A Slice of the first day back.

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

I don’t have one little word yet.  I didn’t finish my grading today. I didn’t hear my 5:30 alarm… didn’t wake up until Mr. Thought shined a light right at me around 6:00. It was raining and grey all day. I don’t quite have a handle on the literary essay unit I am starting tomorrow. My muscles are sore from just 3 days of working out. There are so many kids with missing work even after multiple reminders. The laundry didn’t magically get done while I was at school today. After a brief moderate break over vacation, I don’t eat sugar again. My classroom was clean and fresh until 8:01 this morning.


The students came back, and I didn’t have to cajole them to answer the “What I missed” section of my whiteboard question. They just did. We all love vacation, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t vote for another week or so at home with my own kids… ignoring my chores and reading books. But…how lucky I am to spend my day at school with kids who missed their friends, their school, not being bored, math, and … me!


Plus! I counted 9 Winter Break Slice of Life challenges in my in box today, and 9 Book a Day challenges too! That’s a record for my winter break challenges. Yay for reading and writing during break!


Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #11

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

Dear School Bag,

Don’t stare at me like that. I will try to empty you after the kids go to bed. Maybe.

Nobody wants to go to bed. I don’t blame them. After one more sleep, winter vacation is over. H says, “That’s it! Then we will have to wait an entire year before another winter break!” And I remember how long years were when I was a kid. Now the days are sometimes long… but the years are so very short. I know that next thing we know, it will be next Christmas.

It’s bedtime, but the kids are busy. They are reconstructing the MacGyver episode they just watched. MacGyver. Yep. I can’t tell if they like the time at home with their family, or just the amount of tv we’ve let them watch. I know I was busy playing games with the kids, writing on my computer, and reading books in the family room. I’m sorry I didn’t pay more attention to you during this vacation.

Oh School Bag – you might remember that I did open you briefly at the  beginning of vacation. This was before I shoved you in the corner of the dining room. Somehow, you are still full of things I should have done. A stack of papers to grade, some paperwork to fill out… I hope you have enjoyed your vacation. Tomorrow we go back to school!

As usual, it feels like just as we are finally into the swing of a school break, just as I finally forgot that you were sitting half unzipped behind the buffet, break is over. Just as I have gotten relatively on top of the dishes situation…I had to pack lunches again. (You may have noticed that I slipped a bag of gluten free crackers in your small pocket a bit ago. I’ll take those out when we get to school)   Just as I finished the last load of laundry… just kidding, I never finish laundry. There is no “last load” of laundry. Even you know that. I think there’s a cardigan somewhere in your bottom.

Now you are here at the table with me, as I hide in the dining room, waiting for the MacGyver conversation to fade a bit. I finally took the  Literary Essay Unit of Study book from your grasp, and when I give it back to you, it will have a few more post-it notes stuck inside.

Hopefully I won’t fall asleep too long snuggling kids to bed tonight, but if I do – I’ll take the grading out of your grip first thing during our planning period tomorrow. I promise.

Mrs. Thought



Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #10

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

10 Days of Winter break…

10 chocolates snuck, even though I’m trying not to eat candy.

9 slices written so far.

8 trips to stores (at least!)

7 minute workouts . . . short but intense!

6  new-to-me picture books read . . . #bookaday

5 times a day I need to clean the kitchen (at least!)

4 novels read… #bookaday

3 times a day the kids want to eat a meal! Shocking!

2 more nights before school starts again

1 more day to actually open my school bag and get work done!

Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #9

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

celebrate-imageIt’s also the Celebrate Link Up at ruthayreswrites.com

It’s louder than I wish it were right now. I’m more tired than I’d like to be. I’m trying to motivate the family to go downtown for the New Year’s Eve festivities of ice sculptures and music… but I think they can see right through me to my homebody heart. I’d love to stay here, put on my PJ’s, watch a movie, finish my book… maybe play a game. As I write this, my youngest just came in and said hopefully, “So, we aren’t going to the ice sculpture thing? I don’t think we really should. Should I build one of my new legos? I want to bring my new birthday things up to my room.”

