An Act of Kindness, Part 1
An Act of Kindness, Part 2
This one came in the mail! It’s from author A. LaFaye. I know! I got mail from a REAL LIVE author! What a thrill!
I met A at the Marvelous Midwest SCBWI conference. She was a speaker, and friend of my conference roommate, Ailleen. Here’s the story of how I got this envelope.
I was dying to buy a book, but I only buy e-chapter books. I also try to buy books from people who have critiqued my work. A never critiqued me, but I wish she had! When I heard her speak, I knew I’d found another teacher to help me become a better writer.
Yes, I was only going to buy 1 book, but when I couldn’t decide, I bought both. A left before I could ask for an autograph so I decided to email her. I did, and she sent me TWO autographs. Thanks A!
Here’s what was inside the envelope, a lovely card, and an autograph for each book.
A card was inside with a note from A! Here’s what it said:
Thank you for buying my books and sharing them!
I’d be so honored if you could review them for Amazon and Good Reads.
Your reviews are coming! I planned to write them when I wrote this post about kindness. Now that it’s done, I’m writing them tomorrow. I loved your books, and I hope my reviews will help you find more readers. I’m honored that you wanted my words!
Thank you for your kindness!
If you’ve bought and read my book, I’d be honored if you’d review it. If you’re not sure how, here’s a link I wrote about writing a review.
I have 3 reviews so far . . . from SB, Connie, and Nadine! I know Nadine from Northern Ohio SCBWI, but I’m wondering who the other 2 are. Maybe they’ll read this, and tell me.
Regardless, thanks to the 3 of you for your kind words!
An Act of Kindness, Part 3
Sometimes it’s the small things that mean the most. I ordered pizza and salad a week or so ago. When the delivery guy arrived, he had forgotten the salad. I asked him to drop it off on his next trip through my neighborhood. No problem! I had pizza to eat.
Thirty minutes later he returned with salad. I thanked him, and that’s when he told me about the number of people who blew up at him for small mistakes like this. He thanked me for my kindness.
I was so surprised, but then I remembered my younger days when I might have gotten upset too. Maybe with age comes wisdom. No one means for mistakes to happen, and he corrected it. Why be upset? Eventually I’ll be on the other side of the mistake. You can’t avoid them, and I appreciate when people understand and forgive my errors.
This is a photo of George and Barbara Bush. George was our 41st president. Barbara was his wife and First Lady. They were married for 73 years. Barbara died last April. George died last Friday, November 30th.
Since Friday I’ve heard so many great stories about the Bushes, and I thought about my audience, the kids, teachers and parents who worked this week and couldn’t listen in. I started out with my 3 favorite stories, and now I’m up to 7. To me all these stories matter. They tell you something about George as a person. I hope they give you a great model for who you can become as you grow and learn. Most of all I hope these stories will matter to you too.
The picture below is of George as a very young man. I knew he was in World War II, but I didn’t know that he volunteered to join the Navy the day after he turned 18. His father tried to talk him out of it. George would have none of it. He believed in duty, honor, and country. Wow! I don’t know that I could have stood up to my father at 18. A year later George became the youngest Navy fighter pilot. He flew 58 missions, and he almost didn’t live to tell. This is Story #1--
On September 2, 1944, George and his two-man crew finished a dangerous mission aboard an Avenger bomber. George dropped his missiles on a Japanese radio tower on the island of Chichi Jima and headed out to sea. As he flew towards 8000 feet his plane was hit, and it caught fire. George ordered his radio operator and gunner out. He banked his plane so it was easier for them to jump. At 3000 feet George bailed out, hitting his head on the tail, landing deep in the ocean. He resurfaced, head bleeding and swallowing sea water. His crew was no where in site.
Another plane signaled the location of a life raft, and George swam for it as if his life depended on it. It did! George had time to wait and worry that the Japanese would come and capture him. To worry that his men were dead, a
nd that he hadn’t done enough to save them. With his head bleeding, his stomach churning, and his heart heavy, George cried. Then 2 hours later he spotted a periscope. George was sure he was done, that it was a Japanese submarine. It wasn’t. It was the USS submarine Finback. George was saved. He was even a hero! He won the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross, but George didn’t feel like a hero. From that September day of 1944 on George asked a question that followed him throughout his life, “Why me? Why did I live?” And from that moment on George answered by living a life true to his values of duty, honor, and country.
The Back Story for Story #2…
If you were born after 1989, you might not have heard of the Berlin Wall. I was born in May of 1959. The Berlin Wall dominated my life until I was 30.
Look at the map. The large one shows the city of Berlin after WWII. It was divided into 4 sectors that went to the French, British, Americans, and Soviets. By the time 1961 rolled around, basically the Americans and Soviets controlled Berlin. By then there was also an East and West Germany. If you look at the smaller map, you can see the countries that surrounded the two Germanies. Do you see Berlin? It’s the small blue area in the eastern section of East Germany. West Berlin was actually in East Germany. It made life complicated in those days, the days of the Cold War.
Why was the wall built? Because East Germans were escaping communism and socialism in the East, for a better life in the west. The wall was built in the middle of the night on August 13, 1961. I was 2 years old.
Why middle of the night? Because the Soviets were pulling a sneak attack, trying to stop people leaving. After the wall was built, guards were posted. If you tried to escape you were shot. If you went in legally from West Berlin to East, you went through Checkpoint Charlie. There were American guards on one side, Soviet guards on the other, and they all had guns. It was scary to go from East to West. One wrong word, and you could be imprisoned. If you watch old spy movies from the 1960’s to the late 1980’s, you’ll see what life was like back then. The Cold War was a scary time. We feared a nuclear war with the Soviets.
On November 9th, 1989, the wall came down. I was 30 years old, and home on maternity leave. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The 1st picture was from those incredible days in 1989.
The 2nd picture was probably taken later. It’s Ronald Reagan, a famous American President. I’ve never seen this picture before, but I know Reagan’s role in the wall coming down, and his advisors told him not to do
it. Reagan ignored them. He held onto his principles. On June 12, 1987 he stood in front of the wall, and gave a famous speech. He called out to the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. He said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Gorbachev refused.
George H.W. Bush was Reagan’s vice president. He’d also been the US Ambassador to the UN, the CIA director, and the US Ambassador to China. He knew world leaders, and he worked behind the scenes to make things happen.
I stood in front of the wall for the 1st time in 2007. The wall looked a lot like this.
The 2nd mural wasn’t there yet. Do you recognize the 2 figures? They’re Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, but the most interesting thing is Bush is missing. That’s story #2, Bush’s part in this tale.
The wall came down in 1989. George H.W. Bush was now president, and his work with Gorbachev made it happen. He didn’t drop the ball, but he helped the wall come down. I think he should be there, but 41 wasn’t about taking credit. He was about duty, honor, and country.
41 was told by his advisors to get to the wall and get his picture taken there. It would show his success. It’d help him get re-elected. Bush refused. He thought it was more important to be a friend to Gorbachev and the Soviet people.
He was right! A year later on October 3, 1990 East and West Germany united after 45 years apart. I didn’t think it’d ever happen, and I never gave 41 credit. Neither did our press, but 2 people did after George died. Brian Mulroney, the Canadian Prime Minister, spoke at 41’s funeral and told the story of how Bush worked with his friends to help the German people. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, told reporters that Bush was one of the father’s of German Reunification. Wow! What a great compliment! She also paid her respects by attending his funeral.
This is a picture of the 20th anniversary of German reunification in 2008. Here are some of Germany’s fathers: Mikhail Gorbachev, George H.W. Bush, and Helmut Kohl. He was the Chancellor of West Germany back in 1988.
This is a picture of the same 3 leaders at the 25th anniversary, Gorbachev, Bush, and Kohl. I picked this picture because it features Angela chatting with Barbara Bush. It makes me happy to see these leaders celebrate making a difference. Here’s to duty, honor, and country!
