Category Archives: Family

#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.”




#sol19 March 15 A Slice of a Conversation

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. 🙂


Last night I told H that I  needed to pack, and I wouldn’t be home when he was done with his day of school and drama today. I’m going to the TCRWP Saturday Reunion this weekend with a few of my friends.

“Wait. Who are you traveling with?” He asked.

“Kris and Krista and Mardi” I said, smiling. I love teasing him about how his teachers last year and this year are my good friends.

“That’s all?” he deadpanned. “You’re just going with all of my teachers? Well, I shouldn’t come up at ALL.”

I laughed and told him I’d need to slice about that.

He yelled, “No!” and then said, “Fine. You can.”



#sol19 March 14 Mini Slices of a Mega Day

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. 🙂


Mini Slices of a Mega Day

My alarm was set for 5:00. But I wake up with a start at 4:45.

My dreams were just as busy as my night had been, and my day is about to be. This week, I can’t even get a little rest time when I sleep, I guess.

I head downstairs, poor my coffee and I’m in front of the same google docs, notebooks, post it notes and books that I was working on before I went to bed 5 hours ago.


I’m in front of 4 kids and 25 interns, a few more teachers, and look, there’s the Media and Communications Manager with his camera too. Teaching always has an audience, but this is an audience.

I have the lesson plan, and I’ve already explained to everyone that learning is messy, that learning labs are vulnerable places. But now I have to actually be vulnerable and messy. 

I look up to welcome the kids and I zoom in on them.  They are nervous too, being in front of all these people.

“This is weird, right?” I say and then we begin and I forget (mostly) about all the other grown ups.


We are back from the classroom, the interns are reflecting on the lab they just participated in. I know that interns are good at reflecting, but I wonder what they will have to say.

As we write in our journals, I hear the kids in the hallway. I think the melody of kids moving around a hallway is comforting.

We open up the discussion.
“The kids were sharing and talking…they were so thankful to have us there…” 
“You don’t know what you can do until you do it…” 
“Refreshing to do a mini lesson with different kids…” 
” I was being vulnerable with the students…” 
“I had the lesson plan, but it’s not a script. I don’t have to say everything from the plan…” 
“This was a confidence booster…” 
“We learn so much from our peers…” 

By the time the interns are talking about the power of co-teaching and how wonderful it was to share the teaching point with kids, my paper is full of their comments, and I am feeling emotional about these new educators about to graduate and impact the lives of children in their own classrooms.


I’m in front of another 4 kids, this time I’m teaching 2 and then turning the lesson over to an intern who will mirror my lesson for her 2 kids.  These kids are fourth graders, and they had to walk into a room full of about 35 adults, take a seat and get a strategy lesson on vocabulary. I mean, could I have done that when I was 10? I don’t know.

They give each other high fives when I ask them to read their books, and one looks at me slyly and says, “Are we teaching teachers?”

“You are teaching teachers!” I say. “We are all learning something today!”

I look up and notice my friend is videotaping me with her phone.

I guess I forgot to tell her I didn’t want to be filmed. Oh well!

“You are in the last part of 4th grade, can you believe it?” I say.

Before I can go on to tell them that this means they are reading so many books, and the more books your read, the more times you might come to a word you don’t know, one boy interrupts.

“No we aren’t!” he says. “We have 60 days left.”


I’m exhausted. But I have to run to the grocery store (before I go home, and do my laundry and pack for Teacher’s College, and make dinner, and record my #findthejoy video and slice.)

I pull into a parking spot, and get out of the car. I’m so excited that it’s sunny and warm! I don’t even need my jacket! I grab my keys and my phone and head in to the store. I walk in to the store, happy to not be loaded down by winter accouterments.

I’m almost done when I realize that my purse is still in the van.


I’m home, about to start dinner. We are trying to eat really healthy this week. After all, it’s almost spring and we just had spring break full of car snacks and too much sitting. Even my 12 year old is packing salads and tofu for lunch.

The girls from next door are on my porch,  with the girl scout cookies we ordered last month.

“Thank you!” I say, and I joke. “Maybe this can be my dinner!”

I take the cookies inside and the family goes wild.

“Why did you buy 2 boxes of thin mints?”

“How are we not going to eat these?”

“Can I just have one?”

“This is going to be really hard.”

We put the cookies in the chest freezer, and I think we’ve already forgotten about them.


#sol19 March 12 A Slice of Before That

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. 🙂


I’m writing now.
Before that, I was getting children to sleep, finally.
Before that, I was trying to keep my eyes open as the boys read and solved “one more” riddle.
Before that, I was trying to keep my eyes open as the boys read and solved “one more” riddle.
Before that, I was trying to keep my eyes open as the boys read and solved “one more” riddle.
Before that, I was trying to keep my eyes open as the boys read and solved “one more” riddle.
Before that, I agreed that we could solve one more riddle.
Before that, I agreed to solve some riddles.
Before that, I agreed to buy a riddle book for the kindle.
Before that, I said, “It’s really bed time.”
Before that, I said, “It’s bed time.”
Before that, we looked at their baby albums to cheer us up.
Before that, the game we tried didn’t really work out.
Before that, we were going to play a card game, but only had 50 cards.
Before that, I was disappointing the boys, “No, we aren’t watching TV.”
Before that, we drove my daughter to play practice.
Before that, we finished dinner and said goodbye to Mr. Thought.
Before that, I made dinner and finally called the kids away from their screens.
Before that, I let the boys get away with watching random you-tubes, just so I could get a little work done.
Before that, I came home and said, “Everyone has been going to bed too late. I have a lot of work to do! Tonight it’s early to bed!”

