May 31, 2013


May 16, 2013 Photo of the day: "Voilà...Viola!"

May 30, 2013

Raindrops on Hostas

May 30, 2013 Photo of the day:  "Raindrops on Hostas"

May 29, 2013

Double Columbine

 May 29, 2013 Photo of the day: "Double Columbine"

This lovely Double Columbine came from 
Eric's mom's garden in Sturgeon Bay.
She got it from "Nice Mr. Arpter" down the street.
Sharing plants is one of the nicest things 
about having a garden!

May 28, 2013

Tuesday Tulips

May 28, 2013 Photo of the day: "Tuesday Tulips"

Unfortunately, these lovely tulips are not growing
in my garden; I found them at Trader Joe's :)

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

My Dad's WWII service medals

May 27, 2013 Photo of the day: "Memorial Day"

Thank you to all the brave American
soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines
who have fought for our freedom,
especially my dad,

May 26, 2013

Here's to family!

May 26, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Here's to family!"

We spent the past two days "Up North" with my mom. My cousin, Kerry, passed away last month and his memorial service was held at the Plum Lake Golf Course yesterday afternoon. When we heard about Kerry, we realized that it had been ten years since we visited our Froelich relatives in Sayner. It was so nice to see Linda, Lorraine, Marie, Mike, Carol, Christine, Catherine, and especially Great Aunt Helen. Aunt Helen has health problems, but she is as sweet and lovely as always. 

This afternoon, on our way home, we stopped in Eagle River to see David and Debbie. David is my closest first cousin even though he is almost 30 years older than me!  It is almost eerie how much he resembles my dad, but it's also wonderfully familiar. We had a stroll through their beautiful flower garden and a nice lunch. I'm so glad that Eric can hear stories about my dad and the rest of the Larsons.

Finally, we stopped at Spencer Lake to visit my Aunt Bertine. She is 96 years old and still sharp as a tack! She loves to spend time at her cottage, bake cookies, pies, and muffins, and spoil her dog, Scooter. She is an inspiration!

This weekend reminded me that it is so important to spend time with family. It is also important to take time away from the everyday routine, to get away, and to relax once and a while. Up North is the perfect place to recharge one's spirit!

Eric on Little St. Germain Lake

The cleat-worn floor of the Clubhouse at the Plum Lake Golf Course

May 25, 2013

Up North

May 25, 2013 Photo of the day: "Up North"

May 24, 2013

Lily of the Valley

May 24, 2013 Photo of the day:
"Lily of the Valley"

When we planted our garden years ago, I was warned about lilies of the valley. People cautioned me that the tiny flowers would take over, spreading everywhere. Yet despite the warnings, I planted one small sprout about 5 years ago. I have always remembered those lovely, fragrant lilies of the valley growing along the foundation of my Grandma Larson's house in Sturgeon Bay. 

Also known as Our Lady's tears or Mary's tears, Christian legends holds that the tiny blossoms sprang from the Blessed Mother's tears at the crucifixion of Jesus. Lilies of the valley are often a symbol of humility in religious paintings. They are also considered a sign of resurrection, renaissance, and the ability to envision a better world.

Five years have passed since I planted my lily of the valley. I had almost forgotten about it since it never bloomed...until this week! In keeping with a trend this spring (one crocusone tulip), I have a single sprig of tiny blossoms. Granny's lilies of the valley were pure white while mine seem to be tinted the palest pink. Lovely!

Deepest, Darkest...Wisconsin?

May 23, 2013 Photo of the day:
"View from the Balcony"

I'm in the Wisconsin Dells for two days at the Educator Effectiveness conference. As Wisconsin moves towards a new educator evaluation model, it is important that teachers and administrators understand the goal setting, observation, and assessment processes. I hoped that this conference would provide a clearer picture of where we are headed next year, and of my role as an "Effectiveness Coach," but after day one, I seem to have more questions than I did before. 

It has always seemed a bit strange to me that many of the state conferences are held in the Dells at the Kalahari Resort. I'm not a big fan of this commercialized town. The Dells are beautiful from the water, but the surrounding town has become "The Waterpark Capitol of the World."  I'm sure this appeals more to families with young children. Nevertheless, several educator conferences are held here each year, and I'm starting to think that the Kalahari Resort is perhaps an appropriate metaphor for the Educator Effectiveness process. The resort is meant to simulate the African wilderness with lions, giraffes, and hippos scattered about. The Educator Effectiveness Model is a bit like "The Dark Continent." It's mysterious and somewhat threatening since we don't really know what around the bend. There are a series of twists and turns and plunges into unknown waters. Yet, I'm sure we will eventually resurface, dry off. and get back to work. Now if we can only find a way to have some fun in the process!
May 22, 2013

Google Geekery

May 22, 2013 Photo of the day: "Google Geekery"

Today was a very busy day for this tech coach. This morning, I passed the six required Google Apps for Education exams for Individual Qualification. In the coming week, I hope to complete the additional requirements to become a Google Certified Trainer. Stay tuned! This afternoon, I attended another Southeastern Wisconsin Tech Coaches Network meeting. It's so nice to collaborate and share ideas for future projects and professional development. Finally, to complete my day of Google Geekery, I'm thrilled to discover that for the second year in a row, the Doodle 4 Google winner is a student from Wisconsin! I'm so impressed and touched by Sabrina Brady's "Coming Home" doodle. This year's theme was "My best day ever." Sabrina's doodle tells the story of her reunion with her dad when he returned from an 18-month deployment in Iraq. This amazing doodle will be displayed on the Google homepage tomorrow, May 23. 

Sabrina Brady's "Coming Home" Google Doodle

For more really creative doodles, 

May 21, 2013

I ♥ Spring

May 21, 2013 Photo of the day: "I ♥ Spring!"

I know that I've posted pictures of this tree twice already this month, and if you follow my blog, you are probably getting tired of photos of flowering trees and shrubs. Yet, spring took a long time to arrive in Wisconsin this year, and these lovely blossoms are so fleeting. Only a month ago, I struggled to find one thing that was beautiful or interesting enough to photograph for my P365, and now I fear I'll miss something wonderful if I don't look closely everyday. I love our redbud tree. Just days ago its branches were laden with tiny pink blossoms, but as the blossoms start to fall, they are giving way to these lovely heart-shaped leaves. The tree was a wedding gift, a living symbol of beauty, growth, and love.

May 20, 2013

All Choked Up

May 20, 2013 Photo of the day: "All Choked Up!"

I love our chokeberry bushes!
In the fall, they turn crimson 
with glossy, black berries,
but in the spring their tiny petals
are pure white with pink tipped sepals
and bright green foliage.

May 19, 2013

Think Pink

May 19, 2013 Photo of the day: "Think Pink!"

May 18, 2013


May 18, 2013 Photo of the day: "S'mores"

Recipe for perfect S'mores:
 1 roasted marshmallow 
1/2 Hershey's milk chocolate bar
 2 Honey Made graham crackers

Roast marshmallows over 1st bonfire of the season
(preferably with the sweetest 6-year-old you know!)

Chase gives these S'mores 2 pinkies up!

May 17, 2013


May 17, 2013 Photo of the day: "Sushi"

 Friday Fish Fry is a Wisconsin tradition,
but tonight we prefer sushi:
saki, edamame,
salmon, tuna, white tuna
spicy tuna roll, sweet potato roll
May 16, 2013

Brought to you by the letter "M"

May 16, 2013 Photo of the day: "M"
(This "M" is embroidered on a linen sachet 
filled with lavender from Provence)

May 5th's post was brought to you by the N°5
Today's post is brought to you by the letter "M" :)
M is for Melinda Marie...c'est moi!

May 15, 2013

The Neighbors' Pear Tree

May 15, 2013 Photo of the day: "Pear Blossoms"

We had a big storm last night.
It blew all the furniture off our deck. 
Yet these tiny, delicate blossoms, 
though a bit battered, 
are still perfectly beautiful.

May 14, 2013

Redbud Blossoms

May 14, 2013 Photo of the day: "Tiny Blossoms"

May 13, 2013

Outside my window

May 13, 2013 Photo of the day: "Lovely Lilacs?" 

This beautiful shrub is outside my classroom window.
It smells and looks like a variety of lilacs.
Does anyone know what it's called?

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

May 12, 2013 Photo of the day: 
"Happy Mother's, Grandmother's, Godmother's, Auntie's Day!"

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, Kay!
I'm so happy that you are well this year, 
and could enjoy the day with your kids & grandkids!

Happy Mother(-in-law)'s Day to Lynn!

Happy (Grand)mother's Day to "Dodo!" 
I love & miss you!

Happy (God)mother's Day to Auntie Darlene!

Happy Day to me too!
I am so lucky to be  Alec's godmother 
& "Auntie" to these awesome boys!

May 11, 2013

edCamp MKE

May 11, 2013 Photo of the day: "edCamp Milwaukee"

When my alarm went off at 5:00 am, I found it hard to give up a Saturday in May rather than getting ready for sailing season or working in my garden, but edCamp Milwaukee was definitely worth it! The idea of of an "unconference" without an agenda of topics and speakers was difficult for me, but after experiencing my first edCamp, I am convinced that this is an excellent model for staff development. Participants propose informal sessions that evolve as ideas and questions are shared. edCamp Milwaukee was an incredibly overwhelming day of learning and sharing with three hundred very intelligent and generous educators from around Wisconsin and northern Illinois. I have so many new ideas to share with my colleagues and with you: Follow #edcampMKE on Twitter or visit The schedule contains embedded Google Docs of notes and resources for most of the sessions.
May 10, 2013


I had been looking forward to a May 10th movie date for weeks. The plan was to see The Great Gatsbybut since I was lucky enough to attend the sneak preview on Monday night, we saw Renoir tonight instead. Eric is so good about indulging my love of French cinema! The last film we saw at Milwaukee's Downer Theatre truly was a "downer!" After seeing Amour, I feared I might never convince Eric to go to another French film. I am so glad he obliged tonight because Renoir was beautiful. Set during the summer of 1915 in Cagne-sur-Mer on the French Riviera, the film explores the relationships among elderly Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his model, Andrée Heuschling, and Renoir's son and future filmmaker, Jean. When Jean returns home after being wounded in "The Great War," his father's muse becomes inspiration for the son as well. The film is a living Renoir painting, bathed in the singularly radient light of the Côte d'Azur. The gentle breezes, the verdant landscapes, Andrée's creamy porcelain skin and flowing red hair all contribute to the captivating composition. The enchanting cinematic canvas feels complete as Renoir rinses his brush of its auburn curls of paint. The film culminates abruptly with the notion of a transition from father to son, from idyllic Impressionism to avant-garde cinematography.


I love French Impressionism, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of my favorite artists. His paintings celebrate the joy of everyday life. His subjects are often outside dancing, flirting, eating, and drinking - c'est la joie de vivre! What I like best about Renoir's paintings is his inclusion of deep navy blues to offset the lovely, soft pastel shades. I have visited two of my favorites, Bal du moulin de la Galette in Paris' Musée d'Orsay and Les Deux Sœurs (sur la terrace) at the Art Institute of Chicago several times.

Bal du moulin de la Galette 
(Renoir, oil on canvas, 1876 - Musée d'Orsay, Paris)

Les Deux Sœurs (sur la terrace)
(Renoir, oil on canvas 1881 - Art Institute of Chicago)

Le déjeuner des canotiers
(Renoir, oil on canvas 1880-1881 - The Phillips Collection)

I have yet to visit my favorite Renoir painting,  Le déjeuner des canotiers in the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. I adore the idea that the subjects have been enjoying an afternoon of sailing on the Seine, followed by lunch at the Maison Fournaise. Suzanne Vreeland's Luncheon of the Boating Party transports the reader to Sunday afternoons on the café terrace where Renoir subtly directs his models as he creates his masterpiece. The characters and their relationships are vividly depicted in Vreeland's words as well as on Renoir's canvas. We become intimately acquainted with fellow Impressionist, Gustave Caillebotte (seated backwards on the chair), as well as the other actors, models, and friends of Renoir. 

Actress, Ellen Andrée "the girl with the water glass." is also the subject of discussion in one of my favorite films, Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin. In Amélie, M. Dufayel, "The Glass Man," confined to his apartment because of his brittle bones, paints and repaints copies of Le déjeuner des canotiers. He is never quite able to master "la fille au verre d'eau." 

In his discussions, with Amélie, M. Dufayel uses the girl with the glass to coax Amélie into admitting that she meddles in other people's lives because she is afraid to deal with her own feelings.

Oh, I love Amélie!

May 10, 2013 Photo of the day: "Renoir"

Post script (February 19, 2015): Per a reader's suggestion, here is a great resource for Renoir lovers:

May 09, 2013

Trees in Bloom

May 9, 2013 Photo of the day: "Blooming"

The redbud, magnolia, and forsythia are in full bloom this week. They look and smell wonderful, but...ahhchoo! It is worth it though, right? Hmmm, I hope Eric doesn't use that logic against me when it comes to getting a puppy! Stay tuned...

May 08, 2013

Thank you, teachers!

May 8, 2013 Photo of the day: "Merci, les profs!"

This is Teacher Appreciation Week. I'm not soliciting praise and thanks for myself, but I truly believe that teachers change lives. Today, I would like salute the teachers who made a difference in my life:

To the School Sisters of Saint Francis at St. Mary's School: Rosemarie, Theresa, Odilla, Prosper, Frances, and Berna: You were strict but kind. You taught me to read and write (especially Sister Prosper who kept me in for recess to practice my penmanship). You taught me to respect and trust God, authority, my peers, and myself. You instilled in me a love for learning that will last a lifetime! A special thanks to Sister Nivard, our principal, who continued to be interested in my life even after I left St. Mary's. When she read of my dad's passing 15 years later, the dear Sister came to his memorial service. 

To Mrs. Grace Lippert: You inspired me with your love of literature. I adored listening to you read aloud in your Scottish brogue. You challenged me to read great books. You were the first the bring in books and items in French, sparking an interest that would lead to a double major and a twenty-year career as a French and English teacher.

To Mrs. Judy Gosenheimer: As my high school yearbook adviser, you fostered my creativity. You taught me to take and develop interesting photographs and to design attractive layouts. You encouraged me to continue writing and to carefully edit my work (I need to be more diligent about my blog). Years later, I hope I have nurtured and supported my middle school and high school yearbooks staffs as much as you did.

To Professeurs Brigitte Coste, Steven Taylor, Jean-Pierre LaFouge, Béatrice Ness, and Jeannette Kraemer: You taught me to communicate in French and to love French literature from the Middle Ages through the 20th Century. You encouraged me to go to France to study, to travel, to immerse myself in the language and the culture. You inspired me to go to graduate school, to continue studying to become a teacher.  Madame Kraemer, you taught me how to teach. You were my first mentor and my inspiration when I mentor new teachers and coach others to use technology.

To Father Naus: You personify Marquette's motto, "Be the Difference!" You inspired me to teach with passion and a sense of humor, to truly show my students how much I care about their futures. As my Ethics and Philosophy of Humor professor, you left a lasting impression on my heart. I remember the flowers you gave us after Sunday masses to brighten our dorm rooms and the smiley-face balloons that you gave us before exams to remind us to stay positive. Nearly twenty-five years later, I am still honored to receive Christmas cards from you (each August :). Your letters are fun and inspiring. The lovely, poetic quotes and inserts always grace my bulletin boards, reminding me and my students to value wonder, to have faith, to be honest and kind, and to enjoy life. 

Father Naus with my middle school yearbook staff at Marquette University in 2011 
How lucky they were to meet this incredible man!

Tributes to teachers in the Marquette Alumni magazine

Thank you, my dear teachers! 
I am inspired and humbled by your examples! 
You are truly my heroes! 

May 07, 2013

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

Spoiler Alert (sort of...)! I won't be giving anything away about the characters or the plot of the film since almost everyone has read F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic novel. However, if you want to view Baz Luhrmann's latest interpretation without any preconceived notions, don't read the rest of this post until after you've seen the film (opening to general audiences on Friday, May 10).

OK, if you're still with me, here we go! Last night, I was privileged to be one of the first in Milwaukee to see the much-anticipated 2013 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, one of my favorite books. Postponed from its original 2012 Thanksgiving release, I waited impatiently those additional six months until this week's premiere. My excitement built to a frenzy that became nearly impossible to satisfy. I felt a lot like Gatsby who spent five years dreaming Daisy into an insurmountable object of perfection, only to be disappointed:
"There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams -- not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” 
In my heart, I longed for a brilliant portrayal of the glamour and opulence of New York in the Jazz Age, as well as a faithful depiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald's beautifully tragic novel. In my head, I suppose I knew I was being "a beautiful little fool." Film adaptations never seem to compare to the uniquely personal experience of reading a book.


Like Nick Carraway at Gatsby's parties, I felt at once “within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled."

First the "Not So Great Gatsby":
  • 3D: I have never been a fan of 3D movies and was very skeptical about a 3D Gatsby. The filming did not achieve the effect that Baz Luhrmann intended. Rather than appearing larger-than-life, the people and locations seems more like cartoons. The flying shirts, snow, and confetti were more distracting than enhancing. Some bits of confetti that landed on Gatsby and Daisy were shaped like butterflies, not so subtly referencing the characters' metamorphoses. Those massive clumps of Christmas tree tinsel and metallic confetti that littered Gatsby's house and yard throughout the film might have been more effective if the film had been released, as originally intended, during the holiday season. 
  • Nick Carraway: I did not enjoy Tobey Maguire's portrayal nor Baz Luhrmann's reinvention of the iconic narrator of The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann's Carraway not only narrates the story, but also writes the novel from a sanitarium in the midwest where he is being treated for "morbid alcoholism." "His" words fly at us in 3D and in the end, Carraway has composed Fitzgerald's novel. Although speculated that both Fitzgerald's Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby were semi-autobiographical, suggesting that Nick wrote The Great Gatsby takes the idea too far. Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby in Paris at the beginning of his career, long before being unsuccessfully treated and ultimately succombing to alcoholism.
  • Gatsby's house: Aside from the art deco interiors and art nouveau staircase, Gatsby's house in West Egg is not opulent; it's a garish Disney castle further contributing to the comic book feel of the film.

  • Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan: I know that I'm not supposed to like Tom, but Joel Edgerton's depiction was so repugnant that I wonder how Daisy could have ever loved him. In the novel, although truly in love with Gatsby, when urged to admit that she never loved Tom, Daisy is unable to consent: "Oh, you want to much!" she cried to Gatsby. "I love you now -- isn't that enough? I can't help what's past." She began to sob helplessly. "I did love him once -- but I loved you too." How could possibly she have loved this Tom?
  • Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker: Although towering over Maguire's Carraway, Elizabeth Debicki doesn't begin to reach the height of Jordan Baker's complexity. She seems neither modern nor athletic, neither observant nor cynical. There is no chemistry between Nick and Jordan in this film, making it difficult to believe that Nick would end up "halfway in love with her."

Now the "Pretty Great" Gatsby:
  • The fashion: Brooks Brothers suits, bow ties, straw hats, pastel shirts, sparkling Prada dresses, and so many Tiffany! 

  • Nick's cottage: I loved Nick's little cottage next door to Gatsby's ridiculous monstrosity. I was always bothered by the rundown shack that served as Nick's house in the 1974 film. I always figured Gatsby would have torn it down to avoid living next to such an eyesore. The 2013 cottage is a cross between a fairy tale and a craftsman's style bungalow. I'd love to live there (without the profusion of funeral bouquets)!

  • Carey Mulligan as Daisy: Never a fan of Mia Farrow's 1974 portrayal of Daisy Buchanan, I was enraptured by Mulligan's. Farrow plays Daisy in the same hazy, vacant stupor that she used to portray the drugged Rosemary Woodhouse in Rosemary's Baby. Carey Mulligan's Daisy is flirtatious, nervous, enraptured, and heartbreaking in her flawed loveliness.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby: Gatsby is an enigma. He's mysterious, handsome, charming, and devious. Yet even with all his wealth and influence, he remains hopeful and vulnerable. DiCaprio is at once youthful and mature.  His expressions reveal the complexity of Gatsby's self invention. Leo is great at playing committed, desperate characters who will stop at nothing to get what they want and usually succomb to their efforts. As much as I enjoyed his Gatsby, at times he did seem a bit too familiar. In one scene, Gatsby stands behind Daisy whispering in her ear. I half expected him to spread her arms and declare, "I'm the king of the world!" Nonetheless, DiCaprio's portrayal of Gatsby was superior to Robert Redford's in 1974 (although Redford was equally handsome!).
  • The soundtrack: As with his Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge soundtracks, Baz Luhrmann chose to infuse contemporary music into this film. Jay-Z's distillation of hip hop, pop, and alternative music (Florence + The Machine, Jack White, Gotye, Beyonce, Andre 3000, along with 1920s-era jazz is quite intoxicating.
Photos courtesy of The Great Gatsby on Pinterest

Jordan Baker states: “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is the quintessential large party, his own intimate portrayal of the great American novel. I felt like one of Gatsby's uninvited guests. I heard there was going to be a big party and I just showed up (four days early). I felt dizzy, over-stimulated, like I had indulged in too many of those enormous glasses of Champagne and gin on screen. Ever the dreamer, loyal to Fitzgerald's brilliant novel, and wanting a film to live up to my illusions, I paraphrase his final lines: 
"[I] believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning -- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
May 7, 2013 Photo of the day: 
"Boats against the current..."