Friday, June 23, 2017

Be KInd

I received several requests to post my speech from the 4th grade Moving Up Ceremony on June 15, 2017.  So here it is...

Welcome parents, family members, teachers, and most important…4th graders, welcome to your moving up ceremony!  I love that I have the opportunity to say a few words to all of you and share my thoughts with you on one of your last full days at Florence Roche.  I started my week meeting with all of next year’s kindergartners and I can’t help but think back to just a few years ago when I was meeting all of you and talking to you about coming to kindergarten.  Just like the new crew on Monday, you were all so little and the school seemed so big in your eyes.  And now, as you are about to move up and actually move just a few hundred feet next door to this school, well now you are the big kids at FloRo and somehow the school has gotten smaller through your eyes.  So it’s time to move onto a bigger school where once again you might feel like the small fish in a big pond.  But I hope that you will remember how hard you have worked over the years and how much you have accomplished in your time at elementary school.

In past speeches, I have talked about all of the various accomplishments that the outgoing 4th graders have achieved.  I could talk about how many millions of books you have read over the years.  I could talk about how many hours you have spent singing and composing your own music.  I could talk about how many thousands of math problems you have solved.  I could talk about all of the amazing writing you have done, sharing your personal narratives, creating characters, informing all of us about everything from penguins to how to play lacrosse to facts about Harry Houdini, and writing lots of opinion pieces full of reasons for why we should have swings on the playground or why we should take better care of our planet.  I do hope that you keep sharing your opinions through writing because you all have a lot to say and we adults could learn a thing or two from you!  I could talk about how many amazing, creative, different art projects you have created over the years.  I could talk about how many interesting projects you have created using cool tech tools like green screens, iPads, and Google docs.

While all of that stuff, all of the things you learned, all of the work you did, all of the knowledge you gained is absolutely important and we are proud of you for those accomplishments, I actually just want to stand up here and share two simple words with you that I hope you will hold onto and carry with you as you move on.

Here’s what I want all of you to do:  Be kind.

Seems a little crazy to simplify your 5 years of elementary school down to two simple words, but I truly believe that if you can hang onto those two words, you will be successful, not just in middle school, but in life. 

Be kind.

I think I can speak for the adults in this room, your parents, your teachers, when I say that growing up in today’s world, it is not easy.  Whether it’s the news, social media, the radio, we are surrounded by and sometimes overwhelmed by stories of people being mean or hurtful to each other.  It hurts my heart to hear how some people treat each other.  Good news is…It doesn’t have to be that way.  4th graders, you can change that.  Remember a few weeks ago when we were in here for the kindness assembly?  Our guest speaker said, “You can change the world.” 

All it takes is to be kind.  Your teachers and I, we have been looking out for you over the years.  Now it’s time for you to look out for each other.  Be kind to each other.  When you go through middle school and high school, you get to create your story.  What will your story be?  What will everyone remember about you?  Your friends that you are sitting next to, they will remember how you treated them and how you made them feel.  Make sure those memories that you are creating are good ones.  Being kind does not cost anything and anyone can do it.  But if you can simply remember to be kind, not only will you reap the rewards that will last long after middle school, but everyone around you will also benefit and you may never even know the impact you had on all of those people. 

What should you do when you come to middle school?  Smile at people.  Say hello to kids and adults in the hallways.  Help someone out without being asked.  Remember that your words can be used to inspire.  Include someone in your group.  Invite someone to sit next to you when it looks like they might be lonely.  Most of all just be kind every day.  If you can hang onto those two little words and let them guide your actions, you will do well in middle school.

I want to share a quote from one of my favorite books, Wonder.  If you have not read this book, you need to.  A line in this book says, “If every person in this room made it a rule that whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place.”  I hope that during your time at FloRo, besides math equations and writing strategies and technology skills, you have learned the importance of being kind.  In the book, we learn that we actually need to be kinder than needed.  As you go onto middle school, I hope you will continue doing the hard work involved in building good social karma.  Karma means that what you put into the world, you get back.  If you put kindness out, you get kindness back.  It’s very simple.

Be kind.

We are going to hear all of your names called out as you walk across the stage today, but I hope you know that you are all unique, wonderful individuals.  We will miss you at Florence Roche, but we wish you all the best.  Keep reading, keep learning, keep loving your parents, and keep being kinder than necessary.

