An Exercise in Gratitude

Some days are difficult.  Today was one of those days.  To pull myself out of the negativity that surrounds me, I am going to reflect on the things that happened today for which I am grateful.

  1. Bella’s daily hugs-Everyday she blesses me with a hug as she enters my room and a hug as she exits my room.
  2. Engaged, happy students-Today my learners worked on using the Chrome Music Lab to create songs and add them to their blogs.  They were completely immersed in the experience!
  3. A laugh with my neighbors-Believe it or not, the building next door to me is my dentist’s office, and he and his staff are the best neighbors.  I had a routine appointment after school.  We talked, laughed, and caught up.
  4. Giving good news-I was able to share with a teacher of record that her student is doing great.  In fact, his jolly nature made lots of people feel joyful today!
  5. Chatting with friends-I was able to speak with two primary teachers today before school.  They are friends, as well as prayer warriors, and I am grateful to chat briefly with both of them.  I also chatted for a very brief moment after school with a dear long-time colleague and friend.
  6. Fresh air and sunshine-I was able to enjoy the sunshine on my face at recess.
  7. Jeans week-I am wearing jeans to work all week to help the fundraising efforts for Dollars for Scholars.
  8. Dinner-My husband cooked a delicious dinner on this busy evening.  I am indeed blessed.
  9. Teach Write-Tuesday evenings with the most awesome writing group ever…priceless!

My positive experiences today definitely outweigh the negative.  For that, I am grateful.

With a Grateful Heart #SOL19

“Should I really do this?” I questioned as I pasted the link to my first ever slice into the comments of the Day 1 Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Unknown territory, I was nervous about committing to a month of daily slicing.  Thanks to my Teach Write friends in our amazing Wednesday night writing group, though, I was encouraged to try.  So I did.

Now, thirty-one days later, I am so glad that I went through with it.  I have sliced every single day and enjoyed reading and commenting on other slices.  I have learned so much about writing from your slices and comments, and I have discovered new things about myself as a writer.  It is one thing to write daily, but it is quite another thing to commit to sharing my writing publicly every day.  This experience has helped me grow in ways I did not expect.  I am grateful.

So, thank you for reading and offering your comments, encouragement, and support.  Thanks, also, to all of the people at the Two Writing Teachers for hosting such a challenge.  I appreciate all of you and look forward to reading, writing, and learning beside you on Tuesdays.

Silence #SOL19

As my Spring Break comes to a close, I pay tribute to those instances of quiet and solitude I’ve enjoyed this week.  Those magical, fleeting moments ground me, restore peace, encourage joy, and help me remember my humanity.



I seek it daily

so elusive, my soul’s treasure.

When received, a healing balm.


As stolen moments

or gifted bliss,

daily stillness is needed, valued.


Too much crushes me;

too little and I thirst.

When balanced, I thrive.


It’s my Divine connection

where truth and reality dwell.

A centering force, a refuge.



2019 Tracy Vogelgesang

A Sweet Remembrance, Part 2 #SOL19

Aprons on, buttered hands at the ready.  The wax paper squares are cut and stacked neatly.  My sisters in law and I move into position around Grandma’s kitchen table.  We are ready.  Bring it on!

A true labor of love, Grandma spends a lot of time over her stove to create these tasty morsels of heavenly goodness.  Standing at a height of under 5 feet, she literally has to stand on a wooden stool to reach over the deep, heavy pot and stir the bubbling confection as it cooks.  It is a lot of work, but she insists on doing it.  That candy contains so much more than sugar, cream, butter, etc., it contains love and lots of it!  That knowledge makes each morsel even more delicious.

After it has cooked to perfection, my mother in law helps Grandma handle the deep, heavy pot to pour the mouthwatering golden brown thick syrup onto the buttered cookie sheets.  Grandma then puts the cookie sheets on the steps leading upstairs where they will cool at just the right speed.  After a significant amount of time, she deems them ready to be cut and wrapped.

That is where the rest of us spring into action.  Grandma plops down cookie sheet after cookie sheet of the cooled, ooey, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.  She has them cut and ready.  We simply need to roll each piece carefully and wrap them in wax paper.

We all dig in.  Roll, wrap, twist, repeat.  The sequence goes on and on.  As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.”  Before we know it, we have several large bowls heaped high with wrapped candies.  Grandma takes the bowls and begins filling plastic bags with their contents.  These will go to various family members and friends.  Some she puts into decorative bowls to sit around the house.  Family members will enjoy these nuggets of love and goodness throughout the holiday season.  Thank you, Grandma, for your labor of love and this sweet, sweet remembrance.

A Sweet Remembrance #SOL19

Note: Thank you, Christine, for the idea to write about Grandma’s caramels.  Your suggestion really got me thinking and remembering!   

We open the back door and step inside the kitchen.  Immediately the mouthwatering scent of Grandma’s homemade caramels greets us.  It is nearing the holidays.  She will make seemingly endless batches of these delicious nuggets of goodness.  Grandma is there next to the stove with her beautiful warm smile and petite arms outstretched to give everyone hugs and kisses on the cheek.

“Are you hungry?” she asks.  Grandma always asks that question and always has food (most likely her famous spaghetti and meatballs) ready to serve.  We had eaten earlier, so we decline.  She puts a bowl of fresh caramels on the table.  “Take a few of those as you walk by,” she says.  Her caramels are as famous as her meatballs.  We all take some of the wrapped candy as we pass by the table and go into the living room.

“What are you up to today?” my husband, her grandson, asks.  They discuss the many things she has accomplished so far.  She is whirlwind of energy and can do spirit.  I love listening to her talk about her day.  She is a faith-filled woman with such enthusiasm and zeal for life, and she approaches every problem with a positive and resourceful attitude.  Her deep, enduring faith is a beautiful example for all of us.

