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Tuesday, December 17, 2019


We have a busy day ahead, but I'm not worried.
My daughter's choir concert is tonight, her throat is dry, but I'm not worried.
My students have little time to finish holiday projects, but I'm not worried.
Our schedule is different every day this week, but I'm not worried.
Winter weather is on its way, but I'm not worried.
There's a rally tomorrow just miles from my house, but I'm not worried.
My husband keeps talking about getting a new dog, but I'm not worried.
My heart is beating, my lungs are working, and I truly cannot worry. 
Even if I have to fight the urge to worry.
I know, each day will happen regardless. 
Each moment will pass in spite of worry. 
Each breath I take will lead to another and I cannot worry. 
So, when I feel the tension in my eyebrows, I will exhale and soften my face.
When I hear my voice quicken, I will pause and calm my pace.
As each checkpoint comes to pass it will make a little space,
for calm
for grace
for gratitude
and I will embrace
the worry away. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Late Friday night, while I relaxed in my NCTE hotel room, I got a message from Shawn. It was our dog, and it wasn't good. He was planning to take him into the vet and predicting the worst. I told Shawn I would be okay, and to do what he felt was best. 

In my mind, I was thinking, we've been here before, and he's been okay
This did feel different, though, and I hated the fact I wasn't home to help.

The next morning Shawn texted me that he was not improving, couldn't walk, and he had made the appointment after talking with the vet on the phone. The appointment was at 10:30, and he would text me when he could afterward. 

I lost my breath for a moment while sitting in a room full of people listening to amazing authors talk about their books. 

I got up and went to stand by a window in the main hall. I was grateful for the one tissue I had shoved in my purse that morning. Dabbing the two tears that were stuck in the corners of my eyes, I breathed in, I held it and clenched my hand. I didn't want to feel this right then. I didn't want it at all. 

I walked for a moment. Breathing. Walking. Exhaling like I was blowing out a candle, but it wouldn't go out. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Planning and preparation have taken over my life. I am in the last days before I leave for NCTE, and I am so excited. I am also anxious about all the moving parts of leaving, even though I know it will all be okay. I can steady myself, but I can't help my natural tendency to become anxious about significant changes to my routine.
I have made all the lists, and I am still certain I will forget something. I do not have all my outfits picked out, which probably means I'm going to over-pack. I don't have all the bits and pieces of my roles within our home handled, listed, and organized. Again, I realize life is going to go on even if I never get to this step.
I also can't wait to just get there already. It's one of those things I've been anticipating, and I just want to be surrounded by my people, eat meals together, and get locked into conversations that grow me in all the good ways.
So, here's to overwhelming my brain, getting a headache from smiling, and wearing myself out. I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

In My Corner

I had a doctor's appointment this morning. I always kind of chuckle when a doctor asks, "Do you have a lot of stress?"
I never even know how to answer that question. I feel like the answer is YES and at the same time it's, well-kinda, and then maybe a little bit of --NO, not at all! 
I mean, I'm a mom--stress.
I have lots of little people at school who rely on me--stress.
Work never really ends--stress.


There are so many things that balance out the stress and most of the time, I can look at the stress and see it as good. Yes, good stress. The kind that makes me more productive but doesn't make me restless. The kind that makes me feel accomplished and not drained. Does it make me stop and breathe sometimes, yes, but I got this. 

So my answer was, "Yes, but not in a way that isn't healthy."
He said, "How old are your kids?"
"12 and 14...yeah, they're tough and I'm a teacher, that's a lot, but I'm not more stressed than I need to be."

I've got a husband who does dishes. A mom who calls to check on me and love me no matter what. A dad who is always proud of me. A daughter who makes my coffee and fills my water bottle every morning. A son who starts my car and brushes off the snow in the morning (yes, snow already--don't get me started). A friend who helps me in a pinch when I feel like I might not be able to do it all. I might be stressed but I'm also pretty darn lucky and there isn't anything to be stressed about when I think of everyone in my corner. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Day After

Still, so much of that night feels fresh, and yet everything is different. Just like things are when you have a moment like this. Three years is a long time. 

Anniversaries are funny. Not in the haha way but in an odd way. The way a time of year can come around and bring back a flood of smells, images, and feelings. Tears in the back of my eyes sit still, and I remind myself I'm okay.

Today is the third anniversary of "the day after." Our house was ablaze just before midnight, but we still felt like November 5th was the next day for us. We slept at our neighbor's house in their grown son's bedroom. When we walked out of our neighbors front door and into the blue sky sunlight seeing our house blackened, boarded, and broken--a part of us stayed in that moment. Now it comes back in memories.

