Theodore Snuggling is his favorite. He thinks that wherever I am, he should be.
Sometimes he sneaks up, investigating the couch, slowly walking towards where I am reading. This is a familiar dance. He knows he needs to be careful.
He isn’t the only one who thinks that wherever I am, he should be.
Finn Snuggling is his favorite He thinks that wherever I am, he should be.
Each time Theodore tries to sneak on the couch, he must think that this time I’ll be alone. But then he takes one more step and realizes, it’s not his lucky chance for snuggles. Finn thinks the couch belongs to him. He’s pretty sure I belong to him too.
But, when Finn is away, the couch belongs to the cats.
Talula Playing is her favorite. She can catch a pipe cleaner and loves to play fetch. She’ll snuggle nearby and on her terms
She’s one smart kitty. She waits until Finn is distracted to get her couch time.
Then, when she’s sure he’s occupied, she jumps on the couch to hang out nearby.
The truth about these cats and dogs is that they would be bestest of friends if they stopped being so possessive about snuggling me. They’ll touch noses sometimes, and I’ve seen Finn bring over a toy and ask Theodore to play. He’s usually not in the mood, but I’ve also seen him play with Finn’s tail. They have so much in common. I think maybe they hang out while I’m at work.
In normal life, in the past, I’d be walking down the streets of New York City after hearing the closing keynote at the TCRWP Saturday Reunion. So, as I sit here after the inspirational virtual TCRWP Saturday Reunion, I can’t help but reminisce a bit.
The first step to a normal Saturday Reunion was always seeing who could go and then picking a hotel. (Tip: You need 2 beds for 4 friends, an extra pull-out sofa if you have 5 people.) Then there was the road trip on a Friday after school. We usually had normal car snacks like pretzels and carrots, chips, dip, dried mangos. But one year someone brought a plate of cheese. “Care for some cheese?” is a favorite road trip saying to this day. (Tip: Accept any kinds of snacks, the driver gets first dibs)
We’d check-in and quickly decide if we were going to do a late dinner at the Mexican Restaurant or the Italian one. (Tip, decide if you want chips and guacamole and a margarita, or bread, sauce, and wine. Also, don’t worry, you can have the other one tomorrow.)
The next morning was a mad dash to get out the door in time to stop for a coffee, a bagel, or oatmeal, and catch a taxi to Riverside Church for the 9:00 Opening. (Tip: If you walk in next to Jason Reynolds, don’t stop yourself from stroking his shoulder. You only live once)
Then the day of inspiration would begin and was a whirlwind of learning and moving and seeing so many awesome people. When it was over, we would leave with the thousands of other teachers, and make our way back to the hotel. (Tip: Look before you cross the street – I am a teacher, I love teachers, and we aren’t always the best at following directions.)
A few years ago, we decided to stick around the Columbia University campus area instead of getting a taxi back to our hotel. We found a little bar. It wasn’t crowded, it wasn’t fancy. But, it had a nice vibe, great drinks, and even some vegan snacks. We sat at a table or the bar for a bit and then we’d walk some more. (Tip: Wear sneakers!)
One year we stopped where a crowd was gathered and watched as a church security guard chased an albino peacock. At least, I think that’s the story. Seems kinda farfetched now, right? (Tip: don’t just take pictures on your phone, but remember where they might be stored!)
Today I finished the whirlwind day of inspirational zoom learning, closed my laptop, and emptied the dishwasher. (Tip: Make your kids do this chore.)
Although, I must say: My notebook is still full and my brain is still thinking, I still saw so many awesome presenters along with thousands of other teachers… and I still haven’t put shoes on today! (Tip: Wear really comfy soft clothes so you can go directly to the couch to read or take a nap.)
When I glance at my backpack lately, I wonder why it is suddenly fraying on the straps. And sometimes I know I close it, but by the time I get to my van, the zipper has somehow opened. I feel like I just got my backpack… Until I realize it was actually in 2016. 2016? I think it was when I started coaching that I needed a new backpack and treated myself to this pretty one. I remember when it was new, and I had such high hopes of keeping everything organized in the little zippers and compartments.
I go back and forth. Should I get a new backpack? Should I just wait it out? I mean, it still carries things. I still like the design. I should just save the money, right? Who cares if it’s a little faded and frayed? I decide to just clean it out, re-organize, and embrace its vintage feel.
But yesterday I put my backpack in the van and noticed something flutter down.
I mean, I’m guessing that if it is going to start to actually fall apart, piece by piece, I should start to look for a new backpack.
Addicted I wrote a limerick example as one way To help teachers who write find a slice today But now I’m conflicted Am I addicted? Or, is it maybe okay?
Teacher Writers This March there are some teachers For writing, they don’t sit in the bleachers They know there’s a way To Slice every day They’re part of our schools’ best features
Speaking of School There once was a year so academic You couldn’t tell there’d been a pandemic I’m kidding you know It does totally show Because the trauma is systemic!
Masks All the learners in school wear a mask It’s not really a whole lot to ask But on Monday, it’s true It’ll be optional for you I hope the teachers are up for the task
Lunchbreak Thought I’d come home for a quick little walk Take the dog once or twice ‘round the block But the cat dragged his butt And there was poop in his strut So I mopped and kept checking the clock
Leadership I was happy to run a teacher-writers meeting We were writing and talking, I was happily leading Until I couldn’t unmute That was really a hoot My leadership? Unfortunately was fleeting!
