Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Saturday, November 7, 2015

For The Love Of The Game

I don't know when my love of baseball started.  Maybe it was when I was a little girl as my dad coached little league team after team. He coached high school boys when we were little on a little bitty baseball field carved out of a corn field.  You know the field Kevin Costner makes in, "Field of Dreams?"  That's what the little field in Farley, Missouri looked like.  It was surrounded on all sides by corn except the dirt road that led to the field.  There was corn across the road too.  

My dad took a hodge podge group of boys from the area and surrounding, a Sandlot type group of boys and developed a winning team out of them.  He would have practices where if you made a mistake; you went over it and over until you got it right.  He was a tough coach when he needed to be but offered much praise when it was deserved.  You had to work for your position, no handouts was his motto.  My mom helped run the Recreation Organization and the concession stand at the time.  We worked many hours in that hot, concession stand shack.  I remember my mom creating meals that were great, no canned cheese nachos there.  She also kept score at all the games as well.  It was a family affair. 

I learned to throw a softball and pitch at that field.  My dad would catch for me and work on my throw with me.  He later went on to coach my brother and his friends in baseball.  They had great teams also.  I also know his coaching wasn't always popular with the helicopter parents that wanted everyone to have fun.  My dad was spending hours in the hot sun coaching, developing the boys to become responsible young men and teammates.  My dad coached to win.  He loved the game and the boys he coached although he never said as much.  It was an unspoken love for the kids and the game.
I adored that little field in Farley, Missouri.  It was our own little field of dreams in the middle of the corn field where many childhood memories of my own as well as my friends were being formed, little did we know it at the time.

My Mom and Dad at East Platte where they first started coaching baseball

I also remember my grandparents loving the Royals.  If the Royals were playing we were either listening to them at my grandma's kitchen table while my grandpa played cards, listening to them from the garage while my other grandpa fiddled in his garden, or me laying on my stomach, head in hands in front of the TV at my grandma's house watching the game.  We'd take a break to have a chocolate chip & 7-Up float then go back making sure not to miss a sigle play.  At home, we'd get the farm work done so we could get to the house to eat supper and watch the game.  Our family has always loved the Royals growing up outside of Kansas City, Missouri.

We'd attend games from time to time as a treat.  We'd often to go to the games when the Royals weren't any good.  It was so much fun to watch baseball win or lose.  I became a teenager playing softball and 1985 rolled around.  I remember the Royals winning the World Series.  The Kansas City area was on top the world with excitement.  I had a major crush on George Brett.  He was a major hunk to a young teenager and his picture was everywhere.  He even played saxophone at the Huey Lewis concert I went to.  He was an icon in Kansas City.

Time went by and I was pregnant with my first child.  I was going to have a little boy.  We hadn't decided or I should say agreed on a name.  I liked the name Hunter, my husband liked Woodrow, (a Lonesome dove Fanatic that he is).  We couldn't agree.   I went to a teaching conference and we had some time to kill.  We walked by a little Hallmark store in a small town in Kansas.  I saw a black and white picture with letters you could insert into the picture frame.  It was a picture of a little boy with a Royals hat on and the name, "Tucker" spelled out under it.  I had the perfect name for my little boy.  I knew he'd be a little baseball player or end up being a bull rider like his dad was.  Either way, Tuck sounded like a perfect baseball or cowboy name.  My husband loved the name too so our little Tucker Scott was born in August 1999.

Tucker playing with The Renegades Traveling Baseball

He played t-ball then little league.  He learned to love the game of baseball like I figured he would.  He also learned that there are plenty of lows to match the highs in the games.  So many lessons to be learned in the game of baseball.  
He started playing on competitive team  We spent hours and hours, weekend after weekend at the baseball field either practicing or at tournaments out of town.  I never tired of watching baseball.  I think it's safe to say it was in my blood.  Time went on and we went from one team to another.  He even got cut off the team he loved when he was in 7th grade.  He said, "I don't think I'm good enough, I'm quitting!"  At that point we gave him two choices; he could quit and disappoint both his grandpas, his parents, and everyone that still believed in him or he could stick it out, tryout for another team, learn from his mistakes and get better.  After a few days he decided to stick with it.  It was one of those life lessons that was so valuable for him.  Our family has never been quitters so I wasn't suprised when he said, "I can't quit!"

