Saturday, January 01, 2022

Books Read in 2021

This was probably my best year of reading yet, completing more than 80 books! The vast majority were audiobooks, which I listened to while gardening, cooking, driving, etc. I also read a few actual paper books which I held in my hands but failed to write down anywhere, plus a number of plays from anthologies that I'm not going to bother to look up. So the list below are all audiobooks, organized by the app I borrowed them from. I starred a few that I especially enjoyed, put a (-) after a few that weren't as good as the rest, and left off a couple that were terrible. The rest were worthwhile.

On OverDrive:

Rules of Civility (Amor Towles)

Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)

When All is Said (Anne Griffin)

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Kate DiCamillo)

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) ~I failed to appreciate this one as much as you're supposed to. It would have been better if I'd read it for a class or discussion group.

*Before We Were Yours, *The Book of Lost Friends (Lisa Wingate)

Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)

The Answer Is... : Reflections on My Life (Alex Trebek) (Jeopardy host)

Kingdom of the Blind, A Better Man, All the Devils Are Here (Louise Penny, Inspector Gamache series*)

Lab Girl (Hope Jahren)

News of the World (Paulette Jiles)

*Educated: A Memoir (Tara Westover)

*The Giver of Stars (Jojo Moyes) ~Historical fiction featuring "pack horse librarians" on the Midwestern frontier.

The Alchemist (Paul Coelho) ~Another one that I would have enjoyed more if read for a class or discussion group.

Send for Me (Lauren Fox) (-)

Journey to Munich (Jacqueline Winspear, Maise Dobbs series)

The Handmaid's Tale, Hag-Seed (Margaret Atwood)

Uncommon Type:  Some Stories (Tom Hanks) ~These short stories were uneven but mostly quite good!

**Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) ~Loved this epic tale. Will definitely re-read.

*The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (Abbi Waxman)

From a Certain Point of View (40 authors, 40 stories; Star Wars fandom) ~Fun!

Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts (Brene Brown)

Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout)

*China Dolls (Lisa See)

The Dutch House (Ann Patchett)

The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey)

**Daisy Jones and the Six (the audiobook of this was amazingly good; I will definitely reread this one!), Malibu Rising (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas) ~Definitely a YA book. Good story, but I prefer YA books that you can't tell are YA. 

The Searcher (Tana French)

*Ordinary Grace (William Kent Krueger)

The Outsider, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (Stephen King)

Greenlights (Matthew McConaughey)

Death on a Southern Breeze (Mark de Castrique) (-)

Carve the Mark, The Fates Divide (Veronica Roth)

The Woman in the Window (A. J. Finn)

*The Book of Lost Names (Kristin Harmel)

*Death Comes to Pemberly (P. D. James)

The Quilter's Apprentice (Jennifer Chiaverini)

Cloud Cuckoo Land (Anthony Doerr) ~From the author of All The Light We Cannot See, this one was disappointing because it was nothing like it, and it was futuristic vs. historical fiction...however it really was ingenius, well-written, and ultimately enjoyable.

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah) ~Very different from The Nightingale, much rougher content with graphic domestic violence.

*Hillbilly Elegy (A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (J. D. Vance)

*Dracula (Bram Stoker) ~So much better than I expected!

*Cyrano de Bergerac (Edmond Rostand) ~A re-read; I have loved this play since I wrote a paper on it in high school.

*Anxious People (Fredrik Backman) ~Same author as A Man Called Ove; very different but just as funny and psychologically insightful.

**Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (Helen Simonson) ~Insightful and delightful!

Brooklyn (Colm Toibin)

The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm (Robert Galbraith) (J.K. Rowling's pseudonym) 

On Hoopla:

*The Queen's Gambit (Walter Tevis) 

*Under the Tulip Tree (Michelle Shocklee)

The Convent's Secret, The Ink Master's Silence, The Cheater's Game, The Prisoner's Key, The Imposter's Inheritance, The Kidnapper's Accomplice, The Toymaker's Curse, The Spy Master's Scheme (C. J. Archer, Glass & Steele series*) ~These YA mysteries don't feel like YA. They blend magic as a plot line with well-drawn characters in a Victorian London setting. Very fun!

The Last Bookshop in London (Madeline Martin)

Murder at the Mayfair Hotel, Murder at the Piccadilly Playhouse (C. J. Archer) 

Jane of Lantern Hill (L. M. Montgomery)

Tolkien's Last Chaucer (John M. Bowers) -Not a page turner, not a great narrator; I listened to it on a faster speed just to get through it, but it was a fascinating glimpse into Tolkien's head, academic publishing, connections between Chaucer and other medieval books that show up in The Lord of the Rings, and philologists dialoguing about philology.

The London House (Katherine Reay)

*That Distant Land (Wendell Berry)

Books I read and taught for Classical Conversations Semester One:


Prologue and the Knight's Tale from The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Book One of Paradise Lost

The Pilgrim's Progress (John Bunyan)

Robinson Crusoe (Daniel DeFoe)

"A Modest Proposal" (Jonathan Swift)

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)

Friday, January 01, 2021

Books Read in 2019/2020

So I gave up blogging, I guess. I didn't intentionally choose to, but social media is so much more interactive and short form! I post pretty regularly on Facebook these days. If you're interested in friending me there, send me an email (see sidebar).

But I do like tallying up my list of books read at the end of the year. I had to skip my year-end book list last year, though, due to the full-time teaching job I was trying to wing my way though--teaching middle school choir, of all things. It took so much time and energy trying to keep up and learn a whole new area to teach; I just had to say no to so many other things. But I was able to squeeze in lots of listening in the car, in the bathroom, in the kitchen.... I love audiobooks because they allow me to get other things done at the same time!

Most of the books on my list are audiobooks because--yay!--"history" on Overdrive and Hoopla. I'll glance over my shelves and see if I can recall what actual books I read too. I might have to include plays this time, since I just finished up a couple of theater classes I'm taking in order to add a theater license to my teaching license. But here goes!