Today I went on a search for some poems I wrote shortly after the fire. I remember feeling like a member of our family was gone. Two actually. I worried our pine tree would have to come down. But the tree bounced back to life, still wearing its charred parts, and the house was reincarnated. It's so strange to have almost the same house. To this day, we occasionally reach for light switches in the wrong spot. It makes us smile at our silliness, but it causes a pause in thought. And yet, it was only a thing. People always say things can be replaced. This is true. They aren't quite the same though.

The poem I wrote to our house when we were living in a hotel.

I sometimes wonder if you miss us.
I feel bad that you are left there
all alone
I wonder if you know what happened.
I wonder if you're sad.
I don't want you to worry.
We are okay.
We miss filling you with laughter,
good smells, and barking.
But just you wait
Pretty soon...

The poem I wrote to the house about the pine tree and the days leading up to the remains being torn down.

Did you see the tree?
That tree was like your partner
You'd been friends since birth
It's a long time to live together
She might just make it
I'm sorry you didn't
They are coming to take you away pretty soon
I don't think I'll watch
I'd rather not see you like this
I like picturing the first time I saw you
Knowing you were the one

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Normal Day

This morning we set off for school guided by strings of headlights and morning commuters. K-pop played quietly in the back seat while my son listened to music on his phone next to me, eyes closed, his fourteen-year-old head against the window. Looking in the rear-view mirror, my daughter gazed out her window at the blackness. I looked ahead, awaiting an unexpected deer, awakening raccoons, or the frequently misidentified dancing leaves on the pavement. 
What is that?
Did I hit a toad?
Oh, it was just a leaf. There's three more rolling across my path. 

Drop off was typical:
Middle school entrance, 7:05 a.m.
"Bye, sweetheart, love you. Have a great day."

Pull around to the high school, 7:06.
"Remember to check with your lit/comp teacher about that test you missed last week and have a good day. Love you."
"See you later."

I made the four-minute drive across town and parked at my school. A staff meeting would be starting around 7:30, so I had just enough time to do some final prep for the day.

As the meeting began, there were the usual announcements and a summary of what we hoped to accomplish. 


"Oh, and by the way, I think most of you probably have heard already, but in case any of you have not one of our first graders lost their home to a fire yesterday. His mom works in the cafeteria over at the high school. It sounds like some staff members there will be putting out some calls for assistance to help the family...(continues to talk--as I start to slow my breathing)."

I am listening, but I'm not listening because, in my mind, I am reminded of the day after our fire. The day I stood in Meijer (our everything grocery store here) with an empty cart wearing my neighbor's clothes, shoes black with soot, and no coat. I stood there quiet, like I was in this moment now, thinking--What do I do? 

Just as my eyes started to feel like they might fill, the meeting moved on, and I was able to reset my thoughts. Remind myself that I had an average morning. That today, for me, was not the day after one of the worst days. That we are far past the heaviness, but this family is right at the beginning. I hope I can offer support and comfort. 


Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Click, click, click...






Click, click, click...

Lap, lap, lap...



It was a long night. One where it felt like I didn't sleep at all. I know that isn't true, but I was sure all I did was toss, turn, listen to the dog get up and walk around, toss, turn, listen to the dog get a drink. I could not get comfortable.



Blanket too lumpy.

Blanket too uneven.

No blanket.

Leg out.

Nothing worked.
I didn't dare check the time--ever!
I had no thoughts in my head.
No worries.
No dreams.
My mind was blank.
So tired yet unable to settle.

I'm looking forward to settling tonight. I have a plan.
Step one: Make a cup of sleepytime tea.
Step two: Read some poems from my favorite book by Mary Oliver.
Step three: Turn the lights off earlier.

Let's hope it works. I wish you all a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Yesterday and Today

Back in July, my husband pre-ordered the movie Yesterday. He had thought it was available, it wasn't, so we waited. Both my husband and I are pretty big Beatles fans. Both our parents had many of their records, we listened as kids, and have enjoyed the music as the timeless treasure it is. So, naturally, when we realized last night that the movie was finally watchable (for who knows how long), we started it even though we knew we didn't have time to finish.

Spending the past 40 minutes today watching the rest, not only was it confirmed for me as an adorable, sweet, feel-good, and fabulous movie, it was also what I needed after a tiring day.

If you haven't seen the movie Yesterday, I won't spoil it for you, but the end made me get all the feels. It affirmed some things, and I just absolutely loved the way they chose to close this sweet story. It wasn't the most incredible movie I've ever seen, but it was the best movie I could have watched today. I'm so glad I did even on a busy school night. Time well spent before diving into my reading goals binder of notes to update, running records to log, and spelling inventories to analyze.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Hardware Store

Do you ever see something and think, "Huh, I bet there's a story there?"

I've been making multiple trips to the hardware store lately. My husband took on a bookshelf project for me which, and as projects do, it turned into days upon days of tedious work. In my mind, since we were getting the boards cut at the lumber store, this was going to be easy peasy. I'm usually right about things (wink) but I should have known better.