The Midwest Stix Summer Team 2013

My son continued to play Legion ball with his buddies, playing teams that were much older and loosing lots of games.  Some teams were made up of 17 & 18 year-olds.  He had to work much harder than he ever had to and learn over and over what it feels like to lose but also learn what it means to scratch and claw with every bit of determination he has to play his hardest to get a run on the board. After all he was only 14 playing much older kids but was playing with his high school friends.  They were brothers win or lose in this crazy sport!

Legion Summer Team 2015

He's in high school now.  He played both JV and Varsity ball.  He never got to play a game on the varsity team but he learned how to work hard and gain valuable knowledge from the older guys.  He was learning everyday what it meant to be part of the team.  That team went on to make it to the state playoff.  His grandpa had been very sick throughout the entire season and a freak accident happened at the care facility the week of playoffs.  It came down to the playoff game and I got the phone call, I needed to come to the hospital.  The boys had just won the the game and were getting ready to play for first in the state.  I made the decision to leave Tucker at the championship game knowing his grandpa was watching over him yet so sad he wasn't there to watch it.  His team ended up winning the state championship game, something his grandpa would have been so proud to see.  Tucker didn't play in the game but he was part of the team, part of the brotherhood of baseball.  His grandpa passed on early that next morning with Tucker by his side.  He received so many phone calls, texts, and messages passed on from the team.  When they were all back together, they prayed for him.  Another teammate had lost his grandma that season while another lost his grandpa.  Baseball is just one of those sports where your teammates are like your brothers.  You are together at practices day in and day out both in the season and off season.  You spend so much time together, your teammates are like your brothers.  They know you on a whole different level than other friends do.  They can tell if your swing is off, your pitch isn't quite right or wild throw has something attached to it.  They know when something is bothering you.  They are with you in the good and bad times.  No words need to be spoken, they can read your feelings by how your perform on the field and they can pick you up when life has brought you down.

Tucker's Grandpa Pete in his earlier years
The State Championship Baseball Team
State Championship Ring

We haven't had much time to go to the current Royals team games. We've been playing our own games that there's not much spare time to go watch the Royals.  The parents have kept up on the Royals games via cell phones and tablets while watching our boys play.  Baseball parents all have something in common, we all love baseball too.  You have to love it to sit in 90-100 degree weather for hours to watch game after game, stay in hotels, and get up and do it all over the next day or the next weekend. We have scrubbed many baseball pants together and went to many a car washes late at night to get that ground in red dirt out of white baseball pants!  We are in it together!
A Trip to the Carwash to wash white baseball pants

This Royals team has been special the last 2-3 years.  Everyone in the midwest has watched closely at their progress.  As we sat at games we talked about how special these boys were.  We watched, listened, checked scores live on the internet.  This past year has been so exciting!  Our Roayls team had momentum, it seemed unstoppable.  Of course there would be a loss here and there and the errors that come with baseball.  There would be some that would doubt but for those die hard baseball lovers, you could sense something special about this team.  We have watched Salvy's huge smile capture viewer's heart.  His sense of humor, playful boyish nature that is a little ornery, his selfies and Instagram videos with Cain that show a true friendship.  Hosmer's humble nature that help people connect to him.  He has that hometown boy way about him that people fall in love with and he's easy on the eyes cut jawline, perfect beard, and one of a kind haircut.  Not that I noticed, I've just taken note of that information from all the conversations I overhear from my girlfriends, well maybe not.  

