Review of, They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher, by Pete Springer

It’s Monday morning, and as night slowly emerges into day, I’m thinking back to a great weekend. Great because I was able to have an in person visit with some family members for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

As no doubt you’ve “guessed” from the title, I’m starting off the week with a book review. I hope you have a great day!

What’s it about?

Here’s the first paragraph from the book that sums it up nicely:

How did I get here? It seems like an odd question. I’m not just learning about the birds and the bees as I approach age sixty. It is more of a question of reflection as I look back at an incredible thirty-one-year career in education. The staff I worked with are some of the best people I know in the world. The students I taught motivated me to want to be a better teacher and person. I have a lifetime of happy memories to draw on that have inspired me.

My Thoughts:

I have to be honest, when I first picked up this book, I was expecting the pages to be filled with anecdotes. Please don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of these within the pages that complement the overall theme of the book. I’m not sure why I had originally come to this conclusion, when the very title suggests otherwise.

I want to stress that I was NOT disappointed by this realization. Not by a long shot. Pete does an excellent job of sharing wisdom, insight, and common-sense approaches to the struggles and rewards of this noble profession. It was an eye opener for me, and I’ve come to possess a new appreciation for those who work in the education field. It is very apparent that Pete was and remains, very dedicated and passionate about his calling as a teacher.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who works, or is thinking about a career, in the education field. As a parent, it was certainly a behind the curtain peek at an often misunderstood and underappreciated profession.  

Meet Pete Springer and grab your copy:

I’m a retired elementary teacher (31 years) who will always be a strong advocate for children, education, and teachers. My favorite thing to do as a teacher was to read to my students, and now I’m following my heart and writing children’s books for middle grades.

Amazon.com

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Awe . . . the pitter-patter!

Just sitting here this fine morning remembering some shenanigans, yes, shenanigans . . . wait, am I on Facebook? Never mind, I’ll keep the word. As I was saying, thinking way back yonder to some of the crazy things the kiddos did.

This particular incident happened during the month of, “Brrrr!!”

That’s what some of us Canadians (or maybe it’s just me), call February because it’s easier to pronounce with chattering teeth.

“Brrrr!,” typically has temperatures somewhere north of -30 degrees Celsius, that’s about -22 Fahrenheit for our southern neighbors.

Now, the exact transgression of Isabel, our youngest, escapes me. Perhaps she’d zigzagged a pen across big sister, Amanda’s, latest fridge art, or Picasso’d her sibling’s prized teddy bear with a Sharpie and had coerced our cat, Marble, into upholding the Law of Omerta.

Being the sole adult in the domicile that evening, I sentenced her to a ‘time out’ in The Corner.  No doubt, in that cozy little triangle of contemplation, she reflected with great remorse on the “heinous” doings.

The Kleenex budget was yanked into the red, by the fistful. The boxes emptied, Big Sis’ dabbed the last raindrops from her cheeks and glared at the condemned before stomping to her upstairs bedroom.   

Isabel was paroled after three minutes, one minute per year of age . . . that seemed to be the accepted formula back then. She boldly stepped across the perimeter of the invisible box and wonder of wonders! Knew that formula worked! Never a doubt.

“I’m a changed girl. Sorry for what I’d done. Yessir. Nope, never lift a pinky against Amanda again . . . except to love her to pieces.”

 A hug of reconciliation? Oh, okay . . . I suppose since you both just stuck out your tongues at the same time we’ll just call it a draw. Yes, head on back to your bedroom wall finger painting, Amanda. I’m glad to see that you’ve chosen oil based.   

Satisfied for the skirmish was over, I elected to empty the garbage can and bring the bag to the lidded garbage bin in the garage. We don’t have trash pickup in these here parts, so we keep it in there until I can drive it to the dump.

I had to sidestep little Miss Golden Hair Ringlets, as I descended the two steps into the coat room that opened to the garage.

The garage had no working vehicle door at that time, so every cubic square of air was jam packed with icicle-toothed no-see-um’s, that surged in via that gaping maw from the tar black country night. Even the moon and the stars had fled these lands, and the overhead fluorescent lights, forcibly confined, had chosen hibernation.

The garbage bin was just outside the coatroom door, so I slipped on my crocs, left the coat to rest on the hook . . . my pj’s would suffice for the short trip. Great move, right, professor?

The last thing I saw, just before closing the door, was the cherub faced shenaniger (repurposed for this post). Those beautiful, blonde, curly cues framed an adorable smile as she waved to me from the upper step. “Good luck.”

You bet, another brilliant move, Holmes.

I stepped into the garage and quickly shut the door behind me to keep out Jack Frost’s invisible minions. Good Luck?

I shall never forget the heart melting pitter-patter of little feet across the coat room floor, seconds before the click of the lock being engaged.

Yes, Mary, here, let me pour you another glass of Perrier and imagine how splendid it will always be! Is the baby kicking? Hmmm . . . maybe she’s trying to tell us something?

Sorry, back to the story. Faced with becoming an ice sculpture, I diplomatically begged, nay, cried, for the young lady to open the door. Awe, there’s that adorable giggle.

Mind you, there was a spare key, but that would mean crawling over piles of half finished projects, just waiting for the chance to maim. Pay back for being relegated to the land of misfits.   

I yelled for Amanda, who was, by that time, probably in the bathroom using the ‘good towels’ to clean the paint off her fingers.

Welp, nothing for it but to go cross country. Thankfully the wall to my left was clear of debris, so I followed it and ran for the front lawn. The front door was unlocked, I remembered that much. Now, if I was a snow hare, the trip would have been quick and painless.