I didn't take into consideration all the clamping, squaring, and precise thinking necessary for making a bookshelf. This bookshelf was being made to work in potentially any classroom in my district. The specifications were not on any plans except a grocery list paper with numbers written on it from June created by yours truly.

I knew it would take longer. NO biggie. But I didn't realize it would take over so much space in my anxious, school is almost here brain!

Now, the shelves are complete and ready to take to my classroom. I don't have the final pic yet, maybe that'll be next week when they are also covered in beautiful books. (It better be next week because kids are coming!) But on one of my many trips to the hardware store, I couldn't help but notice a beautiful splash of aqua on the newly re-surfaced parking lot.

Made me feel a little better about the uneventful trip number five to the store and I wondered, "What's the story there?"

Sunday, March 31, 2019

True Slicing Fashion

Here I am, 11:48, almost out of time. I have been a late slicer almost all month. I still somehow made it here every day. It's kind of a surreal thing, writing every day about your everyday. Like I said though, I can't really go on too long because it's now 11:49 and the clock is ticking.
I did a lot of things today, I could list them out, but mostly what I enjoyed was feeling a bit closer to my daughter. At one point today we were all cuddled up together playing a word game on the couch. She claimed to be bored, we played, getting closer and closer. She's not too huggy these days. She's a bit distant. But for a moment today, it felt like she was my little cuddle bug snuggled up next to me. I didn't dare say a word, instead, I just leaned into her a bit. She didn't seem to mind.
11:52, still time to spare.

So, here is a moment of thank you. A thank you to all who participate in this challenge. Even if you only started, if you made it half-way, if you made it 30 days and not 31 because of some pestering obligation. It all matters. Every story you wrote, every word you thought, every moment you shared. It mattered and is taking up a bit of space in the universe now. You can feel pretty proud of that.

11:54--I don't think I'll push it any longer. Time to hit publish.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Timeless Toy

I opened up a book of Mary Oliver poems today. An old bookmark fell out. It is a bookmark I think I've written about before. Funny thing, I always put it in a Mary Oliver book because I know I'll always re-find it there. 

I read a little poetry. Then I looked at the bookmark. It was a gift from my mom. I'm not sure what age I was when I got it and I don't remember where it came from. She would probably remember. 

As I stared at the bookmark, the words, "My Teddy Bear Loves Me" reminded me of my teddy bears as a kid. I had a few, my favorites being Cindy (she was a yellow-ish teddy bear) and Boo-Boo (he went with me everywhere). 

Teddy bears are such a timeless toy. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Feeling Springy

I was feeling hungry for a California Roll but didn't really want to make my own at home. Shawn suggested we head to Horrock's. I hadn't been there is a few months even though I love their produce and specialty items.
While we were there, we walked around a bit. I was particularly drawn to the fresh flowers and garden displays. All the tulips and spring blooms along with the gerbera daisies were just bursting with juicy colors.

I know it's been "officially" spring for nine days now, but it's really starting to feel like it! Sunshine, bright blue skies, and beautiful flowers in one of my favorite stores. 

*Shawn just told me he thinks they are calling for snow this weekend. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019


The long week will be rewarded tomorrow morning.
No alarm.
Wake up when I want.
Take my time with my coffee.
Keep my pj's on longer.
Lay around a bit more.
Get some much-needed reading done.
Get some much-needed writing done.
Get some much-needed laundry done

I'll keep my expectations a bit low but I am hoping to accomplish a lot. Time will get away from me fast if I don't.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Just Enough

Sitting here at my desk a bit of evening sunshine is reaching through the blinds and warming up the air around me. I look around this classroom and it feels so "lived" in now. I've been in this section of the building for four years. It's been a very different space from my kindergarten and first grade teacher days.

I remember when I first began "moving" in I didn't have time to really explore everything that was here, left, or necessary. I was also struggling to part with things I had held onto for many years. What if I was moved back to kindergarten? What if I didn't like third grade? Questions swirled and uncertainty lingered for a while. It's less now and I have less "things" to part with as they've already made there way somewhere by now.

Eight and nine-year olds seem to have a special place in my heart these days. I would describe them as just the right amount of curiosity, wonder, and spark with a touch of silliness and unpredictability. They keep me on my toes but I don't mind because they pay me back with hugs and just enough paintings, drawings, and notes to make it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Washing Off the Day

It’s my second long night of conferences. 

As draining and tiring as conferences are there are parts I enjoy. I get to spend little moments of down time catching up with colleagues. There’s time to tidy my desk or prep little things here and there. Most of all I get to share successes with families. 

All of that made for a long day. I was eager to get home. 
As soon as I could I took a hot shower and climbed into my pjs. I immediately felt like I had washed off the day and was ready to relax. 

I’m two days away from spring break. It’s feeling more and more deserved. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Starting Over

I have started this slice multiple times. 