Story Number 3 is about friendship. I have a few friends I made in college. That was 40 years ago, but none of them have lasted as long as George’s.
George met Alan Simpson back in 1962. They were friends for 56 years. In 2011 George asked Alan to speak at his funeral. Alan did. He told stories about their friendship. Most people are fair weather friends. They’re only there for the good times, but not George!
This story stuck with me. Alan was the senator from Wyoming. People were mad because he pushed for cuts in popular programs like Social Security and Medicare. He believed the government needed to save money to cut the national debt. Alan laughed that his popularity rating was less than 1%.
George was at the height of his popularity, at 93%. As president, he put together a group of countries, and they fought together to free Kuwait from Iraq. George was a hero!
Most people wouldn’t have invited the Simpsons to dinner, but George invited them to spend a weekend at Camp David. As they headed off to the helicopter, George laughed and told Alan to smile and wave to the reporters. No one waved back. The pictures landed in the Sunday papers, but the Bushes and the Simpsons didn't care. They had a great weekend anyway.
Story Number 4— three stories in one. Before I write, I always search for pictures. Today I found two new stories while looking for those pictures so I’ll share all 3.
When you’re president or vice president, the Secret Service is a big perk. They’re there to protect you. They’re there to serve you. This picture was taken in 2011 when the Secret Service helped 41 leave the ball park after watching the Houston Astros play baseball.
George was a favorite of the Secret Service. It’s because he treated them as people. He didn’t see himself as more important. I didn’t know either of these 2 small stories until I searched for those pictures. Are you ready? This is really yummy! George and the Secret Service agents often got the munchies in the middle of the night. They’d raid the kitchen for milk and cookies together. YUM! My kind of president!
This is even sweeter! George and his family stayed in DC for Christmas Eve so their agents could spend Christmas with their families. The day after Christmas they’d head to Texas. What a great boss! Unfortunately, not all former presidents or vice presidents are this nice. You can google to find out who’s nice and who’s not.
I was searching for the picture above. It was taken in 2013. It shows 41 with a toddler on his lap. The second picture is 41’s security detail. They shaved their heads to show support for a fellow agent whose toddler had leukemia. George found out and refused to sit this picture out. He shaved his head to support his security guys. I think that’s incredible. Another sweet detail, leukemia is the same disease that took his daughter Robin in 1953. George never forgot Robin, ever.
BTW, I didn’t look this one up, but George and the toddler took another picture together 3 years later. I’m glad to report they both had hair!
Story Number 5— Lost and Found, Argument and Forgiveness. Do you remember 41’s first story, about his plane going down just off the island of Chichi Jima? He was lucky. He lived to tell, but he never forgot his crew.
Time passed. 41 became president. His son George did too. Another son Jeb wanted to run, but Donald Trump beat him for the Republican nomination. It wasn’t pretty, and the Bushes were mad.
Trump went on to become president. The Bushes voted against Trump, but they forgave him. They went on to work with him on one special project. This is that story.
Barbara reached out to Donald in a letter in January of 2018. She wrote about a plane that went down during World War II. Barbara asked for help in searching the ocean floor to bring that crew home. I thought the plane was George’s from Chichi Jima, but I searched and found only this report for the Palau Islands.
Here’s a map to show both crashes. Find the P in Japan. That’s close to Tokyo. Go straight south down to Iwo Jima. Chichi Jima is somewhere in the middle, to the southeast of Japan. That’s where 41’s plane went down. Neither the plane nor its crew have been found.
Continue south past Iwo Jima down to the line that says Central Pacific Area. Go west, and you’ll see the Palau Islands. That’s where the most recent wreckage was found.
The job was finished in 2 months. It was hard with 1-6 divers working 12-hour days at the bottom of the sea. The Army, Navy, and Air Force worked as a team to complete the mission. This is what one plane looked like after over 70 years on the ocean floor. YIKES!
Work started in January, 2018 to remove 70 years of sand and ocean life. It was finished by the end of February/early March, Donald called George to report 2 men were found, but not 41’s crew. Trump expected him to be disappointed, but George was glad that 2 more Americans were coming home.
I found these 2 links for the Palau Island story. They both reported that more than one body was found, but no identification had been made. That takes more time. Here are the links if you’d like to read more of this story.
Story Number 6— Generosity of Spirit and Word Power. I didn’t get any pictures of 41 this time. That’s because George did everything privately, for the Pence family. This story wasn’t supposed to be told, and those are the best kinds of stories!
Do you recognize this man? He’s the Vice President, Mike Pence. He was one of the speakers for 41 when he laid in state in the Capital Dome. Mike spoke for 11 minutes, but I remember this story. It’s a personal story about Mike, his son, and 41.
Mike’s son is a 1st lieutenant in the marines. He had someone take a picture of his first tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier. The name of the carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush.
Mike has known 41 for years. He knew Bush had stopped doing autographs, but he sent the picture and a note, just in case, hoping for that autograph. Not only did Bush sign the picture, he sent a note too. Here’s what 41 wrote, “Though we have not met, I share the pride your father has for you during this momentous occasion. And I wish you many CAVU days ahead.”
CAVU, I think everyone in the room said CAVU, then what’s that. CAVU stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited. Mike’s son knew what it meant. It’s a Navy pilot’s term to describe the best kind of weather for flying off an aircraft carrier. I bet it’s what they want when they land too. BTW tailhook is something attached to the wings of the fighter jet. It catches the plane when it lands so that it can slow down and stop before it runs off the edge of the carrier. The plane has 1092 feet to stop. That’s 364 yards or about 3.5 football fields. That sounds like enough till you discover a plane gets 13,123 feet for a typical runway. That’s 4,374 yards or about 44 football fields. Navy pilots are great!
I’ve read that George thought CAVU described his life. Pence thought it was the vision 41 had for his children, his grandchildren, and his country. That’s what I want for all of us too, lots of CAVU days ahead!
Research link for this post: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/03/george-h-w-bush-honored-vice-president-pence-acronym-cavu/2197158002/
Story Number 7— The Final Story, Remembering the Past, Seeking the Future.
This story got my attention. It’s what made me want to write this post.
In his last year George talked about death, and life after death with his pastor. He wanted to know if he’d see Robin again, and he wondered what she’d look like. Would she be the 3-year-old he remembered, or a 65-year-old woman he didn’t recognize?
I’d forgotten about Robin till this week. She had leukemia and died in 1953. She never got to turn 4 or ride a school bus. I can’t imagine losing a child, but the Bushes had to. They never forgot their little girl, but life had to go on. They already had a son George W and would go on to have 3 boys and another girl. Dorothy was born 6 years later, the same year I was born.
For both George and Barbara, there was one thing they looked forward to in death, and that was seeing Robin again. I listened to 43’s eulogy about his father, and I remember how it closed. I think that’s the way this post should too. George W said, “And in our grief, let us smile knowing that dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.” I hope so too.
Research links for this storry: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/03/george-hw-bush-loss-daughter-robin-would-thread-through-his-life/2183444002/
I got this email from my friend Mark when I wrote last year's post about Veterans Day. I thought it’d make the perfect post for this year. Thanks, Mark! This post will write itself!
"Thank you Rinda, it was a perfect reading for me none of us do this looking for appreciation. You met me after I had already served 3 years in the Marines, but I remember at Lima Senior looking around after Graduation wondering what do I do now? The Marines found me and kept hounding me for months I’m Thankful I listened, and earned the rights to be called a Marine. The most important life skill I learned was self-esteem trust me before than I lacked that, but becoming a Marine I learned these 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits that I used throughout my lifetime:"
Definition: Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be honest with yourself about why you make a particular decision. Avoid favoritism. Try to be fair at all times and treat all things and people in an equal manner.
FYI- Lady Justice is an ancient symbol that goes back to Greek and Roman mythology. She’s pictured blindfolded to show she’s fair and impartial. She holds a scale to show that she balances the strengths and weaknesses of a case. Finally she carries a sword to show her authority, and to show that justice should be swift and final.
