We Are Helping Others Learn What We Love

Blog class of 2021

We love teaching and learning. That’s what we do! It’s a big part of who we are!

I was reminded of this the other day while listening to Sheltered Reality Drumline perform in South Dakota.

This group of young drummers wowed us with their entertaining abilities on the drums. And boy oh boy do they enjoy entertaining. However, the mission of Sheltered Reality® is to “engage and motivate their audiences to make positive changes in themselves and the world.” Sheltered Reality’s® main message the other day was three-fold:

  • Take a chance
  • Never give up
  • Believe in yourself

YES! For our aspiring educators who will begin their classes today, this message is for you too!!!

Take a chance…you will be challenged by us, your education professors, to take several chances throughout your teacher prep program. Embrace these challenges. Go for the gusto. Take risks. Shoot for the stars. Take a chance on this new endeavor.

Never give up…there will be days you will want to throw in the towel during your time at SMSU. Questions? Ask! Concerns? Share! Please know you are not alone. More importantly, know many have felt this way. BUT…they have stuck it out and have gone on to be successful, outstanding teachers!  Never give up, teacher candidates. You will make it.

Believe in yourself…focus on trying. Leave your “I can’t do this” mentality in the dorm or apartment or wherever you reside. Develop the mindset of “I CAN do this.” Will you make mistakes? Of course. We all do. Learn from those and move on. So…kick your ‘stinkin thinkin’ to the curb!

Sheltered Reality® involves the audience during their show. I happen to be one of the audience members who was chosen to go on stage and drum for the first time ever…in front of a lot of people. 😮 I took a chance! I never gave up! I believed in myself! And guess what???

Yes, I messed up a few times!! Okay…many times. Who cares! I had the time of my life! 🙂

Blog drum me

The Sheltered Reality’s® lead drummer ended their performance with this one last powerful statement: “We are helping others learn what we love.”

Exactly! That’s what we are doing too!!! We are helping YOU learn to do what WE love—teaching!

Have the time of your life this year as you prepare to become the most successful, outstanding teachers you can possibly be. We are excited for the new year, and we hope you share our excitement.

Show us YOUR teacher super powers by taking a chance, never giving up, and believing in yourselves. You got this!!

Stay Calm & Help Others Learn!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 


What is EMSP? Collaboration and Solidarity of Aspiring Educators

Blog EMSP LeAnne_Me

Professor LeAnne Syring and I will be co-advisors for the Education Minnesota Student Program (EMSP) at SMSU beginning this fall. I have been the advisor of this esteemed group of future educators for quite a few years. Last spring when I asked LeAnne if she would be willing to co-advise with me she graciously accepted and then said, “You are starting to phase out, aren’t you?”

Yes, LeAnne. Yes, I am. With retirement just around the corner, it is time to have someone join me on this adventure. Thanks a big bunch of roses for being willing to take this journey with me! 🙂

We attended the first ever EMSP Advisor’s meeting in Brooklyn Park, MN, and below are a few of the highlights of that meeting…

  • EMSP is headed for a name change. At the Student Leadership Conference held July 2017 in Boston, MA, the EMSP members expressed their wishes…they do not want to be called students. They are asking that the S in EMSP be changed to aspiring educators. We will find out in April 2018 what the final decision will be.
  • The Student Leadership Conference will be held June 30th – July 5th, 2018 in Minneapolis, MN. This is great news for all of us! Less travel!!
  • Education Minnesota offers many professional development opportunities for the university aspiring educators. There are seven modules which can be presented at chapter meetings or during education courses. These modules are 1. Member Promotion, 2. Collective Bargaining, 3. Organizing, 4. Member Rights, 5, Why Politics?, 6. Education Issues, and 7, Professionalism. In addition to the modules, a few other professional development options offered are Degrees Not Debt, Teacher Licensing, Energize Yourself, Use of Social Media, and Student Bullying. All education professors may use these PD services.
  • The Minnesota Board of Teaching (BOT) is now called the Professional Educators Licensing Standards Board (PELSB). Our governor will be appointing new members to this board. You may go to the Secretary of State’s webpage to see the names of all those who have applied thus far.

