postheadericon Heartwarming . . .

Now that I am back to work as a principal, I would like to share one of my favorite little stories about how teachers make a difference in a child’s life.  I know that if it had not been for a Mrs. Brown who taught me to read in summer school after nearly failing first grade, I would not not have had a career in education or probably anything else.  I remember the nun who taught me in first grade (after WWII–forty kids in half day sessions) telling my parents in front of me that I was stupid and could not learn.

Teachers Make a Difference

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on every first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy, and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s, and then putting a big ‘F’ at the top of his papers .

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records, and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around..”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him, if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends, and he sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.”
After the children left,  she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.
By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class; and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her ‘teacher’s pets.’
A year later, she found a note under her door from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life..

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then five more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.
The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.” Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered  back.. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I  didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

(For you that don’t know, Iowa Methodist in Des Moines has the Stoddard Cancer Wing named after Teddy)

postheadericon Al


Thank you to all who has emailed to tell me that they were praying for Al. Until yesterday, I had never heard the word “terminal” while referring to my husband’s carcinoid syndrome of the liver, nor the phrase “no cure.”  Well, it seems that this syndrome is just regular cancer with a moniker stemming from the era where no one knew what it really was–just cancer!  Al has had three separate bouts of cancer, not counting the two types of skin cancer he has been fighting for several years.  To say that I feel like I have been hit by a truck in my gut would be an understatement.  We are going to be buying time with the chemo delivered directly into his liver that he had yesterday and by a couple of other traditional medical treatments. We are also exploring alternative medicine programs that have had extremely high degrees of cancer cures or real remissions!  So while embarking on this new adventure, I feel so sad for him as he endures the nausea and other side effects of chemo.  I wish I could trade places with him for watching him suffer at all is awful.  So please keep him in your prayers. 

postheadericon Please Say A Prayer for My Al


Al is having surgery tomorrow. His liver carcinoid syndrome has progressed and he is now having symptoms.   To say I am worried is an understatement.  I never ask for help in putting my puppies in great homes, but  need help now as I have not been able to spend the time I normally would to find them the right homes.  I ask for your prayers. I am going to continue working as I really need to do that. The principalship was my life for many years and I am so glad to be working at what I love if only for a couple of months.  So please pray for my Al. Thank you.  Meredith

postheadericon Catching Up 1/8/2010







After not winning a Bowl game in much too long a time, Ohio State was victorious at last. Congratulations to our great team and our great coach!

I want to congratulate Tami and Jeff Byroads on how stunning their Ch. Rattlebridge Costume Party looks as she competes for Best Veteran. Party is well loved!  We have been deeply saddened that Party has never had puppies as we expected her to have lovely puppies.  Dog people have always known that when a wonderful bitch is not able to have puppies when bred to really good dogs it will always happen when she is given any  opportunity to romance the neighborhood stray, she will have puppies! 

Party 2009 So Cal Specialty














Catching Up:

Al and I wish everyone a Happy New Year once again. It has been quite a while since I have written about the goings on in our lives–too busy and just struggling to get our life in balance. We have not had an easy end to 2009.  Those of you who remember how excited I was to start riding again on the beautiful black Morgan gelding, Blazer, will understand how unhappy I am that Blazer became lame and went back to Connecticut. He was my dream horse, but what is to be is to be.  I am not riding at the moment which is just as well as I now have two pinched nerves giving me a run for my money; I will ultimately need surgery which will just cause one more difficulty in our lives.  I took myself to the emergency room last week with pain in my jaw and terrible pressure in my chest;  I was admitted for two days while every test possible was done on my heart. My father dropped dead with a heart attack at 45 and my mother died at about 78 of congestive heart failure. Genetics is so unpredictable and I seem to have dodged a bullet; my heart is perfect; stress or reflux was the culprit.  I no longer can do all I once did so I understand all too well my husband’s frustration and anger with the aging process.  The only revenge against aging is to keep moving forward and not give in!  I just wish my orthopedic problems would go hang themselves!

At the beginning of the Christmas holidays, Al had layer upon layer of basil cell carcinoma removed from a four inch area on his head resulting in a real crater on one side of his head to match the dent on the other side of his head from his brain surgery last February. The wound care was really awful for twice a day I had to scrape any new membrane off the crater so that the grafts would take.  It was really fascinating, though, to see the process of the graft taking.  The donor graft site was his thigh so no hair will grow within the four inch circle on his head. I keep threatening to buy him an Ozzie Osbourne wig!

Al is no longer in remission for his progressing liver carcinoid syndrome; he was to undergo surgery yesterday, but since my strong, stoic husband badly bruised his ribs while trying to fix the snow blade on the tractor, surgery was postponed.  Why do men not listen to their wives?  I called home yesterday to find that said husband was out clearing the driveway ( a long one at that) with our new snow blower!  Now with his bruised ribs causing him great pain and the remnants of a nasty cold, why would such a bright man wish to put himself in further jeopardy risking pneumonia thereby causing his extremely necessary liver procedure to be postponed even longer.  When I get on his case he becomes condescending, patronizing, and rude–attributes I do not find endearing but which are typically male!  Since I am back being an substitute elementary principal full time for two months in Columbus City Schools at Forest Park Elementary, a wonderful school, I cannot make sure he is “behaving” and not getting up on the roof to clear snow from the gutters.  However, our new kennel help/housekeeper/my spy, Angie Ward, is just dynamite at balancing everything at home while I do what I love best, work with kids.  Angie tattles on Al when he is not taking care of himself so we can double team him.  I have even asked her to use Al’s car to go back and forth to her home so Al has no wheels and cannot do anything stupid! I love him so much and I understand how frustrated he is because he cannot do the hard manual work he once did; he could and did fix anything. Although his education and career was in biochemistry, he is brilliant at coming up with ingenious solutions to repair machinery or fences or anything at all; he thrives on working outside. Last summer he kept transporting our tractor and our zero turn mower back and forth to the farm to mow as my nephew was working so many hours that he need the help.  They also put up fence at the farm for the horses and down here for the dogs. He is unstoppable!  Please do say a prayer for him as his body has been insulted with so many problems.