Definition: Judgment is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can improve your judgment if you avoid making rash decisions. Approach problems with a common-sense attitude.
FYI- You don’t have to be a judge to make good decisions. If you don’t want to make rash decisions, slow down! Breathe. Sleep on it. Talk to friends and family. Do any or all of these, and you’ll make better decisions. Don’t worry. If you do your best, that’s enough. There is no more, plus, you can learn from your mistakes.
Definition: Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can increase your dependability by forming the habit of being where you're supposed to be on time, by not making excuses and by carrying out every task to the best of your ability regardless of whether you like it or agree with it.
FYI- If you’re dependable, you're like solid gold. You will never be the weakest link.
Definition: Initiative is taking action even though you haven't been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your initiative, work on staying mentally and physically alert. Be aware of things that need to be done and then to do them without having to be told.
FYI- When you take the initiative, you could be raising your hand or sharing an idea. You’re being brave because you’re daring to be wrong. Think about this...you’ll never be right unless you dare to be wrong.
Definition: Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weight them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.
Suggestions for Improvement: Practice being positive in your actions instead of acting half-heartedly or changing your mind on an issue.
FYI- Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision. When that happens, I write down the pluses and minuses. Then I decide, and I give it time. If it’s a bad decision, no problem! I look at the new facts and make a better one. The worst decision...is no decision. Then life will choose for you. Decide! Be brave!
Definition: Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.
Suggestions for Improvement: Begin to develop your tact by trying to be courteous and cheerful at all times. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
FYI- It’s hard to say that just right thing, especially if you’re angry. Don’t be afraid to take your time to breathe, to think, to plan. Sometimes in tricky situations I even write down what I want to say. It’s worth taking the time to keep a friend.
Definition: Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be absolutely honest and truthful at all times. Stand up for what you believe to be right.
FYI- This Venn Diagram explains it perfectly. If your beliefs, words, and actions match, you have integrity. It’s something to hang onto. If I had to lose everything, but could keep only 1 thing, I’d keep my integrity. I hope you do too.
Definition: Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties. If you are enthusiastic, you are optimistic, cheerful, and willing to accept the challenges.
Suggestions for Improvement: Understanding and belief in your mission will add to your enthusiasm for your job. Try to understand why even uninteresting jobs must be done.
FYI- Be a cheerleader! Find a cheerleader! I did this for my 2nd graders…I cheered them on, but you can be your own cheerleader. Say words that build you up. Do your best because there is no more. Go, go, go!
Definition: Bearing is the way you conduct and carry yourself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.
Suggestions for Improvement: To develop bearing, you should hold yourself to the highest standards of personal conduct. Never be content with meeting only the minimum requirements.
FYI- It’s not about the bear, but look at both pictures. Each girl is telling you something with her body. Here's a tip, if you get up on the wrong side of the bed, put on your favorite outfit. Sometimes when you look good, you'll start to feel good. I always do this on bad days.
Definition: Unselfishness means that you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others. Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.
Suggestions for Improvement: Avoid using your position or rank for personal gain, safety, or pleasure at the expensive of others. Be considerate of others.
FYI- This is what you learn in preschool and Kindergarten, how to share, whether it’s snack, a toy, or a game. It’s one of the most important things in life to learn.
Definition: Courage is what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can begin to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. If you fear doing certain things required in your daily life, force yourself to do them until you can control your reaction.
FYI- Being brave is hardest when you’re afraid. The first step to more courage, slow down your breathing. Inhale and think ‘I breathe in courage.’ Exhale and think, ‘I exhale fear.’ It helps! Really! Last week I was struggling with self-doubt so I breathed in faith and exhaled hope. It helped me, and it can help you too. Really!
Definition: Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your unit's policies and keep up with current events.
Suggestions for Improvement: Increase your knowledge by remaining alert. Listen, observe, and find out about things you don't understand. Study field manuals and other military literature.
FYI- Knowledge is power. The more you listen, observe, read, and discover the world around you, the better you’ll do now, and in the future.
Definition: Loyalty means that you are devoted to your country, the Corps, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates. The motto of our Corps is Semper Fidelis!, (Always Faithful). You owe unwavering loyalty up and down the chain of command, to seniors, subordinates, and peers.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your loyalty you should show your loyalty by never discussing the problems of the Marine Corps or your unit with outsiders. Never talk about seniors unfavorably in front of your subordinates. Once a decision is made and the order is given to execute it, carry out that order willingly as if it were your own.
FYI- This image reminds me of the 3 Musketeers, not the candy bar, but the 3 French soldiers from a classic movie/novel. Their motto…all for one, and one for all. I’m loyal to my friends and family. Who are you loyal to?
Definition: Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership.
Suggestions for Improvement: Develop your endurance by engaging in physical training that will strengthen your body. Finish every task to the best of your ability by forcing yourself to continue when you are physically tired and your mind is sluggish.
FYI- This is a real military training exercise, the Teamwork Log Training Exercise. It looks hard, but if you have endurance, you can lift that log off the ground and move it into position. How do you develop endurance? By training! Each time try to last a minute/half minute longer, and you’ll build endurance.
When Marines recruit, they say “They’re looking for a few good men.” They call themselves, “The few. The proud. The Marines.” When I look at Marine values, I can see why they’re so respected. They build good character.
I also think it’s interesting that those are the same values I tried to instill in my 2nd graders, and that my school guidance counselors worked on with them. Most of my FYI comments came from the things those counselors taught me and my students. I’m not a Marine, but I’m a proud retired elementary teacher of 33 years.
This is a map of Cuba. Can you see Cienfuegos? Look for Cuba in red. Cienfuegos is right above it.
Welcome to Cienfuegos! This is a shot of the harbor as we sailed in, but that is not my ship. The Empress of the Sea is much bigger.
This is another shot of the harbor. Can you see the boats up front? The mountains in the distance?
I didn’t know Cuba had mountains. When we sailed around the island on the way to Grand Cayman, we saw them in the distance. It was my first view of Cuba.
Here’s one last shot. It looks beautiful from the boat, not touristy, Just land and water and nature. Beautiful!
Let’s Go Ashore
This is the tender we took to ferry us into Grand Cayman and back. It took about an an hour or two for everyone to get off the boat. Easy peasy!
Cienfuegos wasn’t! Imagine that Grand Cayman tender cut in half. That’s the boat we climbed aboard. It had one deck that held about 40 people. It took 35 trips (3-4 hours) to unload everyone from the ship. The first 15 trips took forever! Really! But we weren’t in any rush. By the time we slept in and ate breakfast we were waiting for Tender 28 out of the 35. Sleeping in is always a good thing!
This is a paper reminder that you need to get a special Cuban passport before you can set foot on the island. It’s $75 a person, $150 for my husband and me. We paid for it before we even climbed aboard the ship in Miami. In return we each received two documents to fill in.
One was from the American government. We had to pick a reason why we wanted to go to Cuba. We marked we were there to support the Cuban people. Correction- we took a third party tour from a local group.
The other document was from the Cuban government. It was much shorter and asked for basic information like our names, address, birth-dates, passport numbers, and why we were there, at least that’s what I remember. We were told that we’d have to show that document at Cuban customs, and that they would take it from us either in Cienfuegos or Havana.
When we landed in Cienfuegos, we went into the old customs building. We were packed in like sardines, waiting our turn with the customs officers who’d look over our paperwork. My husband and I each carried an American passport, a Cuban passport, a key card from the ship, and a questionnaire for the American government. The official looked over my documents and sent me through the gate. I waited for my husband to follow. Next up, getting some Cuban money! They don’t accept American dollars or credit cards in Cuba. On to the next line!
At the next gate there were 4 sets of cargo containers that worked as bank offices. We waited in line, again, to exchange our money. It was a great deal for the Cuban government. They got 13% when we traded our dollars into CUCS, and then another 13% when we trade the CUCS back into dollars. That’s 26% total, or like $26 out of every $100 in American money. Like I said, a great deal for the Cuban government.
