Category Archives: Chapman KS


My daughter Molly's ankle tattoo.  (pictures by Marylin Warner)

My daughter Molly’s ankle tattoo. (picture by Marylin Warner)

Their house and former yard of trees after the tornado of 2008.

Their house and former yard filled with trees ~ after the tornado of 2008. Click on picture to see details.

Dear Mom,

You always understood that there’s something inside us that needs to write our words and create our art. After you wrote your children’s stories, even if they were just going to be filed away in a drawer, you also drew or painted illustrations. And sometimes you added music as well, singing songs and humming melodies as you typed the stories and created watercolor pictures.

Author Sylvia Plath wrote, “Wear your heart on your skin in this life,” but one thing you were never tempted to do was get a tattoo.  The only question I ever heard you ask of someone wearing a tattoo was when you smiled at a young man with a multi-colored dragon tattoo and said, “Did it hurt?” He returned the smile and said, “Yeah, kinda, but it was worth it.”

As a writer, I have many favorite words and quotes, but there’s never been a phrase or a symbol I wanted to wear permanently.  I am, however, fascinated by those who do.  In the spirit of last week’s post—asking WHY?—I admit I want to know both the What and the Why of tattoo choices.

One of my favorites is actress Susan Sarandon’s AND AND tattoo.  It means A New Dawn A New Day, and the way I heard her explain it in an interview, it’s a reminder that whatever happens, tomorrow is a new day and a fresh beginning.

Many athletes wear art and numerous messages and symbols. People of all careers and ages whose professions discourage tattoos, wear them on places they cover with professional attire.  Before the dementia, you would smile pleasantly when you saw a heavily tattooed person, but later you’d shake your head and ask  me, “Do you understand why they do that?”

Actually, Mom, in some cases I do.  And if you were free of the dementia and could see your granddaughter’s most recent tattoo, I think you would understand, too.  The WHAT: four hearts—one green, one orange, one pink, one blue—surviving a whirling tornado.  The WHY: the four hearts represent the favorite colors of the four members of their family, symbolizing their love for each other, and gratitude for surviving the devastating tornado that destroyed much of their little town in 2008.

Yes, Mom, I think you would understand the permanent art your granddaughter wears on her ankle. You’d probably want to know if it hurt to get tattooed, but you’d be grateful that her family survived the tornado, and you’d celebrate with them.

Author Jack London wrote, “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.”

I would add to that: “The same is true of a woman.”

I have some very interesting things in my past, Mom, but I don’t think I’ll get any tattoos. And that’s okay.  I’ll write about them instead, so I can edit, correct and delete…without pain.

Faith tattoo upside down for hope

On People's Court, this 'Faith' tattoo was under attack...

On People’s Court, this ‘Faith’ tattoo was under attack… If you turned it upside down, as in the first picture above, it should read ‘Hope’–but the i and t had a problem. Correcting or erasing a tattoo can be long, hard & expensive.



Filed under Chapman KS, Dementia/Alzheimer's, making a difference, special quotations, Things to be thankful for, writing


Rules adults, children...and politicians should know and follow are in this book.  (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Rules adults, children…and politicians should know and follow are in this book. (All photos by Marylin Warner)


Kindergarten teacher Mary Shepherd (3rd from left, back row) in 1944

Kindergarten teacher Mary Shepherd (3rd from left, back row) in 1944.  An added note: Beth, my cousin in Georgia–her picture playing the flute is in the post “Keepers of Memories” — and she told me she is the girl second from the left end on the first row! But she wasn’t in my mother’s class! For Beth’s funny story, read her comment at the end of the post.

Dear Mom,

Author and astrophysicist Carl Sagan wrote, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”   Robert Fulghum, a Unitarian minister, simplified what we really need to know in his successful 1988 book, ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things.

The book grew out of  Fulghum’s speech at a primary school celebration where Senator Dan Evans happened to be in the audience. Evans was so moved by the basic truths in the speech that it was eventually read into the Congressional Record.  Major newspapers picked it up, and the rest was history.

Fulghum’s basic premise is that the wise rules needed to develop successful children and adults (and politicians, too, obviously) are found not in hallowed halls…but in sandboxes and on the playgrounds of life.  Here are a few of Fulghum’s short, simple and honest rules: Clean up your own mess…Don’t take things that aren’t yours…Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody…Wash your hands before you eat…Flush.

I bought Fulghum’s book for you when it first came out, Mom. As a former kindergarten teacher, you applauded the basic life truths, and you told me stories from the classroom, from teaching Sunday school and substituting in elementary classrooms…and also funny (and sometimes embarrassing) stories from when David and I were children.

That was many years ago. Now, as you lie in your bed after hip surgery, you don’t remember your stories or the successes you had raising your own children and helping other children. But I remember many of the stories, which is why I write this blog, so your great-grandchildren (and others) will know some of the many good things you did that made a difference.

It’s October now, Mom, and I remember one of your basic rules from this time of year:  When someone has raked a pile of leaves and you jump in it, afterwards be sure you rake it up again.  (Remember how we used to burn our piles of leaves–with you and Dad supervising, of course– and how wonderful the scent was on chilly autumn evenings?)

Here are some of your other “Basic Wisdom” rules I remember:  Eat an apple—or at least some slices—every day… When someone says mean things to you, the best way to get over it is to say nice things to someone else… When you borrow something, return it in better condition than it was… It’s better to take birthday treats for the whole class than to have a full birthday party and invite only some of the class but leave out others.