But people aren’t snow hares, and when crocs hit the crunchy top layer of “Brrr!” snow, well, they crash the party until they hit rock bottom. About knee deep in this case. The ice moles were less than pleased, but the no-see-um’s had a banquet.

Yep, every step was like slogging through a freshly poured slushy, sans the sweetness and color. Well, maybe the color, because we owned a dog.

The worst part was passing the bay window, just after both of my crocs abandoned me. I witnessed a mass of golden ringlets flying past the windowsill, headed straight for the front door.

Oh, Mary, listen! Is it my imagination, or can you also hear the pitter-patter and the giggles?

Oh no, you don’t! She did. Click!

If you’ve ever seen Fred Flintstone pounding on the door after Dino locked him outside, you’ll get the idea of what happened next.

No giggling now . . . just a thumb in that grinning mouth. The other hand was busy with the necessary work of twirling those ringlets into coils.

When telling this story, someone once commented that I should be embarrassed at being outrun by a three year old. Um, beg pardon? You do realize that those suckers can move with the speed of a velociraptor over open ground, right buddy? I swear they make the same noises, too. At least when they’re racing for a prized toy . . . you know the sound, that guttural squeal, “Miiiinnnneeee!” Or maybe it’s more like Chewbacca?

I owe my digits to Amanda for coming to the rescue, though I only use one on each hand to type.

She moved in like a gift shop sized King Kong! Nothing violent, just blocked her sister and opened the door.

That was a decade ago, and it’s a funny tale now, but not so much at the time. Don’t get me wrong, both my daughters are loving and kind.

I really don’t think a three-year-old can conceive of the dangers of locking someone outside mid-winter. But nonetheless, I now always wear my winter coat and boots when taking out the trash. 😊  

Life’s simple pleasures

Happy Sunday to all! Right now, I’m looking out my window and admiring the beauty that’s lit by another sunny (but cool) morning. It’s just another example of life’s small pleasures that we may often take for granted.

Despite recent world events, there’s still plenty of good out there. Yes, there are those larger ticket items; family and friends, health, fun vacations, good food, and personal freedoms. But what about the little things? Here’s a list of the small things, in no particular order, that I’m personally grateful for. Things which may seem insignificant on their own but add up to a big morale boost. They’re everywhere, if you pay attention.

  1. The swish of the wind as it passes through the needles of an evergreen tree(s)
  2. The courteous driver who stops to let you turn.
  3. The smell of clean laundry- even better if you can dry it on a clothesline outside.
  4. The call of the Loon from the lake at sunset.
  5. The crackle and warmth of a campfire.
  6. Fixing that obnoxious squeaking door.
  7. The feel of a cool breeze kissing away the sweat after a hard day’s work.
  8. A smile.
  9. A belly-laugh.
  10. The first sip of fresh coffee.
  11. Good and full days that make you forget time exists.
  12. The scar(s) that are fodder for excellent stories.
  13. Sunrises/sunsets.
  14. The funny antics and quirks of pets.
  15. Rainbows.
  16. Rainstorms when you’re safely tucked in bed.
  17. Conquering procrastination and just “gettin’ it done.”
  18. Arriving safely at a destination.
  19. Impromptu adventures that provide a lifetime of great memories.
  20. The completion of every chapter that draws a WIP (work in progress) towards, “The End.”

Do any of these connect with you? Please feel free to add more in the comments.

Review of Open, Shut, by Nonnie Jules

Happy Friday! It’s the last weekday of Spring Break (changed from March by the government), due to COVID. As we deal with a third wave, staying home and writing has become more of a priority than ever.

Today I’m reviewing, Open, Shut, A Short Story, by Nonnie Jules. She is the President and Founder of Rave Reviews Book Club.

What Amazon says:

Darcy Lynn has a few problems: her sister, Lola, killed by a drunk driver, leaves her with an eerie message right before her death; her parents are atheists; her father drinks a little too much, and her brother, Bud, is just annoying. But, her most pressing issue is that things are mysteriously opening and closing around her and she hasn’t a clue as to why…or how.

My Turn:

This story is told from the POV of Darcy Lynn after her sister, Lola, was killed. Too young to remember the horrific details of her sister’s death, years later, Darcy seeks answers from Lola’s diary. What she finds is staggering. Her parents, sworn not to divulge a terrible secret to her younger siblings, by Lola herself, had never revealed the whole truth.

But has Lola really left? Soon after her sister’s death, Darcy Lynn experiences strange phenomena that cannot be explained by science, or her atheist parents. Darcy Lynn begins to question her own beliefs and comes to understand that the visible may not be all there is. Open, Shut is an invitation to consider this possibility.  

Nonnie does a great job in the creation of realistic and ordinary characters, who encounter the extraordinary. There is plenty of growth in all of them, a key ingredient for a great story.

The central message was that good things can come from tragedy. The story flows evenly and logically to towards that end. As a man of faith, I really enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced great loss and for those who struggle with the ‘big picture.’ I’m giving this one, FOUR STARS!

Meet Nonnie Jules and connect with her:

Website Amazon.com Twitter Blog

Photos with Captions, To Make You Smile and Think

Time for another round of captioned photos. I hope some will make you chuckle, while others encourage you. Take care of yourselves!

Then I realize that I wasted the morning shopping . . . wait, do I hate shopping? Um . . . yes, I think. Now I’m sad again. 🙂