Saturday, April 30, 2016

Praise Report: Travels, Feedback, Progress, the FUTURE!

Writing a blog post, with your laptop in your lap, while the car is hurtling forward at 70+ miles per hour, is fraught with unpredictable possibilities. Like the post going LIVE after you've only added the title. 

I will continue to add more over the coming couple of hours. Check back later. This is a progressive-dinner type blog article. One morsel at a time!

This has been an incredible week of receiving feedback! I am so very blessed to have incredible teachers in my life who offer me encouragement and support by their response to my work! I am so #FortunateAndBlessed!

The quilt above arrived on my FB page. This incredible masterpiece was created in preschool!!!! Obviously, the teachers involved have incredible talent and mad skills: Open-ended individualized art meets awesome collaborative display! AWARD WINNING!

Can you imagine how full one's heart is to come to FB and learn that YOU have been the 'author' of study that culminates in a spring art show? Truly brings tears to my eyes. Humbling. #ArtMatters. 

Look at these STUNNING paper mache self portraits! 
  • "I think you're wonderful!" 
  • "I think you're marvelous!" 
  • "I think you're beautiful and magical..........." 
  • "and filled with curiosity.............. 
  • "and DREAMS!!!!!!!!!!" 

Look closely at these incredible three dimensional sculptures. 
They were created to model the spring/Easter hats! 

Last night at dancing, an elderly woman came up to me extending her hand. 
She told me that she understood that I was an author. She asked if I had time to visit for a few minutes.
 She asked about my work. 
She asked me what its like to have followed my dreams
and to have had the opportunity to watch them come to fruition. 


"----- and dreams..........."

Receiving the above feedback would be enough to keep even the most 'needy' diva smiling from ear-to-ear for quite a long time, don't ya think? Honored, indeed. 

Then one day earlier this week I opened an email and this image was attached. Spontaneous hug snowballs into a GROUP hug in South Carolina. IMHO. It is the biggest compliment that can unfold in an elementary school to receive a class-hug. 


I am the recipient of NUMEROUS memorable group hugs..... 
I even know enough to strike a 'mountain pose' when I sense that one is about to unfold. 
It is easy to get knocked over in the midst of the UBBER squeeze.

What is even sweeter? 
Having a sweet teacher email you the evidence. 
A picture is worth a thousand words! 

This week was also the "last time" for all manner of moments. 
It was our "last time" to go to our church (this season.) 

This was my second school year to volunteer weekly 
through our church's after school program. 
We tutor 4th and 5th graders and help with homework. 

As the year concluded, I 'volunteered' to introduce these BIG kids to my work. 
They were an absolutely superb audience. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#TeacherFriends Twitter Chat on #GeniusHour Passion


We're ready to chat on all things 

What do you know about Genius Hour? 
We have a brilliant #GuestEduCelebrity about to take the spotlight! 

Meet Gallit Zvi! 
She is a co-author of 
"The Genius Hour Guidebook" 
and an authority on inquiry and passion projects.

Here is the outline for our chat tonight!  

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Praise Report: UPdate, Details, Reality, Progress, Gratitude!

Earlier this afternoon. 
Glorious day. 
Every single time that we walk on our beach........ 
I say, "We live here. We're not on vacation."
It never gets old + I think it is worth repeating.
Over and over. And over and over and over.
Do you have to have grown up in the midwest to LUV the beach?

Earlier this afternoon I dropped my iPhone into a bucket of water. 
I was watering our beloved new bougainvillea bush. 
I grabbed it back at the speed of sound. 
I then dunked it into a box of barley -- 
as we had no rice in the pantry. 

Within two hours, it turned on again! 
The picture above, I took on my phone. 
I didn't use a filter. 
That is the look of my camera, two hours after a phone soaking.

Anyhow. I am sooooo grateful.
For our proximity to the beach. 
And for barley. 