Mom, thanks to you and Robert Fulghum for teaching us the basic rules that everyone should follow to make the world a better place.

Maybe our blog friends will share some basic rules they learned! 

Ray and Mary's great-grandchildren making their own music.

Ray and Mary’s great-grandchildren making their own music.

Mary and Ray's children, Marylin and David, as young children.

Mary and Ray’s children, Marylin and David.

Chapman, KS elementary students learning team work.  Good job!

Chapman, KS elementary students learning team work. Good job!


Filed under autumn lessons, Chapman KS, Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, kindergarten lessons about life, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations


Things that make me feel grateful.
#1 ~ houses for families of birds.

#2 ~ a deer in the yard…not in the oven
(sorry, hunters)











Dear Mom,

Aesop (Greek storyteller and fabulist, best known for AESOP’S FABLES) wrote: “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”

Although Thanksgiving Day was one of your favorite holidays, it didn’t take a holiday filled with family, friends and food for you to be grateful. By your example, you taught me to stop, look, and listen for things to be thankful for, and appreciate anything that made me smile and made the day (and the world) better.  So today, in honor of your thankfulness lesson, I’m sharing some pictures of   things that make me grateful.

Thank you for your noble soul, Mom.  Love, Marylin

(Rainbow photo by Jim Warner; Apple snacks photo by Molly Mosher;  all other photos by Marylin Warner)

(#8, at the bottom: Baby pictures of adults.)

#5 ~ Double Rainbows

# 3 ~ Colorful street trashcan art

#4 ~ Apple Teeth Snacks (peanut butter, marshmallows and
apple slices) made for the kids by your granddaughter, Molly

#6 ~ Chapman, KS schools’ new logo, after the tornado, and after
Notre Dame made them stop using the fighting leprechaun they’d used
since 1967 – way to go, little Irish town!!!

#7 ~ A dachshund visiting the elderly, and getting
happy hugs


Filed under art, art projects, Chapman KS, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for


(Published March 14, 2012, THE CHAPMAN NEWS-TIMES,  Reprinted by permission from John Baetz, Publisher, LINCOLN SENTINEL, CHAPMAN TIMES-NEWS, and KANSAS PRE-GAME)

“Notre Dame’s Missed Opportunity”

By Marylin Warner

Nothing says “future of the country” like wrestling tournaments. Hundreds of wrestlers from preschool to high school participate in a sport that builds strong bodies and teaches discipline, fighting fair, and shaking hands after each match.

March 3rd began with a talented 2nd grader singing the National Anthem. Her hair was in braids, to be covered with a cap when she wrestled for Chapman. She sang in a clear, strong voice as everyone faced the flag with hands over hearts. Then the matches began.

Parents, grandparents, friends and my favorite Chapman police officer supervised off-mat activities; Ft. Riley soldiers were timers and scorekeepers. Crowds cheered for their own wrestlers, and for the efforts and struggles of all the wrestlers. If this is a peek into our country’s future, we can be hopeful.

After Chapman’s 2008 tornado, it was hard to imagine a wrestling tournament being held now in a new district gymnasium.  It was also hard to imagine that the fighting leprechaun logo that’s been a part of the schools since 1967 would be gone.

I’m not questioning U.S. Trademark law nor Notre Dame’s right to guard its logo. I am suggesting that Notre Dame should learn from a missed opportunity and live up to its mission statement.

I looked up Chapman’s and Notre Dame’s Mission Statements.  First, Unified School District #473: “To provide a positive and equitable learning environment in which students will be empowered to learn skills necessary to be successful, responsible, and productive now and in the future.”

I’m the grandmother of two Chapman Elementary School students, and a 30-year Colorado public school educator. Everything in Chapman schools assures me that although the tornado drastically changed #473’s physical facilities, the mission statement remained solid.

Now, Notre Dame’s Mission Statement: “The University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.”

Is anyone else confused about how ND’s mission statement is served by ordering a tornado-ravaged town to stop using the fighting leprechaun logo?

Notre Dame missed a perfect opportunity to rise above its legal rights and put muscle and heart behind the words of its mission statement. What if the letter from Notre Dame to Chapman had been a letter celebrating “the great achievement of human beings” who stayed and rebuilt after a horrible natural disaster?

If Notre Dame really feared trademark infringement, weren’t their lawyers capable of creating a Big Brother clause so they could become, in this one case, a shining star for a Kansas town that had suffered unimaginable damage? Or maybe what Notre Dame really needed was a better public relations team to remind them of the immeasurable worth of promoting goodwill with the public…and the nation.

If the Fighting Irish of South Bend, Indiana had sent a team jersey to the Fighting Irish of Chapman, Kansas, the only cost would have been the postage to mail it. Talk about bang for the buck in public relations. In return they could have received green T-shirts from Chapman as gestures of camaraderie. My grandchildren would have shared theirs. A white whirling tornado displays the date–June 11, 2008–surrounded by the message: “Chapman, Kansas. We may be a little twisted, but we will survive.”

Chapman did survive. The town ran a contest and selected a new mascot logo last month, and it now hangs on the wall of the gymnasium.

Notre Dame missed the opportunity to take the legal road less traveled. It would have made all the difference in proving that their heart matches their size, and their mission statement does reflect who they really are.


Filed under Chapman KS