A slice of not nice

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’m not always nice.
I think maybe I used to be nicer.

There’s this lady down the street
She has a “Love everyone” sign in her yard
But she was so mean to my baby last year.
and when I see her around, I yell at her
in my head
“Love everyone? What about a little kid trying to make his way in this world?”
But on my face, I smile.
Yesterday I saw her running by me in the park
and I’m waiting for my reward since
I did not stick out my foot
and trip her.

I’m not always nice.
I think maybe I used to be nicer.

I went on a walk with my puppy
who pulls and tugs, tail wagging to greet
every
person
he
sees
and when a young college student grimaced and hid in her boyfriend’s arms,
I raised my eyebrows and said,
“He’s just a baby”
In a sarcastic, condescending tone –
Even though I totally get why she was worried

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Yikes! It’s the cutest thing ever! 

I’m not always nice.
I think maybe I used to be nicer.

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Celebration – trying to find the balloons

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!

 

Some weeks are harder to celebrate.

I followed a new person on twitter, and when I went to her page, balloons started floating through my screen. I was a little surprised. Was twitter just so excited that I was following someone? (It was actually just her birthday, but whatever.)

Inspired by the balloons this morning, I decided to try to see the celebration — where could balloons float around here?  I was trying to, but man it was hard! As I tried to edit some writing, boys were scream-playing, L was watching loud instagram videos, and Mr. Thought was editing his video in the next room.

“Ahhh the sounds of a busy family,” I told myself as I took a deep breath, trying to see the balloons.

I asked the kids to have a simple breakfast of a bowl of cereal,  but that was a no go.

“So thankful we have food in our fridge,” I reminded myself as I helped E make some breakfast on the stove. Where are those balloons?

I asked the kids to start emptying the dishwasher. I asked the kids to start emptying the dishwasher. I asked the kids to start emptying the dishwasher. I asked the kids to start emptying the dishwasher. I asked the kids to start emptying the dishwasher. I asked the kids to start emptying the dishwasher.

“Strong willed, busy children are a blessing.” My fake smile probably scared off any celebratory balloons.

I started to read my math homework… watched a couple of cute instagram videos that L was desperate for me to see, listened to multiple people singing, humming, and making dumb jokes. I took a deep breath, tried to focus. I couldn’t find a pencil to use to talk to my math text, and E was drumming a beat on the table. No balloons.

“Maybe I shouldn’t write a celebration post today,” I decided. Because really, some weeks, some days, some times…

But, then I laughed. A pencil! I found a pencil, well half a pencil — and it really felt like a celebration.

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So I wrote this, and somehow, by some miracle, I hear the children emptying the dishwasher in the kitchen.

 

 

A slice of failure

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

What if it’s not enough?
What if you have books in your house, you read to your babies,
you read to yourself, you read to your students,
you read about reading,
and what if it’s not enough?
What if you’ve failed this part?

What if you don’t find the right book for your kid?
What if they don’t fall in love with stories?
What if they don’t want to live a thousand lives by reading?
What if you are tired of saying “yet” because maybe yet won’t come?
Maybe your child isn’t a reader “yet” but maybe it’s really “ever?”
What if you’ve failed this part?

What if you’ve overdone it with the “I love reading!
Reading is awesome!” shouted from the mountain tops?
What if you’ve missed your chance, the reading boat has sailed on?
What if you’ve failed this part?

What if? What if you’ve failed?
Should you throw in the towel? Hope someone else picks it up?
Someone more inspiring, less momish?
Should you stop trying strategies?
Should you stop timing, book-talking, pretending you don’t care?
Should you stop buying books, reading books?
I mean, what if it’s over?
What if you’ve failed this part?
What if your child just isn’t a reader?

A slice of who I am

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’m laughing because somehow I’ve ended the evening standing in my parents’ kitchen holding a sword, a bow and a skeleton goblet. I hand my mom the phone, “Take a picture!”

It’s just so different from the rest of my day. I think.

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Earlier today, I discussed strategies for helping teachers raise the Depth of Knowledge in their learning experiences. Now, the most complex problem solving I need to engage in is how to get my kids home and to bed without them eating any more candy.