Friday, March 31, 2017

In with a Milkshake and Out with Hot Cocoa 31/31 #sol17

I began this 31 day journey with a slice about a milkshake request.  Today, I will end this 31 day journey with a different drink request...this time it's hot cocoa.  Looks like my slices have come full circle!

It was still dark out, my hair was only half brushed, the dogs had just been let outside, and I set the wild-haired jammie-clad half-awake child down once we stepped into the kitchen.  No sooner had I put her down when she proclaimed at the top of her lungs...

"I want hot co-co mama!" (If only I had a video recording of her saying 'co-co' with her little lips forming the O as she accentuates each co in co-co.)

This was a first and definitely took me by surprise.  Usually she requests some milk or sometimes she doesn't request it but I give it to her anyways.  But never had I experienced a hot cocoa request.

Thankfully, there was one lonely hot cocoa Keurig cup left.  I made her some hot cocoa, poured it into her mini Polar Express insulated container, and dropped in a single ice cube.

"What's that mommy?" she asked.

"I'm putting in an ice cube to make your hot cocoa just right," I explained, stretching out those last two words.

I screwed the lid onto her container and handed her the drink.

She took a sip and cheerfully exclaimed, "Mmmm, dat's dee-lishish, my hot co-co is too right mama."

With her hot cocoa container in her hand, she headed off to her play area, now ready to take on her dinosaurs and the world.  Smiling, I couldn't help but think that our hot cocoa exchange was not 'too right."  

Actually, I thought to myself...this morning was starting off just right.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Can't Imagine Anything Better Than That 30/31 #sol17

I was lucky enough to spend the day in Boston at the JFK Presidential Library at a workshop focused on memoir writing.  Ralph Fletcher was the keynote speaker.  Boy, was he entertaining and insightful!  During his talk, he had us all do a poetry writing activity.  He read us one of his poems and then had us use the beginning line and the ending line of his poem to write about one of our memories.

Here is what I came up with...

Sometimes I remember the good old days
piled into the over-loved and overloaded family station wagon

Sprawled out in the way-way back
listening to library borrowed books on tape like Mickey's Patriotic Songs

Traveling to a different state, a different campground 
always with the same borrowed pop up camper

Snacking on pepperoni bread and graham crackers
bickering with my brothers and sister between bites

Dad answering us with his eyes in the rearview mirror
After being asked yet again, are we there yet?

I still can't imagine anything better than that 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Ring 29/31 #sol117

As I was walking out of the presentation room today, I noticed a phone call was coming in on my phone.  I answered the phone and heard a woman ask for David or Liz.  I informed her that I was Liz.  She said she was calling from Saks Jeweler.  I was only half listing as I was walking through the bookstore in the JFK Presidential Library.  But hearing that this was a jewelry store calling, I perked up a little bit.

"I'm calling to let you know that your wedding band is ready for pick up," said the woman on the phone.

"Oh really?" I responded.

A little background info for you...several months ago my husband lost his wedding band.  In our house.  He takes it off to put lotion on his hands.  After playing guitar all the time for a living, his hands are very dry.  So he takes his ring off to put on lotion.  Apparently, after one of the times when he took his ring off and forgot to put it back disappeared.  His ring is nothing fancy.  We both kept it simple when we got married and selected basic rings.  When it became apparent that it was missing, he blamed me, blamed our daughter, blamed the cleaning lady, blamed anyone else that was not him.  The ring was never found, and I had sort of forgotten about the fact that it has been missing from his hand for a while now.

I thanked the woman for the message, hung up the phone and sent my husband a text message.  

Here's a window into my life, the conversation through texts that transpired...

Me: Apparently the wedding band you ordered came in? The store just called me.

Hubby: I found it finally.  It was at the store the whole time.

Me: (Sitting at the conference, reading the above the text message, crying from laughing so hard) Oh man I love you.

Hubby: It must have been getting polished.

So it looks like the ring has been "found."  Wonder how long this one will stick around or if the original one will turn up one day.  I know it is definitely somewhere in our house.

Next text message from my husband that appeared on my phone...

Hubby: I found the pee.

