The Man in Walmart

The Man in Walmart~ I waited in line at Walmart to check out tonight with my two young children. Anybody who has taken children to Walmart are probably cringing at this very thought. But I have to say, tonight’s trip was out of the ordinary in an unexpected way. As I put the gum back on the shelf for the fourth time that my kids were insistent on me buying, a man approached us. He was a tall, thin, older gentleman and I could tell by the way he carried himself that he was a proud African-American man. He was wearing a Santa hat and an American flag t-shirt. He saw my struggle with my two kids and stopped by at just the right time. He offered them a Santa sticker and asked if I minded if he gave them a small candy cane (the cherry kind, which is Ryder’s favorite) and I agreed with a smile. I was thankful for the entertainment for my kids, but then he began explaining in the kid-friendliest way why today is so special. He wouldn’t allow my kids to take the candy cane until they both told him why they were proud to be an American. My kids were so excited to tell their reasons and I was excited to hear them. Seven-year-old Gabrielle stated, “I’m proud to be an American because we have freedom that not everybody has.” Pleased with her answer, the man smiled. Four-year-old Ryder eagerly chimed right in, “Well, I am proud to be an American because America is beautiful, like in that song.” The man laughed a pleased laugh and handed my kids each a candy cane. He then asked my permission to bless them. He waited until the kids and I bowed our heads and he said the sweetest prayer to my kids about staying proud and true to themselves. In his prayer, he thanked me for being a good mom and reminded me to keep America in my heart for my children. With tears in my eyes, he hugged me and then fist-bumped my children and walked away.
Even though this is a Walmart memory I will never forget, my kids have just stated what a nice man he was, not realizing how remarkable this was for me and I honestly would like to keep it that way. I want them to expect good out of people. I’ve thought about him since I left there. That man didn’t care that I am white. He didn’t care that I am a woman. He didn’t care if I prayed or not and he didn’t care if I celebrated Christmas. He didn’t ask what I do for a living and he honestly never even asked if Gabby and Ryder were my kids. He could just tell, I guess. He took a chance by approaching me and in this country’s current state, maybe I should have been concerned by the fact that any man is approaching my children and I, but I wasn’t. For those moments during the visit with this man, Donald, Hilary, the riots, the sadness- it all went to the back of my mind for the first time since Tuesday evening. The only thing that man wanted by approaching us was to see two children, my two children, smile. He wanted to spread American pride and the word of God and he gave me a little more hope and relief because of it. Tonight we pray for him. We pray for our country. We pray for the people who fight for our freedom of our beautiful country and we pray for good people to continue to outshine this unnecessary hate.

#GodBlessAmerica

#stopthejudgement

#spreadthelove

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Are You a Good Teammate?

Are you a good teammate? 
The idea of teamwork can be applied in many different ways. From little league sports to teammates of a successful business empire, teaming comes in many shapes and sizes. Almost everyone relies on a team, if not several at one time, at some point in their lives. I have worked on some amazing teams since I started teaching school over ten years ago. Each team has provided me with elements to look for in a team. I do my best to apply these elements in everything I do in my life, but I have also learned a lot of what not to do. If things aren’t going well on one of the teams in your life right now, maybe these thoughts will help! 

Identify the common goal: A team who works toward a common goal and has the ability to execute their talents, will achieve that goal. It is important to understand what the goal is. It is equally important to know the role each teammate plays on the team. It may sound silly, but find a strategy that works for your team. Write out the goal, talk about it, post sticky notes, whatever it takes to remind the team of what they are working for. Remember, seeing is believing!

Utilize talents: When one person’s talents are overlooked, it can be detrimental to the success of that team or project. It can even slow down the success rate for that team. Each person on a team has something to offer. Trust your teammates. They were placed in your world for a reason, not by accident. While it is always important to contribute your knowledge, it is also important to listen to your teammates. You will shine as a result of allowing your teammates to shine. So much can be learned just by listening to the people around you. That brings me to the next idea. 

Hush and listen: For some, it is not very natural to sit back and listen, but I encourage you to try it today. Try to listen instead of talk during three conversations today. You may have to literally hold your mouth shut while someone else is talking, but try it! See if it makes a difference in your conversation or thought process! If it does, try again tomorrow, and the next day, until listening to others becomes as easy as monopolizing the conversation. Be patient, be flexible, and have empathy for others. Nobody wants to be around a butt-head. 😉
Never stop learning: Remain teachable/coachable, no matter how old, wise, or experienced you are. As you are listening and utilizing other people’s talents to work toward a common goal, you are providing yourself with a multitude of knowledge! Use this knowledge to grow your skills and accomplish your goals! 