Earlier today, I presented a session on  academic discourse to a room of Instructional Coaches, Mentors, and Administrators. Tonight, I debated with my friend about the color of my sweatshirt. (It’s orange, not red. Trust me. That’s why I wore it on Halloween!) Later tonight, my discourse will involve a lot of counting down to zero and sternly negotiating with children about teeth brushing, face washing, and going to bed.

It’s strange, this double life of a working parent. When I was going about my day today, in my professional conference attire, I didn’t think that the representational slice of my day would be this picture. But somehow this tired mom, in an orange(!) sweatshirt and fuzzy hat — holding an assortment of Halloween sundries — this is the truest slice of who I am.

 

Celebrate Rainy Sunday

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!

It’s a Rainy Sunday and I love It: A Series of Sunday Celebration Haikus 

The Dog Hates the Rain
Rainy Sunday, chill
Muted color leaves, puddles
Antsy dog won’t walk
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Halloween: Not My Favorite Holiday:
Anticipating
Sugar, chocolate, fright night
Practice makes perfect
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My Sister’s An Artist
“Half Remembered Home”
She paints, lives, miles away
Fully remembered
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My Dog Loves Popcorn, and So Do I
Coconut Oil
Pop! Pop! Sizzle, dog runs, sits
Sharing Sunday lunch

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It’s a Rainy Sunday, and I Love It
Window frames still life
Rain, leaves, fall, branches flutter
Write in muted hue IMG_9697

Poetry Friday Debut

I haven’t done Poetry Friday before
Maybe I’m worried I’ll run out of words
Although, have a little chat with me
And you’ll quickly see
how impossible that would be

Just breathe, I remind myself, just listen
Close your mouth, no one needs your opinion unbidden!
I’m used to speaking out
letting words just spout
before my thoughts have a chance to reroute

But I’m learning action starts with reaction
I’m not an expert, I just have passion
And so much more I want learn
I have thoughts I need to overturn
also a pile of decisions to discern

So this is my #whyIwrite I guess
A place for my brain to confess
I’m sure I’ve done it wrong, it’s true
But I’ll toss in this poem, my big debut
Be nice to me, I am new
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Thanks for the Poetry Friday Link Up, Friendly Fairy Tales!

 

Celebrating a few Themes at TCRWP

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! 

So much to celebrate after the 93rd Saturday Reunion at TCRWP.  Of course the day is full of all kinds of learning, and that is a huge celebration for me… a true gift. Another gift that I love about every Saturday Reunion I’ve been to is that there are always a few themes and connections that I follow the whole day — at the conference and sometimes around the city itself.

Here’s just a handful of celebrations from my time there this weekend…

Celebrating Writing and Teaching…

Arriving in front of Riverside Church just a little early (okay, an hour early) we had time to walk around, and bump into Jack Gantos. Well, by bump into, I mean…

Me: I think that’s Jack Gantos
Friends: No…Oh wait, is it?
Me: Googles picture of Jack Gantos and shows it to friends
Friends: Nod.
Me & Friends: Silently wish we had the courage to stop him, ask each other why we didn’t stop him after he walks by, and decide it would have been rude anyway…

Don’t worry. We snuck up after his keynote to shake his hand and say thank you.

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Picture by Kris Hall

Jack Gantos started his keynote looking out into the audience of teachers and saying, “We have so much in common. We are agents of positive change. When you are an agent of positive change, you get it back!”

Then, he talked about writing, his new book called Writing Radar, and effective writing instruction.

“The world right in front of me.” He said. “The first person world. That is the world I should be writing about… That’s the real stuff.”

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Jack Gantos speaking at TCRWP Picture by Kris Hall

Later, after many trips on the hotel elevator, the three of us were trying to figure out why we could never find our floor number. Why was the 26th floor button always somewhere different? We knew this would make an excellent math problem, so we were taking pictures of the button panel to compare with our other button panel pictures.

We turned to the only other person on the elevator with us.

