Category Archives: Celebrate

Dear Past, Dear Future

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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.

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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.

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With Gratitude and Celebration,

Current Me.

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#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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!”

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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! 

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
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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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