Look at the money carefully because there are 2 kinds of bills floating around Cuba. One kind has people on it. The other has places. You want places on yours because it’s worth more. Be careful when you buy from a street vendor. Make sure you get back bills with places, not people. I took a picture of the front and back of my bills and coins. I had a 1, 5, 10, and 20 in CUCS. Those were the bills we used. Thank goodness they were all places! I’d hate to have money troubles…I have so much fun spending it!
The coins above were hard to see so they got a close-up. Sorry, I didn’t have a 1 cent coin left, but I still had 5’s, a 10, and 25’s. The coin on the top left is worth 5 cents. The bottom left coin is worth 25. The middle one is worth 10 cents. Look at the coins on the top and bottom right. They always have the same picture, on the back, the Cuban coat of arms.
Once we finished exchanging money we headed out for an adventure. This is the 1st thing we found was a train, like the ones you find at an amusement park. It costs 5 CUCS a person to ride the train. I’m in the middle with my brother-in-law on the left and my husband on the right. We’re ready to take a tour down Main Street of Cienfuegos, Cuba. All aboard!
Main Street, Cienfuegos Style
When we climbed aboard, I had no idea where we were going, but I soon discovered that we were taking a trip down Main Street. Time to explore, Cienfuegos style!
This was the 1st building to catch my eye. It was built in 1920 as someone’s house. Later it became a hotel. Ready for the name…The Green Hotel. Really! In the states, it’d probably a bed and breakfast.
Take a look at the cars parked in front. They look like they’re from the 50’s and 60’s. That’s because Cuba used to be an American territory, like Puerto Rico. In 1959, Fidel Castro started a revolution, and the US and Cuba became enemies. The Americans put an embargo on products going in and out of Cuba. It’s still in effect today.
The picture beside the red car reminds me of a road in Florida with its palm-lined center strip and 2 lanes on either side. The difference…in Florida the road would be packed full of cars.
Both of these buildings started as private homes. Both were built in the early 1900’s, The first, the Cienfuegos Yacht Club now sits next to the marina and houses a restaurant. BTW…I didn’t remember all of this. I googled it to write this post.
The second, the Palacio de Valle was designed and built by a wealthy Spaniard. It’s a little small for a palace...only 8 bedrooms. In the 50’s someone wanted to turn it into a casino, but the 1959 Revolution stopped that. Now you can take a tour and stop in for lunch.
The building above is the Palicio Azul, The Blue Palace. Why? It’s painted powder blue. I love blue! It was built in 1921 and was owned by a rich tobacco baron. Cuba is known for its tobacco and its cigars. In 2004 it was renovated and became The Hotel Encanto Palacio Azul. With only 6 bedrooms, book early to stay here.
Beside the Palacio is a more modern hotel, well modern for the 1950’s. The Hotel Jagua is one of the most famous hotels in Cuba. It looks like a great place to stay!
Let’s Go to the Park…Parque Jose Marti
Look where the train dropped me off at…Jose Marti Park. Jose was a Cuban poet and journalist who fought for independence. He died on the battlefield, a hero.
Today Jose has a park in the heart of Cienfuegos. It’s a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy the greenery. For the Cuban people it’s where they remember a hero.
I had an hour to take pictures and shop before the train returned. There are statues scattered throughout the park. The lion, above, caught my eye. He’s on a marble pedestal. When I googled, I discovered lion statues mark the entrance to the park. Find a lion, and you’ll find a statue of Jose Marti nearby. If only I’d known!
As for the other statue above, I don’t know who it is. I searched google and found this same silhouette facing the Ferrer Palace. If you visit this palace, please look up this statue and send me its name.
This building, the Antiguo Ayuntamiento, is across the street from the park. Antiguo means old, and Ayuntamiento means municipal council. It doesn’t look old, but it’s still the home of Cienfuegos provincial government. Cienfuegos is both a city and a province. The only thing I could learn about this building is that it’s supposed to look like the Capaitolio in Havana.
The Teatro Tomas Terry is also across from the park. Tomas Terry Adams owned a sugar factory back in the day. Later he became Cienfuegos’ mayor. Sorry, this wasn’t his house, but it was built after his death all because Tomas put aside to money build an Italian-style theatre in Cienfuegos. Here it is! Famous singers like Enrico Caruso performed here. I wish Tomas could have seen and heard it during his lifetime!
Here’s the last building I captured on camera. It’s the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It’s old, finished in 1819. Next year will be its 200th birthday. The Cathedral was the first church built in Cienfuegos, and it’s now a national monument. It’s a beautiful old building with its 2 bell towers, 3 arched doorways, and French stained-glass windows of the Twelve Apostles.
I found several factoids when I was googling information for this post. Cienfuegos means100 fires, but I didn’t read anything about fire in its history. The true story— it was named after Jose Cienfuegos who was the Captain General of Cuba from 1816-1819. Maybe someone in his family lit 100 fires. I hope not! Cienfuegos is also called the Pearl of the South, and it’s the only city in Cuba founded by France. The rest of the island belonged to Spain.
Shopping, Street Style This is the only picture I didn’t take. It’s the street market off Jose Marti Park. The vendors stretch 3 or 4 blocks down the street.
When I was there it was sprinkling. I shop by walking from booth to booth scanning for treasures, but a treasure must call me back. There was a toy jeep made out of recycled Coke cans that made me laugh. I was planning to go back for it.
A block or two later the rain poured down, and I’d somehow wandered away from my family. That’s scary when you’re in a foreign country, even if you’re an adult. I found my sister-in-law, who said my husband was looking for me. Ruh-roh! I’d hurried past him. I walked back slower, heart pounding, rain pouring down. Thank goodness we found each other! By then the vendors closed up to keep things dry. The Coke Can Car, gone! We waited on a covered porch till the rain stopped. We boarded the train, and luckily back at the dock, I found shopping and something to buy!
I found these booths in front of customs when we got off the train. They’d closed up for the rain and were reopening again. This time I took pictures. No Coke Can Car, but souvenir cars for kids were for sale. Next door was a booth of wooden things like statues, drums, and fans. They were touristy-cute, but nothing called me.
Next up jewelry. I glanced at the necklaces and earrings, but nothing called me here nor next door at the leather stand. Shoes, purses, baseballs, and wall hangings. When I wrote this post I thought I missed something to the right of the Chevrolet Legendario, I thought it said Buckeye, and I was wishing I’d bought it. Happily it says Bucanero so nothing was missed after all.
Finally, a treasure, something that called me back! It was a necklace made from seeds. I’d never seen anything like it so I walked back again.
The newspaper was my shopping bag. Cienfuegos is a very poor place. The street vendors don’t buy bags. They make them from recycled newspaper.
One last thing I remember from Cienfuegos were the dogs. They were thin like Greyhounds, but they were Mutts. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to remember. I'm not used to seeing animals who aren't cared for.
Leaving, on a Tender
This is where I waited to leave. I was bored so I tried to take a picture of our ship. It’s not the big cruise ship. It’s off in the distance. Can you see it? Look at bow and follow it back. I can barely make it out, but I blew it up for you. Look!
See! Hello, Empress! Good-bye, Cienfuegos! Here’s to a one day sail tomorrow. Then it’s Havana Na Na Na!
This is Manuel Bartsch. He discovered he was a DACA kid when he was a high school senior. Then his story got worse, much worse. Read on…and discover how something like this could happen.
Manuel’s story started with two Americans, his grandfather and step-grandfather. His grandmother was German. She had a baby girl, who had Manuel, but he wound up living with his grandmother. She had another baby, Manuel’s uncle. Life was good…until his grandmother was killed by a drunk driver in 1993.
Arriving in the US
In 1997 Manuel’s step-grandfather brought both boys to the US, to Gilboa, Ohio. Manuel was about 7 years old. He came legally, with a 90-day visitor pass…it never got renewed. Uh-oh! Then his grandfather forgot to legally adopt him. Double Uh-oh!
