Friday, February 16, 2018

We are in this Together...

I hear a gun shot, my heart froze, “don’t panic, don’t panic.”  I frantically find my heart racing.  I run to the light switch to immediately turn it off & the room darkens.  “Be invisible, be invisible.”  Hands shaking, I secure the door into lock- down mode.  “Take shelter, take shelter.” The voice in my head says.   I hear shouting, lots of shouting, a gunshot echoes through the halls again.  My inner voice continues, “Take cover, stay low, don’t move, be invisible, don’t. breathe”.  My soul is praying to God for the sounds to end and I feel the tears falling down my face, my mind… I am frozen in time...

I think of the sweet, smirk, smile he gives when he knows he’s in trouble.  “What?!  I didn’t do anything!” he says.  I just saw him toss a wad of paper across the room.  He loves the attention, he takes pride as the “class clown” title.  Our entire staff knows him, we all like him, and trouble just seems to find him.  He walks down the hall as if the world is at his fingertips.  Every administrator takes time with him, talking with him, resolving student conflicts with him, working through academic and social situations with him.  At school we do all we can while he is under our watch. We have him help as a class leader, since he’s got the confidence we try to put his energy in a positive manner, well, we try.  When the bell rings at the end of each day, we all ask the same question silently to ourselves, what will happen while he’s NOT under our care? School is where he feels safest, in control. Home though, how much interaction does he have with positive guidance, adults, role models, and what are THEY doing to keep him safe and cared for?  Who’s with him through the struggles while at home?  After all, when we do contact the parents, they are sure it’s a mix up of another child, not theirs, disagreeing with school rules and consequences.

She’s a great girl, plays perfectly in the orchestra, involved in every school organization, friendly, outgoing, until...  She’s a girl that gets cornered every day in the bathroom to complete her enemy’s class paper for her… or else.  She fears the bathroom and avoids it every chance she gets but she knows who’ll be waiting for her in the hall after school if she doesn’t make it happen.  She hands the paper to the one in demand of it, and once again, for the 5th time this semester.  How much more of this can she take?  She looks in the mirror, pulls herself together, puts a smile on her face and walks out as if she’s ready to tackle the day.   She’d be mortified if anyone ever found out what she was doing, if only someone would see, someone would recognize what was happening, she was the victim needing help, afraid, this secret haunts her, her fellow students look the other way.  Her parents working so hard every day, she definitely didn’t want them to know.  But what if…what if?!  …what if she settled this herself, once and for all…

He was quiet, he’d sit in the back of the classroom, hands behind his head, leaning back in his chair.  Absorbing the teacher’s lessons discussed in class for the test.  He scans the classroom with his eyes and wonders to himself if anyone even knows he’s there.  Eye contact with anyone- never.  Even his own parents spend more time looking down at their phones than they do looking into their son’s eyes; to really know him, really see what is happening in his heart, in his mind.  They would tell others how great he was, how quiet and so into his studies; good grades, kind heart.  They just never told him.  He didn’t see the point in attending school events, or going anywhere with friends, he’s just a regular kid doing “cyber play dates” with his “friends” online every night.  Never met any of them personally, why would he?  He’s a typical kid with a great family, just loving his video games, parents chat with him every day when he gets home from school, and nothing to ever raise concern about… is there??  Does he know he is enough?  Does he know that he IS noticed just for being him? Or does he know on his own, a way to stand out, catch their attention?

I know most of these kids better than their own parents, I know what they talk about, what they play between classes, outside of classes, what they say and do online. I know who their closest friends are and what their biggest fear is.  I know what motivates them, what scares them.  I know them because I spend every day with them.  I am their teacher, I listen to them- they talk.  No phone coming between me and them, no electronics in view, just chrome books for open google classroom assignments.  A lesson plan.  I teach, they talk, together, we listen & learn, most times they teach me more than you can imagine.  Some of them dealing with challenges at home that no one ever dreams of.  As for the others, well some take all the good they have for granted. I do my best to relate to them best way I know how.  Some, I can reach, others are just so far out of touch, I just can’t figure out how to meet them half way.  But I hope, I hope one day I can, if not me, someone else, guide and positively impact them, someway, somehow.  Do YOU know me?