We also hurt with Chris Young and Mike Moustakas as they lost parents during the season.  We felt their pain and listened over and over how they relied on their teammates to get them throughout their heartbreak.  They were playing for their parents knowing they'd want them to continue playing the sport they loved.  
We have watched Ben Zobrist and his pregnant wife Julianna along with their adorable kids celebrate victories together and how they stick together as a family.  Win or lose, Ben has said he wants his family by his side.  He flew his expecting any day wife and two young children to New York for the World Series on a private jet because he wanted them there.  Something we that have families can relate to.  They later went on to name their newborn daughter, Blaise Royal.  What a perfect name for a little girl born right after the World Series!  The Royals fans have fallen in love with this family as well, putting God first in their lives, traveling together, and showing what a true family unit is and can be!
We watched and read Edison Volquez losing his father and him not knowing it while pitching in Game 1 of the World Series.  Our hearts were broken for him.  This is something that hit home for our family since there was a similar parallel of Tucker's grandpa slipping and quite possibly not making it while Tucker was at his state championship game.  That had to be one of the hardest things Ned Yost had to do in his life.  Once again he said his teammates helped him get through the hardest moment in his life.
There was Davis, Cain, Escobar, and Colon making huge plays in the World Series.  Moustakas,  Hosmer, Cain, Gordon, Zobrist, Couto, and Perez being key players.  Hosmer said it best in his article when he wrote that this Royals team was, " No Fluke."  It's like they were brought together by some divine intervention.  They were a team of brothers destined to win.  They had each other's back even if it usually occurred in the last few innings of each game.
We fell in love with this team, we all did.  They were like family to us.  They were getting the nation's attention, not for just their athletic abilities but because we were drawn to them, all of them. This was a team we have loved watching night after night in our homes, families visiting the stadium, following on twitter, and keeping up with their Instagrams.  They made people who like baseball start to love baseball again.  They were the comeback kids, the guys not paid very much but stayed to be part of a team, they made us believe in them time and time again.  They made Kansas City proud painting the town blue, welcoming our boys home along the interstate, at the stadium, the huge 800,000 plus attendance at the parade and welcoming ceremony and cheering as Jonny Gomes pumped everyone up!  It brought friends and neighbors together, made grown men cry to see their beloved team win the World Series, and brought pride to a town that had been patiently waiting since 1985.  This part of the country loves baseball.  

I am one of those fans, Missouri born, (outside of Kansas City but live in Kansas now), raised by a small town baseball coach, and raised to love the game.  I had to share not only the love of the game with others; my children will remember this moment in time as well.  This is a unique time filled with special players that have shaped all our lives.  I hope my own son has learned more about what it means to be a teammate, a brother, the excitement and let downs that come with the game, and most importantly how to love the game in a deeper way.  It is a divine sport.   I can only say thank you to my father, "The coach", the players and coaches that have helped develop my son and been there for him in times of need, and all the parents that surround us as a baseball family.  Until next spring when we hear those familiar words, "Play ball", I will cherish the memories for the love of the game!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

All About the Candy

I have always loved Halloween!  It was not really for the candy although it's a thrill to bring it home, sort it all, trade it, and see the variety that was given.  When we were kids, we just didn't eat much candy since it wasn't in our home much.  The costume was a thrill but that really wasn't it either.  My mom always dressed me in a homemade costume.  One year I was a TV complete with rabbit ear antennas.  Another year I was a Campbell's Soup can made from a cardboard tube from my dad's work.  We would spend hours painting, sewing, and putting together the costumes.  

It was a lot of fun but I really think the socialization that comes from going door to door was my favorite thing about Halloween.  I grew up on a farm so we didn't see people out and about much unless it was at church or a school event.  I loved the mystery of going to people's houses, being asked to come in and warm up, or given a special treat such as a cookie, popcorn ball, or a row of change taped together with Scotch tape so I could go buy a, "goodie" for myself down at The Farley Grocery Store.  I loved the welcomed feeling and people complimenting me on my costume.

Now that I have children we are to a stage in our lives where we have two teenagers and a six year-old.  It's still thrilling for my six year-old, my sixteen year old likes to hang out with his friends, but the thirteen year-old in torn.  I think of all the holidays, she loves this one the most.  She has always loved creating her own costumes and she really loves scary things.  She enjoys scary books and movies even though no one else in our house does.  It's just her thing.  She's at a point where she really does love trick or treating but she is afraid she is too old for that.  Not only is there the peer pressure of being too old but also the stigma of this being a holiday for little kids to enjoy because after all it's , "All about the candy". My thirteen year-old still has her Halloween candy, Christmas stocking candy, and Easter candy holed away because she's really not into candy all that much.  It's the thrill of being creative by making her own costume, going door to door, and just being together as a town celebrating.  It's the thrill of being out after dark together and being a little scared of the unknown in the dark.  It's the riding the hayrack ride together laughing and having a good time.  It's that last event before winter settles on us in the Midwest where we are all together having a good time.

