Celebrating Every Moment

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! What are you celebrating?

 

I was walking downtown doing a little Christmas shopping, and there were actual snowflakes dancing in the air. A pop-up flea market was setting up, and they had Christmas music playing in the square, wreaths hanging on wooden racks, handmade mittens, and there seemed to be an abundance of people walking their puppies! I had a few bags in my hand, which always makes me think of a movie where a happy person goes shopping. I stopped for a vegan peppermint mocha on my way to my car, and drove to the bookstore to continue my shopping.

I wish I could tell you that I went to the quaint independent bookstore around the corner, but we don’t have that here. (Locals! Don’t throw rocks at me yet! There’s a wonderful used bookstore in town, but it has never had the selection I am looking for for kids’ books…) So instead, I browsed Barnes and Noble, and a bookstore is a bookstore, so I always love that.  Then I took a few minutes to check out my selections on amazon… seeing where amazon could save me 20% or more. I put half of my books back on the shelves, and into my amazon cart.

That’s probably where my holiday cheer started to wane a bit. . . scrunched over on the floor of Barnes and Noble, scanning my books on my phone to do a price check.  And then, of course, I had to get in line.

“In a loooooonnnnnngggggg line at store” I texted Mr. Thought.  Man, my pile of books was getting heavy.

The woman in front of me turned around and said, “I found two cards that I love! Right here in this line.”

I smiled at her, “That’s lucky!” Then I joked,  “And here I am just feeling annoyed to be wasting time in this slow line!”

“Oh, Honey,” she started, “I didn’t even think I was going to make it to the holidays! I’ve been in and out of hospitals all year. When you don’t know if you are going to wake up the next day, you learn to live like each day is your last.”

I listened as my line buddy told me about  her late husband’s motto of living each moment like it’s your last. She told me that her heart problems have been horrible, but that the hardest thing has been to change her personality.

“You can’t be type A all of the time! I used to want things to be perfect. Well, you know what? Not everything is going to be all neat and tidy.”

She told me to relax and enjoy.

At first I was laughing a little in my head. It’s a great lesson, but I’m not what you would call a classic Type A.

“I’m trying,” I explained. “Three kids at home right now probably driving my husband crazy while I’m Christmas Shopping!”

“How lucky that you have a husband at home with the kids. It’s so great how we are really moving towards a true partnership with parenting. We didn’t have that when I had my kids.”

“For sure,” I started. “Of course, I’m still usually the one who cleans the bathroom!”

“It probably starts to bother you way before it would bother him!” She said knowingly.

And then it was her turn to buy her books.

“Merry Christmas!” She called as she walked away.

“Merry Christmas!” I smiled.

Some people don’t like advice from strangers. They get huffy if a grandmotherly woman stops to tell them how much she misses “those days.” Not me! Bring on the stories and inspiration. I mean, if I’m in line at a bookstore and I can collect slices of life from people around me? That’s something to truly celebrate! 

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A Slice of being known

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

I probably didn’t know all the way back in 5th grade that Sara would become so important to me. I sat down next to her on the bus, or so the old story goes… and she didn’t know what to do with me. I might have even been wearing my neon tie-dye stirrup pants… with or without the matching t-shirt. (I mean at that point, does it even matter if you have a matching t-shirt?) Our friendship has obviously strengthened from that point… and also, leggings ARE back in style…

We stayed at her house after Thanksgiving, because of course she opened her doors for us when we had to go to the area for a doctor’s appointment for E. As we were leaving, she handed us the a large box — with strict instructions for me to open it on December 1. I knew it must have something to do with my December birthday, so I rolled my eyes at her and said her name in that way that means, “I can’t believe you are so nice, it’s already too much.”

December 1 rolled around, and the kids were quick to remind me that I had a job to do: Open that box!

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I’d publish her note here, if it was at all reasonable to do so, because she’s a beautiful friend, a beautiful writer, and a beautiful person. (So, of course I cried.)

And then I turned over my little day 1 circle (“You are kind”) and opened my day 1 present: Harry Potter magnetic page clips. Only a true friend would somehow know me so well.. and each day it has been so fun to turn my circle and open my gift. A travel mug, a notepad, swedish fish, fun binder clips…and lovely affirmations. It’s nice to be known.

