Tag Archives: school

G.S.S.T.A.- Colonial America

Grade School the Second Time Around– This series of posts begs to answer the question, “Did I actually learn all this stuff when I was in grade school and then just forgot it, or am I learning it all  fresh now, the second time around? ”  

Our final unit in fourth grade social studies is devoted to the American Colonies and the Revolutionary War. Personally, I find this topic fascinating. Too bad most of our students have checked out mentally, already dreaming of summer vacation. It’s a bit hard to absorb anything, especially a lot of American history that way.

I’ve learned a lot, though! Here are some of the more interesting tidbits…

  • Colonial housewives used live chickens as chimney sweeps. Apparently, they dropped the bird down the chimney and as it fell the flapping and flailing of it’s wings would knock the dust and suet off the walls. (guess the Founding Fathers weren’t real big on animal rights.)
  • Young boys and girls would both attend beginning school, called “Dame School” to learn basic letters and facts. After that, however only the boys were permitted to go on to grammar school. The girls returned home to learn “domestic sciences” from their mothers. (apparently, they didn’t care much about women’s rights either…)
  • “Dame School” by Thomas Webster

    In the winter months, student were required to bring their own wood from home to fuel the school house stove. (And my students complain about the weight of their backpacks!)

  • Some Colonial homes had beds that folded up into the wall to allow extra living space during the day, like our more modern Murphy beds.

  • The size of the wig you wore (a very popular accessory for men and women during this time) reflected directly on your wealth. The bigger the wig, the richer the wearer.
  • George Washington (when he wasn’t wearing his wig), was a brunette.
  • Even though, historically, King George usually get the blame as being the “bad guy” during the revolution, he was only 22 years old at the time and was probably leaning heavily on the advice of his Prime Minister George Grenville.

Are you feeling any smarter? Bet I remember more about this chapter in American history than any of our fourth grade students will! Maybe I’ll quiz them in the fall…😊

If We Were Having Coffee…5/6/17

If we were having coffee this morning… I would probably start off with, “Remember me?” It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to sit and create a post of any kind or visit those of my blog friends. I’ve no excuse. My mind and life were just heading in a different direction for a bit, but now as I sit here lingering over my French Roast, breathing in the cool spring air blowing through the screen door I feel the need for a bit of a chat so….

First, as an update, in my last Coffee Share I was pretty excited that our family was awaiting the arrival of two new baby boys. Both have arrived healthy and strong- Chase, my niece’s son, we were able to meet on Easter (I was quite annoyed that I had to put him down in order to actually serve dinner!), and Asher, my husband’s step-sisters baby, only three weeks old now and who we hope to meet very soon.

If we were having coffee…I would fill your cup, offer a chair and ask, “How ya been?” Stuff has been hopping here in Southern New Jersey. Aside from babies being born, both of my own kids (is it ok to still refer to my college age children as ‘kids?’) have been cramming for finals. Mr D’s text responses have been tense one word answers so I know he is feeling overwhelmed and Miss Dee has spread her laptop and books from one end of the kitchen to the other, taking only short breaks to sleep and eat! Wednesday  is the magic day when they can both breath again. She will head to the movies with friends to celebrate and maybe my son will stop by to visit (although first he will probably spend an evening celebrating at the pub near campus).

The D-man and I, both working for the public school system, have been navigating the PARCC test. For those unfamiliar, this is  the standardized assessment test that  students are required to take, here in NJ and several other states. My personal assessment is that it is a colossal waste of time and a real pain in the A#%, but no one has asked me. 😊

My poor hubby has it much worse than me though because at his school, he is the guy running the test so he has to do all the preparation and pray that the logistic and technology all cooperate. Of course it didn’t. The computers had a major glitch on day one, putting them a day behind to start then the fire alarm was accidentally triggered on day two requiring the whole school to evacuate till the source was discovered, then on the final day all the programs were moving so slow that it took some students 20 minutes just to sign in to the site! He still has make ups next week but he treated himself to a day off on Friday, spending it down the shore with a friend. I think I would have needed more than one day!!