I read online posts of parents, “What is our school doing to keep us safe?” What is EVERYONE ELSE doing to keep OUR kids safe?!!!”   I wonder to myself, have these parents taken the time to walk in the classrooms, be at a school meeting, or be involved as much as they can for any of the 12 years their kids are in the schools?  Have they ever walked the halls their child walks each day?  How are they supporting the staff and administration that is with our children everyday during the school year?

How about our own children, in our own homes, what are WE doing to keep them safe?  We open up the questions, questions we cannot avoid, as much as we can in our own home, in our own busy crazy life…

Do you know where your exits are in your classroom?  Do you know your school drill where to go if you are in the hallway and a lock down happens?  Always stay facing the door when in a public place, don’t keep your back to it.  Be aware of your surroundings at all time.  Never panic, you don’t have time to panic, you take action and get to safety.  Stand on the toilet seat, stay silent.  Know your exits no matter where you are.  We talk at a restaurant while going out for lunch, where would you take cover, what would you lunge behind?  If you ran out of the building where would you go, who would you run to and what call would you make? Would you wait? No, take action and be fearless to keep yourself safe.  Home fire drills and bullying discussions were a norm, now it’s become something more.  They cannot live in fear, they need to know how to live and be aware.

It’s easy to ask what is EVERYONE else doing to keep our kids safe but what are YOU doing to teach them, to be aware?  Are you reviewing your everyday emergency plan while in public?  Are you knowing your own children; regarding what they are doing on social media, what they spend their money on, what their goals and dreams are?  Are you doing your own best to know your children and their friends and classmates?   Is your child and/or friends doing their best to show the example of strength, kindness, courage; putting stop to bullying if they see it, saying hi to a quiet student next to them in class that never says a word?  Are we teaching our own kids to say something if something doesn’t seem right or if they hear or see a post, video, or comment online that may seem like not a big deal at the time but may be a danger later?  What are WE doing as parents to engage with our children?  They are teenagers, it’s typical…  NO, WE are parents, they need us the most as teenagers, we need to be typical parents, spending time and talking with our young adults- silence?  It’s ok, as long as they know we are still here.  Teenagers?  Recognize them as young adults, that’s who they are now, Young Adults.

The door flung open, I’m frozen.  “Clear!”  I breathe, it’s safe.  My heart calms itself down and I gasp for air.  I enter the hallway with the other teachers, some just as torn up as me through what seemed to be hours, the reality of this was within minutes.  This drill took my breath completely away, it was only a drill, students have the day off.  I pray we never experience it for real.  We now know, our entire, school staff, what a gunshot sounds like in the hall, it will never be mistaken for a class experiment or loud boom, or questioned, stealing minutes of running to safety with our students.  This drill is what our law enforcement does with us to teach us to keep our kids, YOUR kids safest possible. 

Teachers may not see signs in our students of danger, but do their best to acknowledge all students; “read” them, listen to them, know when they need guidance, they need someone to talk with, they do their best to keep them safe and most of all, teachers and staff take the time with our local law enforcement with and without our students doing drills like these. But do they know at the end of each school day, if the kids have the same guidance at home? For every question others have of teachers, teachers have of others when sending their students to be home.  When you are notified of an incident at school or read a letter sent home about a drill they practiced, don't shout out online your opinion good or bad in the matter, take the opportunity to talk directly with your kids about it and learn whats going on in their mind and their reactions.

Question online all you want about authority and who does what, but most of all TAKE ACTION, talk to people and kids DIRECTLY,  be involved with the school when you can, the school board, the teachers, the law enforcement and most of all… be involved with your kids.   Post what YOU are doing to keep your community confident in safety, when you doubt out loud and online, you are doubting the people that are working the hardest and doing as much as they can. If you disagree with it, take action.  It’s not only about what everyone else is doing to keep our kids safe, it’s about the action ALL OF US are taking to learn about our kids and getting involved with our community.

A few months after 9/11 we were in the airport having a bite to eat before our plan boarded.  The pilot sat next to us doing the same.  We looked at him and said, “Please get us home safe.”  He answered, “I want to be home safe with my family too, as much as everyone else.”

Helpful Family Links:
How to talk to children about difficult news.
Explaining the news to our children.