Today was E’s birthday. He shares his day with New Year’s Eve, and I’d rather celebrate him than a ball drop, a champagne toast, or a countdown.


We have celebrated all day. First we looked through pictures of him as a baby and later we had an afternoon with grandparents, cake and gifts.

In line at the restaurant for his birthday breakfast,  as I gave a quiet reminder to the boys to chill out, an older woman laughed a friendly laugh. “Enjoy them,” she said. Some parents like to complain about these older grandparent strangers telling them to “enjoy it.”

Not me. I smiled back at her. “I try. I know one day I’ll be sitting in my clean and quiet house…sobbing.”

Her and her husband nodded their heads, “You will.”

I don’t mind these conversations with strangers. I see them. I hear them. I know I will be that grandma one day. Considering my youngest is only 7 and I already lament that I can’t go back in time… I imagine that when I am 60 I will see families with young children and I will want to remind them… “Enjoy it.”

My house is louder than I’d like it to be. Messier too. I clean the counter 800 times a day, and I should vacuum that much as well. There are legos everywhere. My middle son insists on wearing his shoes from the time he wakes up around 6:00, until it’s bedtime. A dishwasher did not magically solve my dish problem. I can’t get laundry done fast enough. I don’t like chores. The bickering just about does me in sometimes… But sometimes you need to focus on the celebration. There are so many things to celebrate.

Today was my baby’s birthday.  I’m writing at the dining room table, and he is across the way building a lego. I’d love to be the kind of writer who can put these words down just right. I want you to see him sitting there in his 7 year old glory, reading lego directions. Emptying bags of legos onto a drafting table. (Dropping empty bags onto the carpet.) He’s concentrating, and having fun. This is joy to him: a new lego. His cheeks have lost a little of that baby puff, but they are still as kissable as ever. Every so often, he talks to me a little bit:

“And mommy, I’ll still have things to do tomorrow after I’m done building these! Because I’ll be playing them! It’s just as fun to play. But, if I had a choice, I’d rather build. I love the feeling of “Oh my gosh! I have a lego!”

When he is all grown up, I’ll look at him and remember him as a little boy. I hope I can picture him building a lego, with his still chubby cheeks. I hope I can bottle up the little boy snuggles. He’ll be a man, and I imagine he’ll brush away my motherly sad face as I tell him (once again) that he was just born yesterday.

Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #8

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

Yesterday I had to stop by my classroom to get library books that were due… so I dragged my kids with me intending to to grab to the books and then go home. As we walked down the steps though, the kids started asking if we could stay a bit.

Hmmm… possibilities started popping into my head of small projects I could do in my classroom.

“Are you sure?” I asked, trying not to get my hopes up as I put away my holiday decorations. In response, they got out some legos and dice, and started playing a game. I happily labeled my new nonfiction books (read a few too!) and then asked again, “You guys okay hanging out a little bit longer?”

They hardly looked away from their game to nod their heads. So, I put my nonfiction books out on display…

Their game was over, but now they were all playing legos… So, I organized my new fiction books…

They were still playing…


I told the kids we should get going. They didn’t want to… so I filed some papers, cleaned off my desk, and graded a stray late quiz.

Finally they agreed to go. They cleaned up the legos, I grabbed my library books and off we went.

As we walked back to the car I realized it had been over 2 hours of no bickering, kids playing together, and getting some of my work done.

A Christmas miracle for sure.

(And I think a short book called “If you give a teacher time in her room…”)

Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #7

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

Written last night… posted today… still counts! 🙂

Are you making plans for 2017? Choosing your one word? Resolving to be better? I love New Years… It’s just that my favorite New Year’s is the September one. I love fresh starts, blank slates …. It’s just that my favorite blank slates are chalkboards and whiteboards…

I’ve never been a fan of the ball drop, countdown, January New Year’s. You can check the tapes– high school parties filmed by a young Mr. Thought. You’ll see people counting down, yelling, hooting. Then he pans to me. I count down a smile  on my face, but exasperation in my eye (roll).

