Category Archives: Celebrate

Happy Birthday, Sara

You had a request for your birthday
Asked me for a gift of writing
No gift, you said
I mean it, you said.

So I keep writing to you
in my head
as I walk to my car
from classroom to classroom
around the block with my dog

Yesterday, I saw an inspirational quote –
it said once you’ve known someone for 10 years
they become family.
I wonder what happens after 35 years.
Has it been 35? Friendship math is hard
especially when you have to decide if you count from the first bus ride

At 20, we were 10 years in – a decade.
I could have written then—
stories about
bus stops, bus seat, late busses, saltines and hot chocolate
Bat Mitzvahs and scrabble
crushes and sewing class and secrets
boyfriends, drives to school, moving, graduation
the importance of sour cream cheddar chips and peanut chews
Hub Salads with ranch and important conversations at Eat-n-Park

At 30
2 decades in
Aunt Sara and Aunt Ona to our kids
I could have written then —
Stories about
college graduation and more moving,
planning weddings, wedding speeches and periwinkle dresses and also
planning babies, showers and
calls in the middle of the night about emergency C-sections,
bravery, love, the NICU
nursing and pumping and sleeping on Elmo couches and 24-hour nurses and eventually babies meeting each other and cribs and toddlers and more babies and the absolute exhaustion, and oh – husbands too.

We are past 40 now (yikes)
Over 3 decades in
Our families are family
Our kids like cousins
Every so often we pile all 7 kids together on a couch for a picture,
and there was that one time we piled them in your car and took them to Ikea.

I know I promised you a gift of writing
but there’s a problem.
you can’t fit 35 years onto a page
I thought I could write articulately, but I don’t know how to shout it with words how you are a
a soft place
a holder of my memories
a cheerleader
I’d be lucky just to know you
but I get to love you to!
I couldn’t live without sending you memes, and exchanging pictures of our wine pours

One day, decades ago,
we stood at a bus stop in the snow.
we sat in your car driving to school.
we hung out at the mall.
we had saltines and secrets
we said goodbye and you moved to Florida.
you came back and left again
It was decades ago we cried at each other’s weddings

I don’t know how it’s been decades
since we’re

Happy Birthday, Sara.

A Gift of Writing for You:

Roses are red
So is your hair
It’s amazing how
you’re always there

A Slice of ice

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

My ice-maker — the one in the door of the freezer — It works now.
It makes ice.

We got the fridge a decade ago
Our old house didn’t have the hook-up for the ice
we were so excited when we moved
almost 6 years ago — to finally be able to have water and ice from door dispenser.
But the ice-maker wouldn’t make ice.
You could hear it try
And once, through some deceptive magic, one cube was born.
On that day we were so relieved! It was fixed!
But then water poured out
it wasn’t magic after all.

So we started filling the ice bin with ice from bags
at least we could dispense it
First World Problems
First World Solutions

Lately I’ve heard a whirling in the freezer
Sometimes a drop or a clink
And now the ice-maker works.
The bin is full of ice
(for now, I guess. I won’t count my chickens, or rather my cubes, just yet…)

I don’t know if it was just the ice-maker’s time
Or maybe it just needed the mentor of the bagged ice
But whatever the reason,
If this sort of miracle is possible …
Doesn’t it just give you hope?

A Comic Slice: Mommy Starts School

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers


Well, it made me a little late… but I was once again inspired by Beth Moore‘s comic slices… and since I just came back from TCRWP’s Graphic Novel Institute, I had to take that inspiration and give it a try. 

Hareem Atif Khan, one of the amazing teachers at the institute said this wonderful thing about me, that nobody has ever said before… that I make my own process visible as a public learner, that I take risks. Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 12.39.42 AM.png

I don’t know if her compliments are true, but I’m going to try to make them true. (Thanks, Austin Kleon for these words!)

So, I’m making my first comic slice visible.

Listen, it’s not great. It’s not really even good! But, it’s ok.  My desk is full of eraser clumps. My hands have pencil rubbings all over them. There are a million things I’d revise if it weren’t 12:37 a.m.

One day, maybe I’ll post a comic without a preface. Today is not that day. The first steps out of your comfort zone are weird, right?

Here’s my first Comic Slice: Mommy Starts School. 


Choosing to Celebrate

celebrate-image…. a little early, but in the spirit of Ruth Ayres, I’m celebrating. 


I made sweet potatoes with maple syrup, brown sugar
and earth balance
What a good name. 

I made stuffing
or is it dressing? 
It lives in a pan
not a bird. 
Thank goodness. 

I am thankful for
my family
my friends
of course
The blue sky, the sunshine
I'm lucky
 -- not a Turkey. 
Thank goodness. 