     We are all in this together.  It's up to ALL of us.

An authors note...
**Each day I pray that our kids stay safe, I pray that students find the help and support they need and I pray that my family comes home safe each night.  My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all of the victims, all so innocent, also the first responders and the teachers that fight a battle everyday and especially to the families that have God with them more today than ever. No tragedy is ever forgotten. All the above was heavy on my heart with only inspired stories and a strong need to share.  - Connie




Sunday, December 10, 2017

WONDER the Movie

Learn how one child makes a special difference in so many.


Auggie, Via, Jack Will, Julian, Justin, Miranda;
a few of the special names that impact others in this story, just by silent acts of kindness.

A movie that is a must see for every family.  With many classes reading this best selling novel and the #ChooseKind Campaign behind it, this is a story everyone can learn from.  So many great quotes from the movie that no doubt, we would all love to see posted in school classrooms and buildings.  Never underestimate the power of a kind, observant teacher or staff member, and the impact they make on our future generations to come.  It IS a village with the right people, the right hearts, and the acts of kindness, that lead the path of a loving community and child.

Its hard to put this movie into words, here a just a few of the gazillion impactful moments...

*No matter what a person looks like, we all face many similar challenges. 
I loved when Auggies sister, Via, talks through a "friend break up" that Auggie experiences.  "Right now, we ARE each others best friends."  These siblings stick together.

*The sun (son) is the center of the universe and they (the rest of the family) are other planets revolving around the sun (Auggie).  Nothing wrong with that. one getting all the attention, so much to learn from being a listener;  Sister Via stays quiet and kind and appreciates right where she is in the moment.  Via's kindness comes back around from a friend that distances herself from Via because of her own challenges.  Via has a moment to shine that all admire throughout the story.  

*Dreams & Wishes do come true.  Accept them in all ways and embrace it.  (You'll see...)

*A bully in the school gets expelled and instead of the parents taking action on their own child, they throw out the threat of how much money they put into the school and how many people they know on the school board; accepting of how cruel their son has treated others.  (oh if some parents could really see how much they hurt their very own child with these actions.)  The principal reacts and says... 
"Auggie can't change the way he looks, but we can change the way we see."

*Auggies friend, Jack, gets caught up in a conversation, saying very hurtful things.  He realizes what he has done and the hurtful impact he has made.   He then becomes a bigger friend after the fact by doing whats right as well as apologizing to whom he hurt the most.  

*The principal understands both sides of a situation even though one side is unsaid.  Consequences are made but doing the right thing is noticed.

*Another bully becomes the protector by finally not only saying whats right but by taking action and doing the right thing and being aware of difficult situations.   See something, say something. 

*Auggies mother, who has made him her entire universe, learns to let him out of the nest to grow and pursues her own dream, one that the family excitingly supports...

"Your heart is your map to where you are going and your face, your face shows where you've been." - Auggies Mother referring to her wrinkles and more.


If you haven't read the actual story yet, I hear, "its even better" from my Mia, 9yrs old.  Bring your child to see this movie.  As parents, we could learn just as much;  Our teen years with our kids are even more important as before and after.  Its not that they don't listen, maybe its that we stopped talking.  Respect, love and kindness all starts in our own home, at all seasons!

Here are some links to click on and learn more about our world of WONDER! Please do take the time to watch, read, and share!!




"Don't judge a book by its cover,  get to know the book and don't judge at all." 

- Julia Schneider, 8 yrs old.








Saturday, December 9, 2017

Amish Friendship Bread

Thnx busy & fun momma, Kim!!
Chain letters are not our thing, this is way better! Follow this delicious & simple recipe... to enjoy the yummy results with friends and family! This is one to be easy and passed on as far as our mouth watering taste buds can take us!  My friend Kim left me a cup of the "starter" batter, I followed directions and ten quick days later, we baked the most yummy, cinnamon sugary, cake (FYI there is nothing healthy about this recipe)!  This recipe makes 2 loafs so 1) me and my kids happily devoured and 2) we shared with Angie on her special "baby" day!  Thanks Kim for sharing this Amish Recipe Love!!  Below is a copy of the "starter" recipe & here's a link to make an original (Jen@ www.EatCakeForDinner.net.)  Please share your comments and photo fun of your starters to see how far this recipe has gone! (Nicole, Laura, Marie & Kelly to start!)

AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD (with starter)
Especially made and shared just for YOU! 

Important Preparations:
*Make 4 copies of this sheet before writing or taking notes on it.
*Do not use a metal spoon or bowl for mixing; keep batter in this Ziploc until 10th day.
*Do not refrigerate.
*If air gets in bag, let it out.
*It is normal for the batter to thicken, bubble and ferment.

DAY 1: You received this batter in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Do nothing and just put the bag on your kitchen counter.
DAY 2: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 3: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 4: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 5: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 6: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Squeeze this bag several times.
DAY 7: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 8: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 9: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 10: In a large metallic bowl, combine the batter with 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar & 1 cup milk. Mix with a wooden spoon or plastic spoon. (This should yield approximately 5 cups of batter.) 
Pour four 1 cup starters into 1 gallon Ziploc bags (freezer type are best), write the date on it and give away to family and friends with a copy of these instructions.

To the remaining batter in the bowl, add:
2 cups flour            1 cup oil
1 cup sugar             ½ cup milk
½ tsp. baking soda   3 large eggs
1 tsp. salt               1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon       1 large box instant vanilla pudding

In a separate bowl, mix ¼ to ½ cup sugar with ½ to 1 tsp. cinnamon.
Sprinkle over 2 well-greased loaf pans before pouring batter into them.
Use any leftover cinnamon/sugar mixture to sprinkle on top of batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

Variation:  Add fresh or frozen blueberries, apple chunks, bananas, raisins, chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, or any combination you are willing to try!  Have fun with it!

(Want to make another delicious individual batter?  Learn more of a similar recipe without the starters.)
Share your fun & photos to see how far this recipe gets by going to
& thank you, again Kim M. for sharing this with our family!





GingerHomes, Ice Cream, and time together, Oh My!

If its one thing many of us don't do enough of, its enjoying our very own backyard.  Well, yes our home backyard of course, but our very own city life backyard.  If you are local and in the area, this is definitely worth putting on your holiday to do list (just try to be in the moment with me and not in the crazy hustle and bussel we are all in :) so trust me and add this on that long list!). 

With it being the last, beautiful- is it really winter-day outside, we decided to embrace the city life of downtown Milwaukee.  64 degree weather on a December 4th night was enough to hit the town itself!  The drive into the city skyline could light up any "bahumbug" spirit.  The trees on every downtown street lit up in holiday smiles.  The weather may not have said it but the beautiful holiday decorations on every corner definitely showed that the Christmas Season was here. 


We went downtown to the Market Place where there was a Gingerbread Display that college students created; their amazing talent took Gingerbread homes to a whole new level.  These homes were available to be bid on to raise money for their local community projects.  These were also Gingerbread homes that the best were voted on; this brought some serious viewing and fun into the beautiful display.  Take a look at the photos I couldn't resist sharing with you!  Never under estimate the talent of a Gingerbread Home Designer! It is also a great, simple and creative gift to give to a family or a gift that a special elf or traditional Holiday Saint (Nick) would want to share with the kids! I always love bringing the cousins together to do our own crazy gingerbread decorating! This display, however, was definitely crazy beautiful and well worth the trip to see. 

We also took the time to enjoy the Cathedral Square Christmas Display! In the summer this community square is filled with different activity.  So for the winter holiday season, it was filled with lights and different creative Themed Christmas Trees, displaying all the amazing organizations in our area and what they do just by what their tree looked like!  Our kids were proud to see their own school sponsored tree up as well!  It was all a beautiful sight and an area of how much a volunteer in the community can make a big difference as well as how many volunteers all working together a little bit can make the magic happen!

Of course we ended the night with a little ice cream treat, shopping local at "The Purple Door" with their own recipes of home made ice cream, Whiskey? Hody Toddy??  We each had a small sampling and lets just say a few of us stuck with our traditional chocolate or salted caramel flavors while the others got a little riskier and enjoyed it all!  Everything was delicious and definitely worth the stop. 

So from my family to yours, take a little bit of time out to be together and embrace the Holiday Spirit all around us.  It doesn't take anything too extravagant to be together and start your own family traditions that your kids will love and remember forever; big and small.  