All the audiobooks I've listened to since I last tallied up at the end of 2018, with a just a few *starred that I found extra-special for some reason:

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts (Therese Ann Fowler)
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (Therese Ann Fowler)

Then She was Gone (Lisa Jewell)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Suzanne Collins)

*Tattoos on the Heart:  The Power of Boundless Compassion (Father Gregory Boyle) True stories about his work among gang members in LA.

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) (Jerome K. Jerome)

Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng)

*The Painted Girls (Cathy Marie Buchanan) Imaginative historical fiction about the ballerina who posed for Edgar Degas' statue "Little Dancer."

Winesburg, Ohio (Sherwood Anderson)

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto (Mitch Albom)

The House We Grew Up In (Lisa Jewell)

Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi)

The Paris Wife (Paula McLain) About Earnest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris)

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)

Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) [Obscenity warning; this one was really bad, especially for an audiobook.]

The Two Gentleman of Verona (William Shakespeare)

Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)

At the Water's Edge (Sara Gruen)

This is How It Always Is (Laurie Frankel)

*The Year of Less:  How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, And Discovered Life Is Worth More (Cait Flanders) 

The Silent Patient (Alex Michaelides)

*The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Daniel James Brown)

*The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)

*The Eyes of the Dragon (Stephen King) An epic fairy tale for grown-ups.

Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

*Absent in the Spring (Agatha Christie) A very unusual Christie novel because it's not a mystery. This is more of a psychological study of self-deception and honesty. If you are a middle-aged woman with grown children, this book hits pretty hard, but not in a hurtful way. She is an amazing writer.

The Gunslinger (Stephen King)

The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

*Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow) 
I found it fascinating how similar the political scene was back in Hamilton's day--it was bitterly, wickedly divisive. Also there was an epidemic of yellow fever that created similar dynamics in society to our current pandemic. The story of Hamilton's life is absolutely fascinating. You can see why this book inspired Lin Manuel-Miranda to write the musical.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz (Erik Larson)
I was listening to how Londoners went to bed at night not knowing if their building would be bombed while they the same time as riots and demonstrations were breaking out nightly in Kenosha, creating similar uncertainties (of a much smaller magnitude, granted) among our network of fellow Kenoshans.

The Stand (Stephen King) This was a pretty amazingly epic story (not horror), but it's definitely rated R for obscenity and a couple graphic situations.

The Glass Hotel (Emily St. John Mandel)

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion (Fannie Flagg) [based on World War 2 phenomenon]

*American Like Me (America Ferrera) Short stories by people of color about their experiences growing up in American culture. 

The Odd Couple (Neil Simon)

Beloved (Toni Morrison)

Hidden Figures (Margot Lee Shetterly)

Glass Houses (Louise Penny)

*Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly)

*My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (Stephanie Dray)

*The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh) So much to love about this one.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Kate DiCamillo)

Rules of Civility (Amor Towles)

The Baker Street Letters (Michael Robertson)
The Brothers of Baker Street (Michael Robertson)
In the Company of Sherlock Holmes (various authors, short stories)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
A Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
The Sign of Four (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Sherlock Holmes' Rediscovered Railway Mysteries (John Taylor)

*Flavia DeLuce Mysteries (Alan Bradley):   [England] [first book is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
Speaking From Among the Bones
The Grave's a Fine and Private Place
The Golden Tresses of the Dead

Maisie Dobbs Mysteries (Jacqueline Winspear):  [World War 2]
Maisie Dobbs
Birds of a Feather
Pardonable Lies
Messenger of Truth
An Incomplete Revenge
Among the Mad
The Mapping of Love and Death
A Lesson in Secrets
Elegy for Eddie
Leaving Everything Most Loved
A Dangerous Place
Journey to Munich
In This Grave Hour

Alafair Tucker Mysteries (Donis Casey):  [Oklahoma]
The Old Buzzard Had It Coming
The Drop Edge of Yonder
The Sky Took Him
Crying Blood
The Wrong Hill to Die On
Hell with the Lid Blown Off

Bess Crawford Mysteries (Charles Todd):  [World War 2]
An Impartial Witness
A Bitter Truth
An Unmarked Grave
A Question of Honor
An Unwilling Accomplice
A Pattern of Lies
The Shattered Tree
A Casualty of War
A Forgotten Place
An Unwilling Accomplice

Kurt Wallendar Mysteries (Henning Mankell):  [Sweden]
Faceless Killers
The Dogs of Riga
The White LionessfThe Man Who Smiled
The Fifth Woman
One Step Behind
The Pyramid
Before the Frost

St. Just Mysteries (G.M. Malliet)
Death of a Cozy Writer
Death and the Lit Chick
Death at the Alma Mater

Max Tudor Mysteries (G.M. Malliet)
Wicked Autumn
A Fatal Winter
Pagan Spring
A Demon Summer
The Haunted Season
Devil's Breath
In Prior's Wood

Glass and Steele series (C.J. Archer):  [Victorian England]
The Watchmaker's Daughter 
The Mapmaker's Apprentice
The Apothecary's Poison
The Magician's Diary

Freak House trilogy (C.J. Archer):
The Wrong Girl
Playing with Fire
Heart Burn

Books I actually held in my hands and read to myself:

Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays (David Ball)
Script Analysis for Actors, Directors and Designers (James Thomas)
An Actor Prepares (Constantin Stanislavski)
Acting:  The First Six Lessons (Boleslavsky)
Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
Hum If You Don't Know the Words (Bianca Marais)
Facing Covid Without Panic: 12 Common Myths and 12 Lesser Known Fact about the Pandemic Clearly Explained by an Epidemiologist (Daniel T. Halperin) [required reading for our diocese]
Most of:
Jesus Calling (Sarah Young)
Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples (Hendrix)
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Cron & Stabile)
Lots of:
The Bible

Plays I read or watched (-) for classes; wrote accompanying papers for all!:

True West (Sam Shepard)
Fences (August Wilson)
Trifles (Susan Glaspell)
The Humans (Stephen Karam)
Disgraced (Ayad Akhtar)
Ruined (Lynn Nottage)
Top Girls (Caryl Churchill)
Eurydice (Sarah Ruhl)
Dumb Waiter (Harold Pinter)
-Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
-Stupid F*ing Bird (Aaron Posner) (adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull)
-Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (comedy for 3 actors by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield)

Plays I read not for class:

The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde) [actually directed this one in spring 2019!]
She Stoops to Conquer
A Christmas Story [performed in this one as Mother]

Watched these productions online this spring (the equivalent of an audiobook for a play, right?):

Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare) (PBS Great Performances)
Present Laughter (Noel Coward) (PBS Great Performances)
The King and I (PBS Great Performances)
She Loves Me (PBS Great Performances)
One Man, Two Guv'nors (PBS Great Performances)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams) (National Theater At Home)
Frankenstein (National Theater At Home)
Coriolanus (Shakespeare) (National Theater At Home)
Les Blancs (National Theater At Home)
The Deep Blue Sea (National Theater At Home)
Small Island (National Theater At Home)
Amadeus (National Theater At Home)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare) (National Theater At Home)
Barbershop Chronicles (National Theater At Home)
Phantom of the Opera (The Shows Must Go On)
Love Never Dies (The Shows Must Go On)
Hairspray (The Shows Must Go On)
Peter Pan (Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

My Year in Books

The year didn't start out so great. I was dredging the bottom of the barrel of the audiobook section of my library branch, which I had cherry-picked over the 10 years we'd lived in Wisconsin.

The Ninth Hour (Alice McDermott)
Unmemorable, I guess.

Closing Time: A Memoir (Joe Queenan)
Growing up with an alcoholic father that he never really makes his peace with; becomes a writer. Strong sense of place, if you know Philadelphia, but otherwise I wouldn't recommend.

The Third Coast : When Chicago Built the American Dream (Tom Dyja) 
Not the most riveting prose--or maybe it was just my struggle to hang in there with nonfiction--but I enjoyed the content, which traces the history of Chicago architecture, music, theater and authors, especially how architecture shaped the cultural divide between black and white Chicagoans.

The Dovekeepers (Alice Hoffman) 
Didn't love this one. First of all, it ends badly--with the massacre at Masada, if you know any Jewish history.  I don't know a great deal about Jewish sects at that time, but I was uncomfortable with the large amount of witchcraft alongside relatively minimal evidence of Jewish faith in most of the characters.

*Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) 
Loved this story of self-discovery and learning to trust.

*The War That Saved My Life (Kimberly Brubaker Bradley) 
Delightful tale of a crippled girl who is sent out of London during WW2.

Travels With Charley: In Search of America (John Steinbeck) 
I love John Steinbeck, but did not enjoy this book. Not much plot as he drives around the U.S. with his dog and a camper truck.

Then my life changed when a friend urged me to install the Hoopla app on my phone and gave me a whole list of recommendations! (Thank you, Laura!)

*A Man Called Ove (Fredrik Backman) 
Oh. My. Goodness. The humor in this book is so Scandinavian--dry and awkward and poignant. Think Garrison Keillor and the movie Lars and the Real Girl. (Which you must watch if you liked this book!)

*The Heavenly Man (Brother Yun/Paul Hattaway) 
Incredible testimony of God's work in China in the 1970's-2001. Riveting and super-inspiring.

State of Wonder (Ann Patchett) 
Didn't love this one as much as Bel Canto.

*Prayers for Sale (Sandra Dallas) 
A heart-warming tale that unfolds masterfully, of two women in a Colorado mining town in the 1930's. 

*Call the Midwife
*Shadows of the Workhouse
*Last Days of the East End Midwives (Jennifer Worth) 
Absolutely riveting. If you've enjoyed the shows, the books are--all together now?--even better.

*The Pecan Man (Cassie Dandridge Selleck) 
Can't say it more succinctly than the reviewer who called it "To Kill a Mockingbird meets The Help."

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini) 
Excellent novel but such a painful story of war and abuse in Afghanistan.

Tallgrass (Sandra Dallas) 
Also a painful story, of a small Colorado town where the U.S. government sets up a Japanese internment camp.

Lady Macbeth (Susan Fraser King) 
Not Shakespeare's couple...but an enjoyable historical romance set in medieval Scotland.

*The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (Genevieve Valentine) 
I sort of collect retellings of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This one is set in the Roaring 20's and it really works!

The Lessons of History (Will Durant) 
Since nonfiction isn't my favorite, I was proud of myself for listening to this one. Will and Ariel Durant's 11-volume set The Story of Civilization was one of our first purchases when we were newly married and both working, but this distillation of the essential lessons from history is probably as close as I'll ever come to reading them! 

The Zookeeper's Wife (Diane Ackerman) 
True story of the couple who ran the Warsaw Zoo and how they saved hundreds from the Nazis.

This Could Change Everything (Jill Mansell) 
Lighthearted and enjoyable.

*A Memory of Violets (Hazel Gaynor) 
Excellent historical fiction about London flower sellers, a group I had never imagined before.

The Girl Who Came Home (Hazel Gaynor) 
Fictional account of a Titanic survivor. I'm liking this author so far.

*The Girl With Seven Names:  A North Korean Defector's Story (Hyeonseo Lee) 
Amazing autobiographical story, well-told.

Go Set a Watchman (Harper Lee) 
A coming-of-age story. Grown-up Scout comes to terms with who her father is:  a more complicated man than the hero of her childhood. Not as enjoyable as To Kill a Mockingbird but a thoughtful read.

Winesburg, Ohio (Sherwood Anderson) 
I grew up in Ohio, and I've always heard this was an important collection of short stories, which I always enjoy. But I can't say I loved these. 

