Jack of all Trades, Master of None


I am a teacher/librarian at an elementary school where I serve 550 children. I do feel that I am a master librarian! The problem lies in the fact that I am a frustrated reader/writer, crafter/artist, wine lover, pet lover, baker/cook, decorator…you get the picture. I love to do so many different things. Pinterest is awesome and has become a hobby all by itself. I love the inspiration that I get from others.  I’ve been thinking about blogging for some time now, but I just couldn’t settle on a topic. Eclectic Ramblings seems to be appropriate for me. I will share projects, recipes, books, lesson ideas, and anything else that grabs my interest. If you have found me, I hope that there will be many things of interest to you, but I really don’t expect anyone to love everything that I love. Of course, if you are a bit “out there” yourself, you may just love this blog!


Daddy’s Girl


This is the most difficult thing I have ever written and spoken. My father passed away 2 weeks ago and though it was a blessing, it was still quite difficult. I will truly miss him. This is the eulogy that I delivered at the memorial service.

My Daddy was an amazing man. He could do just about anything! He was a very successful businessman, an attentive father and husband, and provided many folks in this community with peace of mind.

Daddy always made me feel safe. He was all about making sure that our home was secure, that we didn’t get in the car with someone who was drinking, and he made sure that we knew how to defend ourselves. I still put my keys between my fingers when I am walking down a dark street – ready to scratch out the eyes of my attacker.

He could build or make just about anything. He worried that we would drown in the ocean, so he decided to build us a swimming pool. I remember watching him as he built a model with my brother’s legos, carefully drawing out the plans, completing all of the necessary research and then embarking on the project. He did all of this without the support of Youtubeafter all, the Internet did not even exist! I was a very excited first grader! That pool became the neighborhood hangout and served my family well for over 25 years.

Daddy built his business from scratch. Many people did not even know that State Farm existed when he started out. I am often told by folks that knew him that he simply knocked on their door and appeared to be an honest young man, so they let him in and he sold them insurance. I worked for my dad off and on for many years – starting when I was 12 by filling in for my grandmother, who was his secretary – and I saw that most of his clients were loyal and sent referrals to him over the years. After college and a few years of teaching and staying home with my children, I went to work for my Dad full time. He taught me that you should never ask an employee to do something that you would not do yourself. If the toilet needed cleaning, Dad took care of it. If the roof was leaking, he donned his orange jumpsuit and checked out the problem. Dad did not experience a high turnover in employees because he made sure that everyone was fairly compensated and treated well. We all enjoyed working for him.  In fact, the work environment was the best I have ever experienced.

Dad would probably have been a complete workaholic, but my mom helped him to understand the importance of family time. We had dinner together every night and after his business was well established, he began closing his office early on Fridays so we could all go camping together on the weekends. We visited many state parks, fished, swam, and enjoyed many a campfire and played board games in the cramped quarters of whatever camper we had at the time when it was pouring down rain. On one particularly rainy weekend, the rest of the family decided to take a nap, but Dad and I were not tired, so he taught me to play poker using matchsticks as chips. It was so much fun – he was truly amazed that I beat him, a former marine – big time!

Responsibility was probably the most important lesson that I learned from my Dad. Daddy never handed out money or gifts. He made sure that we earned our money. I remember raking the front yard and washing the car so that I could earn the $7 that I needed to get my ears pierced! I actually thought we were poor growing up. I knew that we had a nice home, a pool (but not a professionally built one) and a camper, but money always seemed tight. My mom made many of our clothes, we rarely ate out, and we rarely went to the movies. But Daddy really loved to laugh, so one weekend, we decided to go to a movie at the new duplex theatre. They were playing What’s Up Doc and The Nutty Professor. Of course, we all voted for the Nutty Professor, but you could hear the laughter from the movie next door, so Daddy took us to that one the next night. I thought we had struck gold. After I was married, I was living paycheck to paycheck and I needed to pay a bill on Wednesday and did not get paid until Friday. I stopped by Dad’s office to borrow $100 dollars, but it took me an hour of conversation to get up the nerve to ask. Of course, Dad just stood up, took out his wallet, and peeled off 5 20s without even thinking about it. I, of course, paid it back on Friday, but I knew that Dad would always have my back!

