Nana Has Wrinkles

Learning, laughing and loving in a world that tells it like it is.

Well, well, well…


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Today is my 60th birthday, and I am feeling rather giddy.

All the cliches are true–“It’s hard to believe  I’m 60! I don’t feel like 60, I feel like 40! It beats the alternative!” and the list goes on and on.

Truth be told, every age has its highs and lows, but this decade is proving to be a very sweet slice of life–a time of great family joy, continued professional growth, and a bit more wiggle room in the schedule to do my own thing.

Here’s my unsolicited advice, friends–don’t dread the aging process, embrace it. Your selfie may reveal a face that belies your youthful spirit, but I choose to believe that the best is yet to come.

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Catching up on books…


June, 2012

Isn’t this supposed to be a slower time of the year for educators? I’m not feeling it. Wonderful, joyful, and miraculous family happenings have been filling each day, so it’s all good.

While rocking babies and playing with toddlers I’ve gotten through many great books this spring. Here are the highlights:

Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson and Image Grammar by Harry Noden: Many of my preservice teachers feel ill-equipped to teach grammar. I read these two books to be able to recommend them (or not) as resources. There is a great debate in our field as to the teaching of grammar. Most agree that embedding grammar instruction within the writing process is effective. However, if students don’t have the language of grammar and a good grasp of basic mechanics, that embedded instruction is difficult to deliver. Each of these books tackles this problem. Mechanically Inclined speaks more to my comfort level. Anderson carefully collects data regarding real world mechanical issues with which his students needs help and pre-teaches some of those solutions so kids have the vocabulary and background knowledge to deal with them when needed. These would be excellent lessons to record as YouTube videos for kids to refer to as needed during the school year. Flip those lessons, people!

So, What Do They Really Know? Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning by Cris Tovani: I love Cris Tovani’s work. There. The bias has been revealed. This book is helpful in many aspects.

With Rigor for All: Meeting Common Core Standards for Reading Literature by Carol Jago: Disclaimer–this is another author I admire greatly. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, you’re missing some great stuff.

Lest you think I’m no fun at all, here are the “light-hearted” fiction pieces completed this spring:

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Faith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh

Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock

The Might Have Been by Joe Schuster

Calico Joe by John Grisham

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Meh. I felt as though I had to read this one, you know? It’s one of those books. Didn’t like it, didn’t hate it. Glad I got through it, but wouldn’t want to do it again.

Can’t wait to see what the summer e-Reader will hold!

February, 2013

The post above was written at the beginning of summer and never completed as I hoped to add thumbnail shots of each book about which I wrote. That perfectionistic desire is gone, so here is an update of the books that occupied my time over the summer and throughout autumn:

Insurgent and Divergent by Veronica Roth – This fabulous YA trilogy will conclude when the author releases the final book in the series (currently untitled) this fall.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

The Age of Miracles: A Novel  by Karen Thompson Walker

The Fallen Angel: A Novel (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva

Freeman by Leonard Pitts – Loved this story.

The Prophet by Michael Koryta

The Light Between Oceans  by ML Stedman

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel by Rachel Joyce – Beautifully written!

The Absolutist by John Boyne

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova – This book create visuals that helps one see the world through the eyes of an autistic child.

One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season by Tony LaRussa

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Tell the Wolves I’m Home: A Novel by Carol Rifka Brunt – A great read–highly recommended.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe – Fabulous!

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Crossing to Safety  by William Stegner – I LOVE this book.

Vanished: A Novel by Irene Hannon – A pleasant book that takes place in St. Louis.

The Good House by Ann Leary

Where’d You Go Bernadette: A Novel  by Maria Semple

…and various chick lit books I read to keep up with my Mom. She tends to enjoy books written by authors such as Kristin Hannah, Nicholas Sparks, Dorthea Benton Frank and Mary Alice Monroe. They are great treadmill stories.





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Micah James Post was born on July 18, 2012. He is coming up on six months old, so why am I just now writing about him? It’s surely not due to indifference or taking the family newborns for granted, but it’s all about a lack of discipline on my part. Sorry, Micah Pie. You’re a wonderful, cuddly, happy little guy, and you deserve much better. Like a well-adjusted third baby, you roll with the punches and happily accept love from everyone willing to share. Welcome to the tribe, little guy!



Elliot is one month old today. The transformation from day one to day 31 is incredible to witness first hand. She’s now more awake and alert. She knows how to hang in there, let the occasional discomfort that overtakes her pass and settle herself back to sleep. And today, I swear, she smiled at me. She eats like a champ, passes gas every chance she gets and spits up with the best of them. Miss Elliot, I’m smitten forevermore.

