’m STILL on a “high” from it!

After the show, we went to Torino’s for greasy pizza, then home for a glass of wine, then to bed. It was an EXHAUSTING day, but crammed with SO MANY FUN THINGS!!!

Sunday, I got up, got ready, loaded up the car, took a LOVELY walk around Chautauqua Park, then made a detour to Denyce and Eric’s to see their FABULOUS new remodel/expansion…which is COMPLETELY gorgeous, and to which Duane and I are TOTALLY going next time I’m in town for wood fired pizza in their new wood fire oven.

I was only able to stay for a brief visit, then met Tena at the “silver bullet” (Fairfield Family Diner) for our customary meal before driving back, then…drove back!  The weather was lovely and there weren't too many stupid people on the roads, so, except for the spotty cruise control, the journey back was fine!

It was a LOVELY weekend at HOME, and, although I REALLY don’t think I could live in Fairfield again, LOVE LOVE LOVE visiting, and reconnecting, and remembering all the GREAT times I had growing up/living there.

Here’s hoping YOU have been able to reconnect with someone/somewhere/something you love!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Weekend in Iowa!

Haven 't had a chance to get on this week yet, but wanted to write a quick post about my trip to Iowa for Easter weekend!

Spring break was last week, and we didn't end up going was a weird week of cleaning, and putzing around, and antiquing, and now it's over and school has started up again, and things are REALLY crazy at school (both because our principal is retiring, and I'm on the committee to come up with scenarios for the "new administration", and staff that ISN'T on the committee is becoming paranoid, and freaked out, and whiny, and also because two of our staff members have to move to the other elementary school in South St. Paul because of budget cuts, and rumors are flying in EVERY POSSIBLE DIRECTION about both...).

Anyway...I drove down to mom and dad's on Saturday, and we spent a LOVELY afternoon cleaning up the yard, and fixing things, and taking care of stuff.  Dad and I were able to drive over to Beaconsfield (home of astronaut Peggy Whitson) to see the FIRST EVER Hy-Vee store!  I'll have to share with all of you my OBSESSION with that grocery store...but perhaps another time...

Saturday evening we TRIED to go to the Knotty Pine, a lovely, rustic steakhouse near Afton, but they'd CLOSED sometime in the recent past.  The door was locked, the phone was disconnected, and we were SAD.  GREAT food, and the ONLY "nice" restaurant for 50 miles in any direction.

We ended up eating at "Windrows" in Creston (mediocre at best), then went back to Tingley.

Sunday, we got up, got ready, and headed to Aunt Sharon's for Easter dinner.  SO glad she still does the dinner because it's the ONLY time I get to see the extended family anymore!

I didn't stay TOO terribly long, because I had to get back to the cities to brace for this week, but it was a nice visit, and dad continues to improve.  Here are a couple of pictures of him and mom (who is looking FABULOUS!), for all of you who are wondering how he's doing.

His pants are, like, TWELVE sizes too big now, and when he and mom come up for a visit at the end of April for Emilie and Abigail's birthdays we are going to buy him some that FIT!!!!!!

Hope your Easter (if you celebrate) was lovely, and that YOU had a chance to see "extended family" in the recent past!!!!!!