We designed this life. 
This beach-walking, traveling, happy chapter. 
We envisioned it. 
We worked for it. 
We built it. 
Step by step.
I am so grateful for all who have supported my growth! 

Here's a RARE opportunity to see me in action. 
For FREE! 
Mark your calendar and make your reservation! 
Bring a friend. 
We hope to fill the place!  

***Thanks to my sweet friend-of-faith, Pat Hickman, for recommending me for this EOY {End of Year} extravaganza! 
Come earn some of your professional inservice contact hours FOR FREE! 
Be sure that you get registered! 

Recently I announced being selected as an official Frog Street SPLASH ambassador for this summer's 2016 Conference in Dallas. Have we got an opportunity for YOU! 

The eight of us ambassadors are giving away a total of 8 FREE registrations to SPLASH, in a hop on instagram. This is the image you need to look for. 
{I posted it last night.}  

You get an extra entry for stopping (and following) each of our IG profiles.
You can start here at my profile and then hop through to the other seven. 
I seriously can not WAIT to see all of my #TeacherFriends! 
This will be a historic gathering, for sure! 

This has been an incredible week. 
We got to go to church with my parents
on a beautiful sunny, blue sky day! 
#Blessed #Blessed #Blessed

We were all together to sing a rousing four generation
He is ten! 
How is that possible? 

It was so awesome to hear him thanking us. 
He'll probably never realize what his expressed gratitude meant to each of us. 

Then a mere five days later? 
Happy EarthDayBirthday Twinzees! 

From Augusta it was on to our destination in South Carolina! 
That's where my gratitude circle comes to a full cycle. 
Due to the connectivity of FB, 
the very TWINZEES responsible for my speaking in SC 
earlier this year,
suddenly materialized right there in Manning in their ECE building.
Meet the Johnston twins!  

My SDE 'onsite' buddies had recommended me to SCECA, 
then the Manning principal Bett saw me there and 
bingo zingo we were all together again!
It is such an AMAZING experience to have the principal 
drive-the-train of my author/illustrator visit. 
Thank you Bett. You're an award winner in my book!  

Having my own 'groupies' along meant there's also a picture of me 
with the first grade giraffe artwork in response to my picture book 
"Tall Giraffe." 

Each friend that shares my work with a new sponsoring entity, 
keeps the lights on here
and allows me to contribute!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 

Our efforts at have really been gathering steam. 
Your orders indirectly paid our airline flight to St. Croix.

Thanks to Shelley Dartmann for the classroom glimpse! 

The numerous orders gave us enough points to fly to St. Croix for FREE!
It takes a village. 
Getting in front of the #AlternativeSeating stampede
was a gift from heaven. Literally. We're grateful.  

Speaking of keeping the lights on....... 
I have received an affiliate check from ESGI..... 
BIGGER than the last one! 
Every extra bit adds to the bottom line.
My affiliate code is B1215
You save and I benefit -- 
which means WE benefit as a family.

Speaking of great principals. 
Look who came to my house! 
Principal Peggy. 
I cooked her food. 
I fed her a meal. 
She is such a good listener. I am so fortunate.

Which brings me to my efforts at Younique cosmetics -- 
on behalf of our daughter and those glorious WonderPeeps above. 

The good news? 
Our daughter Sarah, is making a REAL go of becoming financially independent.
Her Younique 'company' is a HUGE part of her puzzle. 
Every order matters. 

Right this minute, the Corporate Y office has a new incentive plan. 
When Sarah reaches GREEN status every month for the next four months, 
she is entitled to an ADDITIONAL $250, EVERY MONTH!!!!
That is a HUGE opportunity for her!
Think what an extra thousand dollars can mean to her. 
She can apply all of that to her legal bills -- 
as it is 'new' money in her budget! 

When I say every order matters, I kid you not. Every order! 
To get to GREEN? 
Her whole group/downline crew needs to sell $10,000. 
She's on track. 
It is possible. 
That would give her an 'extra' thousand dollars by summer's end.
Please consider ordering from me -- to support her. 