One thing many of us all need more of is time.  Time is the only thing we all have the same amount of, or do we?  Spend it wisely, otherwise it can be very costly.  Happy Holidays sweet Mommas! 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Who IS Tiny Tim? December 8,9 &10, 2017



Such a familiar image and quote that we all remember when it comes time for Scrooge and the Holidays!  With Christmas Cheer here, our calendars are already filled with Holiday School Events, family & friend gatherings, shopping galore for gifts & baking like crazy for goodies to share, with much, much, much more, forgetting the true meaning of Christmas; preparing for Jesus, Himself. 



My kids, (and yours too!) are growing up so fast.  We slowly are falling short when it comes to time together, preparing for Jesus, as a family.  One tradition that I do love and enjoy, is embracing the amazing local talent in an annual Holiday Musical/Play.  It always puts me back in check to slow down and to keep the main thing, the main thing.   In this case, the main person, JESUS! (& I love when my parents join us for the occasion!)


Take the time and check it off your holiday list to see this free event, yes free.  A donation basket is passed around for a collection at intermission time, this is all done on donations (be generous :))!  Over 500 volunteers; adults & children; performing, ushering, singing, behind the scenes, costumes, musicians, greeting, directing, video recording, clipping mics, parking attendees, marketing flyers,  the list goes on of such giving hearts to share the love of Christmas to so many of us!!  Every job big and small is a job needed to make this production be as successful as it is each year!  This years production is one you don't want to miss (I say that every year and its true!) Don't miss this continuing story of Tiny Tim.  What happened after he said, "God bless us, everyone!"?

This is a continuation of Uncle Scrooge and his legacy that starts off with Scrooges funeral and many of the hearts he shared his love with at the end.  The story goes on to tell how one person CAN make a change in others, how everyone does make a difference each day, whether they know it or not.  Its about forgiveness, love, betrayel, dedication, commitment and family.  Its about carrying on an amazing Legacy, changing lives while helping others.  Its how you believe you have a purpose for one direction but life gets interupted and God wants to slow us down to help others.  Its how when one person gathers many to make a change for the love of many to come.  

Don't miss this beautiful, entertaining, amazingly talented play that this community works so hard on every year to remind us the true meaning of what this holiday is really about! As my holiday bucket list continues to get checked off, this is one I can mark down in the books as one we all enjoyed! 

I'm not by any means a professional play critic nor will I criticize when I'm not the one on the stage doing the work!  Hundreds of hours dedicated to share the love of Jesus, who am I to do anything but share the word for others to come and enjoy!! 

Great job to all of this cast and thank you, for being a part of our family holiday tradition!

"This really shows how much Tiny Tim has grown and what wonderful things he will do in the future!" -Mia, 9 years old.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Apple Pie Made Easy!!!


My cuties and I have made this a few times already so we just had to share the love!! Thanks to The Morning Blend for introducing this tasty treat to us!  We followed this easy- peasy and delicious Apple Pie Recipe from Sendiks.com and had a ton of fun making it!  Quick & Simple with a little perfecting to make our own along the way!




1 Pkg of 2 Count Pie Crusts (optional for a 3rd & 4th crust to place or weave on top for overachiever)
1/2 c. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Flour
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
8 Medium Sliced Apples (haha! don't forget to peal them, great with, but better without! I preferred the sweet Granny Apples.)

Streusel Topping
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oats
1/4 c. cold butter chopped

1. Preheat over to 425
2. Roll both crusts on top of each other (17x12 or we used a small round pan)
3. Place crust in pan with crust hanging a little over outside edges.
4. Mix Sugar, Flour & Ground Cinnamon together in a bowl.
5. Stir in the Apples with the dry mix (shake in bag or covered bowl)
6. Spoon Apple Mixture into crusted pan.
7. Cut Butter into small squares/ little bits.
8. Spinkle butter bits over top of apple mixture and fold in the extra crust hanging over pan.
9 Bake 35-40 minutes and let cool for another 30 minutes!
10.  YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY!!! ENJOY!




*Use a 3rd pie crust, cooling rack & pizza cutter to make fun designs on the top or just leave it as is.*