Don’t be Afraid to Embrace the Praise! 


Don’t be Afraid to Embrace the Praise 

Let’s face it, there is so much ugly in the world. When happiness and positivity are at the core of a situation, negativity is always lurking around trying to seep it’s way in one way or another. 
Lucky for us, a positive attitude is contagious! A negative attitude is, too, but let’s not give that any credit. I follow an awesome Leadership podcast. It’s called William D. Parker’s: Principal Matters. This high school principal agrees that, “People appreciate positive feedback!” 
Providing and receiving feedback is crucial to personal growth, at any stage of life. But not just any feedback. The power of positive feedback is crucial to a positive environment, but it also instills a sense of trust for the leader. It’s a win-win to me! It may sound like common sense, but check this out. 
Whether coaching a group of kids on a little league team or leading an empire of employees, if the leader uses positivity in his or her feedback, the chance of happiness will be higher. The above meme that is floating around social media may just be a thought that people can relate to, but appreciation is a small price to pay for a hard working employee, student, friend, spouse, or family member. 
Positive feedback is not lying about a poor job done. There will always be a need for constructive criticism. When constructive criticism is needed, it is worth the time and effort put into the guiding that individual to success. 
Every single person has talents. A true leader will help identify those talents and embrace them. A true leader will learn how to use each individual’s talents to his or her advantage. 
One way to combat negativity, no matter what, is to simply celebrate success. Celebrate the little things, celebrate the big things. Leaders should not be afraid to use praise. Be the leader that changes a person’s life, not by what you do as a leader, but who you are! 
 

Turn Your Star Student into a Super Star This Summer!

While summer break can be a ton of fun, it is also a time that Super Star students can fill their brains with other things besides the skills they have learned all year in school! Here are a few things you can do to avoid the summer slump, no matter what your Super Star’s age! 

1) Let your Super Star READ… and make it fun! Set aside 20-60 minutes of reading time per day. Let it be their choice on what they read!

Here are some ideas:

~It can be silent, with you, or with a sibling, friend, pet, or stuffed animal.

~It is helpful to set aside a special spot in or around your home that they will enjoy curling up and reading a book.

~Check out your local library to see what summer programs are available or simply schedule one day a week or twice a month to visit the library and replace books.

~Do not make them read a book that they decide they don’t like. Encourage them to give it an honest effort, but don’t force it. If they like what they are reading, they will keep reading!

~ Encourage books that discuss Science and/or History, but don’t push it if they are not interested!

~ Visit Scholastic for a suggested book list per age and topic!

2) Practice reading and writing sight words! http://www.sightwords.com/  and www.dolch-words.com

~Write the sight words in sidewalk chalk and have your super star stand on the word you call out.

~Write sight words in “parking spaces” on a large poster board. Your Super Star can park a toy car in the parking spot of the sight word you call out.

~Make sight word Flash Cards… An oldie, but a goody!!

3) Learn Multiplication Facts! It will make your super star’s life so much easier!

~Visit www.multiplication.com

~Multiplication Flash Cards (yes, again) You can make these or purchase them!

4) Solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems in cool ways!

~Chocolate pudding or yogurt on a cookie sheet is always fun, and yummy, too! (Wash hands before and after!) Shaving cream works, too!

~You guessed it, sidewalk chalk makes math FUN!

~Have competitions on who can complete more problems the fastest.

5) Keep a Summer Reflection Journal! Keep a log and summary of what your super star has read. In other words, get them writing!

What can go in the reflection journal?

~It can be a personal diary about their day.

Here is some reflection question to get them writing about what they have read.

-What did you like or dislike about the book or chapter and why?

-What do you think the author’s purpose was for writing this book?

-Predict what would happen next if the book did not end.

-Who was your favorite character and why?

-Ask any comprehension questions you can think of or GOOGLE it! Someone may already have a list of questions for the book you just read.

~Give them writing prompts and/or have them write short stories, using proper capitalization and punctuation, of course! Make sure they draft their creative writing pieces. First draft, make edits, second draft, edit, then final draft (depending on age.)

For more ideas, visit Pinterest and/search summer activities for your Super

What the First Day of Summer looks like at my house! 

reading

Gabrielle and Ryder are reading to their chicken on the trampoline!

reading2

Reading while snuggling! 

science

They found a bug! 

My First Publication!


My First Publication!
YOU GUYS!! I’m so excited!! This weekend, I responded to a writing prompt from The Spinning Pen. They published my response titled, “As Love Lifts Off” to the prompt on their blog and I could not be more proud… or thankful. It may not be much, but seeing my name among three other, completely different, talented writers is so amazing to me! It is so cool how the four responses that were published are so different from the same prompt! I see this all the time with my fourth graders, but it sure is different as a writer, instead of the teacher! 😊 Want to read it??

