It’s probably a bit too cliché to write about gratitude the week in which we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I’m proud to say that I regularly practice an attitude of gratitude, but that attitude was developed over time and is a constant work in progress. For me, gratitude did not necessarily come naturally. This attitude of gratitude has largely been influenced by the people, books, and media referenced on my Power of Positive resource page, all of which have develop my intentional focus on gratitude.
At the close of the 2023 Thanksgiving week, my thoughts swirl around the following for which I feel the greatest heaps of gratitude:
Mom and Dad I have written about my parents several times in this blog: You Can’t Rain on Our Parade, Authenticity, Shoes and a Heap of Gratitude, Checking in on the Clarity Journey, It Takes a Village, and Forever a Learner. My parents have always modeled what it is to love. To love each other, to love their children, and to love others, no matter the color of their skin, their socioeconomic status, or their family lineage. Their place of business has always been a place of refuge, fun, and kinship. The Corner Tap logo says it all: Good time, good spirits, and good, good friends.
My siblings: Katie, Jenny, and Ross My siblings and I often remark on how fortunate we are to be so close. Throughout all of our life events, we have managed to remain a tight-knit group. I trust each and every one of these individuals implicitly, and I can’t imagine not being able to pick up the phone and share with any one of them, or all of them, a recent struggle or celebration. I am thankful, each and every day, for my amazing siblings.
Quotes I find much comfort, solace, inspiration, and hope in quotations, which is why they appear so frequently in my writing. They are a testament to the fact that any good ideas that show up in this blog actually come from others. My hope in sharing quotations is that if others read my writing, they will have one or two golden nuggets to take away that will impact their own journey. If I had to guess at the quote that has shown up most frequently in this blog, it would be the following from George Couros, the person who inspired me to begin this writing journey:
The house remodel We have lived in our home for 26 years. Upon our engagement 27 years ago, we began to look for a house to purchase. We knew we wanted to live in the country, where it was (and still is) difficult to find a reasonably priced house with a little bit of land. My father-in-law proposed the idea of building a house on a piece of his six-acre plot, near his house, the home my husband grew up in.
With the help of my brother-in-law, who did all of the concrete work, and our amazing friends, who happened to be skilled carpenters, electricians, and plumbers, we built our house and were able to move in the day after our wedding. We were and are very blessed.
As houses do, ours has aged, and I (not we!) developed a growing desire to remodel our 26-year-old kitchen. What was originally supposed to be a kitchen remodel quickly turned into an entire house remodel. Since our house is small, changing one space quickly impacted all other spaces. What I naively believed would be a two-month project has turned into a six-month project. We are nearing the end, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We owe a heap of gratitude to those who made the remodel happen: our nephew, Isaac Steffensmeier of Clement Contracting who did the majority of the work; our nephew Aaron Steffensmeier, who assisted Isaac; Kirk Wellman, who redid the floors; all three Kruse boys who helped with a million and one tasks; and Joe Holtkamp, who finished hanging doors and trim.
There was much struggle and strife that went into this project, but it was worth all of it. It is easy to be grateful each and every day that I walk into our home.
My coworkers I am fortunate to work with an amazing group of colleagues who push my thinking, work hard every day to improve student learning in our district, and who bring levity to a tough job. I rely heavily on their wisdom as we navigate some tough waters with our instructional coaching roles. I have written about our tough start to this school year; I couldn’t be more grateful to work with a group that makes that navigation happen.
Our district is overly fortunate to have seven instructional coaches, each with an area of expertise, all dedicated to high levels of learning for all.
The Reading League Iowa Fate brought four Iowa educators together to begin the arduous process of establishing an Iowa chapter of The Reading League. I am over-the-top grateful for the opportunity to work with these fantastic ladies to further the mission of bringing evidence-based literacy instruction to every classroom in the great state of Iowa. We have been plugging away at this important work since January of this year, and are looking forward to a launch date in the summer of 2024. The work is huge; the work is hugely important; the work cannot be done alone. My grateful heart is full.
Exercise This piece of gratitude extends beyond exercise, for I am able to exercise because of my good health. I am grateful for good health, which allows me to engage in exercise, which serves as a challenge, an energy release, a mind dump, and the tool that creates a good feeling at the start of each of my days. It is through exercise that I get to enjoy the most amazing sites, including this one from just two days ago:
My Science of Reading Journey I have been on a journey of learning (and unlearning) around the science of reading since I took on the role of our district’s literacy coach in 2018. The credit for this journey goes to Erin Slifer, our former TLS coordinator, who set a landmark article on my desk one day. It was Emily Hanford‘s Hard Words that rocked my world, and set my learning journey on a new trajectory. I have dedicated a page on this site to Science of Reading Resources (which is sorely in need of an update!), and couldn’t be more grateful for all that I have learned and will continue to learn around this critical topic.
Friends I am blessed, as many are, to have several circles of friends who share common interests. Among these circles of friends who have diverse interests, there are several common denominators that draw us together: we enjoy the same things, we laugh, we have fun, we trust each other. And in every circle, I know that these are the people I can lean on when life presents those inevitable storms.
Bill and the boys I am blessed beyond measure to have these amazing humans in my life. They are hardworking, witty, big-hearted men that bring much joy to my life. I often say that in marrying Bill, I’ve married my mother. I believe it’s commonly surmised that women marry men who are much like their fathers. In my case, I have married a man who is very much like my mother. Among many wonderful (and frustrating!) traits that they share, the one I admire most is their authenticity. Like my mom, you get what you get with Bill Kruse. He is authentic to the core, right down to the grease-stained clothes that adorn his body, a nod to the hard work that he engages in every day to provide for his family.
Elton, Owen, and Emmett are my pride and joy. They are each carving their own path, yet their paths intersect regularly. I couldn’t be happier to watch these three young men forge the same relationship I have with my siblings: they are a tight-knit group. I am beyond grateful for our children.