*Maisie Dobbs
*Birds of a Feather
*Pardonable Lies
*Messenger of Truth
*An Incomplete Revenge (Jacqueline Winspear) 
I'm loving this detective series, which is also good historical fiction, set in the aftermath of WW1.

Alongside all my listening (mostly while cooking, driving, and during my morning and evening ablutions), I always read a few pages before I go to bed at night. I'm amazed how many books I can get through in 10-15 minutes a day:

Station 11 (Emily St. John Mandel) 
Fascinating and well-written imagining of a future without technology, following a pandemic that wipes out 99% of the world's population. It follows the path of a group of Shakespearean actors who travel the Great Lakes region, while piecing together another story, from the years before the pandemic, puzzle piece by puzzle piece. I'm reading this out loud to my ninth graders and they're hooked!

The Grantchester Mysteries: 
Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death
Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night
Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil
Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins
Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation (James Runcie) 
Had to read these since the star is an Anglican priest, and I enjoyed them very much. We enjoyed the first season of the PBS series as well, but I heard that later seasons takes liberties that do not appear in the books. (He never cheats on his wife!)

Joy in the Morning (Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Fictional, yet autobiographical account of her marriage at a young age and how she was invited to attend college classes along with her husband which set her on the path of becoming a writer. 

*A Girl Named Zippy (Haven Kimmel) 
One of my favorite memoirs, a re-read. Her account of growing up in small-town Indiana in the 60's and 70's reminds me so much of my childhood! I had the same bike, I swear.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile (Eloise McGraw) 
A homeschool title I never got around to reading with my kids. Good historical fiction.

Turn Homeward, Hannalee (Patricia Beatty) 
Another one, also very good.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (Bette Bao Lord) 
Another one. I liked it; not super-memorable.

The Lieutenant's Lady (Bess Streeter Aldrich) 
Based on the diary of an actual army wife who journeyed west with her husband, this is a fictional account of a lady who travels to deliver her cousin's Dear John letter and ends up marrying the Lieutenant herself.

The Emigrants
Unto a Good Land (Vilhelm Moberg) 
The first two of four volumes about Swedish immigrants to America, translated from the Swedish. I'm hooked!

And finally, two books that I've read in the last five years but forgot to record on any previous book lists:

*In Sunlight and in Shadow
*Paris in the Present Tense (Mark Helprin)
I adore this man's writing; it's magical. Literally, his style includes elements of "magical realism" that require you to suspend disbelief; but figuratively, his images are so luminous and beautiful, you almost can't believe that he thought of putting those words together on a page.

Not counting those last two, I read 46 books last year! That makes me happy. 

For more year-end booklists, see the annual round-up here at the blog Semicolon!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

2018 Update

I can't help it...New Year's Eve always reminds me that I still have a blog! (Should I choose to update it....)

So what's happened at the Henhouse since the birth of Granddaughter #1 in April?

--The birth of Granddaughter #2 in June! So privileged to be with Blondechick the whole time, and so grateful for the health of mom and daughter.

Baptism Day!
--Bantam23 and family bought a house nearby; Blondechick25 and family moved into their old rental house right around the corner from us. I keep pinching myself; I never imagined we'd have all our kids so close by after they left home!

--Father Rooster went to Israel in June for the international Anglican conference GAFCON plus a Holy Land tour. It was life-changing for him!

--Chicklet and B13 went to overnight camp, while I took on a summer editing project to help pay for it. Chicklet took driver's ed, and B13 played soccer and went Airsofting with B28. We all went to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins at the farm in Ohio in August.

--B19 stepped into his older brother's shoes at Starbucks this summer, but just hung up his apron again because next week, after 3 semesters as a music major at Carthage College (here in Kenosha), he's transferring to Wheaton College (in the western suburbs of Chicago) where he plans to major in Biblical studies. He still fills called to be a pastor and also is interested in the military, so he may do ROTC at Wheaton as well.

--Light of Christ continues to grow, not so much in numbers (although for every person who moves on, God sends us someone new, so we remain right around 75 strong), but deeper in relationship with God and each other, especially through this Life Model Works study, Forming--a great tool for modeling how to develop a real and conversational relationship with God. Father Rooster continues as full-time pastor, paid part-time, but God provides one way or another...constantly growing our faith!

--Last spring I was assistant director for CYT Kenosha's James and the Giant Peach; B13 was Centipede and Chicklet16 was Aunt Spiker.

--This fall I was assistant director for Music Man; Chicklet was the Mayor's daughter, Zaneeta Shinn, and B13 played various male townsperson roles, including Salesman #1 who starts out the show in the train number:  "CASH for the merchandise, CASH for the button hooks..."

Never posted photos from last January's Little Mermaid, when Chicklet was Ariel, so:

Chicklet's sister dyed her hair this beautiful red with a semi-permanent dye; it has looked amazingly good as it has gradually washed out, but I wonder how many of Chicklet's high school friends will always remember her as a strawberry blonde!

--Currently I am lead director for Seussical the Musical; Chicklet is a Bird Girl; B13 is a Wickersham Brother. Performances are the first weekend in February. Wish you all could come!

--I had already agreed to direct Seussical when I was asked to take a long-term sub job as the 9th grade English teacher at my favorite public high school in Kenosha (a charter school with an Expeditionary Learning philosophy). I'm covering for a maternity leave that started just before Thanksgiving; I'll be there at least through March and maybe for the rest of the year. It has been a real challenge to keep up with lesson planning, grading, meetings, rehearsals, laundry, church, and family! But the opportunity was an exact answer to prayer, and a perfect chance to see what full-time teaching, plus directing, is like. And it's been not too bad, especially with all the prep work I was able to do for Seuss before I began the job.