If we were having coffee…I might tell you how excited I am for this summer’s STEAM Camp (science, technology, engineering, art and math). It will be run, again, by my friend Jill who is a fifth grade teacher at the school where I work. She and, another friend, Karen, the third grade teacher, started the camp last summer and it was so successful that we will be doubling it and doing two weeks this time round. The themes are “World Travel” and “Sports Science.” In addition to working at the actual camp, they have commissioned me once again to make the props that enhance each week’s theme. This is the first one done:

The windows are cut out so the children can stand behind and get their photos taken as they enter camp the first day. Next I’m working on a “passport” that will act as their name tag throughout the week. I find it really fun and relaxing to have a creative project to work on during my free time.

Well, if we were having coffee…I would probably notice the time and realize that I need to get myself moving. I bought some herbs and would like to plant them in pots outside today. We also have some bushes in serious need of a trim then the D-man and I have tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies game tonight. Love me some springtime baseball!⚾️

Oh, One more thing…

If we were having coffee… I would remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic! I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

If We Were Having Coffee…11/26/16

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If we were having coffee…I would start off by saying how much I have missed our chats! It has been a crazy couple of weeks around here and my posting and reading times have been limited. I hope that all is well in your part of the world and that my fellow Americans enjoyed their Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday. We had a wonderful dinner with family and all ate way too much turkey and pie! There is much to be thankful for around here. This morning,  I am thankful that I can finally sit for a few minutes and enjoy a warm beverage and a friendly visit.

If we were having coffee…I would start off by introducing you to my mother-in-law, the amazing MJ. She’s bunking with us temporarily after a losing battle with a boxed Christmas tree in her basement resulted in a broken hip. Long story. As a result,  our list of “things to be thankful for” now includes the doctors who skillfully added three screws to her bone to help it heal, the talented therapist who aided her at rehab, helping her regain her strength, and the fact that we have an extra room where she can continue to heal, exercise and get back to her former energetic self. Mostly, though we are thankful that the injury wasn’t much, much worse and that her overall good health has enabled her to bounce back quicker than the doctors anticipated.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

If we were having coffee…I would share that our sweet Jack has recently developed feline diabetes. He had been sleeping a lot and drinking a lot of water over the past few weeks. It turns out he’d been losing a bit of weight as well. He is a big cat (17lbs) so at first the weight loss wasn’t noticeable, but I was sure there something was up so off to the vet we went. Now the D-man and I are learning all about giving minuscule insulin shots with a teeny-tiny little syringe. Jack has been very cooperative and since we started the shots a few days ago he has been more active and vocal so we’re feeling quite optimistic. We also discovered that an added bonus to having MJ here is that, because she is an insulin dependent diabetic herself, she has been able togive us lots of helpful tips.

Our handsome Jack.

Our handsome Jack.

If we were having coffee…I might remind you that this was the final work week for the fourth grade teacher that I’ve been helping this year. She is anxious to welcome her new baby hopefully in the next week or so.  Her replacement, a nice young woman transferred over from the middle school, came in all last week to get acquainted with the students and familiarize herself with the classroom.  It will be an adjustment for all of us and I’m hoping that certain students don’t try to take advantage of the new teacher. Wish us luck.😊

If we were having coffee… I would share that a few Thursday’s ago we had the 100 year old oak tree removed from our back yard. It was an all day project involving a truck with a cherry picker parked on our lawn, a noisy wood chipper parked in our drive, branches swinging from roaps and a group of hardworking guys wielding chainsaws. Needless to say, it was a very crazy day. Personally, I think the guy in the cherry picker, swinging  the chainsaw around was a little nuts but maybe that’s what it takes to do that job!

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

I guess that covers the highlights of my last few weeks, so if we were having coffee I would turn the floor over to you. What have you been up to?

The Weekend Coffee Share I’d brought to you each week courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster. Be sure to stop by  and check out the rest of the posts.

 

If We Were Having Coffee…11/6/16

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If we were having coffee…I would probably start off by apologizing to any visitors from outside the USA. Tuesday is Election Day and afterward the nonsense should stop (we hope). On behalf of all Americans, I am very sorry…

Moving on..

