What's New

Nov
8
2011
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Dear Martha,

This morning, as we were driving the wagon, Mama said, “Oh, look, Teddy! There’s a cardinal. See his bright red color? Seeing a redbird means good luck.”
 
Mama and her birds. She used to tell me that when the cardinals start singing, as the sun comes up, it sounds like they’re saying, “Good morning! Good morning!”
 
The people in the wagon in front of us are the Carters. They’re older than Pap and Mama. Their son and his wife, Emily, and their baby have the wagon in front of them. All the Carters shared supper together with us last night. The men built the fire and watered the teams. Mama and Mrs. Carter made black-eyed peas, ham, and cornbread. Emily and I bathed her baby and Dylan in a tub. Her baby, Lucy, is a year old. Even though Dylan is almost two, they had a good time together splashing in the water.
 
After we bathed the babies, we washed their diapers, rinsed them, and Emily helped me twist out all the water. You know how I hate that part. She strung a line between our wagons, and we hung the diapers out to dry overnight. I have to wash diapers every night, so Dylan will have fresh ones for the next day. Sometimes, Mama swaps chores with me. She lets me wash the supper dishes, and she does the diapers.
 
My favorite time of day is after supper when all the chores are done. We sit outside by the fire. We can see the fires of all the other families stretched along the train. We can hear folks playing the fiddle or the mandolin. Pap plays his harmonica sometimes. Mr. Carter, his son, Martin, and Pap talk about the trip and tell stories. Mama and Emily rock
their babies by the fire while Mrs. Carter bundles her healing herbs. I’m just supposed to listen. Mama says children should be seen and not heard. But even so, I like listening to the stories and watching the babies fall asleep.
 
At night, Mama and I sleep in the wagon with Baby Dylan between us. We have a soft pallet on the floor. Mama made it out of old blankets and goose down. I always put Veronica beside me on the pillow. I still can’t believe you gave her to me, Martha. She is the best going-away present ever, and she is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever owned.
 
I will keep her forever.
 
This afternoon, Mama used her paints to paint some little flowers along the back of our wagon. They’re bright and cheerful and make our wagon look different from anyone else’s. Mama is so smart. It’s still cold, especially after the sun goes down. I’m glad we have the featherbed to keep us warm. Pap sleeps outside under the wagon. I don’t know how he stands it. Mama heats big rocks in the campfire, and when they’re piping hot, she wraps them in felt. She tucks them in Pap’s sacking to keep his feet warm. Then, she covers him with several quilts on top of the sacking. Pap says he sleeps nice and cozy.
 
Pap and the other men sleeping under their wagons watch for rustlers and varmints. I wonder what we’ll have to watch for in Florida. Folks say Florida is a wilderness. Great buckets of butterbeans!
 
Oh, remember that kid who is from the wagon ten wagons ahead of us? He came by today, when we were rolling, and asked, “You play marbles?” I said, “Better than any boy!” It’s a good thing Mama didn’t hear me. He said, “Alright then. How about tomorrow?” Wait till I whup him good! I’ll show that kid who’s boss.
 
Love,
Teddy

 

Nov
7
2011

Teachers amaze me. They’re brilliant. They’re fierce. And they’re weird. I mean, who willingly becomes a teacher In the first place, and who stays in the classroom in this day and age? Weird, that’s what it is. Wonderfully, magnificently weird.

Millions of teachers recently started a new school year. Do you have any clue how much stress they’re under? Can you imagine the amount of gossip they have to catch up on in the teachers’ lounge? The volume of wood shavings they have to dig out of the pencil sharpener? The sturdy shoes they’ll have to pull out of the backs of their closets? The Lean Cuisines they’ll have to microwave for lunch? Do you know what it’s like to hold a quivering kindergartner who sees Mommy heading out the door? Do you have any idea what fifth graders smell like after P.E.? Why, the stacks of papers teachers will grade this year alone could reach to the moon and back. Believe me, Captain America has nothing on a teacher.

Lest you be tempted to believe what you read in the papers, what you hear on the radio, or see on television, that teachers are solely responsible for low test scores and students who fail to achieve, think of this: Teachers work countless hours they aren’t paid for, arrive early, stay late, take home work, clean up vomit, break up fights, dry tears, hold hands, calm fears, and prepare millions and millions of lesson plans. They plan field trips, science fairs, musicals, gardens, birthday parties, bulletin boards, and story time. They willingly spend their days teaching America’s children in spite of classroom interruptions, personal loss, illness, miscommunications, cruel and rude remarks, low salaries, unappreciative parents, and a lack of honor and respect for their profession.