Now this spring will be more challenging,  if I end up teaching through June, because I'm committed to direct a play at another high school; auditions are in March, with performances in mid-May. Those rehearsals will not just be Friday nights and Saturday mornings, like CYT; they will be nearly every day after school. I can't back out of directing the play; I committed over a year in advance, plus I chose it--The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde. Also it was such an honor to be invited to direct at the public high school and I'm super-excited about it! I'm only committed to the long-term sub job through March, but if their regular teacher cannot return, I just can't see myself leaving those kids with yet another long-term sub, their third teacher of the year, for the last 10 weeks. To reassure me somewhat, God sent a student teacher who will be working with the theater teacher at the high school, and she wants to assistant direct Earnest with me. So I'm counting on her help, and God's, as He reminds me that He will walk with me through these doors He has opened.

--So many more small but wonderful things happened in 2018. I could talk about each of my children; I am so proud of them all! It's exciting to watch the younger half become young adults. B19 and Chicklet16 especially seem wise beyond their years, with an ability to hear God and choose Him first. They are far less distracted by the opposite sex than their older siblings were at their ages, and they are wisely investing in themselves, in their educations and in defining who they are and what they believe. I am so thankful!

And it is so fulfilling to watch B23 and Blondechick25, as such wonderful parents, and to rest easy in their brilliant choices of spouses, who are also great parents, great partners and great people. Although they both married young and neither went to college, they both continue to grow spiritually and intellectually. B23 listens to podcasts on his commute, and discusses them with Father Rooster and B19. Blondechick is thriving as a new mom; we see her drawing strength from God and deepening her own inner resources through the trials of sleeplessness, financial stress, and returning part-time to cosmetology school. She just shared a year-end testimony of the power of gratitude to change one's attitude, and we have witnessed the new freedom from anxiety that she's experienced since she began a daily discipline of thankfulness.

--Wish I could add more photos too, but it takes so much time and I also want to compile my list of books read in 2018...I still have a dozen or so papers to grade, and 120x3 grades to my to-do list is filled with odds and ends to squeeze in before returning to school next Monday like: make freezer meals, help B28 find a cheap TV, take down tree, move B13 to the basement and set up office for Fr. Rooster in 4th bedroom, see Mary Poppins, plan lessons for M-T, wash filthy floors!

So I'll just leave you with a few more of the grandbabies...

 And a Happy 2019 from all of us!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Granddaughter #1

Life has been too full lately for blogging, sadly...but I can't skip this milestone! Our first biological grandchild was born on Sunday, in the midst of an unseasonal April snowstorm. Isn't she beautiful??

This is the child of our son B22(soon to be B23) and our dear daughter-in-love, DIL19 (soon to be DIL20). She joins a half brother, soon to be 4, who regards the new baby sister with cautious suspicion! They live within walking distance of us, so we look forward to lots of baby snuggling this summer. 

Both parents are enjoying time off work this week. Last fall, B22 left Starbucks, where he was a shift manager for 3+ years. He worked at Jockey headquarters here in Kenosha for a short stint; then, thanks to a friend who is an executive at a recruiting firm, he started working as a recruiter, an excellent job except for the 50-minute commute to Illinois. DIL is enjoying maternity leave from her barista job, and thankful that she's probably only going back one day a weekend.

We are also anticipating the birth of Granddaughter #2! Blondechick25 is due June 1 but due to her petite frame, they are planning to induce her on Memorial Day weekend. Here's a photo of both my pregnant girls at the Easter Vigil:

And here's a family photo taken on Easter Day (missing Blondechick and Jedi Knight, but including Grandpa Rooster, Uncle Rooster and our niece/cousin):

Here's the last photo of my two pregnant girls, with me and Jedi Knight's mom, taken at Blondechick's baby shower:

It was a coincidence that we all dressed in black and white!

And just a couple weeks later--and a couple weeks earlier than expected--we found ourselves together again at this joyful occasion:

I've been a step-grandparent ever since B22 married DIL19, but this is the first biological, infant grandchild on both sides.

Looking forward to enjoying my new role as Grandma!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Word for 2018

I have never before participated in the popular non-resolution-making idea of choosing a word for the coming year,'s time!

My word for 2018 is "heart."

At our church, we're beginning a year in the book of John, and our theme is "Heart to Heart." So I was already primed for this image, but a couple Sundays ago in church, while our preacher was reminding us that Jesus really is a person, not just a concept, I felt an almost physical sensation of warmth and tightness, like a hug, just a little left of the center of my chest. The thought entered my brain, "Jesus is hugging my heart." I stopped listening to the sermon and sat there noticing and allowing this sensation, and trying to hold tears back as I continued to feel that it was indeed Jesus embracing me at the core of my being.

(What a long way I've come, with God's help, from a time when what little sense of being I had, I considered too unloveable for anyone to embrace. God really does transform lives!)

The word "heart" to me symbolizes a vulnerability that I have to be willing to choose. I have to stop all the wheels spinning--the busyness, the thoughts, the actions of juggling daily life (which for me also means becoming vulnerable because I can use these things as defenses)--and I have to rest for a few minutes in the presence of God. Just as I sometimes have to pull away from "all the things" and re-establish a relational connection with my husband, reminding myself (and him) that our marriage is one of the most important things, so I also must seek out the Lord, not just for a quick mental check-in (which I try to do frequently) but for a real embrace and a rest.

"Heart." Heart-to-heart time with Jesus. And with my heart held tightly by God, how much more will I be to minister to the hearts of others? Transformation of hearts is another ongoing prayer of my heart, so my word will remind me to pray for my own heart and the hearts of others, and to do what I can to touch hearts in ministry.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

2017 Family Update

Rear L to R: Jedi Knight, Blondechick, Daughter-in-Love, B22, B19, Chicklet, B26
Front L to R:  B12, Grandpa Rooster, Mama Hen, Papa Rooster, Brother Rooster, Niece Rooster

Since I didn't post much in 2017, I'm overdue for an update! I'll try to keep it from getting too long.... 

In 2016, you recall, we had two weddings. In 2017, we had two more exciting announcements--a granddaughter due in April, and another grandchild due in June!