If we were having coffee…I would invite you in, offer you a seat, a cup of hot French roast (or tea or lemonade, what ever you prefer) and ask you how your week has been? Mine was better than expected considering that Monday was Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween. I enjoy seeing the children in their costumes, handing out the treats, carving the Jack-o-lanterns, all that stuff. My only objection, speaking as someone who struggles to keep young people focused on learning each day, is that it happened to fall on a Monday this year. This doesn’t bode well for productivity on Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly even Thursday, depending on the amount of candy consumed.

As it turned out, Monday was the only really challenging day. Thankfully our principle has this whole Halloween thing down to a science. We really only have to get through the morning and the lunch hour (wanna guess how loud it was in the cafeteria that day?) because after that the room moms and dads arrive with games and crafts and then the children put on their costumes and proceed outside to parade around the playground. Families are invited to come watch and by the time the parade is over, it is time for dismissal.

If we were having coffee…I would share that I noticed, both at the parade and with the trick-or-treaters later at my home, that the popular costume this year seemed to be the characters from the newest Star Wars movie, Rey especially. I would ask what popular or fun costumes you noticed? Do you celebrate Halloween? Do you have many trick-or-treaters? We went through about 10 bags of candy which is about normal around here. It’s quite a big event around here.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that the rest of my week was pretty quiet. We are approaching the end of the first marking period so teachers are trying to finish up projects and gather grades. One of the fourth grade teachers I work with will be leaving on maternity leave at the end of this month and will not return till next year so she has been stressing a bit, feeling like she is not quite prepared to hand over her class to the substitute. I’ve been trying to help as much as I can and my knowing the children and the classroom routine will make things easier for the incoming teacher but there are still lesson plans to be made and schedules to be arranged. Fourth grade, in our school, team teaches, which means that one teacher does math and science and the other does  reading and language arts. The students switch classrooms through out the day. The teacher that is leaving, only teaches science and math so at least there is less subject matter to prepare and the other teacher will be on hand to help.

Our biggest classroom challenge this week came on Wednesday when we noticed that the thermostat was stuck on 88 degrees. Laura (the teacher) and I were red faced and sweating having already removed all articles of clothing that we could without raising eyebrows, when the maintiance man came to check on it. He told us that it was stuck and that he couldn’t get anyone to fix it till later in the week. Our school was built in the 1920s so you can imagine how well our heating system opperates anyway and even though the weather was quite cool and all the windows were open, we were still suffering. When you factor in that one woman in the class is eight months pregnant and the other in in the throes of menapause, it’s really lucky the the maintenance guy made it out of the room alive!

Anyway…if we were having coffee…I would probably  notice the time and even though we did gain an hour this weekend I find I have dawdled over my coffee far too long,  enjoying our visit and now am running behind as usual. I really should try to do something productive today. 😉 Thank you so much for stopping by. Don’t forget to visit the rest of the Coffee Share Posts brought to you each week by Diana at Part Time Monster. Have a great week!

If We Were Having Coffee….5/22/16

Good morning!


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If we were having coffee…I would bid you welcome and offer you a chair. The coffee pot is filled with strong French roast or I can offer tea (hot or iced) if you prefer. As for baked goods, Hubby’s school had an international day this Friday and he brought home some leftover Indian Banana bread. It’s moist and delicious, just a little spicier than our American version.

After we had our drinks and treats in hand and had settled into a comfy seat, I would ask you how your week has been? I hope it has been pleasant and productive. My week has been very busy but I think we are passed most of the insanity and I see the week a head being much quieter (maybe). What, you may ask, has been keeping me so busy?

Well…

If we were having coffee….I would start off by telling you all about Miss Dee’s senior prom Friday night. There was a lot of preparation for that but she looked so grown up and beautiful that it was well worth the fuss. Her critique of the evening was two thumbs up even though the food was only so-so.  I don’t think food was the main focus of the event anyway. They did a lot of dancing and laughing with friends and that’s what really counts!

