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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dandelions in The Snow


I love living in a part of the world where we have obvious seasons and lots of weather.  I love the changes I see and feel outside.  Yesterday, we went out on the playground and there was still snow in the shady parts...just a dusting, but still snow.  The kids were thrilled to get to go outside when there was snow!  It is usually way to cold to be outside by the time it is snowing.  It was about 50 degrees  in the sun and there was snow in the shade!  One of the boys even made a tiny little snow ball....of course!  So, that's the weather report, but the news is that along with the snow, on November 30th, a couple of the kidlets brought me dandelions!  Dandelions and snow on the same day...love it!  It's good to expect the unexpected....
Actually, having their sweet little hands bring me "flowers" is one of the things I might miss a tiny bit after I retire.

TGT 11/30

I am thankful for a month that reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for.
Today, especially, I am thankful for Zumba.  I can't remember if I have written about it during this month of thankfulness or not, but I have missed it for a week and am really looking forward to it tonight.
Karyn is a great instructor who inspires you to work yourself way past what you thought you had in you.  I have to concentrate, but I don't have to think.  It is a much enjoyed time of peace...I know, it doesn't seem possible, but it is for me...and I am thankful.

Monday, November 29, 2010

TGT 11/29

I am thankful for a job I love.  Seriously, how much better could it get than to be able to spend the days right before Christmas with a gaggle of goofy kindergarten kids?  I am ready for the excitement to begin.  Tree goes up tomorrow!  Let the decorating commence....and each decoration will be tied to a lovely Christmas story, of course.  Nothing frivolous going on in my classroom.  teehee

Sunday, November 28, 2010

TGT 11/28

Today I am thankful for the bright sunshine, the crisp temperatures and the QUIET in my house.  This is the last day of my vacation, which means that tomorrow I return to the joyful, but  NOISY life of a classroom full of kindergarten kidlets.  So today, church, nap, and then planning all the fun things for the week to come.  The quiet before the fiesta!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

TGT 11/27

Today I am thankful for my health.  When I checked my blood pressure on Monday at my Dad's it was excellent:  102/67.  Good, right?  My heart is strong.  I live through Zumba 2 or 3 times a week.  Even though I have only been resolved to eat well for a couple of weeks, I already feel better.  Game is still on!  Take care of yourself...

Friday, November 26, 2010

TGT 11/26

So thankful today that I didn't feel the need to get out there and shop at (or before) the crack of dawn.  I am officially beginning my lobby efforts for less buying at Christmas.  I am officially hoping that with all my extra "retired" time next year I can do a completely handmade, with lots of love, Christmas.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Feastlet

I had the day to get Thanksgiving dinner ready for my little husband.  Although he obviously did not marry me for my cooking skills, I wanted to do this for him today.  I set the table, made an arrangement of things I could find outside and lit the candles all around the house...mood set.  It was a simple and delicious (if I do say so myself) meal.  A big salad...individualized since he mostly just likes lettuce in his salad...pretty and yummy.  Turkey breast in the crock pot...moist and yummy.  Green beans from our garden...crisp and yummy.  Sweet potatoes in the microwave, with butter and cinnamon and brown sugar...just plain yummy!   Have a look....maybe I will become a domestic diva when I retire...stop laughing and just have a look....

I love the berries and the colors.


Hmmm.  Mayhaps should have ironed the table cloth...too busy cooking.

His very basic salad.



My very colorful and yummy salad.

Turkey steaming in the antique crock pot.
  
Sliced and ready to serve.

Green beans from our very own garden.


Look how healthy it looks...and is...well, maybe except for the butter and brown sugar cinnamon stuff.
 And there was dessert, too.  A no bake pumpkin cheesecake thingy...and I promise you I tried to get a good picture of it, really.  I cut, and we ate, 2 pieces each for the cause.  But it really just tasted a LOT better than it looked.  Might try again later...
My little husband was happy.  Mission accomplished.  Thanks given.