This summer, Bantam22 and his lovely wife moved into a rental house that is a 3-minute walk from ours. In late 2016, Father Rooster's brother and his daughter, our niece, moved from Chicago to live with Grandpa, a 10-minute walk in the other direction. So we haven't really felt the emptiness one might expect after marrying off two kids; there are more of us than ever, it seems, when we have family get-togethers!

We are thrilled to have Brother Rooster playing guitar and singing with our worship team every Sunday now. Remember when my sidebar used to have a prayer request for a guitar player to help lead worship? He's been helping us out for years now, even when he was driving up from Chicago, but we love having him every week now. 

At church, we have several small groups going that are really exciting. We've been starting to practice Immanuel Prayer with individuals in need of healing and are amazed at how effective it is at connecting them to Jesus. We've been joined by a number of new folks in 2017 and we're excited about the ways our congregation is growing spiritually. We've had several baptisms this year and seen several nominal believers give their lives fully to Christ! Although our church continues to struggle financially, and Father R and I were praying about whether he would have to return to the business world in 2018, someone just recently pledged to cover the deficit each month, allowing Father R to continue to receive the part-time salary we've been depending on. It's just one example of how we've seen God encouraging us at Light of Christ. It's amazing to see how God acts and moves in the lives of various individuals to confirm His plans!

In June, Bantam18 graduated from high school, the enormous public school that we hesitated to send him to as a freshman, coming from homeschooling. But it strengthened his faith, and he had many great experiences there, in music and theater especially. 

As a freshman, he was invited to join the Madrigal Singers, an honor usually reserved for juniors and seniors, so he was able to participate all 4 years in Ye Olde Christmasse Feaste, a 7-course medieval banquet featuring the Madrigal Singers.

He had 4 years with an amazing choir director, recognized as a model director by the Wisconsin State Choral Directors' Association, who invited their choir to perform at their annual conference, with our boy singing a solo.

In theater, B18 capped off his Spotlight/CYT career with wonderful performances as Judas in Godspell and as Fagin in Oliver

His high school theater director cast him in a dream role--John Adams in 1776--in a production that ended up being selected to perform at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska, in June. Papa R, myself, B12 and Chicklet went along for the experience, and also for the opportunity to visit Professor Brother's family in Kansas (a wonderful, too-short visit). B18 was really magnificent as John Adams, and it was a fantastic finish to his high school drama career.
He ended up choosing to go to Carthage College, right here in Kenosha, so he could live at home and save on housing costs--and because he received a huge scholarship to study music. So he's developing his lovely baritone voice, honing his keyboarding skills, and studying composition as well. He isn't really planning on music as a career, but we'll see what happens. At least he'll graduate with just a few small loans, and it's great to have him around still, at home and at church.

Chicklet finished her 8th grade year at the Title 1 middle school she attended for two years, which was really quite good for her faith, her character, and her academics overall. She is currently a freshman at the same high school B18 attended, enjoying the same choir director, and navigating the transition well despite its many challenges (which sometimes makes her miss homeschooling). Last year in theater, she was a Cheerleader in High School Musical and Mrs. Sowerberry and the Milkmaid in Oliver.  This past fall, she was a wonderful Grace Farrell in Annie...

...and she is currently rehearsing for her role as Ariel in The Little Mermaid! She loves dancing with the Project Dance team and being on the CYT servant leadership team, HYPE, which has been a wonderful group of spiritually encouraging friends.

B12 continues in his second year at a K-8 charter school where he is a happy, social, 7th grader. He generally chooses soccer over theater, and last spring, his recreational team won the championship for their division, with no small thanks to B12's boundless energy on the field. He was given the Energizer Bunny award by the coaching staff, who said they had never seen the limits of his stamina! He skipped Annie but is in Little Mermaid currently, in several ensemble roles, and he enjoys singing in choirs at church and at school. 

He and big brother B26 have bonded playing Airsoft on the weekends, at a battleground where teams are formed with whoever comes. B26 continues to help out with many chores at home, in addition to working 8-10 hours a week at his stocking job. He also posts sermons on our church website, and he's a big contributor to Halopedia and Destinypedia, websites about the stories of his two favorite videogames.

Blondechick started cosmetology school just before she found out she was pregnant, and she's really enjoying learning the trade! She's looking forward to being a mom, and to moving into a new apartment in February. She'll have 4 months of school to finish after she returns from maternity leave, so she and her husband are thankful that both their mothers live near enough to help babysit. Then she'll have her license and the potential for flexible, part-time income doing something she really enjoys. Lots to be thankful for!

B22 was recently hired as a recruiter by a family friend who thought his charismatic personality was going to waste at Starbucks. It's a good fit for him in so many ways, and a lucky break for a kid that wasn't excited about college. His earning potential is ultimately the same as with a degree, without the student loans! The only downside is the 45+ minute commute to Illinois, but it's worth it.

While I am most excited about all that God is doing in our church context, I am also thankful for the opportunities I have to impact kids and families while teaching drama and directing musicals at CYT. This fall I directed Annie in Kenosha, and it was a joy! I have also been on several teams as assistant director, and I will be AD'ing this spring for James and the Giant Peach. While there are internal voices that cause me sometimes to question this use of my time, I continue to receive confirmation from God that it's exactly where He wants me. It's been a life-giving organization for our family and so many others! I also keep subbing to make ends meet, and while it can be a really discouraging job, I am thankful for the income and the chance to pray, at least, for the students and their regular teachers.

2017 saw us dealing with flooding in our basement three times. The third time we also had water in the attic and running down the wall in Chicklet's bedroom. Thirteen thousand dollars later, we now have a sump pump in the basement, redirected drainage pipes outside, new flashing and cornice stones on the roof, and tuckpointing redone on our chimneys, all over our brick house, and especially on the front porch which was rapidly separating from the rest of the house. 