A vegan Thanksgiving
requires a certain 
wall in your brain
so you can remain thankful
hopeful celebratory
instead of 

I apologize to past Turkeys I've 
eaten, years ago. 
I hold the millions of murdered turkeys
in the light
I'm human
Thank goodness.

I don't judge my 
friends, my family
for their 
tradition, their habit, or their tastes
But I have to tell you
even though I know you don't want to hear it
I've met turkeys
they are intelligent
unique voiced
social beings 
affection and
geography skills

I looked up who 
used to live where I live

I live on the land of the 
Haudenosauneega Confederacy
I don't know much about them
aside from

So I guess today
is even more complicated 
than I thought
(Just like everything, I guess) 

Much to honor and hold in the light
Much to be thankful for
Much to mourn
Much to celebrate



Dear Past, Dear Future


I’m celebrating with Ruth Ayres today! 


Dear Past Me,

One day the preschool boy who loves science will absolutely perfect the vegan oatmeal raisin cookie. He will make these while you write (ok, and fall asleep) on the couch, before he makes chocolate chip cookies with his younger brother.

You will still have many messes to clean up in the kitchen, but everyone knows that oatmeal raisin cookies make cleaning up easier.



Dear Future Me,

There was at least one Sunday where you fell asleep on the couch. Your 11 year old made you vegan cookies, and the dog slept next to you. You decided not to care about the shoes all over, and the dirty dishes that multiply by the minute. Your 8 year old watched Pokemon, and you reminded yourself that it was Sunday (translation: chill out).

There might have been glitter on the kitchen floor, slime supplies piled on the counter and a cone on the dog’s head. . . but there were also cookies, a puppy, and naps.









With Gratitude and Celebration,

Current Me.

#sol18 March 31 Keep On

Slice of LIfe  celebrate-image 

I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! I’m also celebrating with Ruth Ayres today! 

March is a celebration of writing for me. Now that it’s over, I need to find a way to keep it still.

I’m in the Wegman’s line (yes, again). The cashier asks me, “Do you want this double bagged?”

“No thanks. Thanks for asking though.”

“Do you want one of your teas left out?”

“No thanks. Thanks for asking though.”

And then she seems to ask, “$39.85?”

I really want to say “No thanks. Thanks for asking though.”

As I walk away, I laugh to myself at this little mini slice of life. It’s the last day of March, so I’m thinking hard about slices and how to hold on to all of this noticing and writing.

Walking to the parking lot, I almost get hit by a car because I assumed they were stopped for me. . Then as I walked down the sidewalk to grab a coffee a young man swung in front of me. I hoped my trajectory was obvious, but he spun around and pulled the door open with a flourish. Only, it was the door to the hair salon.  As I passed him by he looked embarrassed and said, “Well, I guess you aren’t going there.” I opened the coffee shop door wondering if my hair looked like I definitely needed to go to the salon.

I’m already sad about all the slices I’ll miss after today. I’ll try to write slices weekly, but we all know how that goes. I’ll try to jot notes on my phone, but I mostly I won’t. History says I’ll still notices slices. Once you slice every day, it’s hard to stop noticing. But, will I write them? Will I write?

Walking into the shop to grab my coffee, I notice all the people at tables, with open computers. I’m so jealous of what looks to be focused writing. For all I know, they are probably studying and annoyed to not be somewhere else, but still. It is cozy there, with the smell of coffee, the soft chattering of friends, and the clicking of keys.

I hope I can take this habit of writing and tweak it just a little. I have other writing projects I want to finish, some I still need to start. Some have been revised, some need to be revised. I have query letters to write, and I have to figure out who to send them to. If I’m jealous of people sitting in front of open computers on a Saturday afternoon, I think that means I need to write more, not less.  I’ll write. I have to write.


#sol18 March 25 A sunny Sunday celebration slice (from my chair)

Slice of LIfe  celebrate-image 

I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! I’m also celebrating with Ruth Ayres today! 

I sit to write at a sunny window. It’s quiet-ish around here, and I look around. From my chair, I see some lovely Sunday celebrations. I see…

H sitting next to me, his mini paper towels are complete, and he’s working on his mini Harry Potter Book. He sits chatting and singing Into the Woods songs, making miniatures.


Finn,  somehow still downstairs, not staring at the the bedroom door trying to sniff out the kittens. He sees something outside and leaps to our rescue. I don’t know what it was. A bird? A neighbor? A leaf? We will never know.


E,  drawing monsters in the kitchen. He has pages and pages of creative monsters he’s drawn. They have strengths, weights, evolutions, and awesome names. So many details, so much color.


Things don’t stay the way they are for long. That’s the only thing that’s constant around here: Change.