Blog EMSP Good bye BOT

  • New teacher licensures that are projected to begin July 2018 are Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4, Short-call substitute license, Long-call substituted license, and Life-time substitute license. According to the gal presenting, Minnesota has been considered a powerhouse in teacher licensure. Sadly, she stated this is beginning to change because of this new rule making on licensing. We were told we will be kept posted on this.

Blog EMSP Tiered Teaching

  • Education Minnesota will be leading the state’s educators in a movement to live equitably and practice equity literacy. It’s time for all of us to work together to take down the fence that hinders.

Blog EMSP Equality

A fun surprise was at lunch when we were blessed to see a few of our kids…our SMSU EMSP officers. Thanks ladies and to ALL officers, for all the hard work you do for our EMSP Chapter.

EMSP…collaboration and solidarity of aspiring educators. Here’s to a great year! 🙂

Blog EMSP Group

Stay Calm & Aspire On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 



The Waiting Game: Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry Up!  We need to be on time.  The game is about to start! What game you may be asking? The waiting game that is.  You know… the one in life that we all play together.  We are on the same team – us v. time.  We get going to where we need to be… and wait to leave, and wait to arrive, and wait to start the game, the appointment, the … (you can fill in the blank) – life.

Here are some very common examples of waiting:

Waiting for a high school summer league basketball game to start…

Waiting at the mall…

Wait dancing is a common practice is it not? 🙂

Dr. Wendy waiting for her PT appointment and waiting to feel better while her grandson is waiting for her…

Fathers and sons bonding while waiting for doc appointments…

Kids waiting for an oil change…

Brother waiting for his bro at the dentist…

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Traffic waiting…

Check-in waiting…
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Ferris wheel waiting…

Are we there
yet waiting…

We wait on average an hour a day for the next thing in life to happen.  That doesn’t seem like a big deal until we do the math… something like 5 to 6 years of our lives – waiting.
Waiting can be challenging and try our patience – especially when we are in a hurry to get on with what is next in life.  In our world of instant gratification, waiting can upset us and drive us to become mad – out of our ordinarily calm demeanor.  Who you and me? Maybe. What’s important to remember is that good things come to those who wait.  Right?  Don’t be miserable while waiting for life.  A good attitude and perspective can make all the difference.  Enjoy the wait.  What are you waiting for?

What do you do while you wait?

Stay Calm & Wait!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Stop Ignoring the Coin Boxes


All of us have seen them. We give them a quick glance, and then look up at the menu ignoring the message they are sending. Please stop ignoring the coin box.

If you are looking for a trustworthy charity, look no farther than your local McDonald’s. The Ronald McDonald House is incredible and so much needed and appreciated. We both know this because of our own experiences…one a little over 15 years ago. The other, a little over 15 hours ago.

The play area at the RMH is filled with toys and movies and games for all to use. The pantry is stocked full of breakfast options along with snacks available to all family members of the child who is in the NICU or the hospital.  The refrigerator has beverages and milk and coffee creamer and apple slices galore. Volunteers come in and prepare and then serve a delicious homemade lunch or supper for those family members who wait. And then there are the rooms equipped with beds so the family can rest their weary and worn out bodies at night time. Incredible place.

Years ago, I (Wendy) had my third graders save pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. Our goal was one million. We made it to 600,000. Once those were collected, my third graders traveled to Sioux Falls, SD and personally delivered them to the Ronald McDonald House.

Sadly, since then I haven’t given the Ronald McDonald House much thought. But after recently being a visitor at the house while visiting my granddaughter at Children’s Hospital, I have decided that I will never ignore those coin boxes again. And, I will be saving pop tabs from here on out too!


It was April 2002.  I (Sonya) was going to be a new momma in the summer. I couldn’t wait!  Neither could my babe, Jackson Joseph, apparently.  I won’t share the long story with all the twists and turns to the plot, but after six weeks of bedrest in the hospital, I was set free – to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  We were cleared to leave the hospital, but needed to remain close by so RMH welcomed us. I spent two weeks there and then the day that I went home – Jackson decided to officially join us and was born.  Those two weeks in the RMH were a blessing for us.  As soon-to-be new parents, it was a stressful time.  We were able to stay there for a minimal fee while safely within the city limits and near the hospital care that was needed.  It was a bit unusual since the house is designated for families with children in the hospital. A room was open, and we were welcomed.  We are still thankful today.