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I would also tell you that we have been busy getting Mr D ready for his big move. Yesterday, Hubby and I purchased a new mattress and box spring set for him so at least he has a place to sleep. He fussed at us about buying it but we told him it could be an early birthday present. The one he has here needed replacing anyway.

So now he has  food and a bed….the basic needs for any 20 year old boy. If we threw in a flat screen TV, he’d be in heaven! There are still some details to see to. For instance, he needs to call this week and see about having the electric and cable switched over, and perhaps he should start packing, but otherwise he’s  ready to move. I’m not ready but that’s beside the point! 😊

If we were having coffee…I would fill you in on my busy work week. It started with the Phillie Phanatic on Tuesday and ended with Up-Stander Day, our annual anti-bulling event, on Friday. This day is filled with guest speakers and workshops for the students and what everservice project the children have chosen to work on this year, is gifted. This year they put together care packages for families staying at the local Ronald McDonald House. The kits contained shampoos and lotions as well as snacks and small toys. The student did a great job contributing items and we were able to make over 60 packages! Ronald, himself came to thank them. We certainly have had some unusual visitors at school this week!

imageIf we were having coffee…I might share the fact that yesterday was my 22nd wedding anniversary.  Hubby surprised me with a special evening that was both romantic and delicious! I won’t say too much though because it really deserves a whole post of its own so stay tuned! 😊

Thanks so much for coming by today. I’ve certainly enjoyed our chat but I should really get started on my “to-do” list now. Feel free to linger over your coffee a bit, enjoy the nice weather and the flowers blooming through out the yard. The rhododendrons have certainly taken off with a burst of purple! I am so happy that Spring seems to finally have arrived!

The Coffee Share Posts are brought to you each weekend courtesy of the lovely Diana at Part Time Monster.

The Weekly Smile – Phanaticly Speaking

We had an especially exciting day at school yesterday. Thanks to the fifth graders and their mad reading skills, our school won a visit from the one and only Phillie Phanatic!

“WHO??” you may ask.

The Phillie Phanatic is the official mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and he is quite a character! Wikipedia refers to the Phanatic as one of the most recognizable mascots. He’s been with the team since 1978  and according to his bio, this 6″6′  furry green bi-ped hails originally from the Galápagos Islands. When he is not busy cheering on the Phillies, the Phanatic enjoys dancing, playing pranks and watching his favorite movie which is, of course, “Rocky!”

The students greeting the Phanatic!

The students greeting the Phanatic!

The students were humming with anticipation as we gathered in the gym to meet the Phanatic. We were greeted by his “Squad”  from the Phillies and were told that he was running a little late so they asked our principle, a very enthusiastic lady and a rather good sport, to read a book to the children while they waited for their guest to show up. Well, of course, as she was reading to the children, the Phanatic snuck in behind her and started doing silly dance moves! The kids pointed and laughed but the principle played right along and pretended that she didn’t understand why they were laughing. Eventually, the Phanatic revealed himself and gave the her a big phuzzy Phanatic kiss!

Our Principle receiving a Phanatic smooch!

Our Principle receiving a Phanatic smooch!

The Phanatic’s Squad  talked more about the importance of reading everyday and then they congratulated the fifth grade students on their achievement. The class was then asked to come up and have their photo taken with the Phanatic. Finally, the big green guy himself led us all in a group dance-along to the song “Happy.” He even pulled several teachers and staff members out to dance with him. He sure has some great moves!!

When ever we go to a Phillies game, one of my favorite parts is when the Phanatic makes his appearance. I can’t believe some of the mischief he gets up to!  He usually rides a four wheeler out on to the field before the games and our neighbor, Doug, who works part-time for the Phillies, happens to be the guy in charge of opening the gate to let the Phanatic on and off the field. I always wished that I could do that job for one night just so I could get a close up view of the big green dude’s crazy antics.

Now, all of us at the school can say that we did get to see the Philly Phanatic up close and personal and it was all thanks to the magic of reading!! If you would like some more information about this fun, educational, literacy program visit the Phillies web site and check out “Phanatic About Reading!”

imageThe Weekly Smile is brought to you courtesy of Trent’s World. Stop by and collect a few more smiles or perhaps share one of you own!