As Hallween is upon us, please remember these teenagers and what Halloween may mean to some of them when handing out candy.  I will have about 20 at my house since we live in town and trick or treating in our town is just a lot of fun!  Some of them aren't there just for your sweets so be patient with them when they act silly or even a little crazy. It's the excitement of the holiday and being together with friends and neighbors.  They are still little kids at heart, kind of like this mom is a little kid at heart at Halloween too. It's just not, "All about the candy!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Chocolate Touch Novel Study

I recently did a novel study with the book, "The Chocolate Touch" by Patrick Skene Catling.  You can find the book here.  It's a story that is similar to King Midas' popular tale.  John Midas only thinks about chocolate which is worrying his parents and causing him to loose friends.  He finds a coin with his initials on it and comes to a new candy story in town.  Instead of giving the coin to a friend that collects coins, he decides to spend it on a whole box of chocolates.  He goes home to find only one piece of chocolate in the box and soon finds out the magic of that piece of chocolate.  It has caused everything that touches his mouth to turn into chocolate.  At first he loves this new gift until he turns his trumpet into chocolate, his pencil during a test, and eventually his mother.  John learns a valuable lesson that he lose the things he loves from his selfish actions.  In the end, he goes back to the magic candy store and gets his chocolate touch turned back, he's a normal boy once again.
We made chocolate playdough to go with, "The Chocolate Touch".    I added the boiling water.  I actually just put really hot microwave water and it worked fine.I used about a 1/2 cup more flour than the recipe calls for and more for the counter.  It stays warm for quite a while.  You will either need to let it dry out some or make sure you put a little flour in the baggie otherwise it will be gooey in the bag they take home.  
  I will tell you everyone that went by my classroom either stopped to watch what we were doing or stopped in.  It made my classroom smell wonderful!  The kids were saying how they were getting hungry for chocolate smelling the playdough.
I gave them each about 1/2, maybe a little more in their baggie. 

I saw this idea on Pinterest.  No one seemed to know the source of the idea.  I searched the web and couldn't find the source either.  We summarized the parts of the story and made Hershey's Kiss mobiles.  They will look really great hanging up in our classroom!
I made templates out of tag board for the kids to trace around.  The also used tag board for their kisses.  It stands up better and easier to wrap the foil around.  We used heavy duty aluminum foil.  I wouldn't use regular foil, it rips too easily.
I demonstrated how to wrap the foil around the base then cut a 1 inch line around the kiss and fold it over.  We went ahead and cut foil to fit the back too since they will be hanging and moving around.  
The kids are working on their book summaries.
Bookmarks I printed for the kids that are free on Teachers Pay Teachers

We used the pamplet in this novel study.  The kids really enjoy going through it chapter by chapter.

Trifold from the Teachers Pay Teachers novel study 
This unit has a lot of skill work that can be taught with the novel.  It was great practice for each skill.  I really liked how this one compared King Midas and John Midas.  

I searched for several versions of King Midas and they really weren't age appropriate because they talked about his love for women.  I found this muppet version and the kids really enjoyed it.  I played it after we had read the book.  They hadn't heard the story before and wondered how this could be similar to, "The Chocolate Touch".  After the video we compared the two stories using a Vinn Diagram of both characters.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