The prompt was: 

It was all so innocent–at least, we’d hoped it’d appear as such. With the Balloon Fair in town, nobody would know it was us. It was the perfect cover. The dim light of dawn, the waking crowds who were not yet caffeinated, and those balls of fire just itching to be lit…

My response: 

He takes my hand and leads me onto an empty, oversized basket. The nerves overtake my entire body as the officials prepare us for this adventure we are about to embark. Just before the sun awakes, the fire comes alive as if it is a rocket ready to explore the universe.

Upon lift-off, my body tenses as he locks his fingers into mine and we defy gravity. After all, we’ve only known each other for a short while and this was another outrageous date. I cannot believe the connection we feel. We are the epitome of love at first sight. Giving into the moment, my head rests on his muscular form as we depart from the Earth and become one with the wind.

Neither of us can stop staring at the unbelievable bird’s-eye view we are experiencing. However, everything shrinks in comparison to the passion that fuels this balloon through the clouds. He reaches into a large container that is off to the side of the basket and pulls out two glasses and a bottle of top-shelf champagne. We toast and then we sip. Champagne before breakfast is not a usual occurrence for my rather ordinary life, but this man is nothing short of surprise and adventure.

He takes my glass and sets them both into the container just before he pulls out a tiny black box and kneels down onto one knee. He begins, “I love you more today than I did yesterday. I want to spend the rest of my life watching you smile. Will you marry me?” He lifts the lid of the box and the diamond ring is more than I ever imagined. The large center-stone is hugged by many tiny diamonds enhancing its sparkle.

Tears sting my eyes as I shout, “YES!” He smiles and jumps onto his feet before his mouth meets mine. He is definitely feeding into the passion that has heated and risen with this balloon that envelopes us. Spending everyday vowed to him is a dream of mine I never knew I had until the day he waltzed into my life! I cannot wait to begin our happily ever after.

Thank you to the amazing writers at The Spinning Pen for this cool challenge! 

If Walls Could Talk


If Walls Could Talk:
I told my dad a synopsis of the novel I am writing. He had a great idea to help me. Want a hint of one aspect of my book? Yeah….I know you do!!!

 
My dad works as Plantation Security. He is charged with the task of driving around the neighboring plantations in north Florida. He checks for poachers, ensures that gates are closed and checks out any suspicious behaviors.

As a retired, 40-year veteran of law enforcement, this is the perfect job for him. He spends most of his day driving in the woods, learns all about the history of the plantations, and fights whatever crime may occur on these lands.

In an effort to help me do research for my novel, he took me to several plantations. I learned many aspects of his job, as he told me what he does everyday. I also enjoyed learning which plantations were created pre or post the Civil War. One of my favorite quotes of the day was, “Imagine if walls could talk from the gentleman’s smoking room, which is adjacent from the women’s parlor in that house.” We imagined strategic planning of war strategists, occurring in a thick, smoke-filled room that smelled of bourbon and brandy. It was such a crazy, humbling time with my Dad.

The preservation of these plantations is truly amazing. The nature, the history, and the magnitude of beauty was overwhelming as we cruised past the beautiful homes, animals, and nature which adds unique character to each plantation. I was able to gather so much inspiration for my novel!
Thank you, Daddy!

Write Until You Are Empty

 
Write until you are empty. 
One Monday, a member of my work team asked what I did over the weekend. My reply? I watched a T-ball game for my son, attended a 4-H fundraiser for my daughter, did some laundry, oh, and started writing a novel. 😳 
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I still fully do not. But as I continue on this literary journey, I have learned so much. One thing in particular: Writers can write anywhere! 

When I think of an author, I think of someone sitting on a perfectly serene and quiet place. Maybe in front of a fire place, or with their feet in he sand as they listen to the waves at the beach. I see authors writing on the rocking chair on the quiet front porch of a country home or on the roof-top garden as the hustle and bustle of the city meanders down below. For some, these may be the perfect creative atmosphere. But, let’s get real! I am a full-time teacher, a mother of two, and a proud wife, among other titles. 

My creative atmosphere looks like this. Me, sitting in the bleachers at the T-ball field before the game starts. Me, waiting on my daughter at the bus stop. Me, laying in bed with my babies while they doze off. And me, jotting down whatever I can before I fall asleep. I use whatever electronic device I have available. My iPhone, iPad, and MacBook are the lifelines to my creative sanctuary. I always have access to at least one of them and availability is the key to my success! 

