Monthly Archives: June 2012



When I met Ruth, I’m pretty sure I hugged her and I definitely was babbling, this I know for certain.  It was early in the morning and she drove from home….I think that she probably left around 3 am to get to our small campus nestled in the Fox river valley by 7:30.  I talked with Ruth briefly, but I knew that getting set up was the most important thing that she needed to be doing at that point.  I left to work on my introduction as our tech guy came marching in to help.  I sat on a picnic bench, tried to calm myself down and tried to write in my notebook.  I read it through out loud quickly, knowing that teacher friends would be arriving soon.

Nervous,  I just offered up a silent prayer…thanking God for this opportunity to meet this wonderful person who has influenced my life so greatly this past year.  singing inside… Great is thy Faithfulness, oh God my Father, morning by morning new mercies I see…

Early in the school year, I read Day By Day by Ruth and Stacey.  When I was done reading, I wanted more so I investigated the blog and the website.  Their writing was so clear, so specific, so practical, and more than that; it resonated so deeply. Their voices were oddly familiar to me and I just couldn’t put my finger on it who it reminded me of.

I had read ‘Slices’ on Carol’s Corner.  So I admit, I started by stalking on Tuesday’s.  By March I decided that I wanted to be challenged…I’ve always written to my teachers (email) about classroom things and little tips here and there and thought it would be good practice.    One thing that I really believe is that teachers that are teaching writers and readers really need to be a writer and a reader alongside the children in their classroom.  They need to experience the ‘agony and ecstasy ‘ so they can better understand what students go through.  So…I started with the challenge in March and I’m  still ‘slicing’ at the end of June.  It is better than ice cream, even better than cherry pie.  It is an amazing community that has developed because of Ruth and Stacey.

Well, back to the story of  when I introduced Ruth, I think I was still babbling.  But I knew what I was talking about when I told the audience that I was so sad when Don Graves had died because he was my friend and I wondered who would carry on the dream of writing workshop with young children.  I remembered in the moment, that I had never met Don, and was talking like I knew him personally.  I qualified my remark and said that I only knew him from the words in all of his books.  I then introduced Ruth and said that she was bringing his mission forward, and as I think about it right now, really digging even deeper into the process of student writers. And just like Don Graves, I also knew Ruth from her writing.

Ruth talked about this idea of ‘Celebrations’ in the workshop and the different ways we can celebrate writing while sitting next to children.  In fact,  when we slice and comment on our friends’ posts it is a genuine celebration each week, isn’t it?  I learned so much from Ruth, my head was spinning, in a good way, of course. I can’t wait for the release of her new book in January.

Today I talked with one of my girlfriends who was at Literacy in Motion with me.  We both came out of this school year exhausted.  We both agreed  that we felt energized, calm and almost ready to go meet our kiddos, well almost ready 🙂  Meeting and hearing Ruth was a big ‘wow’ for me it will go down as one of my best days ever!

She went from Judson to All Write to deliver her keynote…what an amazing person.

Next year:  All Write, let’s all go. xo nanc


for rebecca



You have a soft, but firm heart,

that is why we will miss you,

You have a smile for every one of us,

that is why we will miss you,

You  listen with compassion,

that is why we will miss you,

You always understand that tomorrow is another day… another chance,

that is why we will miss you,

You encourage, but also discipline without wounding souls,

that is why we will miss you,

You believe in growing, moving, crafting and soaring!

that is why you will be loved and cherished in your new leadership role,

Godspeed… we wish you well.

love nanc xo

PS Love this poster….I love this poster and I will hang it my room next year.  When I look at it I will think of you and the ‘stars’ that were a shade brighter because of you.   From Technology Rocks Seriously.

Shoot for the Moon

my bud, my boy


”I know I’m not alone, we pray for our children.  We pray the ‘Now I lay me’ prayer with them as we tuck, tuck them cozy after the book, after the third drink of water and the night-light.  Long after we’ve stopped the tucking and final hugs in those middle school years, we continue on; mother’s still lift their children up to God whenever their children come to mind.  We ask God to help them get that equation, or for them not to be shut down when they get up nerve to ask that beautiful ‘cheerleader type’ to prom.  Those prayers we all pray…over and over again.  This is my letter to my son Jeff on his graduation day.