E was frustrated with his pictures, he’s taking a break from his coloring. H is done with this miniature book, he’s searching for his next project. Finn is finally tired out enough to rest on his couch in the sun. (As he should be, since I took him out for a 2 hour walk…) And that, friends, is something to truly celebrate.


Celebrating Susie: A Cat’s Eulogy

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

Celebrating Susie: A Cat’s Eulogy.

We’re so sad around here, crying still, although the time in between the tears grows each day. We are missing our cuddly, snuggly, soft, smart, kind girl. Trying to turn grief into celebration. A celebration of Susie…


Susie was born at home. I wasn’t there, but I got an email from my startled husband who was surprised that the sound he heard coming from our closet was a newborn kitten. The video of that day shows my parents and Mr. Thought enjoying the magic of the new kittens, and you can faintly hear me on the phone saying “Okay! I have to go, my math class is about to start!”

Susie’s mom was named “Mama Mia.” Her siblings were Ernie and Billy (the kid-ten). Susie was the first kitten out of the box, and we knew she had to be named for a woman change-maker, so Susie B. Cat it was!

We were just fostering Mama Mia and her babies, and when they were old enough, I would pack them in their carriers and drive them to the shelter on Saturdays. Mia and Ernie were adopted on the first weekend, but I had several weekends of driving Billy & Susie to the shelter, sobbing the whole way there.  One Sunday, we got the call that we didn’t need to come to get the kittens — they had been adopted!

This was very upsetting “good news.”

Two days later, the shelter called us back. Susie and Billy had been returned.

We never knew why, but I thought it was fate: There was no way we would take these kittens back to the shelter! Of course, Mr. Thought had to agree. (Or, maybe he was just tired of all of my weekend sobbing!)

Billy and Susie were our first babies. They were snuggly, playful, social, curious, adventurous cats. Billy was white with grey spots, and Susie was black and white. When they were young they used to curl up together like a big fluffy yin yang symbol. Later as they got older, they each took a side of the couch for the naps.

I’ve met a lot of cats, and I admit to loving almost all of them. But Susie was a special one. Once we fostered some kittens during the holidays. Susie took care of them, and we called her “Aunt Susie.” When our children were little, they would chase, hold, snuggle and play with both very tolerant cats. Susie loved to play with the stick/feather toy. She could jump so high, that sometimes she’d actually do a backflip in the air!

It seemed as though Susie truly had 9 lives. Once a friend of one of the kids was over, and days later we found Susie hiding under the bed with a rubber band tied around her tail. Thankfully we caught it before any serious damage. Another friend brought Lilies over as a party gift, and when the kids at the sleepover noticed that Susie jumped off the dining room table and threw up, I took a midnight ride to the emergency vet. She scared us, and cost us over a thousand dollars… but thankfully, she came home healthy! One winter, we thought Susie was missing. My dad and I roamed the cold streets shaking cat food. 2 days later, we found Susie tangled in a blanket and stuck between our bed and the wall.

When Billy died 2 years ago, and we got a dog a couple months later, Susie just took a mature outlook on life. Every so often she’d come downstairs, or stare at the dog through the gate, but mostly she just hung out and snuggled in my daughter’s room.

In June the vet told us that Susie was a healthy cat, and not even just for being almost 16. “She’s a very healthy cat!”

Susie died at the vet last week. I wasn’t there to say goodbye. But my mom and dad were. They were close enough to drop everything and run to be by her side. I wish I could have been there, but I didn’t want her to be alone. My parents were there when she was born, and when she left. What an honor.

They said she looked up at them to say goodbye.




Celebrating A Good Start

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


I’m celebrating learning today because I’m at Teachers College’s Coaching of Reading Institute. I always know I’m going to learn so much when I get the chance to come here. I am never disappointed.

I am especially celebrating good starts. There’s so much power in a good start.

This morning started with a new notebook, and a session with a title that made me want to shout, “Amen!”


We started with a few minutes of a Ted Talk, and then the amazing Katy Wishow took us through the Essentials of a Learning Community. These are things we know students need in our Reader’s Workshop. . . but they are true for our own teacher communities too:

  1. Embracing Risk (which means, embracing failure too!)
    Ask for help, be vulnerable
  2. A Shared Spotlight
    Build up your team, turn your spotlight to others
  3. Team Mentality
    Everyone gets what they need
  4. Joy and Celebration
    We celebrate with kids, how can we build this with teachers? 

When you start a day about coaching with a session about how we need communities to learn and grow, about how we need joy and celebration… that’s a good start to the day. That’s a great start to a Coaching Institute. That’s something to celebrate.

Thanks for the great start, TCRWP!

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!