I am searching for 'presenters' who need an avenue to their own independence and also those just looking for some 'play' money for the occasional 'extra.'
Each additional 'presenter' gives our daughter additional independence. 
Sarah has literally been able to pay her mortgage payment 
since her divorce has been finalized....
three months in a row, based on her leadership 'status' at Younique.
Her hard work over the last 15 months has literally paid off. 
It is happening. We are beginning to breathe again. 
No matter what challenges she faces
and the continuing unknowns and lack of continuity.....
and trust me there are plenty -- 
{send me a PM if you want to know the REAL story,}
she is learning how to make it on her own. 

Here's the link to my 'company'
where Sarah is my upline manager. 

My very favorite product.... 
that I use every single day is the lip gloss
The little mirror on the side is pure genius.
I have one in every purse I own. All three of them! LOL!

Sarah is 'modeling' the self tanning lotion in this next picture. 
If you want to support her directly, 
go straight to her site. 

Yes. I do help her out with these images. 
It is the least that I can contribute to her efforts. 
I have been sharing some templates to her RahRah group of recruits. 
We are EAGER to welcome YOU to the team!
Between the two of us, we are able to help you get your own dreams to fruition!  

This has been an interesting week for me in the "survivor" category, too! 
I'm grateful to the local medical supply company for hosting a Breast Cancer survivor day. 
They had a trained 'fitter' come to the area. 

I have a whole new set of wardrobe possibilities as a result. 
The next time you hug me, you may be aware of my new status. 
Six years since my bilateral mastectomy, 
and our increasing ballroom dance schedule motivated me.
Here's the pink rose that I was given that afternoon! 

And as always. 
I thank every angel in heaven for my Allen. 
He wears a LOT of hats around here. 
He does ALL the paperwork on the Wobbles! 

I saw this image on instagram and it says it all! 

My friend Barbara pointed out an old 'proverb' to me on FB recently..... 
"A mom can only be as happy as her unhappiest child." 

I hadn't heard that before and it is pretty profound. We have a long way to go before we hit HappyTown.... but at least we are making progress. We have challenges and they are real. We also have friends and support and opportunity and that is what gets us from one day to the next, that is as real as it gets! 

I'm praying for happiness for all children everywhere. Mine included. 

We have one more week here in our treasured Florida home, before we make the great migration north for the summer season. That means we're down to our 'last' of everything. Tomorrow is our last church service at "Christ by the Sea." 

Last night we had our last dinner party. 
We had 10 of our neighbors join us for dinner
here at the Happy House. 

Here's that secret. 
Three roasted chickens from Sam's club!!! 
(Two would have been plenty.) 
Have everybody bring a dish. 
Live next door to women who LUV to cook! 
Serve it all on your happy plates, with a smile. 

P.S. Invite Paulette and she will meticulously clean up the whole stack of nonsense afterwards. Even if you beg her not to. Surround yourself with amazing people, who go the extra mile. 


I am living a very good life. 
Barley and wonderful people. 
Thank you God for blessing me beyond reason. 
And they lived: 
"Happily Ever After." 

The End

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

#TeacherFriends Twitter Chat "NGSS Opportunity"

Time for #TeacherFriends Twitter Chat
Get your science on! 

We have a special #GuestEduCelebrity 
ready to take the spotlight, share & inspire! 
Be sure that you're following Kathy at @KRScienceLady 
so that you are certain to get all of her insight! 

I had to crop the photo but how fun is that picture? 
Kathy is wearing a red tutu! 
Anyone that dons a tutu for science is a friend of mine! 

Here are the questions that will form the backbone for our conversation. 

We chat beginning at 9PM in the Eastern Time Zone. 
Be sure if you schedule your tweets to plan accordingly for YOUR time zone! 

