Saturday, March 30, 2013


Every year my little pen-pushers look forward to the Shelby County Reads Writing Contest.  Two of the three old enough to enter have won.  I always considered entering, but never considered my own writing to be worthy of any contest.  This year I ignored my inner nag and entered anyway.  The topic for the adult category was to describe a situation when justice was flawed or faulty, in conjunction with Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  

After several drafts and about an hour before the deadline was up, I made myself send it.  I wasn't nervous about the contest, I was nervous because I put something out there that is very close to my heart-and something very painful.  Someone found my words worthy of first place, and since the whole town will find me out pretty soon I figured I'd share it on here too.  

Thanks for reading,
Mrs. Redd

By Rachael Redd

"Daddy loves you, Babydoll.  Jesus loves you too,” he whispered.  I took his hand in mine and told him I loved him, then leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.  Weak and pale, my father had withered to a mere 84 pounds over the course of his illness.  I gazed down at his frail hand, and concentrated on the soft throb of his heartbeat.
I squeezed his hand and raised it to my cheek.  Secretly I noticed for his pulse again, but this time his heart was still.  I waited; my own heart thumped harder. I realized it was not my imagination this time. 
I thought about all the beautiful things he had made, how he held me before bed when I was small and all the birthday cakes he had decorated.  I always thought it was funny when he slathered Vicks all over his nose at night, and how the way he ate his cereal irritated my mother.  Then I remembered how he cradled his head in his hands from the headaches, the bloody handkerchiefs he held to his nose, and how his hands shook sometimes.  Reluctantly, I laid his hand down beside him, and let him go. 
There was a designated place in my mind where I stored those three years.  The terms malignant and benign were tucked away in there.  Every episode of amnesia, every seizure and radiation treatment was boxed up and stacked out of sight.  His death filled the remaining space. When I was finally able to move, I ran outside.  The screen door slammed behind me, and I locked it all away.
My father was attacked by a fugitive that no law can control.  Cancer is an evil, intangible thief elusive to justice.  My father was an artist, preacher, and veteran- a man who’s every endeavor from birthday cakes to sermons was a masterpiece.  Those awful memories remain in their vault, but I embrace the pleasant thoughts of a hero who loved God and country, his family, and to create. 
Later on in life, I was blessed with another father through marriage.  He was an admirable man as well: an athlete, avid outdoorsman, and full of compassion.  Then the hunter, whose skilled hands provided for his family, fell prey to the predator of cancer. 
I see how my children admire their own father, and I see the gifts they’ve inherited starting to bloom. Together, their father and I cultivate the seedlings planted in their precious little hands in honor of both our fathers, and pray justice will one day be served in the form of a cure.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Friend of the Fleas

If you live in my area, you have probably experienced the fleas, except this certain species of flea has been welcomed and is thriving in our town. The fleas are spreading, but don't call the exterminator. Here's why:

1. You can learn a lot from the fleas.
2. Fleas are fond of history.
3. Fleas are good for our environment.
4. Fleas help grow our local economy.

Stop scratching! I'm not talking about the insect. Shelbyville is home to several flea markets located all over town. We are now a bargain hunter's haven!

So what can you learn from the fleas? Flea markets have endless educational opportunities. They are akin to anthropology museums with exhibits changing daily and free admission. You will find artifacts related to various periods of local and foreign history and books on every subject.  Interesting objects spark conversations about memories, inspire new (or abandoned) hobbies, or pique a child's curiosity. If you purchase a "souvenir,” you are attaching something tangible to a memory that can be passed on through generations.

Fleas are friendly, and not just to customers.  Empty buildings have been brought back to life in order to house items that have been repurposed and are suitable for reuse.  Fewer empty buildings lets visitors know that businesses are welcome and can grow here.  The flea markets are owned and operated by our friends and neighbors, and by purchasing the wares of our local businesses we strengthen our community.  Not to mention that secondhand shopping saves us money!

Personally, I love the atmosphere of the flea markets here in town.  You are welcomed by a cheerfully decorated patio at Me & My Sisters Flea Market.  The scent of popcorn at Trader’s Depot and the aroma of handmade candles at Blue River Village tempt you to slow down and browse.  You are greeted with smiles and warm conversation at all the local fleas.  I hear Nostalgia on 9 is open for business, and there’s another newbie in town called The J. Ryan Trading Company.

Whatever your reasons for frequenting the fleas, make an afternoon of it and hop around town visiting them all.  Don’t forget to grab some local cuisine while you’re out, you won’t be sorry!

Happy Hopping!
Mrs. Redd
Mrs. Redd's Classroom


What's in Your Family Tree?

Sometimes the most interesting form of history is that of our own family, yet it goes unexplored much of the time.  I am guilty of this.  I've heard stories of past escapades and antics of long ago relatives and even some of a more recent era.  Then there are my own adventures and childhood memories as well.  I never thought of  recording the stories, or researching the characters climbing around in our family tree and hiding behind bushes.

As my children grow, so does my love for recording their funny phrases, accomplishments, and interests.  I record strengths, weaknesses, behavior and health issues.  Not only does this help me work through problems and record memories for when my mind fails me later in life, but it is record keeping for future generations.  It is current events, family history style.

If you decide to travel to bygone eras, bring your children along for the treasure hunt.  Start with keeping a journal to record present day happenings.  When your children, or you, have questions about where someone's blonde hair came from or have a memorable story about an older relative, write them down.  Then start your journey through time with that thought.

We already journal quite a bit, but if you don't and would like to, check out my post Dear Diary.  To do some research, check out your local library's genealogy department.  If you are in my area, here is the info for Shelbyville Genealogy and History House.  After you are done browsing (and "liking")the library's genealogy page, click on over to Mrs. Redd's Classroom and "like" it to get connected to parents, teachers, home educators and education resources.

Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Story of the States

One of my recent flea market finds was a U.S. Coin Collector's Map.  It was a bargain and the perfect addition to our U.S. Geography unit.  Not only does the collection make a great classroom visual, but the coins are a mini geography lesson themselves by listing the basic information about each state.  They are also a small part of American history because there will never be anymore like them minted. 

Piecing together the U.S. state by state through studying each state individually is helping us watch the story of America unfold.  You can do the same, and do it for free with the resources and ideas listed below. 

1.  Order travel info from state sites.  We started our unit by studying the New England states, so I went to each of the state sites and ordered their free travel guides.  You can view them online, as a PDF, or have a print one mailed.  I chose the print so that we can use them for collages and other activities. You get maps, state history and information, as well as interesting places within the state. You will also find teacher resources such as coloring pages, and most sites have pages for the kids with games and quizzes.  Type in (statename).gov (example: indiana is

2.  Free printables.  Print maps of the U.S. with or without capitals, individual state maps and outlines, coloring pages with state flowers, animals, flag images, etc. Some can be found on state websites, but here are some more that I have used:
  • Printable maps, state information, worksheets
  • : Printable full-color state flag images
  • : This link takes you directly to the list of states within the site.  There are free printables for each state.
3.  Start your own U.S. State coin collection.  Even if you do not collect the coins, you can still find valuable state lesson information at  There is a lot of information there, but I have listed below the pages within the site I found most helpful.  You can also sign up for a free teacher newsletter that will notify you of new lessons and other useful information. 
Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd
Mrs. Redd's Constitutional Classroom
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