Slice I could just use the limericks I’ve already written Imperfect, I know but still, I am smitten I’m hooked for sure And I’ve looked, there’s no cure So I hope my limerick slices will still fit in!
Yesterday I checked in at a reception desk. The woman was kind, efficient and things were fine. I probably wouldn’t even reflect at all on the experience, but I happened to look down at her desk area, and saw, what I guess was a company reminder for employees. I snuck a picture.
EYE CONTACT SMILE POSTURE TONE OF VOICE EXPLAIN
Suddenly I was evaluating this woman. She had made eye contact, I think she had smiled (Was she supposed to smile the whole time? That would be ridiculous right?) Her posture seemed fine by me. (Is it appropriate for a company to insist on a certain posture?) Her tone of voice was friendly… She hadn’t needed to explain anything. (Should she have?)
Suddenly, I had a lot of questions. Have they always had these reminders? If it is a new initiative, have all previous interactions been less friendly? I don’t think so. If it isn’t new, does that mean all these years, their friendly interactions have been forced by company policy? Yikes!
Would my reminder card be the same?
EYE CONTACT SMILE POSTURE TONE OF VOICE EXPLAIN
I don’t think I need to be reminded to smile. I would take it off, but I know my mom would want “posture” to stay on the list. I might add a reminder to listen. Perhaps a reminder to dampen the sarcasm a bit. (I refuse to say “no sarcasm.” Duh.) Oh, and I need a reminder to drink more water.
My daily reminder card: LISTEN EYE CONTACT POSTURE DAMPEN SARCASM MORE WATER
One of my favorite things about Tuesday’s after-school club, Writer’s Society is how much I can say, “yes!” to kids.
Can I do my own story? Yes.
Could we collaborate on the story map? Yes.
Can you read my story? Yes.
Can I use a gold sharpie? Yes.
Can I have another notebook? Yes.
Can I decorate my notebook some more? Yes.
Can I start over? Yes.
Can I write science fiction? Yes.
Can I write fantasy? Yes.
Can I write a graphic novel? Yes.
Can I write a song? Yes.
Can the three of us write a three-book series? Yes.
Can we spend more time planning out and drawing the clothes our characters wear? Yes.
Can I take this home? Yes.
Can I take this home to work on? Yes.
Can I go to the bathroom? Yes.
In fact, talking with kids in general is a highlight.
Today a young writer was creating a map of his setting. “I can assure you there will be no death in this story,” he told me. “It’s a mystery, but the main character just wants to find some friends. Behind him, a duo was working on a collaborative story on a shared google doc. They’ve been working together since the first day of our club.
“The sad part is,” one of the boys said to me pointing to his friend “he will be moving not next Friday but the next one.”
We talked a bit about the move, how it would be good and bad. I told them how I moved in 5th grade, and it was tough, but then okay.
They said they were going to “stay connected.”
“He has my mom’s phone number from my birthday invitation,” the friend who is moving said.
“We can facetime.”
I tried to explain that they could maybe continue sharing a google doc for their story, too.
“Would it be okay with you if I finished the story, printed it out, and made it into a book?” the kid who is staying here asked his friend.
“No,” his friend said, still looking at his Chromebook. “I want to keep writing it with you.”
We are all sitting on the beach, reacquainting ourselves, wondering why the last time we saw each other was my Grandma’s funeral, and laughing that we live in the same state, but had to travel over a thousand miles to happen to be at the same beach.
“There must be a way to see each other more often,” we all say.
“Remember when we had big family picnics?”
Someone gets up to snap a group photo, and I am instantly in a time warp, remembering a faded picture in one of my parents’ photo albums. I was about 7, I’d guess. Sitting on a lake beach somewhere near my hometown. Some of the same people were there, but also other aunts and uncles, and different cousins, since these cousins weren’t born yet.
“So weird,” I reflect, as I ask my dad if he remembers that picture.
“One day this will be a faded picture,” I shudder.
“Mom,” I hear, “don’t worry. This will never be a faded picture. Pictures don’t fade anymore – they’re digital.”
We talk with my dad and uncle, getting a few stories of their childhood. Marveling that my dad is the second oldest sibling, the oldest boy; my uncle is the youngest. They are 11 years apart. 10 kids in 12 years!
We ask age old questions like, “How did you get to the beach with 10 kids every summer? You didn’t go in one car, right?”
“A station wagon,” my dad says and he and my uncle try to explain how some sat in the way back, there were no seatbelts, and they just piled in.
“No, no, no,” my uncle says shaking his head. “There were 2 cars. There were 2 cars for traveling.”
A game of bocce ball starts, but I sit out to chat some more with some cousins, and we watch the game as we have a heart to heart.
“It’s just so great to see them all over there!” my cousin says. I am reminded that my cousins love family just like I do. They leave the beach first, off to get ready for a night out: A girls night I am invited to, but can’t attend. More hugs are given all around and they walk away.
After they leave, my kids need a refresher on my cousins since there are so many. They want to know who is the child of which sibling.
“It’s so weird,” they say. “We haven’t seen them for years and everyone just starts talking and talking like you see each other all the time.”