Manuel grew up in Ohio, as an American kid, doing American things like playing football until December of 2005. That’s when he discovered the truth. Manuel tried to get his driver’s license and register for the ACT, a college entrance test. Manuel learned he didn’t have a social security number, that he wasn’t a citizen, or even a legal resident of the United States. Pretty bad…but it gets worse, much worse.
Manuel didn’t know what to do when he got a letter from immigration in Ohio. He asked for advice from his girlfriend’s father, who’s in law enforcement. They went into the immigration office together.
Officials confirmed Manuel’s entry date with his step-grandfather. They came into Newark, New Jersey on August 21, 1997. Manuel had just turned 10. After that meeting, life got worse, much worse.
Arrested before Christmas
Those officials couldn’t find any paperwork, for either an adoption or a visitation. Without them, they had to arrest and charge Manuel as an illegal alien. It’s the law…so in December of 2005, Manuel found himself stuck in jail for 17 days. He was18 years old. I can’t imagine how scared he felt to find himself in jail as illegal alien. He had no idea what happened, no idea what to do. But that’s when things got better, a little better.
Manuel Finds Help
Manuel’s story made news around the US, and in Germany too. It got him a lawyer, David Leopold, who accepted the case pro-bono. He didn’t ask for a dime.
Back home in the Pandora-Gilboa school district, friends, teachers, administrators, and school board members needed to help. They traveled to Cleveland to speak for Manuel. They told the court they were upset, that they wanted Manuel back in school, back in Gilboa.
Their words worked! The case was dropped. Manuel was released, but it wasn’t over. He didn’t have citizenship, and he could be deported at any time. He might not even be allowed to finish high school. WOW!
The Fight Goes On
Mark Painter, father of Manuel’s high school girl friend, said, "Right now, he still has a chance. It's not a definite no…The fight goes on." Then life got better, a little better, thanks to help from lawyer David Leopold, Congressman Paul Gilmore, and Senator Michael DeWine.
In April of 2006, Senator Mike DeWine joined Manuel’s fight. He wanted to see Manuel’s status changed. He believed Manuel should be legally allowed to stay in the country. Mike took the fight to the US Senate. He asked for a report on the case. It made a difference! The report said Manuel couldn’t be deported, even if a judge ordered it.
High School Graduation
Manuel went on to graduate from Pandora-Gilboa High School, but he didn’t know about college, even though he’d been accepted at Ohio Northern University. He sat in limbo, waiting to hear back from his legal battles. His lawyer, David said Manuel grew up a lot his senior year.
The Fight’s Not Over
Manuel found another champion in Ohio Congressman Paul Gilmore. In January 2007, he introduced a bill into the US House of Representatives for the relief of Manuel Bartch, to give him permanent resident status. It never passed so the bill died. Paul died later that year, in September of 2007.
College, at Last
Manuel made it to college. Yeah! He went to Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. Manuel was an achiever! His professor, David Hogan, said “He was in the top 2% of his students,” and that he couldn’t believe Manuel’s problem had no solution. Me too!
Manuel didn’t just have great grades in college…He was a leader too. His fraternity voted him president for 2 terms. It was a perfect fit for a political science major who dreamed of a future in government and politics.
In college Manuel was considered an undocumented immigrant, but someone believed in him, enough to give him tuition money. To this day Manuel has no idea who helped him. He has a guess, but he’ll never know for sure. On May 4th, 2012 Manuel graduated from Heidelberg with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He couldn’t understand how America could give him a great education, yet send him back to Germany, a country he hadn’t visited for 15 years.
He also didn’t know what to do with his degree. A lot of college kids have trouble getting jobs. Not Manuel! He couldn’t get a job. He couldn’t go to graduate school. He couldn’t get clearance to work in state or local government, and he still couldn’t get a driver’s license. All because of a piece of paper. Imagine! A piece of paper! Manuel was stuck, in limbo, because of a piece of paper.
This is Manuel’s step-grandfather and Manuel’s diploma from Heidelberg. Can you imagine how proud his grandfather was of Manuel? I also imagine he was frustrated…frustrated to see Manuel stuck through no fault of his own. That’s when life got better, a little better.
The Dream Act
The next 3 pictures show Manuel speaking in support of the Dream Act. This first one is in Washington D.C. The Capital Building stands in the background.
Did you know the Dream Act was originally introduced Aug.1, 2001 by Democrat, Dick Durbin, and Republican, Orrin Hatch? It was bi-partisan, with senators from both of our major political parties. It’s been discussed in different forms ever since, but never been made into a law. Not ever.
In 2012 it was one small clause of a huge Immigration bill. It was supposed to give citizenship to kids like Manuel who’d arrived in the US before they were 16.
Back then Manuel said, “I’d like to get out there, and be in the fight for things, especially on immigration. I would love to advocate for immigration and reform and passage of the Dream Act – just the passion I have for that kind of thing.”
It made sense for the kid who was interested in government and politics to get involved.
And he did…he testified in front of Congress. He tried to convince them to dream, but Congress said no to the immigration bill, no to the dream act.
It must have seemed like the worst of times to Manuel, but then that same year, things got better, a lot better.
Time for a Cover
In 2012 Time decided to produce an article and cover to support the Dream Act. This is that cover shoot. It featured 35 students from different backgrounds. Each student represented a country whose kids have been caught in the US without legal citizenship. Some people think it’s just a South and Central American problem, but it’s not. Manuel’s from Germany.
Someone brought these kids here illegally. It wasn’t their choice, it wasn’t their fault, and something needed to be done. Time decided to help, with this cover, and its matching article.
After it was shot, Time’s editors worked on computers to make the picture just right. They added words, in the right colors, in the right sizes. Lots of work went into the cover below. The magazine came out June 25, 2012.
Two weeks earlier, on June 15, 2012 President Obama signed the Dream Act as an executive order. It didn’t grant kids like Manuel citizenship, but it halted deportation, temporarily. It allowed them to work and go to school.
Manuel said, “I’m excited, and I thank Obama for stepping forward. I hope it’s more than election year politics. I hope there’s more behind it than that because it’s so important for so many of us.”
So where does Manuel stand now, in 2018? Is life better, or worse?
The pictures in this section come from the last 6 years. Life looks pretty good. Manuel married his high school sweetheart. They have good jobs, a house, and an 18-month-old cutie!
Life is good, but something’s missing…US citizenship. When I started this post in January, I remember Manuel’s father-in-law saying the law is black and white, no wiggle room. Manuel’s married to a citizen, and he’s the father of one. I thought if you married a citizen, you got citizenship automatically. Evidently not if you came illegally.
Thanks to DACA, Manuel can drive a car, and he has a job, but not in government. That’s where his passion, talents, and degree are. Manuel can’t cross the border into Canada or Mexico for vacation. He can’t visit family back in Germany. Why not? He’s afraid he wouldn’t get back in again.
Some people think that he should leave the country and wait his turn to come back. That’s hard to do with a wife and a child. It could take as long as 8 years to return, the right way. His son would be 9 by then. That’s a huge price to ask of anyone, especially a little boy.
So what’s the answer? Compromise, somehow. Everyone knows this situation is wrong, and it should be fixed. The question is how. Manuel’s father-in-law thinks our government should come up with a plan that asks these kids to do things like finish high school, finish college/higher training. Manuel has done both.
Others think the DACA kids should pay a fine in money and/or time. I’d support a plan like that, if it was reasonable. I’d write my Congress people, and I think others would too.
I wish our leaders in Washington DC would come up with that reasonable plan for these DACA kids. It’s been discussed since 2000 by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Why can’t they make it happen?
1. My interview with Manuel’s father-in-law, Mark Painter
2. The Cleveland Plain Dealer
3. The Toledo Blade
4. ABC News
5. The Lima News
6. Congressional Record
Do you ever feel like you’re losing your marbles? Been there, done that, and occasionally I still do! Thank goodness I’m retired! It's so much easier to keep track of things.