Then, we were welcomed once again at the RMH in Minneapolis when Jackson was undergoing treatments for his lymphangioma from ages 1-2. We were thankful yet again and still are today!

When I returned from maternity leave, I set out to give back. My 5th grade class started to do more community-focused projects. My experience at RMH helped me to see more needs around me.  I began to wonder how could I help? How could we help?  An obvious project was to start collecting pop-tabs, which became a school-wide project.  We were able to make one of the deliveries while on a field trip so the students could see the house.  From there the project grew into other projects, and students became more involved.
Becoming a parent made me a better teacher and a better citizen.  I was engaged in this world because someone else was counting on me.  I became more engaged in this world because someone helped me.  Thanks, Ronald McDonald House and all the donators along the way.  We began to Pay It Forward

Blog Ronald McDonald House SUFU

Ronald McDonald House in Sioux Falls, SD

The Ronald McDonald House offers support to parents during one of their most stressful times in life. So we ask you, please take a moment to pay it forward today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Do something for someone else today.

Stop ignoring those coin boxes.

Blog ronald mcdonald house logo

Stay Calm & Give Generously!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Being a Caregiver is a Tough Job

Blog caregiver burnout

Photo credit: https://gentleshepherdbaptist.blogspot.com/2011/01/?m=0

“YOUR DAD IS HAVING AN AFFAIR,” my mom blurted out accusingly the instant I walked into her room.

“I don’t think so, mom,” I reassured her while heaving a big sigh.

“I’ll show you who it is. Don’t look…there she is,” she grumbled under her breath trying to be a sleuth on a mission when we reached our walking-the-hallway destination.

My mom had dementia. She lived in the Lighthouse, which is a locked facility for Alzheimer’s/Dementia residents at the Good Samaritan Village. She was quite independent in spite of not having a memory or an understanding of life.

My dad also had Alzheimer’s but was in a wheel chair so he could not be in the Lighthouse with her (thank goodness). 😮 And, for crying out loud, he could not be having an affair.

The lady my mom suspected of being my dad’s “mistress” also had Alzheimer’s and needed assistance walking. Good grief…

…my poor mother.

I was exhausted from my mom’s peculiar behavior. I visited her almost every day at Good Sam, and after a few years of this bizarre conduct I was exhausted!!! Being the only child still alive, I was her caregiver. And quite frankly…I was BURNED OUT!

New scenario…

“You suck as a teacher,” hollered the 8th grade boy.

“All I am asking, Billy, is that you take off your bandana,” the teacher calmly asked for the umpteenth time. “Our district rule is no bandanas in school.”

“Not taking it off, you bitch!” Then Billy continued to threaten this teacher by writing in his notebook… I know where your daughter lives.

The above educator is a teacher of middle school students, and she is exhausted!!! She is their daytime caregiver. And quite frankly…she is BURNED OUT!

Caregiving is a tough job, but…

…someone has to do it.

Thomas Hoerr shared with us in his ASCD article (2017) that even though caregivers are usually associated with the medical field, caregiver burnout also applies to educators.

To our SMSU teachers just beginning your first time teaching position this fall…don’t let this become you! Be aware of caregiver/teacher burnout. If you think you are being gripped by caregiver burnout talons, there is help to break free.

Prevention is key! WebMD offers several suggestions for caregiver burnout. Learn what causes it and how to prevent it by clicking here:  http://www.webmd.com/women/caregiver-recognizing-burnout#3 (it’s for you guys too).

According to Ben Johnson (2014), writer for Edutopia, here are a few ways to evade teacher (caregiver) burnout:

  • Have fun with the students
  • Take care of your health
  • Learn something new and share it with your students
  • Make someone’s day
  • Lighten up
  • Look for the positive
  • Trust your students

And may I add to this list…

  • Find humor and joy each and every single day

The new school year will be starting very soon, and I have always loved the beginning. Novice and veteran teachers…no matter how much you love it, there will come a time when you feel drained…wiped out…exhausted.

Whether you are taking care of an elderly parent or taking care of other people’s children, caregiving is hard work. Promise me you will take care of YOU.