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 Amelia is four today. Four is serious kid stuff, isn’t it? She’s a kid now, not a toddler, not a little kid, but a full-fledged kid. Amelia is a fabulous combination of thoughtfulness, boldness, curiosity and love This is what I have learned from her over the past several years:

•When you hug someone, really hug them. Let them you  know you mean it.

•Saying goodbye should always include multiple declarations of love peppered with sincere kisses and the aforementioned hugs.

•The three-letter word “why” can be a very powerful way to cut to the heart of a matter.

•Running, jumping, climbing and enjoying an occasional mud puddle are good balms for the soul.           

•Clothes are sometimes overrated.

•Passionately cling to your beliefs.

•Seek treasures, pick flowers, and build castles.

Love you, AJP. I hope you have the best birthday ever.

Shower time!


One of the joys of having raised our children in one place throughout the course of their school years is that they have lifelong friends– young men and women with whom they literally grew up and are still close. A few weeks ago, several of these families had the honor of hosting a bridal shower for one of our dear, young friends.

My assignment was to create the party favors. With my youngest daughter as a consultant, we decided upon a Mason Jar food product of some sort. These old, classic jars are experiencing a strong comeback, with Pinterest and food bloggers leading the rejuvenation effort.

We finally settled upon making White Almond Wedding Cupcakes (recipe here) topped with The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes Frosting (recipe here.) The recipes were both easy to execute, even for me. After cooking and cooling the cupcakes, I split them in half, stuck the bottoms in the Mason Jar, hit them with a swirl of frosting, put the other halves into the jar and then topped them all off with more frosting. Using the Nordic Ware Ultimate Decorating Tool  (only $29.95 at Williams-Sonoma and well worth the price) made this process much prettier than if I would have tried to frost the cupcakes and then insert them into the jar.

To top it all off, I wrapped the jars with twine, added a fork (should a culinary emergency occur), and used the wedding colors to make small tags that each contained a different quotation about love. This was not an expensive or terribly time-consuming party favor, and I think they were well-recieved by the shower attendees. Love to you both, Courtney and Stuart. We can’t wait to celebrate your big day!

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The world of literature being written for children and young adults is just exploding with fabulous works these days. Or, maybe I’m just getting lucky at finding the motherlode of excellence.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio is the sweetest story I’ve read in quite a while. August Pullman, a fifth grader with a badly malformed face, begins fifth grade at Beecher Prep Academy after being home schooled all his life. Obviously, his family (and first line of defense from the real world) has very mixed feelings about the whole thing. Auggie’s ups and downs are told by a variety of narrators, and each character is fleshed out quite nicely. The main themes of the story are the “power of one’s friendship, the strength of one’s courage, the test of one’s character” and “being a little kinder than is necessary.”

I dare you not to cry as you read it.

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Today is Caroline’s second birthday. The very thought of her makes me smile. In the past two years, Caroline has taught me the following things:

•Always ask for more, please.

•At least once a day, be sure to throw your head back, open your mouth, close your eyes, and have a really good belly laugh. 

•Be a follower every now and then.

•Go off and do your own thing from time to time.

•Let your hair fly wildly about your head.

•Love your bed.

•Enjoy your bath.

•Snuggle with the people you love when they very least expect it.

•Read dozens of good books every single day.

Happy birthday, Caroline (CareBear, Chunkoline, Chompobar, the list of your nicknames goes on and on). We love you more than you can even imagine.

Hope Springs Eternal


After two high school observations, one in the city and one in far, far south county (think Illinois), I got into the car at noon. A happy camper, as I’d seen two new, young teachers create and execute very strong lesson plans, my day got even better when I heard Mike Shannon and John Rooney announce a starting lineup.

What it is about baseball that the sound of even a spring training game lifts my spirits? I come by it naturally, I suppose, as both my Mom and Grandma are/were huge Cardinals fans. My 89 year old Mom knows not only the current players, but the young’uns down on the farm, as well. This picture was taken last year on Mother’s Day, when Jim and I roasted each of our baseball loving Moms in the hot afternoon sun. It was a great day–the Birds won, we all consumed ballpark dogs, and I could swear Albert hit one, although MLB does not confirm that memory. Can’t wait to get back into Busch this spring!

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Missing Gracie


Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain is really a tough book to read after you’ve lost a good and faithful dog, but it’s strangely cathartic, too. Our Gracie dog succumbed to a brain tumor in December of 2011. There is nothing like being greeted with a wagging tale, wet nose, and unconditional love after a long day away from the nest. We still miss her every single day. Stein uses Enzo the terrier, loyal companion to race car driver Denny, as the narrator for his story. The book chronicles Denny’s charmed and troubled life through Enzo’s eyes. If you are a dog person, you will love this book. Enzo is a character who will linger in your mind, and when you pet your dog, I bet you’ll hear his voice.

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