Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics

There is nothing better than a good adventure story, except when there is a GREAT adventure story created through the collaboration of an entire 5th grade class AND the proceeds from its sale go to Special Olympics!!!

Prior to their school year being cut short by the Coronavirus, Mrs. Rebecca Harvey‘s 5th grade class read The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood.

Isle of Storms 4

The class was fascinated by the character Punky. In the book, Punky is the uncle of main character Delrita. The story revolves around Delrita’s desire to go unnoticed by society because of the embarrassment she feels over Punky’s behavior, while still loving his childlike ways. Punky has Down Syndrome and the challenges of living with and loving someone who has an intellectual disability are shared in an honest and compelling manner.

The class was so moved by Punky’s story and connections they made to individuals with Down Syndrome that they decided to do something for the Special Olympics. They just weren’t sure what it was yet.

Continue reading “Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics”

The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday

 

Handy Rationalizations 2

I will be honest. We have turned off our TV this week. (Mostly because I feel like the first five days of violence in America’s streets were enough to give my kids the understanding that things are not okay.) Secondly, it has allowed hubby and I to turn down the noise of the media and have serious and sincere discussions with our children about what’s going on and the ugly history behind it. The truth is we can’t turn off the ugliness in our world. There is no universal remote for peace, kindness, or equality. We can, however,  turn up the discussion on what must change and tune into what will make our world a better place.

Currently, I am reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I began reading this before George Floyd’s tragic death, but the book’s contents have rang painfully true for me in these times. Previously I’d read about the history behind the apartheid in South Africa and the impacts of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, but never did I give the circumstances of those who lived it much consideration. In my mind, it was as if a switch must have been flipped in South Africa, one day the apartheid ruled and the next day things were hunky dory. The problem with my thinking on that situation is as wrong and hurtful as those who are allowing generalizations and stereotypes to rule their reactions and beliefs about the protests and riots today. I am grateful Trevor Noah’s book provided me with the opportunity to grow in my understanding.

Handy Rationalizations 1

Noah does a terrific job of addressing his life experiences and the viewpoints of the South African apartheid in a candid and witty manner. I with that everyone would follow his lead and use this perspective to see the race situation for what it is and eliminate the handy rationalizations that allow the division of people’s to perpetuate.

Continue reading “The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday”

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Don't believe everything you think

Peter Pan is a story about never growing up and believing in the unbelievable. When I was a kid, my younger sisters had a VHS of Peter Pan starring Sandy Duncan. They loved that movie. We watched it A LOT, but the scene that sticks out most in my mind is the one where Tinkerbell’s light is going out and Peter Pan begs the audience to clap and cheer so that Tinkerbell would know they believed in her. Eventually, Tinkerbell’s light grew brighter; the music swelled and Peter Pan’s enthusiasm grew, knowing that darn good and well the kids at home JUST HAD to be clapping and cheering their little hearts out to bring Tink back.

Well, here’s the thing. Not everyone was cheering. (In my house we were not all cheering because we had seen the film 12,867 times.) Most were not cheering because they knew that Tinkerbell was just a light on the television screen and no amount of in-home enthusiasm was going to change that bulb’s brightness. The unbelievers chose not to support the idea that there was a fairy dying from unbelief of children.

Okay?!? Right now you are thinking, where is the positivity here? Why are you killing off Tinkerbell? Continue reading “May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think”

Fear the Acronym – Wise Words Wednesday

Fear the Analogy

While I know there is a time and a place to run for your life, I also believe that there are many more times to rise and fight for your existence.

While FOMO (fear of missing out) isn’t really my thing, FOMM (fear of making mistakes) is a HUGE issue for me.

I continually find myself seeking sanity,  control over my OCD, and much needed R&R. My attention span could use some serious CPR and there are definitely times when my self-esteem is MIA.

Here’s the beauty of this post. When confidence, intent, and positivity are AWOL, always remember there is F.E.A.R.

Face Everything And Rise.

Continue reading “Fear the Acronym – Wise Words Wednesday”

That Bucket’s Not Going to Carry Itself

That Bucket's Not Going to Carry Itself

The farm has taught me many lessons. One lesson that will forever stick with me is the idea that a bucket can’t carry itself.

Why, you might ask, would a bucket’s inability to carry itself be a lesson of any value to anyone?

Well, it all started in a calf barn.

When I was 4 years old, the farmer my father worked for gave me a feed scoop. It was orange, plastic, and had a Purina logo embossed in the handle. The purpose of the scoop was to fill the stainless steel bowls that were mounted on the front of each calf’s stall. My purpose for having that scoop was so I could be the filler of those bowls.