I was going to write about the snowdrops in the backyard. Then I started writing a poem about the patterns of life. From there I remembered the deer I saw the other day right outside the window, and we both startled each other. That seemed like a good idea, but I changed my mind again. The deer in the window made me think about the big crack in the back patio and how it's still stained in a dark gray with remnants of where the "legs" of the old aluminum overhang used to be. My train of thought lingered on that for a moment. I started to have a whole lot of thoughts. 

I decided to go read a large portion of my slices from 2017. That was the year we were in our rental house, we were safe and sound, OUR house was no longer our house, but it would be again someday. I wrote about all the things I missed, all the things I was surrounded by, I wrote, and it healed me in a lot of ways. 

I remember after the first couple of days writing with the "Not my..." theme back then I started to worry I wouldn't be able to keep it up. I wondered if I could work within a confined idea as opposed to open season on whatever I wanted. Turns out I could do it. It also turns out I have a month of memories from a very challenging time in my life that I will never want to forget. 

Just like this slice was started over and over moving into this newly built home over a year after our fire was like starting over. It was a fresh start and even though we've lived here for over a year now, it still feels fresh all the time. Eerily similar and yet so different. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Timing and Preparation

Yesterday morning:

Yelling from the kitchen while putting on his shoes, “I’m going over!”
I respond back, “Okay, check in regularly, please. We have yard work to do today.”

I wondered how soon I’d see him. Would I have to be that mom again and yell his name for the whole neighborhood to hear? 

Nope. He was heading back already. They must be out of town.

My son, he’s thirteen, still loves to play outside. We’ve only just begun to have warm enough weather to be outside again let alone reconnect with the neighborhood kids. He had just been playing with the eleven-year-old down the street the other day. 

“That was fast!” I said. 
“He’s got the flu,” his eyebrows raised a bit when he said it. 
“Like influenza, the flu or someone called what he has the flu.” 
“I don’t know. His mom said the flu.”

Shawn and I exchange glances. He had his flu shot but we've been hearing this latest strain is unresponsive and stronger.

This could be bad. Do I text her and ask. Is that weird?

"Check her Facebook. Maybe she posted something," Shawn suggests.

I think it's probably unlikely I'll find an absolute answer, but then, right in front of me with a blue background and all, "Took him in to get tested, he's positive for Influenza A."

So now, not only did I feel weird about FB stalking to find out how sick my neighbor's kid was, I was trying not to immediately panic. 

As the day went on I watched a perfectly healthy kid pick up sticks, rake, and goof around in the yard. Then later in the afternoon, a tiny cough began. By nine in the evening, flush cheeks became visible and his temp went from 99.8 to 100.6 in about an hour before he went to bed. 

Time to mask up and prepare.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Building a Pile

Looking out the window, I could see the magnitude was uncountable. We would all need to lend a hand.
Putting on some older shoes, warm-ish clothes, and a pair of gloves we all headed out.
It became a challenge, how many could we each take at a time? No one was actually counting, but each one added to my hand felt like I was leveling up. Then there were the ones that practically took up my whole hand or needed to be dragged.
Each time my hand was full, it was back to the pile to see how far I could throw them to get them to the top.
As we got down to those remaining, every once in a while I would grab one, and it would be attached to something much bigger gripped to the ground with tangled waves of last year's growth. The ripping was quite satisfying.

By the end, we had a pile. I wish I had a picture.
Any idea what I spent part of my day picking up?

Friday, March 22, 2019

Winding Down

As the week comes to a close, I’m winding down and eating a late dinner. My parents made an unexpected visit to celebrate my daughter’s birthday a bit early. They were nearby, which is rare, so it worked out nicely.

After they left, I realized I hadn’t eaten. And I was starving! Funny how that happens. You sort of forget you’re hungry due to distractions and then suddenly it’s like you’ve never eaten before. 

To celebrate my hunger, I made myself some of my favorite roasted veggies and spicy noodles topped with salted pepitas. Now I smell it, and I’ve pulled up my favorite books from the library to see what’s on the menu for next week! I decided I would get my slice done first so I could sit back a bit and enjoy the food. It's an excellent motivator.

I’m winding down before things rev up again! 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Unexpected Leisure

Tossing, turning.
Tossing, turning.

I could not sleep last night.
My daughter could not sleep last night.
My dog could not sleep last night.

So, we all seemed to toss and turn around through the night. We'd mumble out inaudible words to each other. We made attempts to help one another. If all three of us were awake, maybe we could help one of us. It worked off and on.

My alarm started at 5:00 a.m. I hit the snooze until 5:24 as I became hit with the realization this time I needed to be awake. Grabbing my robe, dog by my side, I headed to the back door through the darkness. I wondered if it was still raining as I opened the sliding glass door to see my backyard covered in a blanket of fog. I clipped a leash to my dog and wondered, Hmmm, a delay today would be too good to be true. I never miss those alerts. With impulsive hope, I checked my messages.