So all my earnings are going toward those expenses--boo--and we need more tuckpointing done in the spring! But our house continues to be a center of ministry, since our church doesn't have a building, and every week we host groups, meetings and counseling sessions, thankful for the layout that allows separate space for the family during these times. 
Besides our visit to Professor Brother & Family in Kansas, we enjoyed visiting Pilot Brother's family in their newly-built home, on the site of the original Civil War-era house on our family farm. They salvaged and reinstalled doors, windows, hardwood floors, doorknobs, hinges, a slate handpainted fireplace, and the grand curved staircase from the original home. They are keeping chickens in the henhouse pictured in my banner (above)! It's great to have them in the same location as my parents. More reasons to visit Ohio!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Books Read in 2017

Surprisingly, I read/listened to 53 books last year! Usually I annotate each one, but in the interests of time, this year I've only commented on a few.

* Recommended
**Read these first!
' Disappointing

Adult Fiction:
**Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)
**All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
The Shell Collector:  Stories (Anthony Doerr)
**The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
*Water For Elephants (Sara Gruen) (I really enjoyed the audio version. The old man had the BEST gravelly, grumpy, petulant character voice. What a performance!) 
**The End of the Affair (Graham Greene) (Why have I never heard of this extraordinary novel before?? I loved the audio version, read by Colin Firth.)
*The Museum of Extraordinary Things (Alice Hoffman)
The Red Garden (Alice Hoffman)
Turtle Moon (Alice Hoffman)
Faithful (Alice Hoffman)
Longbourn (Jo Baker)  (Interesting parallel story to Pride and Prejudice, told about the serving staff.)
'The Nest (Cynthia Sweeney)

Partners in Crime (Agatha Christie)
Spider's Web (Agatha Christie)
A Rule Against Murder (Louise Penny)
The Cruelest Month (Louise Penny)
The Brutal Telling (Louise Penny)
Bury Your Dead (Louise Penny)
A Trick of the Light (Louise Penny)
The Beautiful Mystery (Louise Penny)
How the Light Gets In (Louise Penny)
The Nature of the Beast (Louise Penny)
Glass Houses (Louise Penny)
Death and the Dancing Footman (Ngaio Marsh)
'Murder in the Dark (Kerry Greenwood)
*Talking about Detective Fiction (P.D. James) (essays from lectures she's given)

Children's/YA Fiction:
*From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsberg)
*My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (John Boyne)
*Entwined (Heather Dixon)
Theater Shoes (Noel Streatfeild)
Ghost (Jason Reynolds)

Historical/Biographical Nonfiction:
*The Devil in the White City:  Murder, Magic & Madness and the Fair That Changed America (Erik Larson)
*In the Garden of Beasts:  Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (Erik Larson)
*The Girls of Murder City : Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago (Douglas Perry)
The Churchills:  In Love and War (Mary S. Lovell)
Girl Waits With Gun (Amy Stewart)
The Man He Became:  How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency (James Tobin)
Martin Luther (Eric Metaxes)
Alexander Hamilton:  The Outsider (Jean Fritz)
'The Great Fire (Jim Murphy)
'Traveling With Pomegranates (Sue Monk Kidd)

The Meaning of Flowers (Gretchen Scoble)
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age (based on Dale Carnegie's work)
The Successful Novelist (David Morrell)
Scarcity : Why Having Too Little Means So Much (Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir)

*Notes on Directing (Frank Hauser and Russell Reich)
*Audition (Michael Shurtleff)
Conversations with Choreographers (Svetlana McLee Grody and Dorothy Daniels Lister)

*A Raisin in the Sun (Lorraine Hansberry) (loved this as a dramatized audiobook)
The Children's Hour (Lillian Hellman)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Edward Albee)
**William Shakespeare's Star Wars:  Verily, A New Hope (Ian Doescher)

If you'd like to see other year-end book lists, visit the Saturday Review of Books, Special Edition, A List of Book Lists at the blog Semicolon.

Happy reading in 2018!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Blogiversary #12

Last night was my 12-year blogiversary.

It's sad to me that my posts are so infrequent now. When I look back, I'm thrilled to have the record of so many events and moments, and I enjoy reading my own writing. (I find that encouraging.)

But things are different now from those days when I blogged so regularly. I'm just not able to stay awake late at night as I used to! Little kids have become teens who stay up, and my husband stopped traveling nearly 4 years ago. Now I spend busy evenings with them rather than quiet nights writing about them. (Though I sometimes miss those quiet nights.... But I would never trade away the millions of spoken words we've exchanged in those late-night heart-to-hearts!)

Also, as kids get older, one can't write about them as much without crowding their privacy. As we've gone deeper into ministry, the most exciting things I'm observing is how God is transforming lives, but I can't share those stories on the internet. When God is doing such amazing things, other subjects pale in significance and seem trivial to write about!

No matter what subject I choose, there is the need to write cautiously and guardedly--how might this post come across to my employers, or how might this comment, or that one, have unintended consequences? 

And then there's Facebook, that makes it so easy to share a photo and mark the big life events. So why share it again on my blog?

Additionally, I am working now, as a substitute teacher in the public schools. I'm also teaching drama classes and working on directing teams for musicals with our theater group, CYT--which I love and which God keeps confirming as a ministry. Throw in several weekly small groups and my other church involvements, and it doesn't leave much time for laundry and making meals, let alone writing.  

I've tried to reimagine my blog at different points--bullet posts? an online devotional?--but life keeps crowding out my best intentions.

Still, I hesitate to fold it. I have two posts already in process--my annual list/review of books I read last year, and a family update, long overdue and mostly finished.

So I'll keep my little publishing place for now. Cheers! 

A blessed 2018 to any readers I still have! 

(Especially to Moyra from the UK, who has left me a sweet comment every year on my blogiversary post! Your encouragement has meant more to me than you'll ever know!)