Us: We just want to figure out exactly what is happening with these numbers.
Man: I know! Number 16 is always in a different place!
Us: Well, we’re teachers so we have fun figuring this sort of thing out.
Man: (exiting elevator, turning towards us one last time.) You guys are teachers? Thank you for being teachers. I have children.
Me: I’m writing that down

I think this is what Jack Gantos said to write about … this is the real stuff… and teachers are agents of positive change. Nice to be thanked. Go thank a teacher next time you see one. 😉

Speaking of being an agent of change…Celebrating Cornelius Minor.

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My new favorite picture. Love connecting to the powerful force that is @MisterMinor. (Picture by Kris Hall – Thanks, Friend!)

I can’t pass up an opportunity to see Cornelius speak. I went to his session last year and was happy to hear him again. Cornelius spoke about change, he mentioned it is evolutionary not revolutionary.  He told us that “everybody wants to make a difference. Not everyone gets invited to do so…We need a posse to help… and that can just be one other person…Change takes time.”

Later, walking the High Line, we couldn’t help but notice the story of 2 neighborhood leaders starting the fight against demolishing the high line. Now, the old abandoned railroad tracks are a beautiful garden path. Those leaders had a posse!

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Celebrating Revision…

In Lucy Calkins’ session, she talked about writing expecting revision. “Breathe in, breathe out. Draft, Revise.” She shared writing quotes with us that resonated.

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Later at the Strand Bookstore,  I saw a sticker that I think captured some of that, in a different sort of way.
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Celebrating each other…

At Lucy’s closing, she told us that this work we are doing is noble, and she reminded us of the importance of standing by each other. For our workshops to flourish, we need to rally together and support one another. “How we are to each other is most important.”  After spending the weekend with a couple of amazing teachers whom I get to call friends… I couldn’t agree with her more.

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Celebrating Grandparents

celebrate-image 

So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!  (In a better late than never sort of way. . . )

Last month we stopped by to visit my grandma on the way home from a trip. She met us with her caregiver on the porch of the home. She had a newspaper in her lap, and told us she loved to come out on the porch every morning to read. Her voice carried like memories, like my whole childhood wrapped in the silky smoothness of her cheeks. She hugged us and told us that we made her day. We only visited for 20 minutes or so, on strict instructions from my dad and his sister. “More than 20 minutes will tire her out.” So we started our goodbyes, even though she looked sad to see us go. Walking back to the car and getting resettled for our car trip took some time, but still, as we drove out past the porch, my grandma waved from her wheelchair. I honked my horn a few times, thinking back to all the old family horn-honking goodbyes at Grandma’s house.

My grandpa turns 101 next month.

101.

The other night we sat around the table after my dad’s birthday dinner, and my mom asked my grandpa to tell us about his old dog. It was a great story about a smart dog,  but I was busy listening to the ebb and flow of my grandpa’s voice.  I was busy thinking about my childhood, when I sat at family dinners and heard my grandpa talking, telling stories, riddles and jokes. How is it that a piece of my memory is now so embedded in the present day? 101! E says it’s more fun to say “Over a century!”

Most people don’t get to have their Grandpas and Grandmas still at this age. Mr. Thought doesn’t even get to have his parents anymore.

Somehow, I’m so lucky…  My kids get to have these very same pieces of childhood that I had. The stories, the voices, the love, the jokes, the hugs. . . And that is worth celebrating.

A slice of not writing

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Some things I did instead of writing this evening
washed the dishes
yelled at my kids to help with the dishes
checked facebook
prepared the make-your-own pizza supplies
made pizzas with the kids
cleaned up dinner
washed more dishes (what?!?)
played hide-and-go-seek with the dog
covered his eyes, told him “no peeking!” while my daughter hid
hid while my daughter told the dog “no peeking!”
decided to call that game “no peeking!”
snuggled with the dog
laughed at the dog
discussed random things with Mr. Thought
remembered to sponsor my kids’ fundraiser since it’s due tomorrow
listened to kids play some sort of made up board game upstairs
told kids to brush their teeth
told kids to brush their teeth
told kids to brush their teeth
(you get the picture)
sat with H while he fell asleep
snuggled E to sleep
fell asleep
woke up from the dog going crazy barking at the cat’s meow
the actual cat’s meow
tucked L in
read a few chapters
ate a few junior mints
drank my water
sent a few emails
refilled my water