"We have a 2-hour fog delay today."

I had to read it three times. Was this really my most recent message? How could I be sure? Checking the date and time even though the evidence was right outside, I decided it must be true. All of those "snoozes" must have interfered with me interpreting an alert as opposed to an alarm. 

With that, I quickly made some lunches, did the dishes, and now I can be an early slicer for one day this month!

Now on with my leisurely morning.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


As I entered the doors near the auditorium, I was met with many smiles. I walked, passing parents, grandparents, and siblings eagerly waiting. As I got closer to the hallway on the other side of the auditorium, I could hear the squeals.

The energy was high. There was bouncing, hopping, wall pushing, and most of all pure glee! My class was SO excited to perform for their families. They had their recorders at the ready around their necks, and their best outfits on.

As I struggled to reign in their attention, we slowly began to get into concert line-up. I kept signaling students with calming gestures--breath--center--calm body. I watched them all relax a bit before starting to walk toward the entrance.

There's something about entering a packed auditorium. You could feel the anticipation!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dulling my Edges

I have been feeling my edges lately.
I do not enjoy when my edges come to such a surface level.
I normally have so much tolerance.
But when my edges surface my tone sharpens.
When my edges surface my face hardens
before I can stop it.
I don't like my edges to show.
Their purpose--moot.

The sun was shining.
I was alone in the car.
I almost rolled down the window
47 degrees, eh--not quite. 
Music was playing on the radio.
Slowly the music got louder and louder.
I cranked it higher and higher.
I think it dulled my edges a bit.
Driving in the sunshine.
Blaring some "who knows what" music.

Arriving home,
more music,
Tiny Desk concerts on public radio.
I'm a bit more centered.
I'm feeling fuzzier already with
and care.
I was ready to dull these edges.

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Generous Gift

Last weekend I was at a conference here in Michigan. It was amazing. I saw and listened to some great voices in education. Some I had never been lucky enough to hear before.

The last day of the three-day conference Ellin Oliver Keene was the keynote. I've been curious to read her new book, Engaging Children, but hadn't gotten it yet.

I listened to her talk. I was not surprised by my furious note-taking so I could attempt to capture as many words as possible. One quote she shared is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It has given me pause. It's made me think about whether I'm generous in this way. Am I too caught up in my own thoughts? I tend to think a lot and fast and sometimes this causes me to miss important moments. To not pay attention.

What I appreciated most was developing a better understanding of what engagement really is and what it really isn't. Attention is a generous gift we give to someone in front of us. I like thinking of it in this way and it makes me want to give more of my attention away. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

March 17, 2019

Memories seem so intangible at times. Do I remember that right? Did I just fill in a blank? They are intangible until you cry a tear and the tear is touchable. A touchable memory.

Memories feel so far away. I mean, they are memories, so it makes sense. It's just so hard to think sometimes that moments become memories and yet so many others just become forgotten.

Today marks the 28th anniversary of my grandmother's death. Many years have passed, and many times I have written about that day. Sometimes I haven't. I have many memories on that day some of which I have objects from that make it more of a tangible memory.

I wish I had more memories of time with my grandmother. I only got twelve years with her, and the things I remember are probably enough but feel too small.
  • Skipping in the parking lot of D&W.
  • The green fruit salad bowl.
  • Her terrarium that she cherished. Climbing into her bed on Christmas morning because it was too early. 
  • Angel food cake with strawberries.
  • Peeking through the opening of the kitchen to the living room.
  • Her smile.
  • Her laugh--a faint sound in the back of my mind.
I wish I remembered more. I wish some of my happiest memories with her were as touchable in my thoughts as the day she died.

Not every link below is a story of my grandmother, but almost all of them are. I've rounded them up here because I know next year I will want to go back and read all the posts I've written on this day. Your welcome Betsy of 2020. Betsy of 2019 was thinking ahead for you.

March 17, 2018
March 17, 2017
March 17, 2016
March 17, 2015
March 17, 2014
March 17, 2013
March 17, 2012

Saturday, March 16, 2019

I Heard You

The last few days have been teasingly nice at times. We still managed to have some crazy winds, rain, and tornadoes in Michigan this week but more bizarre, there was sun. I was putting my coat in the backseat at the end of the school day. I was feeling rays of warmth on my cheek and this made me happy even if it was only 45 degrees outside.

I woke up this morning ready-ing myself to head out for the morning. It was a balmy 30 degrees (wink) but I wasn't feeling my winter coat so I threw on a hoody and grabbed my purse.  I opened the garage and stopped dead in my tracks at the sound.


Tiptoeing to the edge I saw snow-covered blades of green attempting to regain a place in the world.