TGT 11/25

Today I am thankful for the time and the opportunity to make a nice turkey dinner for my sweet little husband.  Clearly he did not marry me for my cooking abilities, although there was some sort of scalloped potato deal made during the engagement, I seem to vaguely recall.  Details have escaped me.  :>)  He has to work until 3:00pm today and I will have the candles lit, the table set and the food ready when he comes home.  Hope he doesn't faint!  Happy Day of Giving Thanks to each of you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TGT 11/24

Today I am thankful for the positive people in my life...the people who see the good around them...people who look for the good in others.  They challenge me to be more like them and that is a good thing.  Bless them for their gift of light in dark places and times.  Shine where you are today!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TGT 11/23

Today, I am thankful for today.  It is the first day of my vacation (or practice retirement, as I like to call it). it is gray and drizzly.  I am sitting here watching the mist collect on the rhododendron leaves and eventually roll to the tip and drop off (who has time to sit and watch that kind of thing when you are working?).  It is quiet....all the furriness is still asleep.  I have a long list of things I want to do this week, but no pressure to do them NOW.   Ahhhh.  Hope you, too, enjoy your quiet, rainy, Tuesday and are thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

TGT 11/22

I am thankful today for my dad.  He was just what I needed growing up.  He let me be who I was so that I became who I am.  He encouraged my creativity and always expected that I would do my best...not an option to do less.  He taught me to be a strong, take charge kind of girl.  I am praying that today I can be all that...
I am thankful today for my heavenly Father who is going to help me with that....
aaahhh.  Peace.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TGT 11/21

I am thankful for my God who is a shepherd.  He will leave his flock and come to look for the one who has wandered away.  He trains the flock to hear and know his voice.  I am so thankful that no matter how many times I wander away, He comes to look for me (and you).  He holds out his hand and welcomes me (and you) home....may I be as gentle with the people I love.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

TGT 11/20

I am thankful today for a lazy Saturday with my little husband.  Since I have next week off, I can turn off the thinking about school for awhile and really just relax.  He hardly ever has a Saturday off, so this is a treat.  We are going to see the latest Harry Potter and build a model of our house out of foam board so I can "see" it better.  Can't wait!  But, gotta get started with a little Zumba action first!  Enjoy your day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We have studied the Native Americans and Pilgrims for 2 weeks, getting ready for Thanksgiving.  They learned the whole story with hand gestures.  This is a new skill for me and it works really well.  Will be using it more and more.  I tell a part of the story with the hand gestures...BIG hand gestures, the bigger the better...and then we practice together and then they teach each other.  By this time all I have to do is how the hand gesture if they forget something.  Very "handy".  :>)
We ate together in the classroom for our Thanksgiving meal.
Just a few of the cute Pilgrims and Native Americans that joined us for the meal.  (Here's another reason it is time to retire:  we bought cute Pilgrim hats for all the boys and FORGOT to put them on them! )

Of course we had pumpkin pie!  Even had enough for the cold lunchers!
And then there are these two old and happy Pilgrims.
Hope and pray that you have much to be thankful for this season and that you enjoy it all. 
I am thankful to all of you who are reading my blog.  It is very encouraging.

TGT 11/19

I am thankful for oatmeal.  It is tasty, filling and good for me!  What's not to like?  I make mine with a LOT of cinnamon, some fresh berries and a little brown sugar.  Unfortunately, I am still learning how big a bowl is needed.  This morning it bubbled over in the microwave...uggh.  Messy, but still yummy.   Bigger bowl tomorrow.   How do you like your oatmeal?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Space Monkey

You almost want to check for a tail, don't you?  They got to shop with their positive behavior tickets today and this was his favorite purchase.  What can you do but laugh and record it for posterity?
So, how was your day????? 

TGT 11/18

I am thankful today that all I have is a headache when there is so much sickness out there.  It is always a bit overwhelming when I go to church and the list of sick people needing prayer is SO long.  We all need to take better care of our bodies.  We are "fearfully and wonderfully made", but not indestructible.
Eat well and get a little exercise today!  Live today.  We don't know how many we have.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Did I Have Time To Teach Today?