Sometimes, I still lose things, especially when I’m under stress. In late April my mother fell and went to the hospital. She broke 3 ribs and her shoulder. Ouch! I was also taking a writing class. Double ouch! I was losing my phone and my kindle at least 3 times a day, every day...URGH!
The breaking point was the night I couldn’t find my phone. It was 11 PM, and I'd looked all over the house, repeatedly. Finally, I went to my mother’s to see if I'd left it there. I was scared I’d be arrested for breaking and entering, even though I used a key, and turned on the lights. It wasn’t there, I wasn’t arrested, and the phone was by my kitchen sink, where I’d left it when I was doing dishes…URGH!!!
My daughter's fiancee got her tiles as a birthday gift in March. She told me how wonderful they were, but I didn’t buy a set, not till that night in May. My tiles came in a set of 4, and they ARE wonderful!
This is my kindle. Now when it’s missing, I don’t look for it. Really! I click the Tile app on my phone. Then I click on the kindle icon, and it makes my kindle tile sing. I follow the song straight to my kindle. Heaven!
Have you ever lost your phone and had someone call it for you? Tile does the same thing, except you don’t need a friend with a phone. It saves me so much stress. Now I can focus on important things, like healing my mother, or reading my kindle. Life is good!
Do you see the tile in my clutch? It’s my purse tile. If I can’t find it, I click the purse on my app and follow the song.
But what if I can’t find my phone? Do you see the silver circle on the tile? Push it till it chirps. It’ makes my phone sing until I can find it. Tile is a great thing!
Have you ever lost your keys…in your purse? I hate that, pulling everything out till I find them. With tile, no need! I click on my phone or on another tile, and VOILA! Keys found! It’s so easy! And, if I leave my keys somewhere else in the house, tile will find them too.
I had a tile to spare, from May till July. I saved it for my husband, but he didn’t want it so I found the perfect place…my clutch. In the summer it’s in my purse, but when I sub, I carry it where ever I go. Why? It’s my survival bag. Inside are mints and Kleenex for my nose and throat. Last year I left it behind several times. I had to retrace my steps and look for it. This year I’ll retrace my steps, but I’ll just listen for the Tile song. Lovely!
Yes, I’m doing it again! Sort of, but this time it’s all about the NEW YEAR.
For the last 11 days I have been taking an online class with author, blogger, 12 x 12 founder, Julie Hedlund. Every day I click on a link, listen to a video, and do homework. Now that I’m almost done, I’d thought I’d share some of my homework with you, and invent a version for you.
Day 1 was an introduction, a quick taste of what Julie will be teaching. Sorry, no song this time, but you can google and play it yourself.
When you write a paper, you start with an intro. You tell what you’re going to write about. In this class, you’re going to be putting ideas together, taking some away, to learn from 2017, and to make 2018 the best year ever. AKA you’ll be writing your own New Year’s resolution. You might even write more than 1. Tip, it’s fun, when you do it Julie’s way! This ends Day 1. See you tomorrow!
For this paper, days 2-11 are the middle. It’s where I’ll tell you about those New Year’s Resolutions, Julie Hedlund style.
Day 2 Surprise! Julie’s video was about surprises, and so was her homework: Writing 3-5 from this year. I had to think back to the unexpected, the good and the bad this year.
1. Cutting words can be easy with the right tool! Michelle Houts taught me how to use Ann Whitford Paul’s, Writing Picture Books.
2. My words are powerful…I had 2 authors look at me with fear because of my story plot. It was too strong for my audience.
3. Nothing more to edit? Shock! Usually I’m bummed with edits, but this time I was bummed without them. I felt like I’d failed, till another author gave me an idea to “weaken “ the plot for my audience.
Now it’s your turn. How were you surprised in 2017?
Day 3 Success! Julie talked today about recognizing and building from your own success Homework: write as many as you can. I had 28. I’ll share 4.
1. Wrote 1st new PB in 5 years. Cut over 700 words from it.
2. My website started with 25 visitors per week. Now I average about 500. My best week was 800.
3. I learned how to use Scrivener, which is a great word processing program for writers.
4. I submitted my safety story to 2 agents. That doubles my submissions up to 4.
Now it’s your turn. What were your successes?. Write down as many as possible. It’s a good thing!
Day 4 Disappointments! Julie said this was the hardest day, and she was right! She asked us to write 3-5 disappointments. Then go deeper by writing a judgement, your inner critic, on why you “failed.” You end on a hopeful note by writing the truth, why your disappointment was unachievable. I did 3. Here are 2.
1. Disappointment: My dog manuscript didn’t get picked up by an agent.
Judgement: It’s not good enough. It will never be good enough.
Truth: She saw potential in the manuscript and gave me ideas to push it. She thought I could handle the criticism and would use it.
2. Disappointment: I only submitted 3 manuscripts this year.
Judgement: I’m too afraid. I’ll never believe in myself. I’ll always be watching the success of others.
Truth: I knew my books weren’t ready yet, and I also know they’re getting closer.
Now it’s your turn to write your disappointments, judgements and truth.
Day 5 Learning! Today was easier! Julie defined learning as the positive knowledge you can take away from the things your heart knows to be true about your challenges, disappointments, and failures. Here are 2.
1. Learning from dog manuscript: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The agent didn’t say delete the manuscript. She gave me ways to improve it. I already have, then had it looked at, and re-edited from feedback. It’s going out this week. May the force be with it!
2. Learning from submissions: I’m finding my community, my tribe, my support group. They’ve helped me with manuscripts. They’ve cheered my baby steps forward.
Your turn...write what you've learned from those challenges, disappointments, and failures.
Day 6 Next Step, Building from Success, Erasing Disappointment.
3 parts today. Let's do one at a time. STEP #1: Look at yesterday’s learning. What’s your next step towards your goal? Here are 2.
STEP 2: Look at your successes. Pick your favorites to build onto. I did 7, but I’m showing you 3.
STEP 3: Delete, shrink, or burn your Disappointments and Judgements.
Truth: The agent saw potential in the manuscript and gave me ideas to push it. She thought I could handle the criticism and would use it.
Learning: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The agent didn’t say delete the manuscript. She gave me ways to improve it. I already have, then had it looked at, and re-edited from feedback. It’s going out this week. May the force be with it!
Next step: Keep editing and critiquing Dog story till it’s ready.
Now it's your turn!
Day 7 Gratitude! Julie said this was her favorite day of the whole 12 days because it involves the most sustaining element of all…gratitude. I had a list of 20. Here are 3.
1. For the development of my blog, for those who helped me to build it, and for those who read it.
2. For SCBWI where I found friends and mentors.
3. For the gifts God gave me, the bat, the ability to write, to focus and persevere, to take suggestion.
How about you? What are you grateful for?
Day 8 Book Cover! Julie suggested taking the pages from this class in order and turning them into a book. I did my work on computer pages so I turned this project into this poster. Please do what fits you!
Here’s how I’ll use word power
Keep us going:
Scrivener, My Blog, My Reads
Revise and submit us:
Ant, Safety, and Dog stories
Write something new:
Bat, Duck, and Mary/Martha
Try something new:
12x12, Writing with the Stars, Story Storm
To Julie Hedlund
12 Days of Christmas
Day 9 Fun! After working hard for 8 days, Julie did a video day featuring Rockie Hedlund’s rules for writing. Rockie is the family dog. I can’t share her video, but I can do something similar.
This is a border terrier who looks like my Leia. I matched her favorite things to rules for writing. Enjoy!
1. She always laid at the top of the stairs. Rule: Be observant. You won’t miss a thing.
2. She also loved to sit/lay on my feet. Rule: Stay close to those you love.
3. She loved clothes on the floor. They were perfect to lay on. Rule: Sometimes jobs like laundry can wait.
4. Leia loved walks and would go crazy if she heard our code words. We started with: Time for a walk. Then changed to WALK before our last try, the “W” word. Rule: Always be ready to learn.
