Category Archives: Family

A slice of 2 PSSA pantoums of course!

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I saw this “Anatomy of a Pantoum” on instagram today, posted by @beabetterwriter. So, I did some more reading about the form. I guess it used to be a rhyming poem, and now not so much. So I thought I’d try both kinds… no rhyme, and a rhyme…. Because it’s April, and it was the first day of the PSSAs, the first time any of my own children have taken the test. I’m fairly sure I’m not doing this totally correctly… but hey! I’m trying! 

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I don't think it's good for kids
a pantoum without rhyme 

One might be doing it to fit in
One might be doing it for the bubble gum
I'm not sure why I didn't just opt them out
But my kids took their first PSSA today

One might be doing it for the bubble gum
That's what motivates some through
But my kids took their first PSSA today
And by all accounts, it's fine

That's what motivates some through
For 4 more days they'll test 
And by all accounts, it's fine
I don't think it's good for kids 

For 4 more days they'll test
I'm not sure why I didn't just opt them out
I don't think it's good for kids 
One might be doing it to fit in


Cop out on the Opt Out
a pantoum with rhyme 

"I hope I get my teacher a good score"
You knew then you had copped out 
Because this was the very first time your
PSSA-hating self hadn't signed the opt out. 

You knew then you had copped out. 
Pressured from some unseen place, 
Tired of the invisible testing walkout
You can't beat it, so I guess you just embraced? 

Pressured from some unseen place
Your kids are annoyed with this task
Thinking the rules are stupid in this case
"Why no watches or snacks?" They ask.

Your kids are annoyed with this task
You knew then you had copped out 
You put on your happy mom mask:
"You can do it! I have no doubt." 



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It’s just a moment

 

The boy is maybe 2
he reaches for his dad’s hand
(I assume it’s his dad
but that’s not the point)

He’s maybe 2
they’re on a walk
and he reaches for his dad’s hand
it’s just a moment

I drive by
back from a quick dinner drop off
because my kids aren’t 2
they are 16, and 12 and 9

I have pictures
of my kids when they were maybe 2
walking with their dad
(It’s definitely their dad)

But you can’t climb
into pictures
and hold hands
with your 2 year old

So I’m adding this
to my list
of stuff
I sometimes cry about

Mama Bear Slam Poem Slice

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

Mama Bear Slam Poem

My question for you is about 
empathy
and if you're ever left 
wondering 
if it's possibly 
tiring
to be a child with the 
tendency
to teach adults about the 
possibility 
of differences being 
necessary?

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

I think I've done my due 
diligence
as one of two respectful, kind 
parents
in teaching my kid not to look for 
vengeance
not to give in to 
vindictiveness
to take all the varied 
consequences 
even when they are ridiculous or 
limitless. 

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

Listen up, people! I can't, I can't I can't
I can't 
So I'm letting Mama Bear take 
command
She's ready to tackle the problem 
at hand
She doesn't stand on ceremony, you 
understand. 
She has a strong voice and one 
demand
She knows her kid - will take a 
chance. 

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

Because, I'll tell you what's 
nonsensical. 
I'll give you a general
hypothetical 
Kid asked to take the high road, be 
impeccable
While adults judge from down low, it's 
disrespectful 
If you didn't know your impact, that's 
defensible
But now you know, so it's 
reprehensible. 

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 

I hope you don't feel
attacked
I know kindness isn't in your
contract
But I don't want my kid having 
flashbacks
to this kind of negative 
impact.
Time to decide how to snap
back.
Maybe apologize - it's time to 
act.

I strive to teach my kids empathy, compassion, truth. 
Am I in charge of teaching you too?

#sol19 March 31 A Slice of our Dollar Store Challenge

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

H wants to do something fun, before the weekend is over.

“Ice cream. . . Or, we could do the dollar store challenge!”

I look up from my work. “The dollar store challenge?” I ask him with my eyebrows up, and a sigh in my voice.

“You give us each $3.00. We buy our things and bring them home to see who can create the best art project.”

“Okay.” I agreed. “That’s what we’ll do. 3 things though. No more than 3.”