So very much of what you do as a teacher has absolutely nothing to do with your subject matter.  Today started with a mother telling me her child didn't want to come to school (actually hit her when she was getting him ready) today because the girls he sits with are mean to him.  Would I move him?  I told her I would watch things closely today.  I told her boy to tell me when it happened.  When talking with my aide I find out that she had to move the boy yesterday at lunch for calling other people mean names!  I talked to the the child several times today...he could not name the girls, said it happened at daycare, said they were at his house being mean to him....What is going on?
I have another little girl that has decided it is better to pretend not to know how to do anything.  She LIKES to have to work with you one on one.  I made her write 2 sentences with almost interaction with me and they were GOOD!  But the "fight" that came before just wears on your soul. 
I have one that screamed her way to a sore throat and a "sick" ticket home yesterday.  She is autistic and does have trouble expressing herself, but she knew how to work that just fine.  As soon as mom was called she was better!
I have one that since the very day he turned 6 about a week ago has been a different child...and not in a good way.  Something going on at home????  He says no.
I have one that told us Monday that his dad died.  Tears in his eyes....sad.  Dad picked him up from school the next day.  It is a divorce situation that isn't going completely smoothly.
Do they teach you about what to do with this stuff in college????  Not when I went.  Granted that was back in the dark ages!  Some days I feel like I get it right and the child is better off for the time spent with us, but other days,  I just don't even know what to say...or do...so, I just try to teach.

TGT 11/17

I am thankful for friends who take care of each other.  My friend, Misty, needs lots of TLC right now.  Her mother is deathly ill and I can't fix that.  But, I can remind her that God is close.  I can let her dog out.  I can make her laugh.  I can pray.  I can give her hugs and let her cry.  And I am thankful that when I am the one in need, Misty, and my other friends,  will be there for me.    Right?  Even though I sometimes have a natural tendancy toward hermit behaviour, it is not the way most of us are intended to live...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TGT 11/16

I am thankful for what was a lovely Monday.  We got pretty much all that I had planned done.  We made an egg float in salt water.  We learned the beginning of the Thanksgiving story.  The kids worked pretty much as I expected them to.  The faculty meeting was painless. 
I am thankful that my friend, Connie, who made great chicken salad and bought 12 grain healthy bread  just for me.  I know this because her kids were not having anything to do with that bread with the "stuff" all over it.  Teehee.  I had a good eating day...yes, the game is on!

Monday, November 15, 2010

TGT 11/15

I am thankful for a new found resolve to change my eating habits so that I become more slim and more strong.  To celebrate this new found resolve I had a bag of chips...light, of course, most of a box of Little Debbie oatmeal cream cookies and most of a quart of chocolate milk with the little pecan pie...what?  It was only 63 cents!  Now, I have killer homemade skinny soup in a pot big enough to get me through lunch for the week.  I am thankful for the many, many chances to start over!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Worldwide Readership!

I am so excited that in the past week I have had readers from the following countries: 

Russia
Denmark
Pakistan
Canada
Germany
Slovenia (Monika checks in when she isn't out adventuring herself)
Poland (Anneta checks in pretty regularly)
United States
**Nigeria and the Netherlands have made a showing in the past, too.
Wondering how they found me and what they thought.  Wondering if they will check back.  Wondering if they are teachers....
Isn't it exciting?

TGT 11/14

I am thankful for the lingering and surprising beauty of the season.  As I was driving around yesterday, I kept seeing patches of loveliness.  There was the brilliant red maple tree, the fluffy milkweed pods, the dried up queen anne's lace and the tiny little oak tree that I allowed to grow in my garden this year.  All were arresting in their beauty and simplicity.  What beauty did you see yesterday?  What will you see today?  Be sure to look.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TGT 11/13

I am SO thankful for a poured slab at our home to be.  I can see the size much better now. I am thinking of going out with my giant sidewalk chalk and start drawing where the walls and furniture and such will be.  It was so exciting when my little husband took me out there yesterday evening for the big surprise...they weren't supposed to pour until Monday.  I am thankful for ahead of a schedule!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Native American Fun Friday