May We Remember

Photo courtesy of We Will Never Forget 9-11

On this day let us remember the way we all felt.  I'm sure it varies but in a way we are all the same.  I was teaching kindergarten.  I remember going to the school's library to watch live coverage of something unusual happening with a plane, it hit a building.  Then that feeling when we all realized something was very wrong with what we were watching.  As the word spread it was instant fear.  Fear for the children in my class, fear for my two year-old at the daycare, fear for what was to come next, and fear for what the world was coming to.  As the teachers in the room popped in and out to get updates, we looked at each other in disbelief.  We cried together and hugged each other while feeling helpless and in dismay.  We locked our doors, parents came to pick up their children, and share the latest updates.  How could this happen?  Our beloved country was under attack.
Let us also remember the togetherness we felt.  We wanted to be close, to be united, to protect the children as teachers, felt close to the parents of our classroom children, we shared our desire to be with our loved ones, and questioned what the future was going to be like.  There was a sense of unity with us all as I'm sure there was in New York as well as all around the nation.
May we as a country remember that it didn't matter what social status you had, your wealth, or the color of your skin.  We were all Americans together in this tragedy wanting answers and preparing for more danger knowing we were all going into this as a united front.  We were going to rebuild, we were going to love our neighbor, and people got down on their knees and thanked the Lord for their safety.  It brought out the best in us whether we want to admit it or not amidst a terrible tragedy.  We were being Americans together.
So on this day may we remember America the great, to love one another like there's no tomorrow, and praise God for this day and every other day forward as we remember the fallen heroes that have given it to us!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dirt Road Childhood

Today was an emotional day for myself and my sister.  I think my brother kind of felt the finality of it too.  You see our childhood tobacco barn was sold and bulldozed this last week.  We had watched it being dismantled by people driving by and stealing the barn wood off of it over the last few months until it was a naked barn from the ground ten feet up.  The house and shop that stood next to it had been vandalized and someone even shot holes through the tin of the shop.  It's the barn that got us all whether we said it in so many words or not.

You see, we all grew up on a tobacco farm.  We weren't full time farmers, we were part-time/full-time farmers meaning my dad worked in the city while my mom took care of things on the farm during the day and my dad came home and worked till after dark and all weekend on the farm.  We farmed row crops for a while and had livestock too which bring back fond memories as well but there's something about a tobacco farm that is unique.  Almost all the work was done by hand from the planting, pulling the plants for transplant, to cutting it, hanging it, and stripping it.  It was all done by hand.  Most of our childhood was spent in or around this barn and so many lessons learned in the fields and from this old friend.
I probably missed out on many parts of childhood growing up on the farm that other kids were experiencing.  We really didn't spend the night at other people's houses that often because there was work to be done, we didn't spend days at the pool, or going to Worlds of Fun like some of the other kids.  We were working with the family for the family.  There were times the hours felt like they were dragging on and I daydreamed of a million other places I'd rather be at the time rather than in a hot dirt field planting tobacco.
My mom and sister at the tobacco field in about 1980.

As I've reflected back there are so many life lessons I learned at this place.  We were constantly throwing dirt clods to see who had the best throwing arm.  Maybe that prepared me to throw from short stop to first in softball during the summers.  I would practice my pitching against the side of that barn with chunks of dirt waiting for my next job to be given to me.  I pitched for the softball team for years pretty accurately.
My dad and brother in about 1980

I helped my mom fix food for up to 20 men that came to our house for lunch while working in the tobacco fields.  I remember my job was to fill a large metal bucket of water, put out the Lava soap, and a couple of old bath towels for the men to wash up.  I set the table and put food out, sometimes 6 meatloafs or 3-4 peach cobblers at a time.  Many of the men said they came to our farm to work because of my mom's cooking.  I suppose I learned how to cook because of these times I spent helping in the kitchen.  Feeding a family of five is a cakewalk compared to feeding 20 men working on a farm.
I learned how to drive on the farm like most farm kids did.  If you can push the clutch in on an International 140, (with two feet not really being able to look over the steering wheel) you can probably drive just about anything.  I also learned how to back a trailer up working on a farm, something I learned as an adult not everyone knows how to do.  Who knew?
I learned how plants grow, when a rain storm is coming in, and how a well works.  I also know what it feels like to work.  When I say work I mean work hard enough that the minute your head hits the pillow, you are out.  It didn't matter that we had no air conditioning, we were tired enough that we went straight to sleep after supper and a cool shower.  It's a different kind of work on a farm for sure.
I learned to love music, it was the only entertainment I had at the time.  The portable AM radio might be on the tractor or in the tobacco stripping room.  It was my connection to the outside world and it passed the time as I sang along.  My children stare in amazement at me at times that I know word for word the songs on the oldies station.  They have no idea how many hours I sang those songs over and over in a cold tobacco stripping room during my childhood.
I also learned a sense of community.  Many people came and went working on our farm.  There was something amazing about watching the men cut and spear the tobacco in unison.  They would joke around with each other and sit on a tailgate under the stars and have a root beer or beer cussing and discussing the world problems or just sit in amazement about how much they had actually got done in one day.  I loved being part of the friendships we were making and hearing everyone's stories.
We were all together working.  My family spent hours together working side by side.  We laughed together and bickered when someone wasn't pulling their weight.  Everyone had their job and it just seemed what was meant to be at the time.  The oldest rode the tobacco setter while the youngest followed along walking to make sure all the plants were standing up straight or didn't get broken off in the tobacco setter, (planter).  It was a treat to finally get old enough to ride the setter and not have to walk all day.  I think of how many steps I would have had in one day on my Fitbit if I had one back then, probably 20,000 steps plus.
My sister and I in the old barn a couple of weeks ago.  