I was elated. Those calves were the best part of the farm in my 4-year-old mind. I loved how they smelled like sour milk and straw. I giggled non-stop at the way they sucked on my fingers. I cried when they were sick or when it was time to move them out to pasture with the larger calves. I was proud to be their caregiver.

There was just one problem.

The bucket my father filled with feed weighted more than I did. The task of feeding those sweet, spotted calves was a tough one because I often spilled feed going from bucket to stall and back again. Spilled feed is almost worse than spilled milk, but I wasn’t supposed to cry about either.

I soon became discouraged when my father would lose patience over my slow progress and pick up that burdensome bucket to deftly pour just the right amount of feed into the remaining bowls without so much as spilling one kernel of corn.

Why couldn’t I carry that bucket that way?

Nothing frustrated me more than not being big enough to do a job. My father knew this.

One day I noticed the bucket wasn’t quite full. After a scoop or two, I tested my luck. With some effort I was able to pull it closer to my sweet calves and didn’t have to truck those precious scoops of feed quite so far. I was doing it! I was carrying the bucket! Continue reading “That Bucket’s Not Going to Carry Itself”

Whatever Field You’re In – Thoughts from “Farm, Family, and ME!” Summit for Women

As I waited for the opening session of the 2019 Farm, Family, and ME! Summit for Women, I enjoyed being a fly on the wall. I knew no one there. The room filled; the noise level rose, and various conversations began to flow. As with most conferences, the individual participants had their own motivations for being there, but each was there for one reason. They were there to grow in the field of agriculture.

With each introduction, I was pleased to learn my new acquaintance’s name and what branch of farming they represented. Many were there with backgrounds in cattle, hogs, and row cropping. Others represented agri-tourism, sustainable, organic farming, and accounting and farm investment firms. (I was the only turkey farmer.)

The pride each woman showed for her role in the world of agriculture added to my own joy in having grown up and now seeing my own family raised on a farm. The hard work, dirty jobs, and relentless demands of livestock and crops all seemed to be fodder for the flames that grew with each presentation and sharing of information.

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Me enjoying some Missouri-made wine

While this conference was intended to create networking and educational opportunities, it had a feel of an agricultural retreat. The breakout sessions, locally sourced meals,  Missouri-made wines, and positive ideas and options for female farmers were highly therapeutic and invigorating. I definitely left there with a renewed sense of purpose and a brighter view of what I wanted my role in our family farm to be.

Having Marji Guyler-Alaniz, host of FarmHer television, as the opening speaker elevated us to rural rock star status. But before Marji even took the stage, Missouri’s first lady Teresa Parson made a cameo appearance and took the opportunity to meet many of us, asking where we were from and about our farms, and then spoke on the importance of agriculture for our state. She was positive, professional, and approachable. A perfect tone-setter for the summit.

summit-3.jpgThe motivation and story about how FarmHer came to be was one that resonated because of its non-traditional roots and the earnest desire to give the female farmer a voice in our nation’s most necessary industry. With her statistics and experiences, it was impossible to ignore the message being shared by Marji. (I was already a fan of the show, but now my DVR is set to record every episode.) Continue reading “Whatever Field You’re In – Thoughts from “Farm, Family, and ME!” Summit for Women”

The “Eternal Punchline”

Eternal Punchline

We all have had times when we felt like everyone was laughing at us (and not in a good way). It feels terrible. It alienates us. It is not what anyone deserves.

Jose and his smile definitely brighten the day.

In one of my Oral Communications classes, my student Jose shared a powerful statement based on the personal strength he discovered in himself after years of feeling like the “eternal punchline.”

Jose is Mexican-American, hard-working, and a super talented speaker. He is not a traditional student in that he is not “fresh” out of high school, but he is most definitely a refreshing addition to his program and to all those he encounters.

The Oral Communications course is designed to bring awareness to interpersonal differences and strengthen communication skills. With most of the chapters in our text, I ask students to write a personal reflection on the content or how it applies to their own experiences. Chapter 6 is on unfair judgement and bias. I asked my students to share their thoughts on a time when they experienced bias in their own personal lives and how it has affected the way they communicate with or view others.

Jose’s response was so honest and so powerful, I had to read it a few times to wrap my head around his pragmatic approach to the unfair way others (even his closest friends) have spoken to or of him. Continue reading “The “Eternal Punchline””

Talents and Skills – Light Required

Light Required

“Talents and skills are like any other living thing – they can’t grow in the dark.” – Rachel Hollis

Recently, my daughter discovered vaulting at horseback riding camp. If you look up the definition of vaulting on a horse, it is something like “gymnastics and dance on horseback.” (A terrifying sport for the parents of ambitious, fearless, young equestrians to watch.) 

Due to our already overloaded schedule, we told her that adding vaulting lessons to her extracurricular activities was not an option.