It is always such a challenging task to get the wee ones to have any idea about what life might be like without all of the "civilized" things they take for granted.   I tried talking them through how the Native Americans lived...why they had the kind of houses they had, how they made their clothes and everything else they needed and still when I asked where they thought the Native Americans might have lived if they didn't build their house and the answer was, "In their cars."  Yikes....
So, after all of the talking and looking at pictures it was time to start doing.  This group LOVES doing and it is, interestingly enough, when they are the best behaved.
The boys made paper bag vests, with symmetrical geometric designs on the front and our Sun Tribe logo on the back, while the girls made paper bag mantles with the Sun Tribe logo on the front.  You will have to wait to see photos of these.  We will do Pilgrims next week and then "dress" for Thanksgiving dinner together.  They worked quietly and intently.  Ahhh. 
We learned that the Native Americans introduced popcorn to us (and lots of other corn facts).  So, that naturally led to having pop corn for snack.  But, the fun part was letting them watch popcorn pop...and tying in the lessons about water we have just completed and leading into the lesson on the 3 states of water next week.  Stevie brought her vintage electric skillet.  We put it on a sheet that the kids all held up and we watched the popcorn pop...look at those faces.  Wish you could hear the joy, too! 
Here was the set up with the "vintage" electric skillet.



Oooh.  Will it burn me?
Hey, did you see that?
                    
Some high flyin' pop corn!
We did all of this because we learned that one of the ways the Native Americans cooked pop corn was to just throw handfuls into the fire and chase them down as they popped out...oh, and for the fun of it!

Waiting patiently.

Working intently.
 In the afternoon we made models of wigwams (and no one whined about ooey gluey fingers).






We also made Native American Necessary pouches.  They shelled a little corn to put in their pouches. They will be part of the costume next week.


See the Sun Tribe logo?

Really.  Is it time to go home?  I need to rest.
 
They learned about the 3 kinds of corn:
 field, sweet and pop!

The day was a whirlwind.
We also had a nice little discussion about Heaven since one of my little girl's Pap Pap got to go to Heaven yesterday.
Another fun Friday...check!

TGT 11/12

I am thankful for Fridays.  I love how they wrap up the week and start off the weekend.  I love the feeling of closure and possibility.  I am thankful when someone asks me what I have planned for the weekend and I can say, "Nothing!"    Hope you are thankful for whatever your Friday brings you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

But There Is Still More Stuff

When I got out my Thanksgiving folder...about 3" thick...I had one of THOSE moments.  I have so much accumulated stuff in there.  I have mimeographed pages in there!  Remember that wonderful smell of the freezing cold blue ink papers?  I have years worth of ideas and every single one of them is good.  Now, never did I use them all in one year, but I always had NEXT year to rotate through some more of them.  Hmmmm.  If I used them all this year, we might be done in February!  This was a little disconcerting to me today...a little sad.  I am imagining that I might have another of these moments when I get out my Christmas folder, and tote, and box of books! 
So, for tomorrow, it is Native American Fun Friday.  They were here first, after all.

TGT 11/11

I am thankful for people with passion.  I went to see the Moscow Symphony Orchestra perform last night...I know, going out at 7:30 on a weeknight!?!?!?!  Lots of yawns, but no school today!
Anyway, I have been noticing lately people who lose themselves in the passion of doing what they love.  There is a part of me who wishes I could do something with the kind of abandonment that allows you to throw your arms out, throw your head back and sing or dance like no one is watching.  Yep, people with that kind of passion are a wonder.
I am also very thankful for the men and women who are passionate about protecting the freedoms that we too often take for granted.   Hug a veteran today!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TGT 11/10

I am thankful for good books to read that encourage and inspire me to be a better person.  I love reading Jan Karon's books.  Currently, I am reading In The Company of Others.  It inspires me to be more "actively" in the company of others in my life.  I have serious hermit tendancies, but I don't believe that is how God intends me to live...
And, I am thankful that I can then give the book to my sweet mother- in -law for Christmas.  I have read it very gently.  What inspiring books have you read lately?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fabulous 50's Day Fun Friday

Another last....Fabulous 50's Day.  This is a fairly new tradition and the kids I had who are now in 2nd grade were wanting to know why we didn't do this when they were in my class.  We share the same hallway so they could see all the fun we were having.  Sorry I didn't do it then.  Cozette, in particular, would have loved this day!
All but one of the kidlings came dressed right out of the 50s...lots of poodles, white Ts, slicked back hair and pony tails!  They all looked so cute.