Dear Jeff,

One of my prayers has always been this…that you learn to share and remember to always thank those who serve you.  I’ve always wanted you to have a heart for serving other people, because these are the happiest people I’ve known on this earth.  And I want you to be happy.

The moments I will never forget…

We never had another professional take a photograph of our family after you ‘Smurfed’ yourself that long ago Saturday with the blue food coloring in the upper cabinet.  The rest of us will never know how you really climbed up into those cabinets at fifteen months old.  I do get it now….it  was your first journey to the mountains and mischief.  And you’ve always loved both.

You never really babbled, but the first distinguishable sentence was singing in an ET voice,  as we passed the  Golden Arches, “I want food.”  Musical boy, I remember the day that you said to me in a very serious adolescent voice, “I will give never stop loving my bass.”  And you never have. You’ve kept that promise…I’ve prayed for that.

I remember your first job, helping to direct cars at the county fair.  Your first money, but even back then you noticed the kind older gentleman that was cleaning the men’s restroom continually that week.  He did this lowly job and you knew he probably was not paid very well.  You gave him part of the cash you made, happily. 

You’ve been blessed with marvelous opportunity, to travel the world with your music, and to visit places that are poverty-stricken.  You’ve told me that music is the universal language.  I’m telling you today, that your love that you pour out is the language that people understand.

You are a person that ‘makes new friends, but keeps the old’.  Your habits of communication and sacrifice for people are strengths indeed.  Today you will graduate with your Masters in Social Work.  May you go out and continually change the world, one life at a time, as you have changed mine.  God has given me a very precious gift, a twenty-five year hike with a boy who loves life, people and God.  

My prayers will always include you, Jeff. 

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.

love mama xo

tools we use


My husband, the master gardener,  loves to have company in his garden as he works.  For many years he liked it when Mike,  our fourteen year old cat, would slink over to wherever he was,  find a spot, and offer up a purr or two.  Sadly, Mike, passed on a few years back and I am invited to find a spot and offer up what I do best- conversation.  Early on I sensed that Dave preferred to work in silence and that my presence and occasional help was all that was necessary.

This last week, Dave was on a trimming mission and he definitely wanted me on clean-up detail.  I didn’t mind because it was sunny and I knew that I could just continually, ‘think my own thoughts’, as I worked to cut the branches and put the clippings in the bags.  He started with the easy bushes.  I just clipped and stuffed happily along.  But then I knew I was in trouble as he brought out the ladder and started conquering the wisteria that grows wildly up our deck’s huge shade trellis.

“Watch it up there, you know how much I love that shade,”  He continued to hack.

“Don’t worry, Nanc, it grows like a weed and I need the sun for my oak leaf hydrangea please just continue to put the foliage in bags.”

I started to feel overwhelmed as Dave continued to saw with gusto.  Branches were flying.  My clippers weren’t keeping up. My hands were tired and I wondered if somehow my tool needed sharpening.  I turned it around the other way and suddenly it was cutting the wisteria like butter.  I was happier and was starting to think my thoughts again.

My tool didn’t work one way, so I tried it another way instead of abandoning it altogether.  It is like that with the teaching tools and strategies also… a good tool is flexible.  At firs,t when I turned the clippers the other way I thought, kind of in an embarrassed way, that I was using the tool in the wrong way or that something was wrong with the tool.  When Dave got off the ladder I confessed that to him.

He stared and me and said, “I use the clippers, both ways…it depends on the branch and my position.”

At school we need to make those instant decisions with our tools continually.  I need that reminder that great tools are flexible in the hands of a master gardener.  Incidentally, I believe, that master gardeners never view themselves as finished.  They assess, plant, fertilize, revisit, prune and pray.