 (And also to those of you who tell me in person that you enjoy and miss my blog posts. You have encouraged me so much as a writer!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thoughts on the Arts and Subbing

I'm currently listening to an audio version of a biography called The Churchills: In Love and War (because, The Crown). So when I saw this meme*, I had to share. Churchill is on my mind, and the arts are dear to my heart. 

Since I've been substitute teaching in the public schools, I believe in the power of the arts more than ever. 

I've been in some very fine classrooms that I would be happy for my own kids to be part of. But I've also been in places that I would have to call an educational wasteland. I'm not going to lay out here what all I think is wrong with our educational system, but in our area, poverty is a huge contributing factor.  Kids who don't have basic needs met--for food, sleep, stability, and security, as well as love, care and parents in their lives--don't have brains that have bandwidth to learn long division or the French revolution.

But what they CAN absorb, I firmly believe, is music, art, theater and PE. (In my opinion, sports are a form of art as much as dance is.) And I believe it contributes far more to brain development and receptiveness than most would think.

One afternoon I was assigned to an elementary classroom for behavior-disordered students. There were only two students, and they were eating lunch in their own classroom.The teacher was letting them watch YouTube videos projected on the Promethean board. They were choosing animated movie trailers, but when I came back from the washroom, they were watching a clip from The Nutcracker ballet. The fifth grade girl was very excited. "We watched this in music class, the whole thing!"

She located the full-length version and was immediately engrossed in the wordless drama as it unfolded through acting and dance. Occasionally she would stand up and move around, mimicking the dancers' graceful or energetic movements.

Meanwhile the fourth grade boy in the class, who'd been having a rough morning--hitting and biting--got worked up and they ended up taking him home to grandma, who didn't have a car, so the teacher and aide drove him. I was left to watch The Nutcracker with the young lady, and it ended up that we watched for over an hour. 

It was remarkable that she was able to remain attentive and delighted with it for so long. It was evident that it really spoke to something deep inside her. When we did finally turn to her worksheets, she was cooperative and pleasant, and an incentive for finishing them quickly was that she was allowed to go join a kindergarten gym class as a helper. We finished out the day there--with her insisting that I hula-hoop alongside her, until it was clear that she was much better at it than me. Before she left, she hugged me and asked if I could please come back. 

Some days, she's allowed to go help in the library too. I was so happy for her that there are adults at that school that seemed to understand her, and I prayed that next year, in middle school, she'd receive the same kind of consideration. But what I've seen at the upper levels, more and more, is kids who are just killing time in the prison walls. The really motivated students have great academic opportunities, but for the unmotivated ones, or the low-functioning ones? They are completely disengaged and checked out, on their phones whenever possible and just waiting for the bell to release them.

In my opinion, they need alternative learning experiences which the public school just doesn't provide. They need to study topics of high interest or applicability. They need hands-on learning by doing. Certainly they have non-academic abilities that they are not developing, and therefore not gaining the confidence that could come from mastery and excelling in something. 

This fifth grade girl, it was clear to me, is a dancer or an athlete! Maybe a singer, too. If she were my project, I'd have her spending hours a day on dance and conditioning. We'd study history and literature by watching ballets and musicals. We'd compare and contrast them for critical thinking and writing. We'd read the stories they are based on. We'd study the human body. For math, we'd choreograph 8-counts and 32-counts; we'd contrast beats of a waltz, a march, and a tango; we'd figure out costs of dance lessons and ballet shoes. I wouldn't sweat it if she didn't learn algebra or chemistry. 

In case she were not able to make it as a professional dancer, I'd help her explore pathways for becoming a choreographer, or a dance instructor, or at least be equipped to work in a retail dance store. I'd also have her learn to cook, budget, shop the sales and the thrift stores, and use a sewing machine to alter a costume. 

It would be a great if she could get all this in a fine arts school, but it also sounds a bit like homeschooling, eh? One thing I have come to appreciate is how even on a bad day of homeschooling, my kids had access to all kinds of enriching activities that they were motivated to engage in, even if they weren't academic ones. After they finished a worksheet, they weren't just killing time in a cinder-block classroom.

Has it made me re-think my decision to have my two youngest in public school? I'm always open to returning to it...but for now, I'm thankful that I can work. B11 is in an excellent program in an enriching environment, and he's an extrovert who loves the classroom setting. Chicklet14's school is more of a mixed bag, but she has many fine teachers that she loves, and she is highly motivated to spend her free time reading. That's an activity we filled our homeschooling days with, so I feel pretty good about her. As we have always done, we'll take it year by year!

As an aside, I am shocked at the lack of books and reading materials in high school classrooms. If students finish work early, there is no expectation that they read; they are allowed to get on their phones. If I were a high school principal who wanted to raise test scores, I'd require books and magazines in every classroom, including coffee table books of art and photography, graphic novels, and even comic books for kids who "hate" reading. (It's all available cheap at garage sales and thrift stores, and book lovers would donate.) It's called a "print-rich environment" and again--the arts. Literature,'s art. I also would prescribe read-aloud time to be part of every elementary and middle school day. As a sub, when reading aloud been part of the lesson plan, I've seen incredible engagement from kids who did not tune in to other lessons.

My heart aches for kids I see who hate school, hate reading, and have not had extended exposure to the arts. Conversely, I see how life-giving the arts are for the kids who are involved in choir, theater, and dance in our high schools, and I know that sports and the visual arts are lifelines for others. I would love to see the arts, and movement generally, a bigger part of education, including bringing recess back to the elementary schools. Like the arts, recess primes brains for learning!

Stepping off my soapbox now...I've been much more long-winded than I intended. I do apologize if I sound as if my ideas are superior; please recognize this post is largely reaction and contrast, rather than proscription for educational change. I am truly humbled by those who are in these challenging classrooms every day! I've sat on this post for awhile, but feel it's time to stop overthinking. So, with apologies, these are a few thoughts...inspired by Winston Churchill! 

*So as I am about to publish, I discover that he never really said it. Disappointing....especially after using the quote as a springboard for my whole post. But I stand by the thoughts it inspired!