My eyes dart up.
Where is it? Is that what I think it is?


I stood in my driveway and stopped.
I listened.
I would be late.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Best Part of My Week

I'm not going to lie, this week was long, hard, and rough around all the edges. At times I felt as though I was torturing myself. Which, I realize sounds dramatic. It's meant to sound that way. I rarely over-exaggerate or complain, at least I hope I rarely entangle myself in those behaviors. But, wow, it felt hard.

Then, there were these fifteen minutes. Fifteen glorious little minutes where I surrounded myself with wonder, possibility, and joy.

I went to preschool.

Just to visit. Just to be around the little people. It was by far the best part of my week. I met kids I've never met before. I banged on a drum. I watched a dinosaur fight a bear. I played with baby dolls. I listened to a story about myself and my imaginary baby, named Jason all drawn out on the corner of a piece of paper. I could not have been showered with more happiness and engagement than those precious fifteen minutes. It was the perfect dose of play and conversation with little people who didn't know me.

It was the best part of my week.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Is There Anything More Exhilarating?

I just...just, finished report cards. I suddenly have this feeling of freedom.
I was finding myself thinking, there is nothing more exhilarating!
Then I thought, um...yes there is.

It is really something how I find myself often completely wrapped up in everything that is education, my students, late phone calls to parents, adjusting lesson plans, finishing report cards, mapping out data. It feels like everything is revolving around my work life yet here I sit, my daughter across from me, eating a late dinner because I "had no time."

It makes me a little uneasy. I am going to get back to a balance, but at the moment I'm tipping the scale way too far and I probably need to pump the breaks a bit.

There are many things more exhilarating than finishing report cards and I have three of those things in my home with me right now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"What's that Smell?"

Someone blew out a candle.
I didn't know.

I was sitting at the kitchen table, papers all over, highlighters, points, scores, blah. My head hurt. I was a bit cranky. Not a good combination going into the evening.

"Does anyone smell that? I smell heat. It smells like something melting, Can anyone hear me? Do you smell it?" I know my voice was a bit sharp. My words gained speed. I didn't wait for any responses I just kept yelling out questions.

"Um, I kind of smell crayon. Is that what you smell?" my daughter asked.

Then, from the front of the house, I hear, "I blew out a candle. It's fine," from my husband.

"Oh, good. I couldn't tell what that was, " I yelled back. I suddenly was breathing easier.

We don't typically light candles at my house anymore. It's an occasional thing but I'm usually fully aware of the candle. This time, not so much. That little whiff of smokey heat made me super alert and aware.

I've always had things that triggered certain memories. Songs that made me think about past summers. Clothes that make me remember smaller children. Photos, or the taste of foods. But smoke, heat, anything even remotely electrical in odor sends a rush of endorphins like I might need to run for my life. It is the oddest and most legitimate of feelings, but I am still caught off guard by it at times. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Nostalgic Rays

"Mom, what's nostalgia mean?"

My son asked me this question from the passenger seat on the way home from school tonight, and I was trying to find the right words to explain nostalgia. Fatigue was definitely making it difficult to find the right words.

"Well, I can't quite put my finger on a dictionary-like definition, but if I were to give you an example, it would be the feeling I get when I see you and Jane playing at the beach. We've been to the beach a bunch of times and often when we are there I think of when you were little. The place is sort of the same but you are both different, and I get a feeling of nostalgia or a longing for you to be small again. It's sort of a trigger I guess. I get nostalgic when something reminds me of a happy time in the past."

I glanced over to see his face. He seemed to be in deep thought.
"Any, particular reason you were thinking about it?" I asked him.

"Yeah, yesterday I went for a bike ride, and it was like I got a rush of all these feeling from the fall. I was thinking about how much fun it was to ride my bike in all the same places, and the fresh air was making my dopamine go crazy," he said, in an intelligently bewildered sort of way.

"Huh, I could see how that might happen, it's been a long time since you rode your bike. You sort of got a brief taste of freedom."

The sun has come out two days in a row in Michigan. I am feeling the same nostalgia my son is feeling. The longing for bright skies, breezy fresh air, and being outdoors.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Aesthetic Experiences

It was an early start after two LONG days of learning, walking, and tossing through the night in a hotel bed. I was tired, achy, and uncertain of my ability to take on much more. However, my alarm sounded and I got up. I had to admit, as tired as I was, I was still eager to listen to Ellin Keene speak. I've never been in the same room with her before and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to want to miss a minute. 

I was right. 

One of the most fascinating parts of her conversation with us was about aesthetics. She said so many things, but this was what I am still thinking about:
"Who says we all have the same aesthetic experiences? What we find beautiful they may not."

I head into the remaining days of the week asking myself questions, "How can I find what might create an aesthetic experience for each of my students? What catalyst will I stumble upon unexpectedly? Will I notice when it happens?"