Stay Calm & Prevent Burnout!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

She Didn’t Stick to the Schedule

Blog boss baby

Lucy Lavonne Claussen made her debut yesterday morning weighing in at 5 lbs. 8 oz. As her daddy said to us in his text…this little one did not stick to the schedule. Sorry, son…her being your third child…you KNOW she IS the boss baby! 😉

Welcome to the world, baby girl. You are grandbaby number four and most likely the last. I cried my make-up off when I read what your name was. I am positive your Great Grandma Wussow is smiling down from heaven because your middle name is the same as hers. And…many people told your great grandma that she looked like Lucille Ball. 😮 Oh, yes indeed…your name made my heart happy and made me smile with loving memories.

I want you to know, Miss Lucy, that you are SO loved. Your big brother and sister can’t wait to hold you and give you lots of lovin’. They look through that window and patiently wait with daddy and Grandpa to give you hugs and kisses.

Blog boss baby2

Grandma Wendy adores you and smiles with tears of joy in her eyes as she lovingly gazes through the glass window at you all snug in that little hospital bed of yours. Grandma Wendy silently gives thanks to Jesus for his goodness, because you, little one, are a miracle. All babies are. God’s creation. I praise my Lord, Miss Lucy,  because you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

Blog boss baby5

Prayers, for you sweet tiny one…prayers for a beautiful life. Prayers for good health: physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Prayers for WHOLE child health!!! Prayers for a life filled with joy. A God-serving life. I give thanks and praise to Jesus for you!

Welcome, baby girl. We are smitten!

Blog boss baby1


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Stay Calm & Who Needs a Schedule Anyway!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Hey Carter

It is this date again – June 30th. I remember walking with Stella in the early morning sunshine last summer remembering a year before that – in the hospital watching my nephew die.  We prayed for a miracle so that he could stay. We prayed for a miracle so that he would peacefully let go.  It was a struggle that we all shared. It is a struggle that we continue to share.  Today’s blog is in memory of Carter Joseph Boerboom; it is written by his father, Wade Boerboom, for families who are fighting cancer and praying for their own miracles.

Father and Son Carter

Anyone who knew Carter knew how much he liked his gift of gab.  We can’t imagine where he got that from… Have you met his parents and extended family? 😉 These are the real words and raw emotions from his dad in a letter to his son, putting into print the many chats they frequently have.

Hey Carter,

So get this, Aunt Sonya asked me to guest blog for her website.  Yeah I know, homework in the middle of summer, right?  But she asked that I use it as writing a letter to you.  I guess she didn’t realize I talk to you every day.  Oh well, I guess to humor her I will pretend I don’t and write this out to you.

So, what else has been happening you ask?  Well, I suppose we should catch up on everyone.

Freaking Lebron & the Cavs won the NBA title in 16, but the Warriors got them back in 17!  Kevin Durant ended up going to the Warriors this last summer in free agency.  I think just to stick it to Lebron.  They went 16-1 in the playoffs.  Only lost one game to the Cavs.  I wanted the sweep, but losing just 1 isn’t too bad either.

Oh, I feel bad about this one.   When we were told your cancer was back, on June 10th, 2015; you said “does this mean we can go to Duke?”  You were too ill to travel, so Joy and I decided to check it out this fall.  What a cool place!  They beat up on Grand Canyon. The kids/crowd were going nuts the whole time.  You would have loved it.

Katie is on her 3rd college & 3rd car.  Yes, she really is.  She attended Morris for her freshman year.  She did ok, but I think she spent more time in Alexandria with Tom than she did in school.  She wanted to try St. Cloud fall of sophomore year.  She lived in Tom (Geske) and your mom’s house in St. Cloud.  There was a crazy stabbing in the mall where she worked.  Thank goodness she wasn’t there.  I’m thinking that was the turning point, and they both just didn’t really love St. Cloud anymore.  She came home to SMSU, and is a 3.9 now.  Yes, she really is!  She just rented a little house in Marshall.  She’s growing up, I guess.  Tom is working at Action Track Chairs.  As for the cars…  The Dodge basically just died.  Then last week we had hail & it took out the Focus we replaced it with.  Damn kids and their cars…..

Belle went to Mankato last year.  She lived with her cousin Alex and a few other girls.  Interesting year.  They had a gathering that got busted before school started & then got robbed over Christmas break.  She is doing well in school.  She job shadowed a chiropractor and a dermatologist this summer.  Let’s hope she really makes money after graduation, lord knows she likes to spend it.