Look at those sweet girls.                                                                             
    Look at those tough guys.
Just to be clear, learning and fun can go hand in hand.  We worked on counting to 50 by 10's.  We made "pearl" necklaces with 50 beads and key chains with 50 beads.   We wrote 50 words and the numbers to 50.  We measured and drew 50 inch pictures to color.  We had a bubblegum blowing contest and had floats for snack.  The floats were also a nice follow up to our study of  buoyancy from Thursday...teehee. 

Check out her "pearl" necklace!

 When shown a record and asked what it was, they chorused confidently that it was a CD!  What?  A 12" CD?!?!?!?!  Mrs. Bayles had to teach them all about the ancient technology of record players. 


Thanks to Kris N., we had this cool little one to show them and demonstrate with.  Hers when she was a little girl, way back in the "old" days!  teehee

Next, was the sock hop and it was a hoot.  They loved taking their shoes off and for the whole first song all they did was hop...in their socks!  Oh, so that's why it's called a "sock hop".  Then we taught them to do the twist and the hand jive.  They played their own guitars for one of the songs. 

                                   
But, they didn't have any more fun than their teachers!

The day went SO fast.  Several of the kids said how much they looked forward to Fun Friday's.  Several of the parents who dropped their kids off said how much their kids enjoy Fun Fridays and I realized that I don't think I could get through a week without our Fun on Fridays!

Rock and Roll is here to stay!

TGT 11/9

I am thankful for my mattress pad heater and my remote starter for the car. Technology that allows me to avoid the cold (while embracing the snow, Debra) is my kind of technology!    There is almost nothing better than snuggling into an already warm bed...well, add a mug of hot chocolate and a great book....oh, yeah!  Not having to scrape the windshield in the morning and getting into an already warm car....oh, yeah.  What technology are you thankful for?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Just One of the Reasons....

I will be so glad to be retired so that I can go to the bathroom whenever I want and there won't be anyone sitting right outside the door listening!  Really.  There is just no time in the day when I can go to the teacher's lounge and find it empty.   And that is besides the fact that it is really hard to just leave the kids and go to the bathroom.  My day goes so fast!  So, this has been going on forever, but it just struck me that I can see an end to it on the day that I really needed to use the bathroom, I found 2 minutes to run up to the lounge and there sat the guy trying to sell us all insurance!   Aaarrrggg.  Is there insurance for whatever malady you get for not being able to go to the bathroom?   Having a less structured day is looking so good to me lately!  What a hoot.  I wonder if anyone else thinks about going to the bathroom privately whenever you want as a good reason to retire!   Gotta love it....
ps...being able to eat on my own schedule is looking pretty good, too!

TGT 11/8

I am thankful for my niece, Ana.  She has had big problems of her own the last few years, but has come out on top of things.  She is at WVU with a plan.  She wants to be a teacher.  That makes me proud whether I had anything to do with it or not.  But mostly I am proud of her for becoming the gaurdian of the family.  She checks on her great aunts.  She checks on her Papa Don.  She cares and she gives of her time.  She is brave and sweet and good.  It is amazing to see.  Thank you, Ana, for sharing the most precious gift of all - yourself.  Love you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

TGT 11/7

Today I am thankful that I know God...and more importantly, that He knows me.  I am thankful that He loves me even though He knows me.  I am thankful for the freedom that allows me to go to church where I choose.  I am thankful for forgiveness and grace and new beginnings.  I am thankful for this beautiful, crisp Sunday morning and the prospect of a nap when I get home from church.  Ahhh.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

TGT 11/6

I am thankful for Zumba.  It is an hour that I am not in charge of anything.  I don't have to plan anything.  I just get to do what someone else tells me to do...whether I like it or not!  :>)   This not to say that it is a mindless activity.  It is not a time for a wandering mind. (I run into people when my mind wanders!)  I have to pay attention, but I don't have to commit any of it to memory.  It is fun and good for me.  The ladies there are always sweet, kind, funny, and gentle with each other.  I always look forward to going.  But, honestly, mostly it is the whole I am not in charge thing.  What a relief!