At this moment I've determined that it is more important to be asking the questions than having the answers.

Sunday, March 10, 2019


Today I got to...

Start the day one hour more tired
Eat avocado toast and coffee
Tweet with an old college friend who saw me
Hug my closest friend who seemed far away
Spend time with my husband
Hug and say hello to Kate Roberts
Feel my brain expanding
Listen to passionate educators
Walk in a cold wind
Take a hot shower
Wear cozy pj's
Go to bed feeling full

full of ideas

full of love

full of happy.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Cold Rain Smiles

This weekend my husband Shawn and I somehow ended up getting to go to the same literacy conference together. We don't work in the same district so it is a rare occasion something pops up for both of us. I've been looking forward to eating meals together, OUT.

Tonight we decided we would try and venture a couple blocks to grab some dinner and downtime. The weather was a bit questionable, but we decided we would brave it anyway. Shawn had mentioned to me earlier that there was a KISS concert in town. I hadn't really thought about the impact it might have on our ability to eat. Nor did I consider how people who would normally stand in line for a concert might adjust for the weather conditions. Many took refuge in nearby restaurants. Who can blame them?

As I began to realize we were not going to find a restaurant with less than a 90-minute wait I also realized we were probably doomed to make the walk back to the hotel in the cold splitting wind.

I will say, it was quite a sight to see these fans. I saw little kids with detailed face paint, some fans in full KISS apparel (I hope that wasn't actually KISS walking the streets because I missed a huge opportunity if it was), and we saw a lot of very happy people smack in the middle of some pretty awful weather conditions. 

So, I've realized that even cold wind and rain can't get everybody down. I couldn't help but smile in the misery as well. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

These Two

My kids.
I can hardly believe 
how grown up they are. 
The things they are experiencing—
it astounds me.

The other day a colleague came in to visit with her newborn and toddler. Though she has two boys I felt like I was looking in a mirror for a moment. This tiny baby and a little boy all cheeks and smiles on her lap snacking from a cup. Those days were so amazing and awesomely hard. 
Then I look at these two and I’m blown away. All we’ve done. All we’ve been through. All there is to come. It’s exciting! (Also, a bit terrifying at times.) 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Words Appear

If you are familiar with Lynda Barry's book, What It Is, you won't be surprised that I began flipping through the pages for inspiration tonight. 

Page 44 asks, "[what]Where is a story before it becomes words?"

What an intriguing question. Slice of life stories live within our moments, our memories, our thoughts, and dreams. 
By writing them down, I attach words to them.

I could tell of how my eyelids are dropping as we speak. 
I could write of how I have a bag to pack.
I could describe the blur of this screen.
I could remember the stories of walnuts.

And there it is.

On page 44, as I sat here writing those few lines above, I noticed a walnut on the page within the illustrations. Walnuts were a funny and familiar thing to me growing up. If ever we were passing by a walnut tree we might stop and ask if we could collect them. The walnuts would then sit in our cool basement until my parents were ready to boil them. OH the smell! 

See, as a child, my parents were not only teachers, but they were also basket weavers. They made baskets, cradles, and buggies of all kinds. At the time there were not a lot of basket makers at craft shows and the like, so my parents were unique in the sense of a small business renting a table at a fair. Their business was called Country Creations. My job was usually to soak the reed while my parents would weave the baskets for those passing by. 

People were amazed by the craftsmanship of my parents work. 

We had rows and rows of different reed--wide, narrow, cylindrical, flat. My parents made their own walnut dye and once the baskets were finished would seal it with shellac. The whole process was fascinating and quite beautiful. 

There are many stories about the basket weaving time in our life. I may need to share a few more of them this month. I sometimes forget the little moments, memories, and blur of the past. But then, just like that, a story that was living inside a memory is brought forth from a single image. 
Words appear. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

THE Orange Slice

Back in 2013, I was lucky enough to join the Two Writing Teachers co-author team. Before the March 2014 SOLSC, we had discussed freshening up the image for slicing. I distinctly remember Stacey sending an image of an orange slice with a message that was basically, "Here's an idea?"

When I got home that night I grabbed some flecked ivory-ish paper, some watercolor paint, and a marker along with scissors and glue. I don't know what I was even thinking I was going to do. I cut a circle, then another, and another. I began to wonder how I would make the segments look uniform while organic at the same time. I folded the circle in halves until it seemed just right.

I could then start to see how it would come together. I painted with some orange-ish washes of paint and yellows for brightness, with a bit of red for a peach hue here and there. When the painted segments were dry I carefully cut them apart, placing them onto the pithy color backdrop I had layered on an additional circle painted in the same washes of colors.

At the time, being part of such an incredible group of writers who inspired me was more than I could imagine. I didn't know if the team would like my orange slice but I distinctly remember thinking, this could be it! Slicing was such a big part of my life and putting together these pieces of paper seemed like I was putting together the pieces of my writing life.

