November News & Plum Pudding

I know I haven't been nearly as faithful writing this blog this fall. I miss sharing and even thinking about what I should share with my blogging friends.

My positions at Hopkins Middle School & MAISA (Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators) have kept me working almost full-time with only an occasional day off. This week I was in Lansing Monday - Wednesday attending two different conferences. Both dealt with using data from student work to improve the teaching. The emphasis in education is changing from the focus on the teaching to a focus on what the students are learning. It is a subtle difference but it makes huge differences in the end product-the achievement of the students. Then Thursday and Friday I was at Hopkins Middle School working with teachers to implement strategies to help students better understand and remember what they read.

Hopkins Middle School is a small school with great kids. I'm enjoying my work there getting to know the teachers and students. My work takes many forms and no two days are alike. I might be researching the latest methods on the Internet, visiting classrooms to observe teachers, meeting with teachers to implement new strategies, meeting with administrators to plan, or analyzing test results to try and pin point where our students' needs are. I also spend some time just socializing with teachers because building trust is a huge part of what I have to do before teachers will feel comfortable working with me.

Last Saturday we celebrated Sherry's birthday which was actually on Thanksgiving. Tom and I took dinner down to their house and we had a great time. Tommy and Sherry's business is going well and it keeps them busy as it grows.

School is going well for the kids. I miss volunteering in their classrooms like I did last year. Hopefully after Christmas, I'll have more time to do that. This is Madelynn's last year in elementary school as a 5th grader. Jay is in 4th grade and says his favorite part of school is library time. That makes this grandma very happy. Jack is in 1st grade and making great leaps in reading. Anna is in Kindergarten and I'm sure she is charming her teacher and class. Anna's class made me a get-well card when I hurt my ankle because many of them remembered me from last year.

Speaking of my ankle-it is healing well. I was able to stop using the crutches this week and it makes my life much easier. I am still wearing an air cast-the boot- but it comes off at night and also allows me to shower normally. It gets sore if I'm on it all day but I'm very pleased with my progress. The next step is to stop wearing the boot and I'm ready for that but it will be a few more weeks before I try that.

Winter arrived Thursday night in West Michigan and it isn't fun. We had to cancel our planned trip to the Soo for the Mitchell Christmas Dinner yesterday. That is the annual family Christmas celebration of Ma Erickson's family-my grandmother. It is held every year for at least 80 years. It was always a highlight when I was growing up. My grandmother came from a family of 11 children and when everyone gets together, there were always so many kids to play with. The Mitchell family has a Christmas tradition-plum pudding for dessert. Plum pudding is a flour based mixture with raisins, lots of sugar, and even suet that is boiled for hours. (No plums) Then it is sliced and topped with a sweet sauce. It is the highlight of the meal. My own family doesn't like it and so I never make it because it involves hours of work. You must keep it slowly boiling while wrapped in a cloth and that means you must be in the kitchen watching it. But I crave it and just writing about it makes me want to try it for my family one more time. I think it must be an acquired taste. If you are interested in trying some, let me know. One writer described plum pudding as "dark, dense and delicious". I agree. Maybe I'll have a plum pudding party for people interested in giving it a try. I found this picture on the web and it really looks like this but when you cover it with a rich butter sauce, it improves the look greatly.

In doing some research on plum pudding, I found the following quote: "Other historians suggest the link to Christmas started with a decree by the medieval Catholic Church that "pudding should be made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, that it be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and that every family member stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Magi and their supposed journey in that direction".

Plum Pudding

I don't know if our recipe has 13 ingredients but it must have at least that. Now our plum pudding has Christian symbolism. I think that is rather a big stretch-all I know is that it is wonderful and a true sign of Christmas for me.


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