Sam graduated this year.  Get this, he has a girlfriend!  Yes, our Sam.  She came to the house the other night for venison/b-day picnic.  Our tradition of having those for you kids continues.  We had yours this year too.  Sam is planning on going to SDSU this fall.  I can’t wait.  Division 1 hoops!  They actually made the big dance this year.  Sam and his buddies have a company now –  Average Angling.  They upload videos, and get paid for it.  I think they have made something like 17cents off their fishing videos now.

Maddie is driving now.  Katie and your mom go to lunch with her from time to time.   She looks like she is doing well & having fun in school.  We see on Facebook that she does lots of sports & time with friends.

Sam and your buddies all miss you too. I think they are still up to the same shenanigans – maybe not shooting hoops off the top of the golf cart anymore though.  Sounds like Sam is going to St. John’s University for school next year. Of course we figured he would.  His family brought you to a couple of Johnny’s games.  I think they are pretty big fans of SJU.

Joy is training and coaching full time now.  She left Schwan’s to start a gym at the office.  She started with personal training and expanded to Rock Steady Boxing.  It’s boxing exercises to help Parkinson’s patients with their symptoms.  Her clients seem to really like her, even though she yells at them & beats them up.  The Rock Steady Boxing thing was something we saw on 60 Minutes.  The best part was that her training was in Indianapolis.  Joy worked, and I got to go to the Big 10 Tournament.

Kailen & PJ are workout bffs now.  Both are getting pretty fit too.  I think they work out twice a day.  Sounds like Kailen will be the running back in Cottonwood this fall.  Should be fun to watch.

Lori, Tori, and Tiffy moved to Bloomington.  Lori is a VP or something I guess.  Big time, right?  Tori is driving and will get her license soon.  Tiffy is in basketball, softball and volleyball.  All this summer.  They are pretty busy.  I think the Beer-Straights think they live there, too.  They are up there usually three weekends a month.  They usually bring the dog too.

Jack is going to camp after camp for football.  Sounds like he is headed to Ohio for one in July.  He just got his moped license.  Crashed the other day.  Just a little skinned up.  Not bad enough to come see you.  Jonah and JR both played SW Slam this spring.  We caught a few of their games.  JR seems to favor the 3 pointer.  He is not as proficient as you, but he is still young.

Bill and Missy are doing well.  Still camping & riding motorcycles.  They went to Arizona and rode to Vegas last spring.  No pictures of ass-less chaps have shown up, so we are all good.  They chase Wyatt around a lot.  He is pretty good at hockey now & made a couple traveling teams.  One tourney was up in Duluth.  He lifts weights now at the high school.  I think he is finally starting to grow.  Cody is buying Lori’s old house, and has a roommate-Dylan.  Let’s hope they don’t kill each other.

Braden bought a house in Cottonwood and got engaged to Amy.  20 years old,  going on 30.  He is farming with Ron and building a hog barn.  I bet Ron never thought in his wildest dreams that he would have hogs on that farm again.

Tam is not an empty nester yet.  She still gets one more year of chasing Kailen around to games.  They like to fight a little, but I think they are both going to miss each other.

Grandma Glenda sold the store.  Yep, the days of free ice cream are long gone.  She travels a lot.  She likes the bus trips they do around the different parts of the country.  She lets the kids drive her corvette for prom.  Sam went and then kept the car for about two months now. Nice grandma, huh?

Grandpa Ron and Lois like to camp & travel.  They went to Hawaii last year.  He still farms with Braden.  I think he plans to delegate more of the work soon.  He is just waiting for Braden to get the barn done.  He wanted to see his “home” farm last year in Belgium, but there was a bomb at the airport so we all chickened out.  Looks like we are finally going to get there this fall.

Grandma Nancy wants to retire, but Grandpa Steve doesn’t want her to yet.  Maybe another year.  She has shorter hours in the summer so she can spend more time in the garden and tinkering around the farm.  Grandpa still drives all the time.  He still loves to catch the grandkids’ games and tries to get to as many as possible.  He of course runs a little hot when things don’t go quite right, but he is getting a little more mellow.  Maybe that is where Bill gets it???? 

Grandma Betty and Grandpa Joe have an apartment at Boulder Estates now. They still visit the farm and like to have coffee there. They are as funny as ever. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in May. They are looking forward to seeing you again one day, too.