My Dad was an immaculate person as well. He was always well groomed and he was very handsome. I cannot smell shoe polish without thinking of my dad. Every weekend, he pulled out his oak shoeshine box and polished both his black and his brown shoes. He would also take care of any other shoes that needed attention in the family. His shirts were always crisp, his mustache neatly trimmed, and he was a regular at Paul’s barbershop down the street. Even though he loved to hunt, fish, do woodworking, and work in the yard – especially when there was a tractor involved – Dad always looked his best – shirt tucked in, belt on, hair combedit was amazing. In these last few years, Dad has not known us and he has been unable to care for himself. While he was well taken care of and always looked clean and well groomed when I would visit, I know that he was not the person he wanted to be. My faith is God provides me comfort and lets me know that he is now whole again. The lessons he taught me and the love that he shared with everyone will keep him alive in my heart. This Daddy’s girl will always love her Daddy!


At my wedding


2005 – Dancing with Dad at my wedding. This is the last time that I felt that my Dad was truly “present.” I miss you Daddy!

Technology in the Classroom


OTUSTechnology is changing the way that students learn. For the past 3 years, I have used Edmodo to engage students. They have written book reviews, taken quizzes, answered thoughtful questions about assignments, and submitted assignments to me. I love Edmodo, but the limitations that are present cause problems at times. There are too many steps involved in uploading assignments and it does not play well with all other programs.

I recently attended the ISTE conference in Atlanta. I learned about a new platform called OTIS. OTIS appears to have several features that are lacking in Edmodo. The split screen feature would allow students to read an article and take notes. Personally, I have juggled two computers when attending webinars – taking notes on one and listening watching on the other. While, as an adult, I can do this, many students would have to use paper for their notes. OTIS also seems to work really well with the iPad.

My school is getting 1:1 iPads in a couple of weeks and I look forward to trying out OTIS and perhaps piloting it for my district. Check out their website for more information. http://otusplus.com/

Whoooo will you use for technology integration?

Weddings and Family

Doug & Holly's wedding

Bride and Groom


This 4th of July marked by nephew’s wedding. We held the weeding at my mother’s home on the Toogoodoo river. The imminent threat of a hurricane made it a bit exciting at the last minute, but Arthur stayed away from the SC coast and left us with a beautiful, but rather warm, day. The family dynamics of preparing for the event were most interesting. Mom was concerned with all of the details since it was at her home. Months of yard preparation ensued, and I think she will totally enjoy it once all of the out of town guests flee the scene.

The activity in the few days prior to the wedding was like an anthill near a pile of cracker crumbs! Everyone was scurrying around. I was decorating cupcakes, the bride’s family was setting up tents and tables, the groom’s mother was posting signs, and we were all decorating the yard. Once the service began, everything went off without a hitch. Everything was beautiful and mostly calm!

The party after the 5 pm service was a 4th of July picnic. It lasted until 11 pm and included the priest throwing a cast net to show all of the out of state kids a bit of what lives in the river, fireworks, and finally a hot air Wish Lantern in memory of the bride’s mother. I think it took all of us a couple of weeks to unwind, but the memories will live on! Next wedding 12/13/14!



Wedding Cake


Beginning of Ceremony



Wedding Party



Yard before wedding

Organizing for the disorganized

Organizing for the disorganized

I like to be organized, but I am not a natural when it comes to organizing. You would think that a librarian would be the most organized person in the world, but not me! I go through “fits” of organization both at work and at home. They generally happen when I can’t locate something that I need, but the New Year tends to bring on these “fits” as well. I recently cleaned out my craft closet and boy was that insane. The closet is not very large, but it’s all I’ve got for craft storage.

This is the closet when it was almost emptied.