I can remember my husband putting a white piece of paper on our piano bench (insert tear for my missed piano) and placing the orange slice on top so he could photograph it. So much tinkering ensued and font styles, and sizes, and oh my was I proud.

I have a special spot in my basement all set up for writing now. It's a good place for writing. On top of my desk I have the slice on a metal message board. I realize the colors clash a bit, but the messages of each are pretty spot on. Not to mention, it is beside my Great-Grandmother who almost always makes her way into a story each March.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Foot Rubs

When I was younger, my mom and I used to rub each other's feet. We'd stretch our legs out toward each other and give each other a foot rub. At one point, we even started learning about reflexology and trying to find particular areas to apply pressure for sinus relief or stomach pain. I was never really sure if we were doing it right or if it worked, but it got me more foot rubs!

My mom and I both still like a good foot rub. There is something quite relaxing about it, and my feet are always tired.

Now my daughter and I have taken up the tradition. Tonight we got home from school a bit later than usual. Both of us were on the couch reaching our feet out to the other. Without saying a word, we both started. It was short lived but a good end to a long day.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Cold Days Continue

It's March 4th and cold. Oh so cold.

This is nothing new of course, I've lived in Michigan my entire life. Cold is expected. Snow is inevitable. That doesn't change the fact that when March hits I want things to change.

For instance, this morning all I wanted to do was wear flats. I love my boots. I have boots I can wear from the snowy parking lot and then all day long. I'm just tired of them. I wanted to wear shoes. As I looked out the window I saw snow was already coming down and the bitterness in the air was already visibly uncomfortable. So, instead, I packed my shoes in my school bag and put on some warm fluffy faux fur boots to wear in the car.

I can't wait for warmer weather, but I will. Those first days that hit sixty degrees are so super special. Coats hang in closets and sandals emerge. It's something to look forward to!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

A Bringer of Wisdom

"Code-switching," I stated. "You know what I mean? I'm realizing it is not just an assumed trait."
"Yes, I know what you mean," he responded. 

As the weekend came to an end I realized I had encountered three worlds from my life. Each of which I am able to take on different parts of myself. At this stage of my life, the three worlds are less different from each other. I suppose at a different time they might have been more easily differentiated. Mostly just by language, or shades of language. 

I never thought much of the differences or likenesses. However, watching other members of my family grow into these worlds has opened my eyes a bit more. Watching them interact in ways different from my own is--at times--challenging.

I'm finding myself thinking about what a family becomes as they grow up together. A child is born and lives a childhood and at the same time a parent is born and lives parenthood. The two are side by side, parallel in life yet bonded by abstract intersections. All these different pieces connect them but each is its own line running in an infinite direction of its own making. 

There is so much to learn on these paths. I am reminded I did not always know or wish for the learning. I did, however, find it. And time is a hopeful thing and a bringer of wisdom. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Over the River and Through the Woods

On an early Saturday drive
we pass cozy homes 
bare swept branches,
and an ice capped pond. 

Overhead, two geese together 
then later, one alone
amid a backdrop  
of flurries and brittle air. 

As time and trees pass
the brittleness turns paler
giving a blur of white-gray
to already squinted eyes. 

Snow capped cattails 
pepper a sheet of frozen wetland
with unseen amphibian life below
in a blissful darkness. 

Awaiting a resuming spring,
I’m reminded of spirals 
and cycles of a season,
seeing what I’ve seen.

Over years of my life
but with eyes of today
seeing a newness 
for the first time. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Season for Seeing

I sat down this morning and could tell my daily slicer brain was starting to cue up. I've been writing almost every day but not slice of life stories. I've been in deep thought thinking about processes while reading and researching. In my first eye flutters of the day it hit me I had to write differently, think differently, and as I did the dust cloths came off, and I began.

At first, I thought, when am I going to write?
          Maybe right now would be best.
What will I say? Should it be profound? Should it be basic?
          Maybe it should just be this.
Or, should I write a poem? [Begins listing words, delete, delete]
          Maybe that just made me think.

I feel warmed up.
My eyes are bigger.
I'm ready for seeing.

I like this season of seeing in March. So much of my brain gets re-wired and focused. So much of my thoughts are given a bit of extra time to settle, and some become a word on a page. And, I think what I'm most looking forward to is it reminds me of when I first had these feelings. They mostly would come on my drive to work, which I've been taking for granted. But, I've noticed the lighter mornings. The dark grays that slowly dilute to lighter tones as we drive through the woods, past houses, and cautious deer. I've started to notice the few brave birds. I wonder when I'll hear them too? I'm hoping this will be the year the herring and the egrets come back to my favorite pond. They've been gone for years now, but I continue to hope.

It's a season for hoping.
It's a season of wishes.
It's a season for seeing.