Your mom & Tom are also doing well.  They like to get to the cabin as much as they can.  I’m glad you got there a few times before you had to go.  They named it Carter’s Cabin.  Lynd just got hammered with hail, so we won’t have to worry about siding contractors for quite some time.  Tom will stay busy!  Your mom started teaching – subbed at Holy this past year.  I think she really enjoyed that.  That gets me thinking of all the homework we tried to make you do your last year.  It’s like you knew you really didn’t need to spend a lot of time with that.

The Pats and Ore & Jenny are doing well.  Morgan is getting married and has a baby. So I guess that makes you a second cousin? Or a first cousin once removed? I don’t know. They are well and miss you.

So now that you are all caught up on everyone, what’s been going on with me.  Get this, in the fall of 2015 I was told I have Melanoma In-Situ.  So cancer, but just on the surface of the skin.  99.5% curable.  Nothing like what you went through, but still cancer.  AGAIN, the same year????

The Agency is doing well.  I just keep plugging away.  After 30 years of eating and drinking, we finally have KB’s as a customer!  Persistence pays off.  You know, you were supposed to come work with me and take over one day.  I still have the letter in my office from when you were in 1st grade.  It said you want to sell insurance and take pictures of houses.  That’s not all it takes, but you had about 90% of it down.

We are repeat “Over 30” city league champs!  I know, my 3 point per game average is not the difference anymore.  It has a lot (everything!) to do with Shuan Wisdom.  I like to golf as much as I can.  Somedays it goes well, some days it doesn’t.  I like to get up early and play.  Gives me time for our “talks” early in the morning.

Carter and his dog

One thing I have been thinking about as your anniversary comes around is that I don’t think I took the time to realize everyone lost you.  I was pretty wrapped up in feeling sick/sad/pissed/poor me, that I sometimes forgot that everyone else lost you too.  The thing that really struck me was even though I was shook up, you took it pretty well, and it was happening to you.  That really helps me believe we will have this talk in person again one day.

Friday is two years since you moved away.  I gotta tell you, it was rough at first.

Carter 123

A couple things I will never forget about that day.  You were all sweaty, so we decided to change your clothes.  We kicked everyone out of the room except Tom, nurse Dan and myself.  We figured we would put you in Duke apparel.  If you are going to go, go in style right?  Anyway, as we are changing you (yes, shorts and all) your eyes popped open and you threw a punch right at nurse Dan’s face.  I guess waking up with ½ your clothes on caught you off guard.  He didn’t get hurt too bad… you were high on morphine after all.

The last two things you said in your first life will remain with me forever.  First, you said “I was chosen, I am going to die”.  What an incredibly profound statement to hear.  Even more so from a 14 year old.  Always wise beyond your years.  I couldn’t believe it.  Was it faith?  Was it God talking to you?  Was it to comfort all of us?  I think it was a little of all those.  I also believe it was your way of telling us that you were going to be okay.  For you to know it and accept and acknowledge the situation was incredible.

You said something about “My babies! Where are my babies?!”  We all leaned in close & asked “What babies, Carter?”  You said, “I have two babies.”  “The dogs?” your mom asked.  “No, I have two babies.”  I like to believe in some life you do. One bit of advice for you.  If your kids want to shoot hoops in the driveway when it is late and cold out, do it anyway.  In April of 2015 when you were feeling good, you wanted to shoot hoops.  After a while I went in the house.  I sat for about five minutes and then said to Joy, “I think I have to go shoot hoops in the cold with the kid some more.”  I thank God all the time that I went back out there with you.  Even though it was colder than shit out.

See you soon,  talk to you tomorrow.   Pops.



Stay Calm & Shoot Hoops!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

We Do

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I love my husband more than I can describe. He makes me laugh copiously, and I am totally crazy about him. One of my deepest desires is that absolutely nothing come between me and my man.

As we celebrate 25 years of being together, I asked him what makes our marriage work. Why have we been victorious in our quarter-of-a-century time together as one?

Our marriage has been built on 25 years of ‘we dos” and that is why we are still head-over-heels in love…

We do…choose to be “we and ours” not “mine and yours” in everything (well, maybe not our underwear). 😉

We do…compromise rather than try to get our way. We give and take because marriage is a two-way street. It’s what we give not what we get.