5. She’d pull my kids down the street, choking all the way, huge doggy smile on her face. Rule: Don’t forget to have fun!
Day 10 Pause! Julie took today to pause, reflect, and affirm. I’ve been doing that all week with this class. Today’s assignment was to come up with a word or phrase of affirmation. Here’s mine:
Day 11 Writing Prompt! No video! Julie sent writing prompts today. If you want to be a writer, improve as a writer, then you need to write! So I did!
Prompt: It's 1504 in Florence, Italy. You get lost and stumble upon Leonardo da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa. What happens next?
Here are 2 scenes I played around with, just for fun!
I stumbled through the door of the time machine. It worked! I was in an alley, in 16th century Florence, Italy. I looked down at my clothes. They fit the time period. I strolled out of the alleyway and down the street. My research said this neighborhood where I’d find Leonardo da Vinci’s studio.
I followed my map to the studio, opened the door, and tiptoed inside.
Leonardo called, “Sit, watch, and wait.” He continued painting.
A lady sat like a statue. I knew her face, but not her name. I watched Leonardo paint. I wished I could paint like Leonardo.
***skip ahead to art lesson****
After dinner, I sat down beside Leonardo. He said, “Draw.”
Leonardo smiled. “Try, for me.”
I did, a stick figure.
Leonardo said, “That’s how all young artists begin, with lines, with sticks. Watch me.”
Research how by drawing lines, check with an art teacher
Day 12 Conclusion! Time for a finale. In the intro, I gave you the main idea. In the middle, I gave you the details. It’s time for a conclusion, to sum up the post and Julie’s final lesson.
First thank you for taking your time to read this post. I hope it helped you set the stage for the New Year.
Congratulations! You looked back at 2017, and you’re armed with the truth. You know what you learned, and best of all, you set up steps to take towards your goal. Ready, set, go!
Julie’s final piece of advice is from Jane Yolen’s Take Joy. Basically, it’s that simple, take time to take joy. Enjoy the view. Stop and smell the roses. All synonyms, all clichés, and all true. Enjoy your journey through 2018! Here’s to the voyage!
It’s the end of an old year, the beginning of a new one. It’s a good time to look back and see how things have changed.
This picture is from my first post, Swimming with Dolphins, 11/16/16.
I had 25 visits back then. Last week I had over 600. My best day was over 300, and my best week was over 800.
Wow! Thank you, readers! You are so appreciated!
This picture is from my post, My Achy Breaky Ankle or A Tale of Two Machines, 6/3/16. It was all about what happened when my ankle swelled, and I had trouble walking. After using 2 machines, I would up with no diagnosis, but we’d eliminated DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and broken bones.
It flared up again in July. My husband got me to check for Lyme disease. I did, no Lyme. Only a suggestion to see a Rheumatologist. Two x-rays later, I had the answer…osteoarthritis…arthritis in my knees. There’s nothing tp do about it, but, it’s nice to know what it is. Now I avoid stairs as much as possible. In December, I got a tip from my family doctor—use shoes with arch support.
That I can do that! Here’s to living with osteoarthritis! With today’s medicine, maybe they’ll come up with something tomorrow to make my knees ache less. Here’s to hope!
This post is from 7/10/17, Tracing Rinda’s Roots. I wrote about never seeing a picture of my grandmother and namesake, Rinda, till middle school. Last July a cousin sent me this picture. I had to guess who’s in it. From left to right, Grandma Rinda, Leo, Mary, Grandpa Richard, Opal Lee, and Grant. My mother and her next-older brother aren’t there…they haven’t been born yet. The only one who’s still alive is my Uncle Leo. Seeing my grandparents so young, and my uncles/aunts as children, it’s priceless!
But…it gets better!
After posting this on the website, the most amazing thing happened, and it’s been happening ever since. Can you guess? The picture is your clue.
If you guessed this picture shows up every time I turn on my computer, you’re right! I think it’s amazing, after spending so much of my life never seeing my grandmother, now I see her every day. It feels like a miracle, from Rinda 1.0 to her granddaughter 2.0. It’s lovely!
This is the most recent post, 12/4/17, DIY Your Own Crafts. It was a show-tell-and-teach you how to DIY some of my favorite crafts. My favorite crafts were in Christmas boxes, and I knew I wouldn’t get them out for a couple weeks…So, yes, I planned to do this update!
These crafts mean the most to me because they were either done for my kids, or made by them. My son Alex made the Christmas tree in 1st grade (it’s on the back). It was a simple school project, plastic frame, paper tree colored by my son, and his picture. Simple, timeless, precious! My kind of craft!
I made the red-and-green stocking for my 2nd class of 2nd graders. I didn’t do it for my 1st class. I was pregnant and didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, so it HAD to be my 2nd class. My colleagues talked me into painting. I…HATE…PAINTING! They said it’d be easy-peasy. I was so scared, but I did it! I got the wooden sock from a craft fair. I did all the painting and lettering. I practiced on Alex’s. So if you got a stocking from me, it was Christmas, 1987, and you were my 2nd set of 2nd graders. It was the only year I dared to paint, no LOL! (Obviously this isn’t my kind of craft, LOL, this time!)
These are 3 class projects. The top one is my favorite. Ashley made it at school. I love how they recycled the puzzle pieces, but I was never willing to paint with 2nd graders. YUCK!
I made the other 2 with my class. These were my samples. They came from Oriental Trading. Their projects are individually packaged, easy to make, and look great. Even the messiest kid can make a neat one. That’s why I made the switched. Easy, simple, and always neat. My kind of project!
These are my favorite ornaments. My mother made them with my kids when they were little, and she was their babysitter. I loved it so much I made it with my classes. It was easy! My kind of project!
I used a basic bell pattern. The kids traced the pattern onto cardboard and covered it with foil. We took pictures and glued them down. We added glitter, punched holes, and added a string. The only drawback was is the mess. Glitter + Kids = A Mess…but you wind up with projects the kids are proud of. That’s priceless too!
PS- Do all glitter in a cardboard lid, and there’s only a teeny-tiny mess. This trick also works if you let kids decorate cookies with sprinkles. Kids loved it too!
1. What is the author’s purpose?
2. Which visit would you like to have? Why?
Answers are at the end of this post.
Would you like a new language arts lesson for December, or for those short weeks in January and February? It’s hard to run your regular routine. Why not take a break, and do something different? Sit, relax, and I’ll teach your class about writing from my pre-published/retired teacher perspective.
I offer variations in classroom visits, and I can tailor one for you. The pictures in this post are from grades K-3. I love seeing kids interested in learning! I hope to visit grades 4 and 5 this year. I sub in grades PK-4. After 33 years in second grade, it’s fun to go someplace new!
Options for Classroom Visits:
1. This is from the slideshow of my writing journey. It starts when I met a bat, the mammal kind, in Germany. Really! If interested we can act out the true bat story.That experience gave me my first two books. They’re both in my computer, waiting for me to return for them when I have other books published. Why? An editor told me that bat stories don’t have legs. No LOL! They sell best before and after Halloween. After that they just take up shelf space. Now I’m spending my time primarily on 3 stories that have legs and will sell anytime.
2. With grades 1-4, we can transform my journey into a common core writing lesson. As I tell my story, I’ll pause for your students to map out what they want to remember. They can do an opinion about my visit or write informative/explanatory/narrative passages about my journey. I can match common core expectations for your grade level to each kind of writing. I’ll tailor my visit to fit the needs and interests of your students.
3. Want a different focus? I can introduce you to the authors who’ve critiqued my work. They helped me grow as a writer. I’ll bring along their autographed books and pictures to share.
4. I can also show you what a real, live critique looks like on paper, and what “getting pages” looks like. I meet once a month with a critique group in Tennessee. I’ll show you how they look at my work. My conference critiques look a little different. I also have two full critiques of my middle grade chapter book. I’m glad to show your how students constructive criticism benefits me. I’ll link it to what you do every day. You, are their best critic.