In a perfect world, you would schedule your responses to these questions in the minute(s) that follow the question. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

St. Croix Author School Visit: Dreams to Fruition! {Take Aways!}

Author-Illustrator School Visit 
Dateline: St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

How do you tell a story that in many ways is the summation of your entire life? 
How do you capture it in a simple blog article? 
Where do you begin? How do you connect the dots? 
This is my Praise Report of ALL Praise Reports.
What lessons lie within my experience 
that could be *inspirational* for others bringing their own dreams to fruition? 

You kinda, sorta start at the beginning, with the classic:
Once upon a time............

In my 19.79 years as an Arts consultant, every adventure I have ever gone on is the result of one person with a vision quilted together with my own willingness. This incredible journey to make a school visit to the island of St. Croix, begins with "Miss Barbara" somewhere in the state of Illinois, earlier this century. 

That picture above is roughly 11 years ago. 
{I know. I know. I don't look a day older!} 

Miss Barbara met me at a professional development conference in the Midwest, somewhere along my travels and fell in appreciation of my songs and my work. She sang "Goldie Goldfish" and "Let's Work Together" at the school she directed and she became a genuine card-carrying-Debbie Champion. 

TAKE AWAY #1:  We all need champions. We need each other. We need to have a village and we need the support of a tribe. We grow our tribe, one individual at a time. In this case. The person to whom I am grateful? Miss Barbara. One person can change your entire life. One person has the experience and the connections to take you on a magic carpet ride beyond anything familiar. 

Miss Barbara is exceptional in every way. For quite some time she emailed and asked me to connect directly with her children on St. Croix. It turns out that eight years ago, she left her preschool in IL and relocated with her hubby to the beauty of this amazing island. She found that her gift with children translates to this culture and she now teaches the 'littles' in this tropical paradise. 

Barbara personally and persistently kept after me to learn how to SKYPE. I was hesitant, I drug my heels, I made excuses and in the end Barbara's insistence turned the tide. My first ever author-illustrator visit connected me to the island. To Barbara directly. To her classroom. To her children. 

TAKE AWAY #2: Champions have their own gifts. Listen intently. When we hush-up, they can lead us out of our own comfort zone and in the process widen our world. Literally.

Over time, Barbara launched her campaign of invitations to actually have me COME TO HER SCHOOL IRL! In person. Knowing how relentless this woman is with her ideas, after years of her insisting, we started looking at flights. We then realized that we had enough 'points' for both of us to fly round-trip to Barbara. To St. Croix. 

Then it was just a matter of getting calendars to coordinate. 

Zip. Zap. Zowie. The two of us were in flight. On our way. Over the water. Landing on the island. Departing the plane. 

Me taking pictures of the airport's welcome signs. So caught up in documenting our arrival, I didn't even look up to see: 
FIFTEEN 3 & 4 year old children, waiting eagerly to GREET me! Dressed in GREEN for St. Patrick's Day! 

GROUP HUG!! Squeals. Airport singing. A FIRST! I have never before been greeted at the airport by a class on a field trip intent to hug me in person. 
{Who does that? Brings 3's & 4's to an airport? Miss BARBARA!}

TAKE AWAY #3: Life is full of surprises! Open your heart AND YOUR EYES to experience opportunities too big for you to dream up on your own. To receive SURPRISES, you MUST say yes to the invitation. You have to get your ducks in a row. You have to pack your suitcases. You have to leave your recliner. You have to trust your tour guide. THEN SAVOR THE GROUP HUG DELIGHT & store it away for the highlight reel. 

We gathered our luggage and rental car and followed Miss Barbara back to her home. Driving on the "wrong" side of the road is an adventure. Not for the faint-of-heart, but the sights along that road are worth the spending of the necessary adrenaline for the transition. 

Now for the setting of our ENTIRE week in St. Croix. We were housed in the GUEST HOUSE on a benefactor's estate. We drove along side the island shore pictured above, until we reached a 'plantation' area. We then began the ascent up the BIG hill/small mountain for about a ten minute climb. 