#sol19 March 11 A Slice of a Walk (or, “Poop happens”)

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. 🙂


The walk. 

The day felt almost like spring, with the sun shining and the snow melting. We are on a little bit of a spring break detox (too much time in the car, not enough time moving our bodies, too many car snacks…) so we all need some extra exercise.  It was light out still, thanks to daylight savings.

So, I took a chance. I stopped trying to figure out what to write,  leashed Finnegan, packed dog treats, and a snack for H, and I walked to school to pick him up from drama. Hoping, that there was no drama about my springing a cold 25 minute walk home on my son who had already had a full daylight savings Monday back from spring break — school and drama practice.

Of course, the dog pooped a block from home, at which point I realized I only had one bag. I cleaned it up, because that’s what you do, people. And, I clipped the bag of poop to the leash, on the little clip that Mr. Thought has thoughtfully engineered so you don’t have to carry a bag of poop in your hands. It’s a great system, but sometimes I get annoyed at the bag swaying and the little creaking noise the clip makes.

IMG_0973I kept walking, a little in a rush because good ol’ Finny isn’t what you might call a great leash walker. (We are working on it!)

About a block from school, I remembered that I had seen an email from H’s teacher saying something about a sprained ankle. So, I tried to think of what we would do if I got to him and he actually couldn’t walk home. Who could I call to help? He could stay at school, and I’ll rush home and get the van and then pick him up. I could call my friends and see if any of them are still at school. I could wait with him at school for an hour and a half until Mr. Thought comes home. . .


I got to the top of the hill, and hoped he’d get my text to know where to meet me. I had to keep Finn entertained, because he thinks every person who walks by him should be his new best friend.

When H walked out of school with his backpack and his chrome book binder bag, I didn’t notice a limp. A little hope flittered around me.

“I took a chance…” I said. “We are walking home. I’ll carry your bag!”

His eyes were wide. “I brought everything home with me today!” He said, and I cringed a little.

I smiled, and explained that I had thought we could both get a little exercise.

“I love it!” he said, as he handed me my bag.

“Wanna hold the poop?” I asked him, tired of it swaying back and forth on the leash.

He agreed to run it over to the trash can.

I handed it to him, and noticed it had somehow leaked on my hand.

BLECH AGH. . . what are the words that can fully describe this?

“Get some snow!” H yelled. “Wipe it in the dirt!”

As I stuck my hand in the freezing pile of snow, I looked down and noticed that every sway of that poop bag had left a little smear on my pants.

H ran back from the trash can. “That can is full of poopy bags,” he said, “all different colors of poopy bags. Did you get it off in the snow?”

I told him I had, but that it was all over my pants.

“That’s probably just mud, because that’s on your jacket too.”

Nope. Not mud.

Not. Mud.

It was gross, but we had to walk home. H took off his jacket, because he’s 12, and it was over 20 degrees. He explained that it was light out, and daylight savings makes it seem like spring.  The sun was still out as we made our way home.

“I am so. So. So. Sorry about that poop.” Mr Thought texted me after I told him the story.

But, It wasn’t his fault, and as I told him, “Now I have a slice!”

There must be a moral to this story…

Sometimes in life, poop happens… but a walk home on a cold and sunny Monday evening with your son will always be worth it. 


Sometimes in life, poop happens, but then you have a story. 






#sol19 March 9 A slice of Olive Garden

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. 🙂


I’m travel-tired and waiting in the crowded Olive Garden lobby. They said a half an hour, but It’s been almost an hour. The kids keep passing the buzzer around, hoping that someone will be the lucky one to make it buzz.

I wish I had my notebook, but I don’t. So, I’ll have to write in my head.

I wonder if it would be mean for me to mention that it looks like I’ve gone back in time. It seems a little like 1990 here.

I also wonder… why do I have so many Olive Garden memories? That seems odd.

But, while I’m waiting, I remember…

… I was 15 or so, and I was allowed to take a few friends out to Olive Garden for my birthday. We must have been dropped off. Did my parents give me $60? 

… Sometime after college when they were building the new Olive Garden in my hometown — we were so excited that one was finally opening. 

… In-service days with the incredible-elusive-to-teachers-lunch-out! Unlimited salad,  breadsticks, and laughter — and a few mints before heading back to the next 3 hours of work. 

…Meeting a friend for lunch, with my 8-month-old daughter.  She sat chewing on a breadstick, while I talked to my newly pregnant friend. I looked over and my baby was choking on that breadstick. Thankfully, she was okay. I frowned and said, “Welcome to motherhood?”