Friday, November 5, 2010

TGT 11/5

I am thankful for my creative spirit.  I love that I NEED to create on a fairly regular basis to be full and happy.  I was lamenting, with another creative teacher, how much harder my job would be if I couldn't just think up something to make learning  more fun or easier to see for the kids and then just make it.   I am not hindered by just following the teacher's manual and using those resources.  OK, truth be told, I hardly ever look in the manual...but anyway, I love my ability to create...ideas, art, chaos!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

TGT 11/4

Today I am thankful for my God given right to choose.  In the end, no matter what happens around me, I get to choose how to respond.  There are so many times and ways to choose to do the right thing every day.  But, as my friend, Josh said in his blog, even though you get to make your choices, you don't get to choose the consequences of your choices.   So, I get to choose to eat a sausage McMuffin with egg and cheese for breakfast, but I don't get to choose for it not to make me fat!  Seriously, God knew what he was doing when he gave us free choice...powerful.  It warms the cockles of my heart when I see one of my little lambkins make the right choice even when they don't know I am watching...ahhh.  Choose well, Grasshoppers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TGT 11/3

I am SO thankful for my little husband.  He is steady, strong, and patient.  He is my rock when I am being tossed to and fro.  He is my best friend and he loves ME!  I waited a long time for him, but God knew what he was doing.  Ain't love grand?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another Last First...Nursery Rhyme Edition

After practicing for more than a month and making adorable t-shirts, Friday, October 29th, was the Nursery Rhyme-A-Palooza! The last first show of the year for me. I think it is so important for kids (and everyone else) to be able to stand up in front of a crowd and speak or sing or dance or whatever. It is a life skill.Well, this group had me convinced that they were not generally a naturally musically inclined group. I was more than a little nervous about show day. The morning's practice...dismal. The morning's dress rehearsal...uninspiring. Nervous was beginning to take up residence in my neck and shoulders and I could barely move it by lunchtime. As the room filled with families I had accepted my fate and I led them in. They took the stage and the room brightened immediately. They were so happy to see their families! They smiled and performed their parts the BEST they had ever done them...ever...really. I got teary eyed more than once while watching them....ahhh. I got more than teary eyed while talking with a teacher friend who came up to ask about the show at the end of the day. My last Nursery Rhyme show....ahhh.Anyway, have a look at how cute they look in their shirts.






TGT 11/2

I am thankful that I got to hang out with some sweet kids last  night.  I took them home, we ate the dinner that their mom had prepared before she left for her class, they put their dishes in the sink and they went outside to play...together...outside...no TV or electronic involved!  They have invented games.  Last night they played Wild Boar and then I joined in for some monkey in the middle dodgeball kind of game.  And even better, when their dad got home, he didn't rush in the house, "tired" after a long day of work, but rather, stayed out and played dodgeball with us.
Yep.  This is what's right with the world! Thank the Lord.
ps.  I am also thankful that I live in the USA and have the right and priveledge and responsibility to go out and vote...I have a say!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Leaf Creatures

Another last....leaf creatures. This has been a favorite activity of mine for many years. It is a great excuse to get outside during a beautiful time of the year and it is a great way for the kids to flex their imagination muscles...this is a bit painful for some of them.
About 3 weeks ago we went for the walk around town and collected leaves and did a scavenger hunt. The leaves were pressed until this week. We emptied all the leaves out of the encyclopedias onto the tables. Don't they look beautiful? They learn quickly to be very gentle with them as they are quite fragile.





After rereading the books, Leaf Man and Look What I Did With a Leaf, the kids got started choosing leaves and creating their own leaf creatures. Serious faces with 100% engagement.

Mice and turkeys were favorites, but look at all the imaginative creatures they made. Aren't you impressed?







Hmmm. Perhaps, as my friend, Connie, suggested, I can add a line of framed leaf creatures to my crafting...I have long loved the look of just plain beautiful leaves framed, such as these:
If they can get those prices for plain leaves, what might I get for whimsical leaf creatures????
Hope you saw some beauty and whimsy in the world this fall.

TGT 11/1

Today I am thankful for my baby brother, Jeff and all the extra time he puts in with watching out for and caring for our dad.  He was the one to go the extra mile with our mom, too.  Thanks, brother.  I love you.