Recently, I wrote a very detailed scene that was completely out of my comfort zone. I accomplished this while sitting in the lounge chair at the pool while my daughter practiced her strokes with her swim team. I laughed to myself that I was able to accomplish such a feat as I listened to the oldies blare over the speakers and children of all ages practiced their swim skills.  If being an author is on your bucket list, I encourage you to try it! It’s a lot like reading a book backward. It’s amazing what comes out in the characters as the story unfolds. 

Worried about age? It’s not too late! It’s not too late to do anything you want to do! I’m 32, completely engrossed in motherhood and well into a wonderful and thriving teaching career. I felt like I was behind the eight-ball when I began my first novel. But the truth is, writing is a creative outlet for me. Some people run, some people attend church, some people drink, I write! Being at this phenomenal, important, and very challenging stage in my life, I needed to find an outlet and fast! 

Writing provides me with a release like nothing else can. It allows me to look at life in a different, exciting way. It also has changed the way I read other books. I no longer read them just for entertainment, I read them to learn as much as I can about the writing process! 

Nicola is a fellow teacher/author of mine and one of the coolest chicks I have ever met. I confided in her when I first started my novel, but was still nervous to share it with the world. She was not only super supportive, but offered many great tips, as well. One thing she said that has stayed with me this whole time is, “Write until you are empty, girl. Get it all out, then go back and make your edits.” 

So with this, I encourage you to take Nicola’s advice. Do your thing! Whatever it is, do it until your empty!

I See You, Teacher


I see you.
I see the bags under your eyes and the exhaustion in your face.

I see you planning my final days in your classroom and I watch you try your very best to make sure that we are engaged and learning every last bit of information before we leave your care.

I see the tears in your eyes when you think about how much we’ve grown.

I see the pride you feel that you have completed another year in this challenging, but rewarding profession.

I see the nerves that overwhelm you as you anxiously await the standardized test scores that should be released any day. Just remember, those scores won’t change my vision of you.

I see the excitement you have for your upcoming summer days.

I see you jot down the changes that you will make for your class next year.

I see you, Teacher, and I appreciate you!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Inspiration: My daughter, Gabrielle, mentioned at the bus stop this morning how tired her teacher is and how nice she is for making the end of her first grade year so special. She is so excited about Field Day and all the activities they have planned at her school! 

Mommy’s Tiny Motocrosser


Look at his face, he’s ready to race, that little boy I hold dear.

He fist bumps Dad, blows a kiss to Mom, he is full of excitement and fear.

Another mother stands by to pray, all riders are ready to seize the day.

The warning sounds, the horn goes off, all hope the riders will be okay.

Then we see him ripping dirt, he doesn’t even look scared or hurt!

We want to cheer, but don’t want to distract that mind that’s so alert!

Then, out comes the checkered flag, we can’t wait for our chance to brag.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter, a fun day is in the bag!

~Proud Moto Mommy

Photo credit: FTR Race Pics

I wrote this with my little boy, (4-year-old) Ryder the night we got home from his first race. He had such an amazing day with so many awesome, talented riders! We definitely made some great memories! Many more to come! Poetry may seem a bit dorky to some, but my kids and I have the best time finding rhyming words… Especially when we do our best to rap! 😉

Why “Write” Now?

Well, it’s started! I’m halfway through writing the first draft of my first novel. Wow, what an experience it has been! I’ve written hundreds, if not thousands, of graduate school papers, lesson plans, and other miscellaneous pieces of work. Most of those pieces, I was very proud of once I read the finished product. But none of those literary experiences have matched the creative writing journey that I have encountered through this novel.
I originally wanted to wait until I retired from teaching to begin tapping into my creative writing skills, but I have been holding on to this incredible story for over three years.  I knew it needed to be shared with the world. I am a mom to two young, amazing, and very active children. I am also a wife to a fire chief and doing my best to maintain a thriving teaching career. It did not not seem like the right time to take on this new endeavor, but I am glad I did. I shared with my mom that I had inspiration for a novel, but I wasn’t sure if I should dive into that right now. It was her words that encouraged me to begin. She supportively said, “Do it. If you wait until retirement, which is 20 years from now, you may not want to write what you are inspired by right now.” That confirmed it. I had to get this out.
So here is what I ask of you. Spend five minutes thinking about your dream today. It can be as big or small as you like. What is something that you aspire to do or be that you just don’t have the time to pursue. Is it to get that workout in? Play your favorite sport? Take on a new hobby? Watch that movie on Netflix that you haven’t made time to watch.  If you start with five minutes, you never know where that time may lead.