We do…bless each other daily with the “little things” that make a big difference such as kind words that are sweet morsels to the soul, walks and talks, quiet time on the porch swing, helping each other with chores.

We do…communicate, communicate, and then we communicate some more.

We do…evaluate our expectations of each other to make sure those expectations are realistic and also shared.

We do…believe we are truly blessed by each other every single day.

We do…spend time together often but realize we do not need to be with each other all the time.

We do…say we are sorry and are quick to forgive when disagreements happen.

We do…love each other unconditionally, no strings attached.

We do…share the same faith and love Jesus.

We do…realize it is hard work to maintain a strong marriage even when it is already a good one.

We do…know ALL of the above statements are not easy; yet we know they are extremely important, and they have worked for us over the years.

We have many good years ahead of us, and we know we won’t be coasting through those years. In addition to our ‘we dos’ our renewed wedding vows for the next 25 years will include…

We will… “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” ~Ephesians 4:2

We willClothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bearing with each other and forgiving whatever grievances we may have against each other.” ~Colossians 3:12-13

Cheers to our next 25 years, Dean! We ARE better together! 🙂

Blog Anniversary Pic

Keep Calm & Stay Married!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Permission to Let My Tears Flow

Blog Tears Flow Mercy Me

Photo credit: Rise Ministries

Dear Bart Millard:

I need to express my gratitude to you and your contemporary Christian band, MercyMe, for giving me permission to release my pent-up tears of 28 years, and to let them pour down my cheeks during #RiseFest17.

For almost 30 years, I have not said much about my daughter being diabetic…she was diagnosed at the young age of 4. I have not wanted people to think or say I was being dramatic or feeling sorry for myself. I also know that some of God’s children have it much worse—cancer, ALS, MS, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, accidents that cause paralysis, and the list could go on and on—thus, I have always believed that the proper thing to do is to remain silent so other people would not think I was whining.

Your message at the concert changed that for me, Mr. Millard! You shared your story of when your son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the innocent age of 2. From that life crisis you wrote the song Jesus Bring the Rain.  Hearing this story at RiseFest last Friday night had me shedding a few tears knowing you understood my journey as a parent of a diabetic. Knowing we share a bond.

A little later in the evening you shared the reason why you wrote your new song Even If, which is also because of your son’s diabetic life sentence. This story released the flood gates of my tears. I have tried to keep it together for almost 30 years, and on Friday night, you gave me permission to just let it go, to let the tears flow. And flow they did!

To your son…you CAN change the world as a diabetic. Believe it, buddy! My daughter has been handling her diabetes for almost 30 years, and she IS changing the world in spite of being diabetic. Please read some of her story below, and maybe you will find some encouragement in her journey. In addition, if you ever want to visit with her, I know she would be happy to listen. You can find her on Twitter @coachjuhl.  Go out and be awesome, Sam. 🙂


THANK YOU, MercyMe for a great concert!  Thank you, Bart, for sharing your life stories through music. I love ALL of your songs, but the two mentioned above now have new meaning for me. From here on out when I hear them I may be shedding a few tears…but it’s okay because I know I have permission to let those tears flow freely.


What’s a little rain? 😉

P.S. I am beyond excited for your movie I Can Only Imagine to hit the theaters around Easter 2018. Keep up the good work! 🙂 Hugs…

Stay Calm & Cure Diabetes!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

You’re Not a Bad Mom

This is a guest blog post by friend and colleague, Dr. Mary Risacher who is an Assistant Professor of Education for Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. Her background includes teaching Early Childhood, Kindergarten and serving as the Director of an Early Childhood At-Risk Program with an emphasis on pairing young children and families to needed resources. She currently teaches introductory educational and Early Childhood licensure courses for the School of Education at SMSU, as well as serving as Director of the Early Childhood Extended Learning 2+2 Program. You can find her on Twitter @MaryRisacher.

Blog Mom 4

My Mom used to tell me, “You’re a good Mom.” I miss hearing that and wish at the time I had taken it in the spirit in which it was said; sincere and from the heart. I didn’t take it that way at the time because I thought she had to say that because she was my Mom and she was probably trying to talk me back from the edge of an “episodic mother breakdown.” What is that? A condition that new young mothers suffer from when they have met their match and feel overwhelmed and inadequate, usually accompanied with tears and occasional sobs. Been there, done that!