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good resolution. Like I said, I like blank slates, new beginnings. I’m trying to focus my intentions for 2017. What you focus on grows…

Trouble is… there’s so much to focus on!

Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #6

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!


From my chair I see

From my chair I see 
a darkened living room - even the Christmas tree is dark
Mr. Thought's slippered feet at the chair where he is asleep
Not one, but two blankets on the floor
Not one, but only 2 dog toys on the floor 
A sweatshirt hung over a chair
A pile of sleeping dog on the couch
My laptop battery power dipping below 15%

Behind me I can't see the the kitchen
with a counter full of 
a collapsed gingerbread house
leftover sugar I missed when I attempted to clean up
paper with scribbles, a set of markers
a jacket, a pile of new socks, a flash drive
a lego magazine, a bag of gum, a water bottle
a bottle of mod podge and one of tomato juice
a box of Christmas wrapping trash, an old paintbrush, a coloring book
a sink full of dishes,
and more...
and more...

I'm not going to turn around
I'm not going to turn around
I'm going to turn on the Christmas lights, 
sit next to my sleeping dog
and read.

Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #5 (Actual Tuesday Slice of Life too!)

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

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

(I wish I had been slicing for my whole life — I would love to look back with more detail at what I miss,  what I love.)

I miss, I love.

I miss, I love.

the library table that stood in the living room of my childhood house — black-brown with tall thick spindle legs.

This is what I think of while I walk the dog today.

I miss, I love.

cozy homes, lamps shining behind partially drawn curtains, warm light, painted walls, carefully arranged furniture, families familying.

I miss, I love.

driftwood pieces, cutting pickles at Christmas, sunlight filtering through drapes, coloring, sledding, laughing with Keely.

I miss, I love.

pizza, sleepovers, falling asleep on long car rides at night — baseball games on the radio, coconut popsicles at the beach, sandy bathing suits.

I miss, I love.

unwrapping presents, anticipation, socks from grandma, pollyanna guessing games, watching Charlie Brown when it came on T.V.

I miss, I love.

walks in the blizzard of ’92 (or was it ’93?) snow days, that day the bus was late and Sara and I had hot cocoa and waited a bit before getting driven to school.

I miss, I love.

hysterically studying with Rachel, wood burning fireplaces, quiet days of reading, my mom telling me to practice piano.

I miss, I love.

being bored, having time, playing on the IBM, listening to Madonna, “True Blue, baby I love you…”

I miss, I love.

someone else making dinner, complaining about doing dishes, having a pink phone in my room, late night whispered calls, movies and popcorn with Greg.

I miss, I love.

that hat that Aunt Cynthia gave me,  my dad chasing me down with a bright orange hat, if I forgot to put one one, the way he packed my lunch, the chocolate chip cookies we all ate from the cafeteria.

I miss, I love.

spontaneous trips, road-trip snacks and music, conversations with friends, that time we drove to Florida — switching drivers in decreasing increments of time, trying to stay awake.

I miss, I love.

the way my children look when they are peacefully sleeping, the way my friends tell me it’s okay to appreciate my children most when they are asleep, the way the house is quiet sometimes (rarely).

I miss, I love.

the white round table in the kitchen of my childhood home, the tall chairs, the way we ate bean soup with saltines, childhood.

I miss, I love.

the hat I got for Christmas the other day, my kids opening gifts, my parents  visiting, my dog wagging his tail before their car was even visible.

I miss, I love.


Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #4

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

The day after Christmas

I am not so good 
at lazy days of sitting
so I'll make some tea

I'll walk the dog soon
then return to my reading-
cozy on my chair

At some point the mess
will overwhelm me too much
and I'll clean, I think

Or maybe I won't 
maybe I'll stay in my chair -
hope for cleaning elves