…Going out to dinner with my mother-in-law. She would order the salad dressing on the side and then use her fork and knife to toss the bowl for all of us. We laughed and grimaced at the rudeness. Now I order the dressing on the side and miss my mother-in-law who isn’t with us anymore. 

And we are up. Off to the table. Now I guess I can add “Late, long wait, dinner in Indiana with Granny and Bop” on my list of Olive Garden memories.


#sol19 March 8 Slices of Iowa Shopping

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. 🙂

The Art Store. . . 

There were these amazing postcards on clearance – 25 cents for each letter, instead of $2.75 each. So we found #findthejoy right as my parents were ready to go.

“I’m done, I’m done!” I told them with my nod and my eyebrow raising.


“I’m going to need a manager override for these postcards.” The man behind the counter said.

And then he made a phone call.

And then he made an announcement.

And then he went and found the manager.

“We are going to have to do each of these separately since they are all different letters.” They decided. So we all watched as they slowly went through the cards. He scanned, she put her code in, she overrode the system and made it 25 cents, he piled the cards and took the next one to scan.

About halfway through he looked up at me, “I hope you weren’t in a hurry!”

“Just a mini one,” I said, and I snapped a picture as they finished up. IMG_0821

“This way, ” I told my kids, “I can #findthejoy and my slice all at once!”


Later we went to lunch, and wondered… were the 9-year-old’s pancakes big enough?



The Bookstore

If I can go to an independent bookstore when I’m traveling, I’m a happy camper. Well, we are staying at an Airbnb… but you know what I mean.

I found a book with almost my name. I started to read it, found out the Duck named Oona is a very slow runner, laughed and then had to take my child up to the bathroom. I’ll never know what happened to poor slow, waddling Oona!


Upstairs, there were a few books I wanted…


But I agreed to buy road map atlas of National Parks to share, and a little button about loving reading. (I say it like it was a compromise, but it is a cool atlas, and the button is for me.)

The Comic Shop

On our second stop into the comic store, H wanted to buy 20 Garbage Pail Cards for $5.00.

“5 dollars? For Garbage Pail Kids?” I whined. (Yes, I was on to the whining stage.)
The clerk took the cards, counted them and said, “How about $4.00?”

I told him he was my new favorite person, and we left.






#sol19 March 7 A Slice from Indiana

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. 🙂

460 miles or so of driving yesterday, made possible by
Starbucks soy mocha, light on the mocha pumps but I should have gotten an extra shot of caffeine
I did have hot cinnomon spice tea
a few jellybeans
okay, more than a few

And thank you Lin Manuel Miranda - for Hamilton
I don't even mind the cursing
becuase we can (and do) all sing along
which makes siblings stop bickering for a bit
and miles pass a little more quickly

And don't forget Percy Jackson
on Audible (I've been telling my kids they would like that book for years!)
Because those last few hours were tough
Even after we stopped at starbucks again
for a tall coffee, splash of almond milk and stevia

460 miles or so of driving yesterday, 
and 320 or so to go
5 hours, google says
I wonder if we can finish Percy Jackson
before we get to Iowa


#sol19 March 6 A Slice of Rainbow Dreams…

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. 🙂

I was about to get myself some vegan pineapple whip at the Sweet Frog, when I overheard my son at the counter.

“Can I have 10 taster cups, please?”

My mom radar went up and I walked over, making sure everyone knew this was not a sanctioned request.

“Um…” I said, shaking my head.

But the young lady behind the counter had already handed him a stack.

“I’m just going to do the thing with all the flavors in a cup.” H told me.

And then decided to be supportive of his creativity instead of annoyed.

lzENbVG6TiqfHkLWSwUAsQ_thumb_20“Well, get a bigger cup then, to fit all those in.” I told him. “And, you’ll have to do it slowly and not get mad if it gets messed up…” I tried to warn him to make sure this didn’t turn into a perfectionist’s nightmare of overflowing froyo.

HWDCwklESkOi7K%h69l+pQ_thumb_21I shouldn’t have worried though, he wasn’t really listening to my warning, but I watched him carefully and meticulously get  8 taster size cups full of different flavors, trying to make a rainbow. There was no purple, but luckily there was a pink and blue you could mix together.

This was going a little slower than I thought it would… so as I gave him the spoon he needed to mix his purple, I said, “I can’t wait until you thank me when you are a grown-up.” He just rolled his eyes.


I watched him move to the toppings bar, and thoughtfully choose a matching topping for each cup. “Definitely a kiwi. Maybe a Hershey Kiss. Oh, this would look good. Maybe a complimentary color.”

He placed his on the scale, and I took a picture. Then he realized he should add a matching sauce to each. Again, there was no purple — so he had to use white fudge a lot more than he originally wanted.

“Now can I take a picture?” I asked. And I looked at the young lady ringing us up. “Do you, uh, get a lot of people doing this?”

She just shook her head, eyes wide. “No. I never…”

We walked out, my daughter and I with our regular old sorbet with toppings strewn about and my son with his perfectly arranged, color-coded, rainbow taste test creation.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.” He said.

And that, my friends, is how you make spring break dreams come true. IMG_0748

At home, he displays it properly for a photo. “Use this one for your slice.”