Even though Barbara had told us we would have our 'own' guest house, nothing she had described had prepared me for the splendor. Behold the guest house. Our bedroom was on the second floor, with a view out our veranda of the ocean below.

The estate itself is just adjacent to the 'rain forest' portion of the island. 
Dense trees in one direction. 
Vista-view in the other. 

After we got unpacked and my grateful heart returned to normal thumping, 
we went into the village of Fredriksted for dinner 
and to meet Miss Barbara's other half. 
Kenny is quite a character. 
The fact that our two husbands got along so famously and effortlessly 
from the first instant was yet another treasure.
PINCH ME: our first sunset. 

Kenny and Barbara visited St. Croix eight years ago. They fell in love with the place. They talked about claiming it as their own once they retired. Instead, they took the plunge, sold their businesses and moved there permanently and continue to work towards-retirement in paradise every day. 

[Barbara has confided in me that she feels 'called' by our Creator to serve, to teach on this island. In the midst of all the splendor and the breath-taking natural beauty, there is also abject poverty and many who face a very tough life. Miss Barbara has listened to her calling and gives her best to her new friends, neighbors, students and the other islanders as her tribute to her faith and her beliefs.]

TAKE AWAY #4: Life is Short. Say YES! When your heart sees an opportunity? SEIZE the opportunity! The details can be worked out in time. Leap and the net will appear. Build your own dream. Start now. RIGHT NOW! Go! {We're not getting any younger.} Listen to that still small voice urging you to your best version of yourself. 

The next morning arrived right on cue and our brilliant and generous tour guides were kind enough to take the day off from their work-life to show us about the island. We are perched on the furthest west corner and our goal was to make it to the furthest eastern part of the US territory: Point Udall.  

Picture of Point Udall from the Travel Bureau

To say the view was breath-taking is an understatement. 
This is the exact moment when I wish I were truly a poet. 

I would attempt to describe the number of shades of blue: 
azure, cyan, turquoise, indigo, denim, periwinkle, teal,
their shifting, sliding, slithering sea of buoyancy as waves crash
against ethereal wisps held captive mid cobalt cerulean backdrop of cascading clouds. 
Foreground and background merge and disperse. 
[I will give this some further thought and see if I can write an actual poem.]

That's Buck Island Reef National Monument, off in the distance,
more on that later in the travelogue: 

TAKE AWAY #5: It is very easy to smile when you are exploring a Caribbean island. It is simple to go 'off the grid' and to let go.....when the breezes are blowing and the skies are clear and it as though all is right with the world. Plan it. #MakeItSo! Block out time in Shangri-la to recharge your soul. 

Only one more sleep until it is time for me to don my polka-dots and head to Happy Faces 2, wearing my author-illustrator hat. We have a plan! We have a time-table. I am excited..... I've met the children, now to visit them in THEIR classroom, in their space and together we will sing-my-songs! LET THE FUN BEGIN! 

Does it look like I'm on an island? 
Does it look like I'm on St. Croix? 
Can you see the cerulean sea?
Or does it look like any preschool on the mainland? 

While Miss Barbara was the one with the BIG vision, 
it takes the support of an entire team..... 
Meet Ray and Sharlene: 
owners and directors of the premiere Early Childhood facility on the island. 

They built this site. 
One brick (block) at a time. 
Over time. 
With their own sweat and tears -- 
until it was complete. 
Built with their own hands this place. 
From Mama Titus example came this space. 

As much fun as we had during the school day..... 
that was certainly not sufficient. 

We had an earlier brainstorm: 
to invite parents to return to Happy Faces 2 

What a festive backdrop -- for festive family fun! 
It had a definite ISLAND feel! 
[How much do you think I LUV that pattern on that floor?]

Bring on the families! 
Bring the kiddos! 
Bring on the parents! 

As much as I LUV LUV LUV watching every face and expression that the children make in response to my singing, dancing, signing, coaxing and coaching..... as much as their energy was WONDERFUL in every way......

