Category Archives: Family

A slice of bedtime

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

A slice of bedtime

He is already asleep,
with his thumb gently holding his place
in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

(I’ve been waiting for this,
one of my kids to choose night reading
and bonus points for Harry Potter!)

I turn off his light,
put the book on his nightstand
pull his glasses off

I step over legos,
move a treasure chest and a pair of socks
carve a little path to close the door

It’s quiet before 10:00,
and not much tops that thumb in that book
but I didn’t get to say goodnight

 

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My Grandpa’s Unfinished Sailboat: A Slice of Life

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

My Grandpa’s Unfinished Sailboat

I made the kids stop at the lake before we drove home. I just wanted to see the water.
But then we also saw sailboats.
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And the kids positioned themselves on rocks.
So I took a picture, and I looked at the boats

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And I thought of my Grandpa’s unfinished sailboat, sitting in his garage.
My Grandpa died in August.
And I thought of my mom and dad, cleaning out my Grandpa’s house.

When we got home, I noticed my mom had listed my Grandpa’s unfinished sailboat.
It’s an ad for a sailboat, but I think it’s poetry.

Mirror Dinghy 2-Person Sailboat
This is a British sailboat kit that my father began making
It is almost finished – just needs sanding and wood finish (or paint)
It has been stored in my Dad’s garage for several years
The seams still look excellent
We have all the pieces –
main boat,
mast,
sail,
rudder,
oars,
oarlocks…
instructions.
$500 

He and mom were planning on doing sailing –
mom took swimming lessons so she could go sailing –
then she got sick

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28 years

28 years ago

28 years ago
we met on a Thursday
on the third floor
in theatre

Back then
you had big glasses
big hair…you were
a bit of a dork

Back then
I had flippy hair
(scrunchy on my wrist)
not as cool as I imagined

We did
acting exercises
first word – last word– subject
oh – and monologues

We laughed
the way everyone
laughs together
in theatre

(Everyone
should be so lucky
to make friends 
backstage)

We flirted
the way teenagers 
flirt together – 
a crush

By May
we were in love
a first kiss
in the greenroom

28 years ago
we met on a Thursday
on the third floor 
in theatre

The Skin of Our Teeth
Our first play, I’m in front with the flippy hair. Mr. Thought is in the back with the suit and tie.

 

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. 

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A slice of One of Those Days

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

Somehow 
you don't have too much homework
you don't have to drive people too many places
Somehow
you let yourself plan
sitting on the porch, listening to the rain, reading
(This is where you are 
allowed to laugh at me) 

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

Home from work
you find
2 kids making vegan chocolate eggs, cadbury style 
the counter is a chocolate-smelling disaster
so you pause 
and just smile

It's one of those days
That kind of day

Finnegan cries, he wants to go out
He sniffs for a minute but then he wants in
He's a lab mix who is scared of the rain
so he whines to go in
He whines 
to 
go
in

It's one of those days
That kind of day

Sitting on the porch, 
2 plates of vegan chocolate are served
You need to try each kind, so you can vote 
Which looks better?
Which tastes better?
Which chocolate ratio is best?
Which has the best texture?

It's one of those days
That kind of day

One child didn't want to make chocolate eggs
but chocolate chip muffins
and now the chocolate chips are gone
"I'm late" 
"I'm late to make muffins!" He says
and your heart breaks to hear that someone is
late
to 
make
muffins

It's one of those days
That kind of day

You remake chocolate chips
with leftover melted chocolate chips
spreading chocolate on the 
one small piece 
of parchment paper left
hoping it is 3/4 cup
and adding a chopped up vegan chocolate bunny 
to round it out

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

After the lame dinner
of pizza toast and salad
you are served another treat
the chocolate chip muffins are done! 
A+ muffins
Enough treats for days
Enough dishes for days too
(No sugar tomorrow!)

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

Your mini-baker adds the recipe
to the new family recipe book
and you watch him add 
notes 
highlights
and your heart melts more than that chocolate
to see his third-grade writing
that will one day maybe be read by his third-grade kid

It's one of those days
That kind of a day


 

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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." 



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.