Category Archives: Celebrate

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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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.

 

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.

 

 

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

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

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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.

Celebrating. . . Children speak in poetry

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

I want to celebrate going outside to write slices of life with second graders.

We walked outside, a monarch butterfly to release, and slices of the butterfly garden to write. After a brief butterfly lesson, we sent them off to notice and wonder and write about the things they saw. Their teacher and I looked at each other and decided we couldn’t write with them … we would be too busy supervising, conferring, helping…

And we were busy… but later, as we gathered the children to go back inside, we both confessed that we had put pencil to paper…we couldn’t help it.

These children speak in poetry! I kept crying out to them, “That sounds like a line in a poem! Write that down!” And they did. They wrote their words down (after speaking them to their teacher, to their friends, to me). As I walked around, I heard these kids noticing and wondering, and saying lines that belong in poetry and on inspirational posters.

Goldenrod Butterfly
       Children speak in poetry

We found red berries
This is the perfect spot for monarch butterflies
And also spiders

Write it down, friends! 
       Children speak in poetry

Follow me!
Another path!
I know where everything is in this school

Write that down, the things you say are lines of slices
       Children speak in poetry

This leaf feels like wool
I see nature all around me
I notice, I love nature
Trees, plants give us oxygen

Say it to the page, boys and girls! 
       Children speak in poetry

Oh! The monarch's still here
A path full of plants
Even though some plants are pokey
You should want them to live. 
It's nature

Goldenrod, Butterflies
     Children speak in poetry

I almost wrote down everything. 

Celebrating my kids through paradox

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

What are you celebrating? As my kids make a mess of slime in the kitchen that was already full of dirty dishes, I’m celebrating this messy job of parenting. . .

One of my sons  might drive you crazy painting white out onto a table, and needing 3 reminders to stop. He’s also the one who will help you move tables and chairs without being asked. He’ll enjoy the jolly rancher you give him to say thank you, and he will also ask “Why are they trying to bribe us with tickets and treats?” after he hears about the positive behavior system. He definitely benefits from authentic positive feedback, and the he is impassioned about the ridiculousness of positive behavior incentives.

My daughter cares so much about animals, she won’t read a book or watch a movie that might have an animal go through a hardship… and she sighs loudly and rolls her eyes when I remind her to take the dog out. She sits for hours creating beautiful clay jewelry, a highly detailed sketch, and batches of slime. She also doesn’t understand why she has to go to school, and learn to study better. She is a creative writer, wants to write a book, and hates to sit and read. She reminds me to be stricter with her brothers a minute or two before she whacks them with the end of the dog’s leash.

My youngest reads voraciously once he starts, asks me to order him books, spouts off facts he’s learned from his books, and complains when I ask him to do his 20 minutes of reading. He talks about not having new friends in his new school and a minute later tells me a funny story about the kids he was playing with at recess, or that 2 of his friends will be going to math with him. He tells on his brother, and then (of course) turns around and mimics whatever his brother just did.

Isn’t it funny how everyone is different? Isn’t it amazing? Even within ourselves we are different — full of paradoxes.  How can I figure out my children? How can I help them grow while I celebrate who they are?

 

Celebrate the Remarkable.

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

What was remarkable about your day? I’m noticing and celebrating all the remarkable things this week. And, if you’ve ever spent a day (or an hour really) with teachers getting ready for the school year… you’ll know the definition of remarkable. Quick!  Go thank a teacher, any teacher. If you need to find a teacher, look for the people at target, looking tired, but still loading their carts with school supplies before they go back to school this weekend.

I had a remarkable first week in my new role as an instructional coach. . . So much to notice…

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What was remarkable?
New team, children and teachers at the heart
(#truth)
Time is always short
No tired like beginning of the school year teacher tired
…but coach tired is a thing too

What was remarkable?
Feeling welcomed in new places
Hugs, smiles and even cheers
The old song keeps coming into my head, like I’m 5 years old again
Make new friends, but keep the old…One is silver and the other’s gold

What was remarkable?
Listening to learn about
people
classrooms
grade levels
schools
leadership
collaboration
confusion

What was remarkable?
Questions I can’t answer
So many questions I can’t answer
The learning I need to do
Jumping in
And holding back

Love this quote that came in my inbox today. . .

Fueled by Love

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

I want to celebrate one of my kids today. One of my wonderful children is a little extra unique. He’s smart, creative, comical, helpful, talented, a struggling reader, fidgety, a nonconformist, sensitive and loud. If you haven’t met him, watching this will give you a good idea of him. (If you’re his parent, watching it might make you cry and hope.)

The other day I overheard someone else use the word tricky to describe him. They hadn’t met him yet, but it was my fault because sometimes I have labeled him “tricky” in order to try to describe him to others. But I think I’ve been using the wrong word. It’s not that he’s never mischievous… it’s just that that isn’t what I mean by tricky. The nuance of what I mean is lost in the translation from my brain to others’ ears. I mean unique. I mean not interested in the status quo. I mean challenges you to be a better person.  I mean sensitive but not quiet. 

The other day, Mr. Thought and I were talking about how to make sure our son starts off his new school on the right foot.

“He’s not tricky.” Mr. Thought said. “Well, sometimes he is, but that’s not the point.”

We both thought for a moment. “He’s just fueled by love.” My husband explained, “He needs to know he’s loved.”

I don’t usually speak in hashtags, but come on. This is #truth.

So, I have a new way to talk about my amazing kid. He is fueled by love. He deserves it.

And I think I have new way to talk about all kids, right? Who isn’t fueled by love? Who doesn’t deserve it? What does it mean? It means give every kid the benefit of the doubt, set kind limits, give second chances, again and again. Take a deep breath, let it go. Don’t make compliance your learning goal. Look around at your students and get to know them. Please. They are fueled by love.