Inviting the daddies on 'stage' was seriously my favorite three minutes of the evening. 
These guys were a stellar quartet of menacing Monster mayhem! 
Never before. Never-ever! Thank you manly-monster-men!
I know your children were spell bound with your enthusiasm. 
What a gift! 

The evening concluded with yet another 'island surprise.' 
A carved wooden plaque. 
Commemorating the day. 
Another first. 
My first, ever plaque of gratitude. 

TAKE AWAY #6: "Do what you can, where you are with what you have." {Theodore Roosevelt.} "When you're going through hell, keep going." {Winston Churchill} "Follow your dreams, they know the way." {Kobi Yomada} Take baby-steps with your capability. Keep moving. Stretch. Creep. Crawl. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Progress adds up after 19.79 years. 

Turns out. I am uniquely qualified to give an author-illustrator, songfest to four year olds and their families on an island, wearing polka dots. Turns out I have the exact right combination of perseverance and tenacity to bring songs and wonder to children, their teachers and their parents. Turns out that no matter how challenging my personal life is at the moment -- when I give my all to the children, truly incredible things happen. 

And thus concludes my responsibilities to my author visit portion of the week. 

My laptop was connected to the wider world while in the guest house. I woke up to the message that a sweet friend of mine had been in a horrific car accident and that her son was clinging to life and that it was time to pray. I looked out our veranda and the very first thing that I saw was a RAINBOW-OVER-THE-OCEAN.

What a combination. The splendor of an ocean view guest house, on a hillside of total silence and serenity with the news of how quickly life can change in an instant. Without a doubt, there hung the absolute and sincere sign in the sky from our Protector and Defender. The promise that good can come from the storm. I had said my first prayer for Carter and his mommy Tara, I prayed and there was a rainbow. 

It is the weekend. Not just any weekend. It is the 47th annual St. Patrick's Day parade and festival weekend in the other island village of Christiansted. 

We must stop at the market and get our daily pop-overs 
AND the day's newspaper! 

*Rumor had it that the newspaper reporter who attended my morning performance at 
Happy Faces 2 
was going to get her pictures in the weekend paper!


Miss Barbara at work to connect the polka dots again!

Somehow, we arrived on St. Croix, without proper planning...
we were completely unaware of the parade festivities
we were completely caught off guard for proper parade couture. 
I went with the most 'festive' sundress in my suitcase.
Plenty of time to explore Christiansted before the crowd arrived.
{Look at the catamaran over my right shoulder: more later.}  

Bring on the green. 
Strike up the band. 
Get out the batons and pompoms and glitter and watch for the mokojumbies! 

Do you recognize Ray in his Irish Rasta wear? 
So thrilled to see him coming down the street! 

By this point we had been on the island for three entire days. 
This was my first Mokojumbie!
Yes. That is Kenny is his festive green island shirt! 
Photo credit: Allen! 

This next picture is also Allen's from his PHONE! 
Yes the mokojumbies and friends posed personally for him! 
Top 10 memory of the week! 

You're right. 
I am not nearly done with adding pictures, let alone the text. 
But I simply HAD to get this started. 
I'll keep adding. 
You can probably figure things out.

From the parade festivities we went down to the little local beach. 
Time for another sundown. 

I'm still wearing my parade's shamrock headband.
Everyone should sport bouncing shamrocks at sundown.


Snorkel at Buck Island National Reef!
Remember the catamaran from the earlier picture? 
We had booked the 'whole-day' trip.  

This next picture is not a personal photo..... 
It is a personal 'memory' though.

I saw this. 
Through my own snorkel mask. 
They undulated next to the reef. 
A huge school of Blue Tang! 

In a blink, they moved away and I never saw them again.
There were literally this many. 
Moving together.
Seeing the internet image, my heart jumps a skip with the memory.  

Monday was Cruise ship day! 
Know how we knew for sure? 
Look over the hill to the village below. 

YUP. That's a big boat! 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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