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This morning I was running late (no big surprise here) and the boys were begging me to open Sara’s gift.

“I have to pack my lunch,” I explained. “We will open it after school.”

But, they begged, pleaded, and carried the board and the gift over to the counter.

“Fine. But, I’m doing this instead of having a lunch today!” I told them with a little loving snarl in my voice.

And then I turned over the circle. “You put others before yourself.”

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And then we all laughed as I said, “See? Sara knows it!”

It’s nice to be known.

 

Celebrating a little kindness

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! What are you celebrating?

 

It is colder than you thought in the breeze of Georgetown. It’s harder to concentrate on finding a breakfast spot, while children talk to you, whine to you, ignore you. So wind whips your hair, sun blinds you, and you look at your phone trying to find a spot where everyone can eat something.

“This isn’t a democracy,” your husband says. And then also, “I just want to get some eggs.”

“Let’s just go where we went yesterday!” your 14 year old says, eyebrows up.

“The same place? We have to walk all the way there?” her brother complains.

“No,” you explain. “It’s the same restaurant — different location.”

“If we go there, I just won’t eat anything,” your youngest quips.

“Let’s just find someplace to eat!” Someone complains. “Is it breakfast or lunch?”

You walk up streets, turn on streets, turn back down streets. Your husband asks Siri for a vegetarian restaurant suggestion, and looking at the brunch menu that pops up, you ask him, “Do we want to pay $39 each?”

You finally find something that looks promising, follow directions down near the water, only to realize that it is just a bakery — no seating.  You need to sit and get warm… with a cup of coffee in your hands.

“My legs hurt!” The complaints are getting louder. “Can we just find somewhere to eat?”

“Let’s just go where we went yesterday!” your daughter says. Again. You look at your youngest who didn’t really enjoy his breakfast yesterday. “What if you get something totally different today — and apple juice?”

He agrees, and you walk back down the street, only to find the restaurant packed. A sign at the steps reads “Upstairs closed for now” and all five of you look and hope that somewhere there will be a seat. But, there isn’t. The manager asks you how many in your party.

“Five,” you sigh.

“Five. Yea… we don’t have room for five. . . Actually you can go upstairs. I’ll take care of you myself.”

He most likely thinks you are insane as you say, “Thank you so much! This has saved us!” A little dramatic for breakfast, or even brunch. But, it’s true.  You walk up the steps. You pick a table. Everyone sits down, their faces visibly relax into smiles instead of frowns.

“Something to celebrate for sure!” you say to your family. Then you order an almond milk latte, and take a picture to celebrate the little things like a nice manager, a beautiful day, and a much needed coffee.

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This Le Pain Quotidien just feels different than yesterday. Yesterday you sat at the communal table stuffed in beside so many other people. Your waiters were rushed — and there was that one who stole your favorite speculoos spread without asking and took it to another table. “Excuse me!” you called to him, and he came back so rushed and annoyed. “We weren’t actually done with that.” He ran off, practically rolling his eyes and came back with the hazelnut spread, and ran away again.  “Excuse me!” you called again, “This wasn’t the one we needed.”

“Which one would you like?” he asked, lips pursed.

“The cookie butter one.”

“The speculoos?” he grimaced at you before dashing off to get it.

Ahhh, memories. Today’s location is so different. The manager brings you the speculoos and tells you it’s his favorite too. “I love it on a croissant,” he explains. “I know better than to get between a customer and their speculoos! I’ve almost had my fingers cut off for that before!”  (You wonder if he was watching you in the other restaurant yesterday. . .)

Then, at the end of your brunch, the manager brings you a bag. “Here. I wanted you to try this. It’s a croissant and some speculoos — for later. Once you try it on a croissant, you’ll never go back!”

Celebration! It’s not about the croissant, or the speculoos — even though… yum. It’s not even about the coffee —  even though the warmth of that latte is something to celebrate.

Celebration! It’s about kindness: Opening the second floor so a family can have brunch, smiling when a mom asks for some speculoos, walking up and down the steps to bring a family food and water, refills, the check, and a croissant with a little container of speculoos to go.

 

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.

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!