The Weekly Smile – A Silent Parade

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The elementary school where I work offers a half day preschool for 3 and 4 year olds. The classroom is in the main building along with the rooms for the older children and is taught by Miss Jessica, a pleasant young woman, not long out of college with lots of energy and clever ideas.

Case in point…

As I was coming back from lunch today, Miss Jessica and her parade of tots were heading outside so I stopped and held the door for them. I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed as they walked past that each little boy and girl had their cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk storing acorns!

I recieved a few waves from the preschoolers as they passed but not one word was spoken. I raised my eyebrows in question to their teacher who was at the end of the line. As she passed she leaned in and whispered,

“When we go in the hallway, we all pretend we have a mouthful of marshmallows. It helps them remember not to talk while the students in the classrooms are working.

Hmm? I wonder if that would work on the older students in the lunchroom?

It’s a thought. 😊

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The Weekly Smile is brought to you courtesy of Trent’s World. Be sure to stop by and gather a few more smiles or maybe share one of your own!

If We Were Having Coffee…3/27/16

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If we were having coffee…I would wish you a Happy Easter if you celebrate or, happy Sunday, if you don’t. For us, Easter means family time so about 3:00 this afternoon we will be welcoming 25 family members for dinner.  We’ll be providing the baked ham, gravy, pineapple stuffing and stuffed shells. The guest will each bring a side dish or dessert. My sister’s husband, who is Catholic and of Polish decent, is in charge of supplying the traditional butter lamb. We aren’t Catholic ourselves but we’ve always had one for Easter dinner ever since I was a little girl. He even adds the clove eyes and a little red ribbon bow.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that Miss Dee and I have been enjoying our Spring break. She had a fun sleep-over/shopping day with her friends on Friday and Hubby and I had a mini date night by going out for dessert (frozen yogurt) and then browsing through our favorite bookstore. I bought myself the latest Patricia Briggs novel “Fire Touched.” I can’t wait get started on it! Otherwise I’ve just been taking it easy, staying up way too late and sleeping in.

For some reason  the school district that Hubby works for always schedules their spring break a different week than ours so even though he shared Friday with us, the rest of his break will be all next week. That means I will be doing a lot of whining about having to get up while he doesn’t. Poor guy. I’d feel sorry for him if he didn’t have the WHOLE WEEK off work!

If we were having coffee...I might share some of the sketches I’ve been working on for the summer STEAM  program I’m helping with…

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These are both going to be  photo backdrops for the various theme days. Now I have to get to work on the full size pieces which will each be about 6 feet tall!

If we were having coffee…I would appologize for cutting our chat short today, but that ham ain’t gonna cook itself so I better get a move on. I hope you have a pleasant day filled with all the things you like best. Thanks so much for stopping by.

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster. Don’t forget to drop over and check out the rest of the post.

If We Were Having Coffee…2/20/16

imageIf we were having coffee…you would notice that, as expected, “morning” happens a lot later around here when Hubby in not around to act as my alarm clock. He’s probably been skiing the Vermont slopes for hours now, but here in Jersey, my sorry butt just climbed out of bed. The cats sure let me know that they were not happy about having to wait for their breakfast! I don’t feel too lazy though because Mr D is still snoring away upstairs and will be for hours yet. Speaking of my handsome son….

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I finally got to meet the third member of his soon-to-be-roommates. The other two, I’ve know since they were little, but this young man is a new friend. He seemed quite nice, if a little shy. He shook my hand politely and answered all my annoying mom questions (“Do you have brothers and sisters? How is your mom feeling about you moving out? How is school going? etc).

Later, I asked Mr D if his friend is always so quiet and he said “No, but parents make him really nervous.” See, this cracks me up because I think of myself as the most easy going friendly parent. I can’t imagine anyone, especially a college kid, being intimidated by me. My husband, on the other hand…😊 Years of dealing with (sometimes) unruly seventh and eighth graders has made him able to restore order and silence with just a look. This, by the way, comes in very handy when you have a house full of teenage girls over for a sleepover…but thats a whole other story.

