Wednesday, January 23, 2013


What is the most popular discussion during "Happy Hour" on a Friday after a long week? WORK. We love it; we hate; we love to lament about it.

For those working with college students, we lament about the students. In particular, we like to lament about how this generation is SO different from us! We were never self-righteous, indignant, lazy! NEVER! We certainly weren't grade-grubbers. We took the grades that we earned - good or bad.

Well...maybe, a look in the mirror is necessary. This particular article notes quite well the behavior I notice in my students. However, it was written in 1996! That means this way of thinking and acting was alive and active even during the "golden era" of college (i.e. the years 1998-2002 when I was an undergrad).

Maybe I wasn't a grade-grubber...but, self-righteous? Indignant? Lazy? Yes.

It took some really good instructors to work that out of me. I didn't love learning when I entered undergrad - but I did by the time I exited. I didn't know what learning was as a freshman! Certainly, I had learned lessons from life, and I had acquired knowledge from classes. However, my mode of "learning" was to memorize information, regurgitate onto the test - and then, rinse & repeat for the next round. I was pretty good at that. (Even good instructors can teach the the self-righteous out of me.)

Those good instructors introduced me to something new: thinking. Thinking about learning. Defending my decisions/thoughts/opinions with reasons. Sure, I thought a lot. But, I didn't think about what I was learning (in class). This idea of reflecting - of becoming an active participant in my learning (and thus my grade) - this was a new concept. This idea of making meaning from experiences and then applying this meaning to understand concepts - and other experiences - this was new.

I take my role as an instructor very seriously. It is my opportunity to teach my students how to learn; my attempt to "teach out of them" that laziness, indignant behavior...but, I can't do it alone. They have to be an active participant...and so far, I've found that 95% of them are willing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tops in 2012

A friend of mine with a wildly successful blog mentioned the usefulness of reviewing your top posts from the past year to determine what people really enjoy reading.

Without further ado:

1. What’s my season? TWO-HUNDRED EIGHTY-EIGHT views and counting! BTW – this past fall my preceptor and I decided that I am most likely a deep winter based on complexion colors. But, I wear more from the “clear winter family” – and really, what’s the biggest difference between the two? NOT.MUCH.

2. Friday Fail. 58 views. Either you like posts about REAL life (which I’m sure you do), or you were just attracted to that awesome picture of the rotisserie chicken.

3. Holy Thursday. 53 views. Speaking of real life, Christ is life. Message clear: you like reading about real life experiences and reflections.

4. FC’s Impact. 48. Another example of real life – recognizing the impact my college mentor had upon my life, grieving in gratitude for the man that he was and the life he now has.

3-way tie for 5th place

5. DIY Gallery Shelves. 47. This speaks for itself. Since the advent of Pinterest, anything DIY blow up the views. Smile …and, in the coming year, I hope to be EVEN MORE creative – so be on the look-out!

5b. Kiesling Kitchen. See comments on the shelves. Cooking is DIY, after all! This even garnered my first comment-from-the-outside-world (i.e. someone I have never met).

5c. Tetanus Tuesday. You LOVE my dramatization of our lives! That’s great because I tend to be dramatic.

Tie for 8th: You like hearing about what we’re up to. That’s nice, since distance separates us.

8. Mother Goose & Michi-Gander. 41 – examples of what a visit to Tucson looks like.

8b. Juno

…and #10: Mini-moon, March Madness…like so many other of the top posts, you like hearing about our life. I’ll keep that in mind and try to post more!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Painting & Wine: A Perfect Girls Night

A few years ago, a friend of mine attending a “wine and painting” night. I saw pictures on Facebook and fell in love. Some day, some where, I was going to paint and drink wine, too! After moving to Tucson, I figured that there must be a place in this city that would offer such a deal. Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear? But a Living Social deal, for half-off a wine & painting class for me and a dear!

I knew that Dan was not the ideal companion for an evening like this. Instead, it would be perfect for my friend/colleague Maureen, Allison and Meredith. Indeed, it was! We had an excellent time and came home with lovely finished products.

We were “assigned” a rooster. While we could have chosen another subject, it was highly recommended to paint a rooster – because it could be easily finished in 2.5 hours. This was my first time using oils – and I really enjoyed it. The experience really brought me back to my high school art classes, the best part of my day. Being able to create and be expressive – with friends – was such a great night & an excellent end to the semester.


First, we outlined the chicken and feathers. Then, we chose a time of day: morning or evening. Can you guess what mine was?

Painting - AllisonPainting - MaureenPainting - meredith

Above left: Allison; Above right: Maureen; Bottom left: Meredith

Painting - group facesPainting - group

There was also a couple on a date joining us.

You Can Paint is using this for all of their date night group photos! Such a trendsetter.

Here’s a closer of view of my painting. Today, Dan told me that this is most impressive thing I’ve done (creatively) – since we started dating AND that he wants to display this in his office.


Grandpa’s Pillows

A few months after my Grandpa passed away, while my cousin Valerie and I were helping my Grandma sort through some of his things, I was inspired. While we could have donated his clothes to Goodwill or let my boy-cousins sort through for things they would want, I had an idea of what could be done: pillows. Pillows made from some of my grandpa's old ties, shirts, and handkerchiefs.

Originally, I had the plans to make them in the style of a "crazy quilt" -- odd shapes and sizes. This proved to be 1) too time consuming and 2) not the right design for the materials. After hours of cutting, pinning, and sewing (and 3 football fields worth of thread), here are the fruits of my labor:

First row: the first 2 pillows I made. When sorting through Grandpa’s items, I came across several of the LIFE roses. Grandpa always had a rose secured to his suit coat. The rose represents the Knights of Columbus campaigns to defend the right to life. A fitting reminder of his Catholic faith and life of service. Additionally, I came across 13 of Grandpa’s campaign buttons when he ran for the Iowa House of Representatives.


As you can see, the tie styles span the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

The backs of the pillows were made with “USA” material obtained from my Grandma’s fabric closet. It was a fitting choice; my grandpa loved America.


On the left, is the pillow I felt was ‘most creative.’ I love the blend of the denim shirt and the ties. It’s a fitting representation of a farmer-turned-representative.

The pillows on the right have embroidered “K” handkerchiefs, in addition to the shirt/tie combo.


Now, every Kremer cousin, aunt, uncle and Grandma Ellen have their very own “Grandpa Joe” pillow. It such a fun labor of love!