So you see, this barn seems like an old friend myself and my siblings have lost.  If the walls could talk, oh the stories this old barn could tell.  It watched us all grow up, care for the crops, fix it when the weather would damage it.  It was part of family.  My sister and I dug through a little of the rubble today and got a few salvageable pieces, there isn't much left.  Our plan is to make something out of the pieces that will be a keepsake.  I feel like we owe it that much.

Many people that grew up in my neck of the woods can relate to how I'm feeling I'm sure.  There's something about growing up on a tobacco farm and having a dirt road childhood that is special.  Even though I live in town now, drive a mini-van, have a manicured lawn and abundant flower gardens, I tend to think that all that I have done in my life was influenced by this way of life and although the barn is gone, those memories will always remain, dirt road childhood memories.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Word Wall

I'm at work today putting up my word wall.  I knew it was going to be a task and just haven't had time to do it.  I was determined to get it done today among many other things on my list in an attempt to get ahead.  
I have pops of burlap and birds in my classroom this year so I found this cute birds and burlap editable set on Teachers Pay Teachers this summer.  
Teaching with Peace has a set of circle labels and rectangular labels that you can add your own words to.   
We use the Rebecca Sitton spelling program and these are high priority words we display in each classroom. 

Here is the beginning of the word wall.  It took me a couple of tries to get it lined up just right so they were all spaced out correctly and the space was even between the wall and the ends.  

I used 2peas font and adjusted the size by the size of the word.  

 Here in the wall finished and I couldn't be happier it is done.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sticky Buns

 These are the before pictures.  Dark green, marbled vinyl back and seats with dirty black covers on them.
A few weeks ago I wrote about painting vinyl chairs with Rustoleum spray paint for plastic.  The chairs turned out super sticky and I couldn't figure out why since I had read other tutorials of people using the same spray paint on vinyl.  I came to the conclusion that my vinyl wasn't smooth, it was more textured and they had been kitchen chairs at one time, a college student's kitchen chairs.  They probably hadn't had a good cleaning for years.  Even though I had scrubbed them thoroughly, it hadn't done much good.  I also wrote about a product called, "Krud Kutter" but what I soon found out about Krud Kutter is that when used on latex paint, it will cut through that too.  I didn't want to take all the paint off, I just wanted them to be smooth not sticky.  I couldn't live with the thought of selling these to someone who would end up with sticky buns.
One of my DIY friends told me that Polyurethane might cut that sticky residue and to try a little bit on the underneath of the chair.  I had pondered and researched for three weeks before trying it and sure enough it worked.  I tried it on all four chairs and the next morning they weren't sticky anymore.  I was so relieved.  I had worked on this project and wanted to sell it to a young college girl or someone that didn't need a huge table and chairs but loved the color turquoise.  I had finally found the answer and this project was going to get done.  
 Here you'll see the back done on one of the chairs.  Since I used a semi-gloss polyurethane, they are super shiny which goes perfect with the chalk paint I used on the legs.

 Here is a chair completely finished, all ready to go.
I think they turned out so cute, I'm just tickled.  If my daughter weren't just an 8th grader, I'd save these for her first college apartment!  I'm happy these beauties are done and no one is going to have sticky buns!