At the dollar store, I remember that I don’t really love the dollar store. Also, I’m not quite as creative as my 12 year old.

But, I find 3 things, and I have the start of an idea. A sticker flip book!

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I remind Mr. Thought that he has to pick 3 things too, and soon we are checking out. I briefly wonder if the dollar store clerk thinks our purchases are odd. Sure, we have my stickers, notebook and plastic container. But there is also a plastic pot, some sort of tulle, fake flowers, a bag of soldiers, a lego flat, a pack of Pokémon cards, a mini kitchen set, a small football and some cartoon clips. Is this what people usually spend $12.00 on at the dollar store?

At home we get right to work. We need to finish in 5 minutes. I am struck by creative genius: My flip book will represent my weekend. I get right to work.

 

It really ends up quite the dramatic flip book. It shows how I start my weekends with such hope. I hope for chores to get done, children to listen, my work to move forward, maybe a book read and a movie watched… And then as Saturday morning turns into Saturday afternoon, I lose hope. My kids don’t want to do chores, I am running everyone every where instead of reading or working. By Sunday, I have gotten over my frustrations, given into the mess, and chilled out a bit.

I title my story: A Mommy’s Weekend, and slip it into the plastic container. I am finished with the first ever production from #InsideTheBox Films. I just know I’ll be the winner of this first ever Dollar Store Challenge. It’s genius! Everyone laughs as they flip the pages.

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The boys and Mr. Thought are finished with their creations too, and it is time to vote.

We aren’t allowed to vote for our own, so I vote for Mr. Thought’s Gooseball.

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Unfortunately for me, everyone besides Mr. Thought votes for Gooseball too.

I should have known the artist of the family would win. I believe in “failing up” though, so I’m going to take what I’ve learned from this competition and bring it to the next Dollar Store Challenge!

 

 

#sol19 March 30 A Slice of a Moment of Quiet

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

There’s a moment of quiet right now. The boys are playing upstairs. It hasn’t turned to fighting. Yet. Mr. Thought is picking up L, and the dog is taking a late afternoon nap. I’ve already cleaned my office, vacuumed most of the house, and mostly kept up with the dishes.

There’s a moment of quiet right now. I am not so good at moments of quiet. If I don’t know how long the moment will last, how can I choose what to do in that time? Should I read? Write? Nap? Start dinner? Start cleaning the porch? If I get up and open the door to go to the porch, the dog will certainly get up from his nap. Same if I start dinner, or go upstairs to nap. That leaves reading and writing… but my book is upstairs.

There’s a moment of quiet right now. I should write. I have a slice, and a scholarship application, and work things to write. I can totally write because it’s quiet, and my desk is cleaned off, and my shelf is organized, and did I mention that the dog is napping and the boys are playing quietly?

There’s a moment of quiet right now. I should write. This is my time, my chance before the craziness of the evening, the night, bedtime. This is my opportunity before the boys start fighting and my daughter comes home, and everyone is hungry for dinner.

There’s a moment of quiet right now. I should totally write.

I’m not so good at moments of quiet.

 

 

#sol19 March 26 A slice of gratitude

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Around 4:00, I got a text from H. He was at drama, and was asking if I could stop and grab him a “veggie burger and a smoothie in about one or two hours?”

I happened to be at a meeting just around the corner from the restaurant he was talking about, so I agreed. Sometimes I’m nice. 

As I pulled into his school parking lot, I realized that I should have made sure he wasn’t going to get in trouble getting a dinner delivered. Sometimes I’m not so quick.

He met me at the sidewalk, and I asked him if he was sure this was okay.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Everybody is getting food delivered, Chick-fil-A mostly.” Sometimes I’m extra proud of my vegetarian kiddos.

I gave him a hug and told him to have a great rest of practice.

“Wait!” he said. “I want to give you a real hug. Thank you so much for doing this. This is the best dinner delivery ever.” He put his food down on the sidewalk and gave me a big 6th grader hug. Sometimes gratitude can melt your heart a little. 

At home, I gave the other veggie burger to my 10th grade daughter.

“Thanks!” she said and sat down to dig in. Sometimes gratitude comes in different levels. 

Then a text came from H:

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Sometimes it’s nice that your kids have a device they can use to text you. 

#sol19 March 25 A slice of your slices

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

March 25 

It's that day in March
stories overload my mind 
The only problem is
These slices 
aren't really mine

Writing doesn't always fit
the roles I take in life
a coach, 
a teacher
a mom and a wife

If I write my stories
and actually hit publish
I've broken the 
trust 
we thought we established

So I'll keep my mind closed
and my stories at bay
So your hopes 
and your dreams
aren't on display


 

 

#sol19 March 23 A Slice of Quiet

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

We are on the way home from an early dinner, and the kids are all smooshed in the back seat of the Prius.

It is so loud.

I can’t quite explain the sound. Is everyone talking at once? And singing?

In the past minute, above the racket, I think I’ve heard several requests.

“Can we go get my new bike?

“Can we go to the park to bike?”

“Can I get new shoes today?”

We pull into the garage and Mr. Thought and I just sit in the front seats as the kids tumble from the car and walk into the house.

We both take a deep breath, and he says, “Times have really changed since the Pontiac Proposal.”

21 years ago, we got engaged while driving home one evening. 

“Remember before, when it was quiet?” He asks me. “When we wanted quiet –”

“We just stopped talking!” I finished his thought for him.

We stay there for another minute, and then walk into the house.

#sol19 March 18 A little slice of 27 years (Or, a love poem)

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

27 years

Hey! 
I watched my husband perform improv tonight
like the old days of 
drama class
where we met, did acting exercises
- and fell in love, you know
That was 27 years ago

27 years.

Hey!
One group bantered about sweaters tonight
like the sweater he wore
that first Thursday
we met, talked face to face,
did acting exercises
(It was before devices)

27 years. 

Hey! 
I watched my husband perform improv tonight
like 27 years ago,
he's still a good
actor - funny and cute
just with some grey hairs
lucky me, 27 years

27 years


#sol19 March 17 A slice of Jason Reynolds

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

My 12 year old is so impressed that I got to hear Jason Reynolds speak at Teacher’s College.

“Ghost!” he proclaims

And I tell him how it was amazing to hear the author talk about where his books came from, his story, his family and friends. I mean, H isn’t a big fan of reading, but he did love Ghost.

I want to tell him about how Jason Reynold didn’t read either as a kid, and about how none of the books his teachers gave him were mirrors. “Why would I want to have a relationship with literature if these books don’t want to have a relationship with me?” he had asked a church full of teachers. And then he told us how he later had realized that he didn’t hate reading, he hated being bored.  I want to tell my son that doesn’t like reading that Jason Reynolds said that the greatest gift to give is yourself.

I think I’m going to need my notes for this sharing.

“But, did you see him?” My 9 year old asks for the second time.

“Well, I heard him present.” I explain. “I was in the back of the church.”

“So, you saw him,”  he says, “from the back of the church.”

“Well… ” I started. “Actually…We were on our way back from the bathroom, back to our seats when who should walk right by? Jason Reynolds.”

“Did you say hello?”

“I mean, Jason Reynolds, mom.”

I have some explaining to do. “I didn’t want to bother him as he was getting ready to start his presentation. He was walking and talking with someone, making sure things were ready to go. I wanted to respect that.”

The boys shake their heads, disappointed.

Mr. Thought says, “I get it.”

And then I admit, for the sake of authentic learning and full transparency, “It did take every ounce of my self control not to reach out and touch his shoulder though.”

“What?!” everyone asks.

“I mean,  Jason Reynolds.” I tell them.

Mr. Thought raises his eyebrows.

I just keep talking about how powerful it was to hear him speak. I start talking about Queen Latifah and rap in the eighties. “He told us this is a history lesson we need to teach our kids – and not in February.”

I explain how rap music saved Jason Reynolds, and how he talked about Hamilton and rap: “It hurts my feelings when I hear all these people when they say how brilliant Hamilton is. I mean, it is brilliant. But we’ve been saying that for 30 years.” 

My Hamilton loving kids look at me, and I think, “Yep. I’m going to need my notes.”

 

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