It has been 25 years since the birth of my first-born. I still remember that out-of-body feeling and thinking… is this for real, as I held her for the first time. It hit me, I was now responsible for the life of another human being. I took all the classes, had a degree in early childhood, surely, I knew what I was doing…right? After all, how hard could this be? I had been told all the wonderful stories of how it such a beautiful time and you feel so great being pregnant. It sounded euphoric. Although I teach an Infants & Toddlers course to undergrads, I now know the little shared truth about being a mother, it is one of the hardest things you will ever do and there is no training manual or course that can prepare you. It is on the job training.

I traveled back in time in the past weeks as I went to visit a friend who had just had her first child. The memories came flooding back the second she met me at the door- her eyes told me the story…exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy, I could even see a hint of, “oh my, what have I done?” While the pain of child birth has faded, I can still remember those feelings…exhaustion, overwhelmed, inadequate. Everyone had kept telling me how great this experience was and I knew when I met my friend at the door it was time to share the truth with her—motherhood is hard.

Before delving into a deep conversation, I could see the first thing my friend needed was a nap and selfishly— I wanted to hold that baby! I did not have to offer twice, when I asked if she wanted to go rest for a bit. So off she went and I commenced to rocking. Now this was euphoria, a baby in my arms and all I needed to do was rock. True peace is the only way to describe it. I knew, however, that for “first-time” moms this is far from how it can feel for them. I remember being scared to death that something would go wrong and it was not peaceful. It was up all night for what felt like around the clock feedings, with no break in-between, as one feeding would end and you would begin to settle back in hoping to sleep …and the lovely little babe was hungry once again. It felt like the cycle went on with no end in sight. On top of that you worried… is she eating enough? She cries a lot-should she cry that much? Why doesn’t she poop more? Yes-pooping became very central to the existence and happiness of our home. Gas too for that matter. Every question you had, became a nagging worry! No one ever told you any of this. Not to mention what has just happened to your own body! Looking back to when my own children were babies, I realized I was too consumed with the duties of motherhood to enjoy the moment. Well not today! I am rocking, walking, and chatting with Mr. C! I loved every second.

My friend stumbled from her slumber after 3 hours stating, “Wow I can’t believe I slept for 2 hours!” I didn’t even correct her. 🙂 My heart was joyful and my bucket full!! As she retrieved Mr. C from my reluctant arms we talked. We laughed about her worries and I reassured her that she too was, “a good Mom” in spite of her doubts. She too was a good mom even if she was not experiencing full-on joy at every second that she is being sleep deprived, serving as a feeding factory, and not always feeling so wonderful. I also explained that anyone who tells her that motherhood is a completely euphoric experience is on medication and should share it or is lying. There is so much pressure to do this perfectly that it is difficult to find the joy.

Not all education comes from a book. Some of my best teachers were my own children. They taught me how to be good at mothering. I now accept that accolade that my Mom tried to share with me so long ago and I do realize that I am skillful at being a mother. “Skillful at being a Mother”…when I wrote that line I edited about 10 times because it seems so arrogant-but I will try to embrace the title. That is not to say I am without fault, just ask my children ;). As my instructors, they have seen some epic-mothering-bombs; meaning there were times I just blew it with them, but as good teachers do, they gave me second chances. Today I look at my adult children and feel pretty confident saying that I raised them to be good humans. My children are the best of me!

Moving forward I want to share the message with newcomers to the scene of motherhood;

You are a good Mom and it is okay to not do this perfectly. This is hard and there will be stumbles, even fall on your face moments, and that is okay. Being a good Mom is enough! Give yourself a break, enjoy the moment when you in it-don’t wait 25 years like I did to be proud of what you have done. When someone says, “You are a good Mom.”…just smile and nod.

In my Infants & Toddlers course, I am teaching my undergrad students about the developmental stages and milestones of this very first stage of life. We review theory and best practice for the early childhood settings for which my students one day will be licensed teacher. While this course provides a solid foundation for those students seeking licensure in birth through age eight, it does not teach about becoming a mother. Unfortunately, the only real preparation for that is when it happens.

Stay Calm & Parent On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.