If we were having coffee…you might wonder what happened to the post I was going to publish about my Bruce adventure. Well, after a few aborted drafts, I decided that there wasn’t much to say other than the concert was awesome, and that we had to trudge through a snowstorm to get to it. That  didn’t seem like enough to fill a post. Also, I’m not the kind of person who takes photos at things like that, preferring to live “in the moment” instead of recording it for the future, so I didn’t even have any images to share. Luckily there are a lot of really great videos and stories already out there about Mr Springsteen so I don’t really need to add mine!

If we were having coffee…I would share that Miss Dee had some fun this week. On Thursday evening, she participated in her high school’s Prom Fashion Show. It is an annual event that raises money for the yearly sports banquet held in the spring. The senior athletes are dressed up in prom fashions and paired up. Then they put on a show, with some comedy commentary from a pair of student hosts. Each couple goes on stage and “models” their outfits which are on loan from local stores. This generates business for the sponsors as well. The kids all have a lot of fun with it and I was pleased to see Miss Dee channel her inner clown and ham it up a little. She is not as comfortable on stage as her brother is, but she did really well. She is so much braver than I was as a teenager. I am always impressed with how she over comes her anxiety and puts herself out there in order to take part in stuff instead of just watching from the sidelines like I did at her age.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that work is going well but that sometimes I find technology in the classroom to be a real pain in the a#*! Example: Each afternoon I review some math concepts with our third grade students using the classroom Smart Board. For those of you unfamiliar, a Smart Board is a cross between an interactive touch screen and a chalkboard. It hooks up to the computer and has lots of great activities.

It can also be a pain in the a#*.

On Wednesday afternoon as I was setting up the Smartboard lesson, a storm blew in and the weather became very windy. Because I live in a town with a lot of mature trees, the wind often knocks down branches which in turn, knock down wires. So inevitably, just as I got the technology up and running, the power shut off!

Silence, darkness.

Five minutes later it came back on so I rebooted the computer and started again. The wind picks up and the power goes out again.

Silence, darkness and some bad words muttered under my breath.

The third time it went out I was only half way finished rebooting and the poor computer was so confused that when the power came back on for good it was so screwed up I had to shut it down and restart the whole thing. I wasn’t even going to attempt to use the Smart Board again so the kids and I played “Multiplication Bingo” instead.

No technology required. There’s a lot to be said for good old fashioned, hands on education. 😊

If we were having coffee... I would appologize for rambling on so, and ask you how your week has been? I hope you have had some smiles and some hugs and made some great memories. Since it is almost time for lunch (!) here, I should finish my morning coffee and try to be productive. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to visit Diana at Part Time Monster and check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Shares!

 

The Weekly Smile #2…A Smile and a Wave

My smile this week is dedicated to one of my favorite people. Her name is Ellen. and she is one of a small army of dedicated crossing guards that watch over our children as they walk to and from school.  After retiring eight years ago she couldn’t stand “just sittin’ around” and so went back to work crossing students at the corner next to my house. I would guess she is in her early seventies.

My own children are among the kids she has crossed so I know for a fact that she greets each child by name and wishes them a good day. She also notices if someone is home sick and watches for their return. The students, in return look forward to seeing her, and can’t wait to share any exciting news they have.

As I left my house this morning at 8:15, there was a fridge wind and the temperature was hovering at 18  degrees fahrenheit.  Winter, it seems, has finally arrived in South Jersey! Ellen had already been on the job for over an hour. This is how she was dressed…

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This is a woman who could be spending her retirement anyway she likes and she chooses to get up at the crack of dawn and stand outside in the elements watching over other people’s children.

As I drove past, she called, “Good morning!” and offered a friendly wave and a big smile just as she has done every single morning from September to June for the past eight years.

How could I not smile? 😊

More smiles are available at Trent’s World! Stop over and check out the rest of the Weekly Smile posts!

 

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