Almost empty closet

After removing everything, my guest room looked like this-

IMG_0647 IMG_0649

Needless to say, my husband was not thrilled with the new look (and neither was I), but the only way I know how to organize is to make a huge mess first. Then I had to decide what needed to go and how to organize everything that needed to stay. I did notice that I have a couple of addictions and am in the need of an intervention or two.

Baking supplies, labels and tins from Pick Your Plum.

Baking supplies, labels and tins from Pick Your Plum.

I use wine corks to make crafts...and I like my wine.

I use wine corks to make craftsand I like my wine.













I was also under a budget constraint and decided to only use what I already had to organize. This involved a great many plastic shoe boxes, some cardboard boxes, duct tape, and labels.

Sturdy boxes "decorated with duct tape and labeled along with many plastic shoe boxes that are labeled.

Sturdy boxes “decorated” with duct tape and labeled along with many plastic shoe boxes that are labeled.

I used shopping bags on hangers for fabric scraps and a large basked hamper for wrapping paper.

I used shopping bags on hangers for fabric scraps and a large basked hamper for wrapping paper.














So now we have our guest room back, I know what lurks in the closet and where it is, and now I am on to the library workroom at school. I’ll have to be a bit faster there because I can’t exactly leave a huge mess for a couple of days.

Holiday Fun, Less Stress

Holiday Fun, Less Stress

As much as I enjoy technology, crafting, and decorating, when school begins each year, I find that it is difficult to spend time doing much in the way of personal projects. Then the holidays roll around and I find myself trying to make things for gifts, bake mounds of cookies, wrap presents, and lose myself in all of the whirlwind of activity. This year, I decided not to let the little things get to me, but to enjoy my family and friends to the fullest. I have done just that! Yes, I made a few gifts, wrapped even more, and I baked on Christmas Day when things actually settled down a bit. But the real joy was being with my sister and brother, my mom, my kids, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends celebrating the birth of baby Jesus. I reflected on all of this during church today as the minister spoke of Christmas pageants and the real meaning of Christmas. It lives in our hearts each and every day.






Estate Sales vs. Garage Sales


I hate  to shop! I know, that’s really odd for a woman, but I just can’t stand looking for just the right dress or shoes for an occasion, wandering from store to store, finding everything but what I need. I often just go online, purchase what I need, and wait for it to arrive on my doorstep. That said, I love to dig through estate sales, yard sales, thrift shops, and consignment stores. There’s something about getting a great deal on someone else’s cast-offs that really appeals to me. This summer, I have been hitting the Estate Sales on Friday and the Garage Sales on Saturday. What’s the difference? Well an Estate Sale is generally everything but the kitchen sink, while a Garage Sale is a bunch of stuff that folks are cleaning out of their house.

At an Estate Sale, I am more likely to purchase furniture, plants, interesting jewelry, sets of dishes, or artwork. At a garage sale, I generally pick up games, books, props for storytelling, and even the odd piece of Tupperware. Once I found a foam cowboy hat that was 3 feet across. It was wonderful to wear when reading Don’t Touch My Hat by James Rumford. Could be fun with the Lyle Lovett song of the same name! Definitely worth the #1 price tag.

games  This summer, I am concentrating on purchasing word games such as Scrabble and Boggle for use in my school library. I am hoping to start a Scrabble club with my students. I’ve picked up 5 games so far for $1 – $2 apiece. I learned a valuable lesson a couple of weeks ago. Always ask for the item that you are looking for. In one case, there was so much stuff, that I overlooked not 1, but 2 Scrabble games. At another sale, I asked and was told no, but the seller asked me what I wanted them for. It turns out she is a former teacher and had several bins of things that she could not decide to part with. When she found out where I teach, she took me inside and I racked up. $5 for several sets of letter tiles, magnetic letters, and, matching games.