During our visit, my husband pulls caramel after caramel out of his shirt pocket.  He always has a handful of caramels in his shirt pocket this time of the year.  He carefully untwists each end of the wax paper wrapper and pops the sweet confection into his mouth.  I can tell that he is savoring each sweet, creamy, and buttery morsel as they melt in his mouth.  I smile.  My heart warms to see him enjoy the company and the candy so much.

When our visit ends, she walks to the kitchen and promptly reappears, producing a quart-sized plastic bag full of caramels.  She hands them to my husband.  He bends over to give her a hug and she reminds him to share.   For a moment, I see a little boy and his grandma.  The vision makes me smile.  Another round of hugs and kisses commence as we make our way to the back door.  Another sweet memory made to tuck away for future reminiscing.

The End of a Season #SOL19

Today is the day. The last day of basketball games for this season. My son’s Special Olympics team has played well this year and earned their spot on the state bracket.  Whether they win today’s games or not, just getting here is quite an achievement.

So here we are, traveling toward the state’s capital city on a bright, hopeful Saturday morning. Each of us quiet, lost in our own thoughts while gazing out the window at the scenery as we pass by.  If my son is nervous, he doesn’t show it.

I will miss basketball season.  The games, the people, and the celebration of achievements great and small.  My son has been involved with Special Olympics for 29 years.  Each year I learn and grow from experiencing the commitment, determination, work ethic, sportsmanship, and joyful attitude the athletes, coaches, and family members bring to the sport.  Yes, I will definitely miss Saturdays in this supportive and caring community and definitely look forward to next season when we get to do it all over again.

Five Years as Neighbors/Lifelong Friends #SOL19

My husband Randy and I stood in line waiting our turn to view the casket and pay our respects to Bruce’s family.  I looked around the room, mentally noting how grown up all of the children and grandchildren are and how many young people were there I did not know.

I thought back to the time from 1990 to 1995 when we lived across the road from Bruce and Joann.  We became fast friends with them and their four children and many grandchildren.  We spent many summer evenings on their porch or mine, drinking coffee and watching their grandchildren and my children play together.  Birthday parties, ballgames, babysitting, meals together, and going out on the pontoon… We made so many wonderful memories in the five years we were neighbors.  Joann and I shed many tears when I told her that we were moving away due to my husband’s job change.

Now here we were, waiting in line, waiting to tell her how sorry we are, how much we care for both of them and their family members, and how appreciative we are to have had the best neighbors and friends.

We finally make it to the casket.  Joann looks at me, recognition dawning on her face.  We hugged, cried, and held each other tightly.  She talked, and then the children began talking.  More hugging, crying, and reminiscing.  We moved on down the line, reliving those five years as if they were yesterday.  Grandchildren remembered us and shared their memories of playing in our yard or having a sleepover with my children.  It was as if we had never moved away.

As we said our goodbyes, we promised to visit each other soon and catch up.

“I am going to be lonely,” she says.  “I may just drop in.”

“You stop by anytime, dear friend.  I will always have a cup of coffee waiting and a seat on the porch.”

Five years as neighbors/lifelong friends.


A Day Out #SOL19

I had the great fortune to attend a professional development workshop of my choosing yesterday.  Two colleagues and I drove over an hour away to attend a high ability workshop on building creative thinking.  It was a wonderful day filled with lots of laughter and lots of learning.  I learned some creative ways to approach revision and narrative writing that I am excited to bring back to my classroom.  I met some other educators from the northern part of my state who had great ideas and lots of energy.  On a scale from 1-10, yesterday was definitely a 10.

One of the perks of a PD day is being able to go out for lunch like “real people,” as my colleagues and I are fond of saying.  We had an entire hour!  Woo hoo!  We went to Another Broken Egg Cafe, which was new to me, and ate at a leisurely pace while enjoying our conversation.   It is hard not to inhale your food when you are used to 20 minute lunches, but I forced myself to be mindful, slow down, and enjoy the moment.  What a treat!

Today I return to my classroom, its routines, and a 20 minute lunch.  However, I return refreshed and recharged.  I can’t wait to tell my learners how much I missed them and to share my excitement about what I learned while I was away.

Flowered Tree - ReVisioned

Russ Seidel via Compfight

A Letter of Thanks #SOL19

My grandmother was my best friend.  She taught me so much about living, laughing, and loving.  She has been gone now for many, many years, but I’ve never forgotten the lessons I learned in her presence.  Thanks to an idea from Paula Bourque’s book “Spark!,” I feel compelled to write a letter of thanks to the dear lady who impacted my life in so many ways.

Dear Grandma,

Where should I begin?  There are so many ways in which you enriched my life.  When I was growing up, you were the one who always knew exactly what to say and do when I was having an off day.  You taught me how to make a toy from a button and a string.  You showed me how to handle grumpy people (er…um…Grandpa) with a smile.  I learned how to sew by watching you and inherited your interest in crochet.  I used to love reading and rereading the handwritten cards and letters of all of the people with whom you corresponded.  The stories you would tell about those cards and letters were as fascinating as the letters themselves.  Oh, and I cannot forget the button box!  That tin contained more buttons than I’ve ever seen in one place!  They were all sizes, shapes, and colors.  I could entertain myself for what seemed like hours just running my fingers through the buttons, building button towers, and listening to you talk about the really interesting buttons.  Most importantly, Grandma, you planted a seed of faith in my young heart.  You gave me my first Bible which I still have over 45 years later.  You took me to church and showed me what it looks like to live a life of faith, hope, and love.  For that and the many other ways you blessed my life, I thank you.  I am a grandmother now, and I hope I bless my grandchildren the way that you blessed me.


Tracy Ann