I told you: they’re weird. Why do they do it? Why? You might not believe it, but it’s true. They love your children. Love them. Adore them. Ache for them. Believe in them. Cry for them. Celebrate their successes. Champion their accomplishments.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Nov
7
2011
LISTEN
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Dear Martha,

We left two weeks ago today, but so much has happened, it seems like we’ve been gone forever. I still can’t believe we are part of a wagon train. Everywhere I look are covered wagons, up front and behind. Did you ever dream I would be on a wagon train? That sounds like something we would read about in a dime novel!
 
I wish you and your family could have come with us. It’s different for you. Your pap owns his own land. Mama hated to leave Mississippi, but owning land means everything to her and Pap.
 
This is their chance. The worst part for me was leaving you. I’ll miss Mississippi, but—Florida! What will it be like? The chance to have a new adventure.
 
I had to get used to riding all day in the wagon. Mama and I ride on the wooden seat up behind Jester and Jingo. That’s right, the same mules Pap plowed the fields with. They
are the prettiest team on the train. Some folks already have their oxen, but most are driving mules. Pap said we’ll have to trade our mules in for oxen when we reach Dothan, Alabama.
 
I like being up high on the wagon seat. It’s incredible! You can see everything from up there. But the wagon bounces and lurches when one of the mules steps in a rut. I get sore after a while, especially on my sitting-down place. Ha ha!
 
You saw our wagon before we left Salter’s Grove, but that was before we covered it with the huge canvas. The first day out we stopped early, so Mama and I spread the canvas out on the grass and painted it with linseed oil. Linseed oil makes it waterproof. Pap stretched it up over the wooden stays, and he and Mama and I lashed it all around, as tight as a drum. Of course, the wagon is not as roomy as our cabin, but it will have to be our home for the journey.
 
Pap says he’s hoping we’ll be on our land in four months, even though it is 1,000 miles away. That sounds like the longest trip imaginable. We don’t have all our supplies yet. We’ll stop to buy everything when we cross Alabama and arrive in Dothan. Mama brought food from home to last till then. That way, the wagon is not so heavy for the mules to pull. Pap wants them to be in good shape, so he can get top dollar when he trades for oxen.
 
You would be so proud of Jester and Jingo, especially Jester. He’s so handsome. I know they’re the same old mules we had on the farm, but they look like royal horses when they pull this fine wagon. A boy my age, whose wagon is ahead of ours by about ten wagons, walked by yesterday. He yelled, “Them’s fine mules!” I shouted back, “The finest on this train!” Mama pinched me. She said the kids will think I’m stuck up if I talk like that. She is always trying to hush me.
 
Martha, how am I going to make it on this journey without you? I promise to write every day or as often as I can. Will you write me, too? For now, you can send your letters to: Miss Theodosia Bodain, C/O Postmaster, General Delivery, Dothan, Alabama.
 
It will be weeks till I get there, but I will look forward to hearing from you. Martha, you are my best friend forever!
 
Love,
Teddy

 

Nov
6
2011

Hi, Everyone!

Welcome to my blog site! It’s finally happening. This site you’ve found is literally an answer to dreams, hopes, prayers, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. No kidding: this has been a dream of mine for at least seven years.
 
For 17 years, I’ve traveled across the United States presenting writing workshops for teachers at schools, district meetings, national conventions, conferences, seminars, panels, and universities. Everywhere I go, I’ve fallen in love with the caring, dedicated teachers who teach our kids. I’ve wanted to be with you every day, to give you updates, new ideas, and innovative strategies—and to hear your great ideas—and now, it’s possible through this blog site.
 
So often when something is done for teachers, it’s never the same excellent quality you would see in corporate America. In designing this blog site, our entire team knows that whatever we offer will be THE VERY BEST we can possibly imagine and produce. We’ve made the site free for everyone—there is no subscription needed to come here as often as you like to get new ideas, enjoy a good laugh, pick up best practices, try new recipes, learn how to make creative teaching manipulatives, laugh at my expense, and generally have a rollicking good time. We will be adding new updates daily. There will be giveaways! (Woohoo!) There will be a place to showcase your own successes, both in the classroom and in your lives. There will be guest bloggers, contests, cutting-edge information, photos, videos, templates, and patterns. I’ve been to two goat ropin’s and a county fair, and I’ve never seen as much good stuff as you’ll be able to find here.
 
So, let your hair down, pull up a chair, grab a glass of lemonade, and be my guests. Anyone and everyone is welcome. Share your opinions. Send in your ideas. Sound the gong. Strike up the band, and play the fiddle on the roof. Today you are witnessing a new baby’s birth: Teacher Spectacular. 
 
Love,
Melissa Forney