You never know what treasure you are going to find. At an Estate Sale last year, I picked up a few craft items. When the seller saw me with them, he sent me out back to the “craft shed.” It was packed to the gills with craft items, many of which had never been used. I got all of the items you see pictured here as well as tons of beads and papers that I took to school. My students love to do crafts to go with the books that we read. Just the rotary cutter and the mat were worth more than the $20 that I spent.

So now I am off to another of my favorite places to shop, the Habitat Store. I am looking for some tiles to turn into large Scrabble pieces. Do you see a theme coming together for my school library?

My Daddy


At my wedding – 2005

My Daddy is still with us – at least physically. I spent some time with him recently and I really wish that I could know if he knew me. Dementia is a terrible thing. He has been diagnosed with Lewy Body disease. Ironically, my dad’s name is Lewis and many of his friends called him Lewy. At this point, he is unable to feed himself, has difficulty swallowing food, is not mobile, and is unable to communicate. This is very difficult because he was always such a vibrant, meticulous person.

Daddy exercised regularly, ate well, took vitamins, and was always trying the latest health craze. He was obsessed with health. I remember him trying  Bee Pollen once with some horrendous results. With Daddy, if one dose was beneficial, then two would be even better. He had an atrocious allergic reaction, broke out in hives all over, and had to stay in bed covered with only a sheet, AC turned up cold, and a fan blowing on him. This was bad enough, but it occurred the day before my parents were hosting a very large 4th of July party that was impossible to call off on such short notice!

I learned a great deal about business from my Daddy. He was a very successful State Farm Insurance Agent. After a 4  year stint in the Marines, Daddy went to work for Independent Life Insurance, following in the footsteps of his own father. My brother was born while he was still in the Marines and I followed soon after he began working for Independent Life in Orangeburg, SC. He was approached by a State Farm Manager from Charleston, SC to join the company as an agent. At the time, State Farm was virtually unknown in South Carolina. Daddy took a big risk and moved the family to Charleston. It turned out to be a fantastic decision. With hard work and dedication, he built a business that still serves him today. I often have people that comment on his dedication and personal attention regarding their insurance needs.

Daddy taught me a great deal about business and people. I always admired the fact that his employees were loyal and his workforce stable. He paid people well and treated them with respect. His theory was that an employer should never ask an employee to do something that he was not willing to do himself. He also believed in compensating people for the work that they did. Over the many years that he was in business, he had very little turnover. He knew that training a new person was more expensive than keeping someone that was well trained and dedicated. In the last several years of his working life, I was blessed to work with him. I know that he appreciated the fact that he could trust me and spend time away from the business while I was there, but he also blessed me considerably by being a fair and family oriented employer.

My parents have been apart for 25 years now, but they made an excellent team. Mom worked for Daddy some, but mainly, she took care of our family. She buffered his drive to work and made him realize the importance of family.   Mom basically mandated that Daddy be present for dinner every night and that he spent the better part of his weekend with us. In the early years of my life, I can remember him going out on appointments in the evening and working 1/2 days on Saturday, but eventually, he began working 1/2 days on Fridays and taking the entire family camping on most weekends. Those weekends provide some of my best memories. We generally camped with my grandparents and sometimes with friends and cousins. Daddy loved fishing and his favorite spots were on the Edisto River.

Even though Daddy is still here, I miss him. I miss being able to get advice from him. He was the first person that I would ask when I was trying to make an important decision. He supported me during my divorce and encouraged me to get a Master’s Degree. I think he was quite proud of the fact that I pursued a college education and then a masters. I remember going to him when I was first married because I was having trouble making ends meet. I needed $100 dollars to hold me over until the end of the week. He raised all of us to provide for ourselves and take care of ourselves. It was very hard for me to ask to borrow what I thought was a lot of money. When I did, he just pulled a few bills out of his pocket. I repaid him within 4 days, but I don’t think it was a big deal to him. He loved me and I think that he would do anything for me. But, that said, he also made sure that I developed character and responsibility. I appreciate him for that. I now know that he could have “taken care” of anything I needed, but the fact that he made me be responsible for myself has served me well in life.

So, on this Father’s Day weekend, I want to honor my Daddy. I love you Daddy and I always will. Thank you for helping me to become the person that I am today.

What’s Hot for Girls?


Most girls will read just about anything. I know, as a child, I did! (See Creating Readers) While both boys and girls are excited about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series, girls are just as excited about the Dork Diaries, Judy Moody, and even Mercy Watson.


judy moodymercywatson








Of course, Judy Moody has a younger brother, Stink, that both girls and boys like to read. The Stink series is a little easier and more for 6-8 year olds. Other characters that are fun (bad) are June B. Jones and Clementine. Why do they always like to read about kids that misbehave?











Girls will also gravitate to more serious subjects, especially if they are sad. Nothing like a good cry. Number the Stars is a holocaust novel that many of our students, especially girls, really enjoyed this year. I would recommend it for ages 10 and up. A Long Walk to Water is another wonderful and heartfelt story about a young girl in Sudan. Found is a Science Fiction series with lots of appeal.The Found series by Haddix has flown off the shelf all year as well.


long walk to waterfound-margaret-peterson-haddix









I was going to add a section on dog books, because many girls love those as well, but I think that’s another whole post. If you have any favorites, please share them with me. Happy summer reading!

Boys Don’t Like to Read


Recently I have talked with many parents of boys who are lamenting the fact that their boys don’t like to read. In general, as a librarian, I find this to be true. I raised three boys myself. One of them is still a reader at age 25. My oldest son loved to read, but was turned off in Middle School by the Accelerated Reader program. The youngest of the three was an excellent reader, but just didn’t like it. Of course, I tried to influence all of them to read, but no matter what, this is not always a battle that can be won.

So how do we get these boys to read? I really believe that it is important to find the right books for them.

My youngest son latched onto books by Gary Paulsen. He loved the adventure he found in the Hatchet series. Thankfully, he had a sixth grade teacher that allowed him to read nothing by Paulsen all year! He even wrote him a letter.

Reading needs to be fun, interesting, and enjoyable. I have found that boys, in general, read boy books. Girls ( subject for a future blog) will read just about anything. So just what will entice boys to read? I’ve thought about this long and hard and come up with the following list:

  • Superheros
  • Underwear
  • Gross subjects
  • Scary books
  • Animal books
  • Sports
  • Survival stories
  • Graphic Novels
  • Humor (especially if it includes underwear)

With this list in mind, here are a few of the favorites in my elementary school library.

ABC Superhero

I can’t keep ABC Superhero in the library. The pictures are appealing to all ages and I use it to teach alliteration. We are on our 3rd copy because the students have literally worn it out! Recommended for ages 5-8.

Captain Underpants

The Captain Underpants series is filled with potty humor. I, personally, don’t see the attraction, but then, I am a girl and a grown-up. 8 – 12 year olds seem to love this series.

Melvin Beederman

Another series involving both underpants and superheros is Melvin Beederman.What could be better? While this series is written on about a 3rd grade level, I find that ages 8-11 love it. Greg Trine is also the author of several other series that will appeal to this age group.

Really Really Gross Jokes

All kids love jokes and these are really really gross. Beware though, children will be making up jokes of their own after reading this and they will not always make any sense. Just laugh…

Scary books for the younger set include these and many others.

therewasanoldmonster dogzilla hiccups




Slightly older boys will enjoy both the Dragonbreath and Bunnicula series.

Don’t worry! As their reading improves, their taste may also, but now that I think about all of the adult men I know….Oh well, boys will be boys!

Leaving the gifted child behind?


GiftedMy children attended public school. I attended both public and private schools. I remember switching to public high school because the courses offered were more diverse. I used to feel that the students with learning disabilities and the gifted students were both served well in public education. I worried about the children “in the middle.” With the emphasis on standardized testing, I see a huge shift to giving extra service to the struggling students. This article resonated with me. What about these bright stars of our future?

No Gifted Left Behind

Are we neglecting the next President, Einstein, Bill Gates, Chopin, Picasso…?