The story behind that text is a completely different lost and found story!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fangirl 28/31 #sol17

I realized today that over the next week, I will get to be a literacy groupie.  Tomorrow I will be traveling to a one day workshop where I will be in the same room with Ralph Fletcher.   I will be in the same room with Nikki Grimes.  I will be in the same room with Lois Lowry.  Some of our 4th grade classrooms just finished reading and discussing Number the Stars.  I said to a girl I was talking with the other day, did you know that I am going to have chance to meet and talk with that author?!  She said, "Wow, that is awesome."  Yes, it is awesome.  It's like tomorrow is Christmas, and I might not be able to sleep tonight.  (Who am I kidding?  I am exhausted.  I will be able to sleep.  But am ridiculously excited!)

But wait, it gets better.  I just found out that next week when I am at the state reading conference, I am one of several lucky winners that will get a private session with Donalyn Miller, the Donalyn Miller!  Are you kidding me?!  I hope I can be as lit-cool as she is.

It seems fitting that I am winding down with the slice challenge (can't believe I am only a few days away from 31 days straight of slicing!) while finishing up the National Literacy Month with me being fangirl with some of my writing and reading heroes.  I hope I don't get  speaker's block!

I am a collector of quotes so I can't help but include one of Ralph Fletcher's in this post:

I am no special creature.  I am just an ordinary person who likes to write.  

So glad I have been able to scratch my itch (ok doesn't sound as good when I write it) this month!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Grandma's Voicemail 27/31 #sol17

My phone was acting up today and while I was sitting in the parking lot getting ready to start my drive home, I started listening to some of my saved voicemails.  In my new car, I have that great feature of bluetooth so the system automatically connects and projects through the car speaker.  As I am sitting there, suddenly a voice came over the system that made me stop and listen.

The voice was my grandma's voice.  She passed away over three years ago.  But I have had a voicemail saved on my phone.  I can't bring myself to let go of that one little piece of her.  Friday, March 24 would have been her 92nd birthday.

So as I was sitting in the parking lot, this message came to me through my car speakers...

Elizabeth, it's grandma.  I just want to tell you how much I love you.  Your mother said it was ok to call you.  You don't need to worry about calling me back.  I am thinking about you.  You need to make sure and take care of yourself.  And I love you.

I was very close with my Grandma Elaine.  I spent a lot of time visiting her down in Florida, and we often spoke on the phone when I wasn't able to be with her.  She left this message for me a few days after I had had a miscarriage.  She knew how difficult that loss had been for me.  I wanted desperately to have a child, but my husband and I struggled through infertility and loss for several years.  

When my grandma passed away, I promised myself that I would hang onto that message.  Some days I play it so I can hear her voice and it brings a smile to my face.  Sometimes when I hear her voice, it brings tears to my eyes.  I have played the message for my daughter, and have pointed to the picture in her room of my mother and my grandma, trying to explain to her who that special lady is in the picture.

Today, when her voice came through the car speaker, I simply stopped and took a minute to breathe and remember an amazing lady.  She was a fiercely independent woman, the type of woman I strive to be.  The type of woman I hope my daughter will become.  

My grandma did not live to see me give birth to my miracle baby.  I know I need to do something with that voicemail, I must hang onto her voice, maybe have it recorded and stored somewhere else.  She may be gone, but her voice, her spirit lives on.  

She absolutely lives on in my fiercely independent little miracle, Miss Emerson Elaine.

Thanks for the message grandma, I needed to hear it today.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Popsicle Bribery 26/31 #sol17

The pamphlet that comes with the amoxicillin prescription does not exactly serve as a manual for how to deal with a toddler with a double ear infection.  At 6:30 this morning, I found myself in a situation I definitely did not want to be in.  I had a screaming child telling me "I no like that medicine" and covering her mouth with her tiny hands.  Somehow my husband was upstairs asleep.

So I did what any sleep deprived mother would do.  I used popsicle bribery.  Thankfully I had just bought some Frozen popsicles.  I mean Frozen in the sense that Elsa, Anna and Olaf were on the box and apparently the mini popsicles were in colors to match the characters.  Doesn't really matter.  All I know is it worked.

Armed with two syringes of medicine, one with cherry Tylenol and one with the dreaded pink stuff, and a sippy cup full of milk, I was able to coax my child to swallow the nasty stuff.  We got into a routine although I wouldn't call it a rhythm: squeeze a little bit of Tylenol into her mouth, squeeze a little bit of the pink stuff, take a swig of milk, and then mommy promises a popsicle when it's all over.  And repeat and repeat until finally all medicine has been taken.

We have to do this for ten days?!  Crap.

I think I'm going to need to buy more popsicles.