We seemed to hibernate over the holidays this year.  I had planned to see movies; I am dying to see Precious and Up in the Air, but never seemed to find time although I really didn’t accomplish much except to bake cookies for the first time in my life and then proceed to eat them to eight pounds more on my flabby body!

The only family we saw were Al’s daughter’s family on Christmas and New Year’s day. Al’s granddaughter, Audrey, is now seventeen and has been accepted at Ohio State. Darren is enjoying middle school. We were invited to Christmas dinner at my brother Bob’s home, but we always spend  Christmas with Al’s daughter these days.  We did go up to the farm for an evening after Christmas to see my niece and nephew and check on the horses.  It was a very quiet holiday time for us which suited us fine this year. Like so many people, I always get really depressed during the holidays as, since my wonderful mother died, my family is not very close anymore; my brothers and I talk and see each other occasionally, but my sister no longer communicates with us–me specifically, although her children stay in touch. It is very sad when families drift apart and old frustrations and still festering open wounds take the place of closeness.  It seems that so many of us long for the wonderful family traditions of Christmas that may still escape us; the warm and loving Walton family dynamics  from the old television show seem to be more of a myth than a reality for so many.

We did not put up a tree this year as last year I sobbed while putting up doggy ornaments each with the name of one of our dogs most of them departed.  I broke down when I put up Bandi’s ornament and Jeanie and Rubens and Danny and Rocky and Nancy and Katie and Rosie O’Grady and the list of beloved dogs goes on. I am sorry if I am getting a bid maudlin, but I can see the faces of all of my babies and will miss them forever until we meet at the Rainbow bridge. 

However, I kept in mind that the real reason for celebrating Christmas was the birth of our Savior and that is quite enough for me.

As for our wonderful present dogs we are enjoying them! We do have puppies right now and will be hoping for the right wonderful homes for them after we have selected the puppies we wish to keep for show. We never let our Cavaliers go to new homes at Christmas time–too busy a time for a new puppy or dog to be introduced to a family.  I do love seeing our dogs become beloved members of families especially when they become as therapy dogs.  At Christmas my friends Lu Ann Rogers and Eddye White gave me a lovely framed collection of all their Rattlebridge therapy dogs in all four colors; all of them beautiful representatives of our breed. The dogs belong to the therapy group Love on a Leash.  I hope to photograph the framed collection and put it on this blog.    Below see our Dory with her owner Angela. Angela helped form a therapy group in her town.  Dory is an absolute hit with all!Dory and Angelam, therapy






I am pleased that a three of our older puppies still look like they may make the show ring.  Rattlebridge Over the Hump (Humphrey) is a really nice blenheim male;  the tricolor Rattlebridge Tantalize (Liza) is looking good as is the ruby boy Rattlebridge Red Planet at Dawn (Mars). Although I have only shown one dog in two years helping to finish the championship of Ch. Rattlebridge Truth or Dare, if a puppy turns out to be really top quality, we will show him or her.

We had a snow day today, or yesterday as I just looked at the clock.  We have lots of snow and will probably have lots more–hence the purchase of the snow blower as the tractor has frozen lines of whatever which I refuse to let Al fool with since he fell and bruised as related above. The dogs adore the snow, but hate to get their fannies cold and wet and try to sneak in and pee inside!

Flash My friend Kisa Reinke, a really good Border Collie breeder from California just sent me this picture of her Border Collie going best of breed handled by her son Jared.  The Border Collie is a very acceptable color although many people do not often see this color. I think the dog is beautiful ad the kid is not bad either! image 

 I have gone on long enough.  Feel free to contact me if you would like:

until next time  . . .


postheadericon Just could not help passing this one on . . .


American ingenuity is not over, just crops up in different places such as funny emails.


postheadericon HAPPY NEW YEAR




Let us hope that 2010 issues in a wonderful decade for peace, prosperity, hope, and love for our fellow man no matter skin color, nationality, religious beliefs or political views.  Let us hope that we conquer the problems besetting us personally, nationally, and internationally.  Let us put our lives and country in God’s hands. Al and I wish all of you a blessed New Year! 

The following beautiful message is from the Benedictine Sisters of Eire, Pennsylvania. The Sisters host retreats in their beautiful convent and grounds. I enjoy getting their newsletters and hope someday to find the time to go on one of their seasonal retreats. I have taken this message to heart and will try to incorporate it into my many (and I need many!) resolutions for the New Year:

“Parker Palmer voices my sentiments when he writes,  ‘We have places of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well – places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places, to stand on ground that is not riddled with the fault lines of fear, to move toward others from a place of promise instead of anxiety.’

We need to challenge one another to conversion of heart through engagement and dialogue on the important issues of our times. As we begin this new year let us move to new
levels of faith, deeper levels of experiencing God and new ways of extending God’s love to others. Let this new year call us to create a world of love and caring, a society in which social justice and compassion are so present that violence, in any form, is inconceivable as a solution to any situation.

This is my prayer for you in this season that celebrates the coming of God into our midst.

Wishing you a peace-filled and happy 2010,”

Christine Vladimiroff, OSB
Benedictine Sisters of Erie