5. Would your class like to visit another culture? I can bring in my German or English journals. They have words, pictures, even money. If interested, we can complete a Venn diagram to compare/contrast the two cultures. You can stop there, or turn it into a writing opportunity.
If you look closely at the slide above, you’ll see a monument called the Hermannsdenkmal, or Herman monument. I didn’t think my own bat story was enough, so I dragged in Herman and discovered two things…I overshot the mark and wrote a chapter book, not a picture book. I also learned that I am enough. The second book is my mostly true bat story, embellished to make an early chapter book for young readers.
I also have books I’ve brought back from Germany. Most are translated and will show your students German grammar structure, pronunciation, and meaning. Who knows, maybe we’ll even speak a little German before I leave!
How about a German Christmas? I can refresh the lesson I did for my second graders. I’ll double check my accuracy with a German teacher who’s one of my Beta readers to see if I missed anything. I’m hoping they’ll do a Christmas post for me. Fingers crossed
6. Do you have students who don’t want to edit their writing? They won’t listen to you. Let me do a lesson with them. Sometimes hearing the same words from a stranger makes a difference. I just need a draft. We’ll read through it and look for errors. I critique my own work this way, and I got this strategy from an agent at an SCBWI conference. (SCBWI- Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)
This picture is from a lesson I did with third graders. They were brave about sharing their work and taking constructive criticism. They also received a small prize from me for sharing and correcting mistakes. Every student improved their final copy. I hope they remembered my advice for their next draft, and eventually for 3rd grade testing, where proofreading/editing are critical skills
7. For older classes, would you and your students like to see how I edit? I used color last year to push a middle grade story I’d worked on for 6 years. I was told it was flat and couldn’t believe it! 6 years! My Nashville critiquer in September said it was missing sensory and emotional information. Highlighting helped me find what was there, and what was missing. It worked! The same author reread my first two chapters in May and said it was right on track. Hurray! She also showed me how to shrink a manuscript down to1 page per chapter. It’s another way to find those holes in your work. It’s better to find and correct my own work. If I’m querying an editor or agent, I’ll get a polite thanks, but no thanks!
I could reverse this strategy to help a reader understand a chapter book. I’d be glad to give it a whirl with your class. If interested, let me know. I have some ideas on how to do this with a published books.
8. This is my blog. I can do a reading lesson for you on any post. They come with questions before, and answers after each one. In presentations, I can target author’s purpose, main idea, supporting detail, whatever skills your students need to practice. To see available posts, check my Pinterest boards. My blogs are posted for Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts. I also matched each post to Ohio science and social studies strands. If you live outside of Ohio, I hope they’re similar for you.
9. Would your class like to build a post with me? We can use any topic you’ve studied. I just need pictures for the post. We can work together- before/during/after my visit- to edit words and pictures. When done, I’ll post them on my web page. I’ll list your class and your school as my co-authors.
No matter which visit you choose, I’ll talk to your students about persistence like no one else can. I’ve been on my writing journey for 10 years, and still no published books, yet. To be a writer, I’ve learned not to be discouraged with critiques. I take the advice that makes sense to me, and I use it to grow. I also make sure I enjoy the journey. Stay tuned a for future post, A Little Help from My Friends. I’ll introduce you to my writing friends from SCBWI who’ve helped and encouraged me along the way. They’re the best!
I also make sure I enjoy the journey. Stay tuned a for future post, A Little Help from My Friends. I’ll introduce you to my writing friends from SCBWI who’ve helped and encouraged me along the way. They’re the best!
What Can I Do for You? Think School Visit!
1. What is the author’s purpose?
My author’s purpose was to convince you and your teacher to schedule an author visit with me.
2. Which visit would you like to have? Why?
Example: I’d like to have Rinda help me edit my writing. I want to learn how to catch my own mistakes, before my teacher can.
1. What inspired Jesse to serve in the military?
2. Name two ways Jesse is living the stories of the men and women from the VFW hall. Eleven are listed in the post.
3. Name one way you can serve your school or your community.
Answers are at the end of this post
This is my Facebook friend, Jesse. He’s a West Point grad, army lieutenant, and Afghanistan veteran. For Veteran’s Day I wanted to do something from a military point of view, so I asked Jesse.
This is Jesse in action, on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He paused for a photo with 2 other soldiers, but he said there’s more to a being a soldier than going on patrol. I googled military jobs. There are 150, ranging from cook to dentist to mechanic.
When I interviewed Jesse, I was surprised to learn he never wanted to be a soldier. That sounds like me. I’m a principal’s daughter, and I never wanted to be a teacher. Jesse and I should never have said never.
Everything changed for Jesse when he competed in the Voice of Democracy contest in high school. You can compete too. Contact your local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for details. You start at the local level. If you do well enough, you go to nationals and can earn up to $30,000 for college. That’s a nice chunk of change! When Jesse competed in 2010, America had been at war for 10 years. He wasn’t interested in a military career, but, listening to local veterans inspired him. It changed him, forever.
I had to ask how. How could talking to a bunch of old men/women change your mind? Jesse answered, that as he listened, he heard a common thread, that military service was the defining point in their lives. Not only did these people come of age, they became civically aware in a way he’d never seen before. These veterans were actively involved in their communities, finding problems and solving them. They were leaders in their communities. They made a difference, and for Jesse, this contest was a defining moment in his life.
I wanted this to be Jesse’s story so I asked what he’d like to say. He answered, “Being a soldier is more than wearing 60 pounds of body armor and carrying an assault rifle. It’s a commitment to others, to the left and the right, to the idea of America, and the ideas that make America unique. This commitment stays with you after you’ve served and takes on a different form. The veterans you see in your community, are inspired by their service to continue serving others.”
Then he said, “I’m living the stories of the old men and women in the VFW hall.” I asked how. How are you like those men from WWII, Korea, or Vietnam? He answered:
- Those veterans talked about tough times spent away from home.
- Time spent navigating army bureaucracy to get the things you or your men needed.
- In dangerous settings, looking out for the guy to your left, and your right.
- Jumping out of planes to complete a mission.
- Marching towards an enemy you’ve never seen or met, because you are committed to the mission, and to the people around you.
- Riding in an armored vehicle that opens to a blast of sand and mud huts poking up out of a desert. You see fields where villagers eke out a living. You’re here because your commitment required it, whether you’re welcome, or not.
- You meet kids who might throw rocks at you one day, then ask for candy and pens the next. They use limited English and their hands to communicate.
- You return to the base to talk with your buddies about what you’ve seen and heard, happy to see another day.
- You’re rudely awakened by rockets attacking your base.
- You eat poor army food, disgusting but edible, whether they’re from a cafeteria or MRE (meal ready to eat). BTW, they even come with a heating element.
- Some nights you sleep in the open air, looking at the stars, but ready for action.
Wow, I can’t imagine living this life. I always thought teaching was hard, at least the way I did it. I gave of myself every day for my students. Looking back, it was the only way I could be the teacher I wanted to be. But, as tough as teaching was, it does not compare to what our military does every day. So today, and all days when you see a soldier or a veteran, please think why you’re thankful for their service. Be specific. If you’re in doubt, pick a fact from this post that means something to you.
So, I’ll finish by saying, “Jesse, thank you for your service, for giving your time and talent to the mission, instead of taking an easier route.”
There’s More to a Soldier, More to a Veteran
1. What inspired Jesse to serve in the military?
He was inspired by meeting and talking to veterans while competing in the Voice of Democracy Contest.
2. Name two ways Jesse is living the stories of the men and women from the VFW hall.
- Those veterans talked about tough times spent away from home.
- Time spent navigating army bureaucracy to get the things you or your men needed.
3. Name one way you can serve your school or your community.
Example: I can help at school by working with students who’re having trouble on a paper.
I can help my community by cleaning up trash I see in my neighborhood.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!