She raged at us saying, “You mean there is a sport I really want to try, and you won’t let me?”

Hubby and I responded in unison, “Yes!”

She stormed off to her room and cried the tears of a desperate adolescent.

As I listened for the storm to subside, I had to think of a way to assuage her disappointment and remind her that the word “No” is a part of life and remind her that she already had A LOT of things she is good at and enjoys.

When I felt it was safe to enter her room, I reminded her of when she decided that gymnastics was the ONLY sport that would perpetuate her existence.

Hubby and I rejected her initial pleas to take lessons, but after she spent months (and I mean like 18 months) watching videos, practicing with her cousins, and teaching herself techniques and stunts in the backyard and basement, we saw it was something she was truly dedicated to and good at. Once she had shed light on her talent and allowed it to grow, it was clear that there was something there and now she rocks at all of her gymnastics classes, performances, and meets.

I told her, if she felt vaulting was something she really wanted to try, she needed to educate herself and work with our horse at home on the basics. The only way to see if she really likes it is to shine time and effort on it. She saw what I was saying and the situation became much brighter.

“Talents and skills are like any other living thing – they can’t grow in the dark.” – Rachel Hollis

If there is something you are considering starting or have an interest that you believe would make your life more complete, I challenge you to shed some light on it. Hiding it in the recesses of your heart or behind excuses is no way to develop into the person you want to be. The only way you can improve is to shine some time and energy on it. (This is sage advice from the parent of a desperate adolescent.) 

Put your Intentergy into lighting up your passions and radiating in the success of your skills and talents. It’s not gonna happen if you keep them in the dark. Get shining, my friend, or at least let some sunlight land on your efforts.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I have not seen my daughter watch one video on vaulting and have not heard one more word about lessons. She has however moved on to American Ninja Warrior and put some time into turning our swing set into an obstacle course. I may need another diversion before she asks for ninja warrior lessons.

P.P.S. If you mention vaulting, this post, or anything related to the subject to my daughter, you will feel the heat of a 10,000 suns scorching your soul. (Also, sage advice from the parent of a desperate adolescent.)

 

Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Sue Gelven

Sue and me

Dear Sue,

Thank you so much for accepting my lunch invitation. Meeting with you was wonderful!

Before we had our lunch date, the only times I had met you were at random school and community events and with each encounter I have admired you more and more.

In listening to you talk about your family, it is obvious you are passionate about those in your brood (both blood relation and those by happenstance). Your willingness to share the memories of your husband Don and the experiences you had together is so wonderfully appreciated. I cannot imagine the lengths you went through to keep your family moving (literally across the country) and growing. I am in awe of the steps you took to become an educator. If you hadn’t been so diligent, there are thousands of students, parents, and fellow educators who would not have benefited from your awesomeness (myself included).

I was particularly inspired by your storytelling ability. The art of telling a story is one that is not lost on me and I could have listened to your stories for hours. (We MUST have another lunch date!) It was in the stories you shared about the strength and resilience of women in your life that you showed great exuberance. When asked if you had ever considered writing a book, your answer about wishing you could document the life of Emma Busch was so cool to me. There are so many stories that never get told because they are simply forgotten.

I expected your answer to the book writing question to be that you would first consider writing on teaching or faith but that you had such a specific and vivid subject in mind, makes me REALLY want to read her story (as told by you, of course).  The world would definitely benefit from the stories you have to share. Continue reading “Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Sue Gelven”

Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday

Stars Can't Shine

Darkness gets a bum wrap.

Many are afraid of the dark.

All too often we describe the tough times in life as the dark times.

The Dark Ages is a term assigned to the days after the fall of the Roman Empire and the years of struggle within the church for guidance and acceptance because of the uncertainty and haphazard rule of warring leaders. People felt lost, scared, and hopeless.

Even Star Wars warned us to not got to the “dark side.”

If it weren’t for the dark, the stars would not shine.

When life hands us lemons, we say, “Make lemonade.”

So why not do the same with tough times?

If you are going through some dark times, it’s okay to recognize the darkness. It’s okay to say, “This stinks.” It’s really okay to feel sad or mad or frustrated. Once you’ve acknowledged the darkness, you can find the bright spots.

tunnel

My kiddos entering the tunnel to create their constellations.

Our local library offered a constellation creation station this summer. Kids were invited to sketch a dotted outline of any constellation they could imagine. My daughter designed a horse constellation and my son created at robot. As they poked their holes in the “sky” with thumb tacks, the flashlight beam prevented them from seeing the darkness and appreciating the brightness of their work.

Once the holes were punched and the flashlights extinguished, the darkness was welcomed.

It took our eyes a moment to adjust, but once we had time to accept the unlit canvas around us the sight was incredible. Continue reading “Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday”