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 on...it 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.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blankies, Binkies, and Babies, Oh My! 25/31 #sol17

As I was washing dishes this morning, this was going on in the kitchen...
There was a sort of patchwork quilt being layered across the kitchen floor, made up of knit blankets, burp cloths, receiving blankets, and even a dish cloth.  I was desperately trying to find the bottom of my sink (always amazed at how quickly I lose it under a pile of plates, bowls, sippy cups, wine glasses, pots and pans, forks and spoons, and cookie sheets).  Saturday morning and daddy is still sleeping.  Even though Emerson has an entire room off of the kitchen, formerly known as our dining room, stuffed to the brim with train tracks, musical instruments, books, easels, blocks and stuffed animals, she insists on bringing the play party and all of the supplies that go with it to wherever I am in the house.

So this morning that meant we were together in the kitchen.  When I glanced down and saw that she had created a "night night" space for her baby, I couldn't resist snapping a quick picture, both mentally and actually.  She had layered and re-layered the blankets.  This is part of the ritual.  Yes, it is a ritual that happens many times throughout the day.  Oh, to be one of her naked baby dolls.  I swear they are always either sleeping or preparing to go to sleep!  She is constantly putting them to bed, announcing to me, "baby going night night mommy."  

I went back to scrubbing caked on scrambled eggs off of a pan.  A few minutes later, I heard her say, "baby wants to hold my hand."  I can't help but smile since this is what she has begun insisting on as part of her bedtime routine.  After bath, brushing, and books, and after we count 1, 2, 3 and blow out the lights, her tiny hand reaches through the spaces in the crib searching for mine and she finds my fingers and holds on tight as she drifts off to sleep.  This is now part of our bedtime ritual.

I catch glimpses of the bottom of the sink, although when I look at the counter, I realize there are more items that need to be added in, awaiting cleaning.  Emerson has decided to pick up her baby, wrapped in about seven blankies, and is walking around the kitchen "wocking" her baby to sleep and singing.  She catches her reflection in the door of the stove and stands there swaying, watching, and singing her version of "Rock-a-Bye Baby."  She is watching her reflection, and I realize I am watching a reflection of myself.  

Smiling, I add more soap to my sponge and begin to clean out yet another sippy cup (how many of these suckers do we have in this house?!), and mommy Emerson announces, "baby needs a diaper, baby did poo poo."

Yes, Emerson, a mother's job is never done. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Queen of Procrastination 24/31 #sol17

Queen of Procrastination

I need to write.

But I would much rather open that book right now.

I need to write.

Those towels need to be folded.

I need to write.

Wonder if I can find a good deal for our upcoming road trip.

I need to write.

A cup of tea would make tonight even better.

I need to write.

Maybe I'll just rest my eyes for a few minutes.

I need to write.

Let me just check email, Facebook, Twitter first.

I need to write.

The dogs should probably go outside one more time.

I need to write.

Going to read a few more blog posts.

I need to write.

Did I shut the downstairs lights off?

I need to write.

Maybe I'll have better luck focusing tomorrow.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Your Kids Need You 23/31 #sol17

I remember doing a great activity in one of my poetry writing classes in college, and I thought I would try it out for my late slice today.  This morning, I listened to an amazing keynote address given by Todd Nesloney, principal and one of the co-authors of the book Kids Deserve It.  I laughed, I cried, I was inspired by his talk and his passion.  Everyone at the conference was given a copy of his book.  I have already read the book, and I am excited to have another copy of the book to share with other educators.  So for my post tonight, I am going to open up to a random page in that book and write a poem using only words or phrases found on that page.

Here I go...

Your Kids Need You
(All words taken from pages 40 and 41)

School year
Invest in
      A little crying,
                     A hug,
                         A "special education student"

School year
Smile more
        See them
                   Take root
                           Smallest actions make the biggest difference

School year
Tear up
     Standardized tests
             Results touched my heart
                                  Said no one ever

School year
Believe in them
      A fresh new start
                  A seed waiting to bloom
                                 How powerful is that?

   

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Find the Good 22/31 #sol17

This evening, I was at a dinner for the launch of our state principal association conference.  An award was given to a principal for his outstanding service.  He gave a truly inspiration speech to a room full of inspirational education leaders.  There were many things that stuck out to me as he spoke, but the best part of his speech was when he was talking about something his mentor had told him many years ago.  It's just three simple words, but it can make such a big difference in how you approach the role of principal.  And to be honest, I feel like these three words should actually be how everyone approaches life.

He said to all of us:  "Find the good."

Those three simple words put a smile on my face as I thought about how true and how important that directive can be.

I will be taking those three simple words, grabbing onto them and tucking them into my pocket.  I am going to carry those three simple words around with me.  I can't wait to go find the good tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sleeping Beauty 21/31 #sol17

Here are three slivers from my day, wouldn't even call them full slices...

Sliver #1: I tiptoed into my daughter's room this morning to stare down into her crib at her.  Do I wake her so I can actually talk to her today, actually see her and give her the chance to see me?  I hovered, quite literally, peering at her sleeping position and her heart jammies that are probably finally too small yet she insists on wearing them.  I whispered "I love you baby girl" and then tiptoed back out of her room.

Sliver #2: As I sat next to a parent at a committee meeting tonight and she saw me texting a check-in with the babysitter, I shared that today was a long day, especially since I would be going a whole day without really seeing my daughter.  I shared my story of my morning moment with her, watching her sleep and the parent told me how she had heard from a friend once that no matter how old your children get, they still look like they did when they were sleeping as babies.  And she shared something that her now 7-year-old does in her sleep and has always done since she was a baby.

Sliver #3: I tiptoed into my daughter's room this evening to stare down into her crib at her.  I don't dare wake her up so I can actually talk to her today, so I can actually see her and give her the chance to see me.  I hovered, quite literally, peering at her sleeping position (exact same as the position she was in fifteen or so hours earlier) and her Star War jammies that are also probably too small yet she insists on wearing them.  I whispered "I love you baby girl" and then tiptoed back out of her room.

Some days being a mom is hard.
Some days working full-time is hard.
Being a full-time working mom is always hard.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Letter to My Daughter 20/31 #sol17

A few months ago, I bought this great little book for my daughter that contains blank letters folded into it.  The point is to write letters on the papers and then I have all of the letters in one book.  You would think that I would have started writing letters to her in it, right?  Well you would be wrong.  I don't know what my problem is...I need to start writing in that book.  For now, I am doing this post as a letter to my daughter.

Dear Emerson,

Today was a day when I realized how quickly you are growing up in front of my eyes.  I love our car conversations when I pick you up from daycare at Lori's house.  I ask you questions about your day and you answer me.  Your eyes are always scanning the scenery going by outside your window.  And you ask me questions like "you go to work mommy?" and "where is my daddy?"  It's so tough to have to go to work all day, but I don't know if you will ever know how much I appreciate the end of the day when a little being is so happy to see me and spend time with me.

Today we had to go to the grocery store, and I decided to surprise you with a visit to the store that has "customer in training" carts that are the perfect size for you.  It's amazing how excited you can get over something like helping mommy do the grocery shopping.  I was armed with a basket and you had your little cart and we were ready to shop!  We only had two times when you accidently tipped the whole cart over...not bad I guess.  When I handed you items like bananas and yogurt, you enthusiastically loaded up your cart.  And surprisingly we only had one incident where you reached for the eye level Oreo package and I had to tell you no.

Yes, shopping probably took us twice as long.  Yes, we were not able to buy too many things since we only had a tiny cart and a basket.  But it was such a fun way to end my day.  Besides the fact that it took some time for you to navigate up and down the aisles, you also made sure to stop and wave or say hello to almost everyone in the store.  You managed to put a smile on everyone's face.  Of course, as your proud mama, I had the biggest smile.

Why do you have to grow up so fast?  You were such a big helper in the store and again when we unloaded the groceries in the kitchen.  And then as we climbed the stairs together to get ready for bed, I said to you, "Please be my baby, I don't want you to become a big girl."  Your quick response to me was "mama, I'm two, I'm a big girl."  And then you brought your step stool into the bathroom and suddenly you are tall enough to reach the faucet and turn on the water for brushing your teeth.

I know you are growing up.  But I do hope that time slows down a little bit.  Or maybe I will make sure to write about more of these moments like today.  Then when you are older, we can come back and read these stories together.

I love you to the moon and back, my little monkey girl.

XOXOXO,
Mommy

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Too Tired 19/31 #sol17

Too tired

I'm too tired to write today.
It was a full day complete with two-year-olds running around in tu-tus at a two-year-old birthday party, driving here and there, seeing 3rd and 4th graders perform "Beauty and the Beast" and sing their hearts out, watching eggs, rice, veggies, and meat being chopped, sliced and cooked in front of us at a birthday dinner celebration, listening to my little one sing "happy dayday" to her momma and help me blow out a candle, folding laundry before bedtime, and sipping a hot cup of tea.

I'm too tired to write today.  Yes, there was a lot going on today, lots of story material.

But I'm just too tired to write today.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 18th 18/31 #sol17


 Today is March 18th.  It's my birthday.  It's not one of those special years.  It's not a landmark birthday.  It's really just another day. Will I remember this birthday?

I definitely remember my 10th birthday.  It's a big deal to get to double digits for the first time.  My mother woke me up on that March 18th by lining up all of my panda bears, placing birthday hats on them, and strategically placing a tape recorder behind them so that it sounded like they were singing happy birthday to me.  I went to school that day wearing a t-shirt that said "Happy Birthday to me!"  And my mom brought homemade pizza and lemonade to school for everyone to enjoy at lunchtime.

Today is March 18th.  Another year older.  My daughter gifted me with an adorable homemade card and lots of extra 2-year-old crying and drama today.  Will I remember this birthday?

I do remember my 16th birthday.  On that March 18th, my parents had rented out a haunted house down on the strip in Virginia Beach.  I remember kids having fun running through the dark hallways, screaming and laughing.  I also remember my little brothers who were probably about 6 and 8, dancing around the party.  I did not want them to be there.  And I also remember a pretty amazing cake that had a mermaid and beach scene on it.

Today is March 18th.  How old am I now? I have a cold and have been coughing off and on all day.  Forget the question of whether or not I feel older; I just feel like crud and would like to stop blowing my nose.  Will I remember this birthday?

I'd like to say I remember my 21st birthday.  If I'm being honest, unfortunately, I may have been a little over zealous and was served a multi-layered alcoholic drink that I thought I could "handle."  I remember about an hour and a half of that March 18th.  The rest is a little fuzzy.

Today is March 18th.  I treated myself to some birthday shopping.  While my daughter was napping and my husband was home from work, I ran out and bought myself some new shoes and a few new outfits.  I did not blow out any candles and there was no cake today, which I am totally fine with.  Will I remember this birthday?

I absolutely remember my 40th birthday.  My husband rented a van, and with my father as the driver, we filled the van with friends and headed to a casino.  On that March 18th, I spent part of my time at a craps table and part of my time sitting in the van listening to the lovely sound of the battery operated breast pump.  I did not win any money, but I managed to get out and spend a whole day away from my 3 month old.  I'd call that a lucky day.

Today is March 18th.  Yes, it's my birthday for only about another hour.  Today was not too different from any other Saturday.  I received birthday phone calls and cards in the mail.  My daughter sang "happy birthday" to me numerous times.  My husband gave me some flowers.  And now another March 18th has come and almost gone.

Will I remember this birthday?

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Red Ukulele 17/31 #sol17

I can remember so many discussions in one of my poetry courses in college about the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams.  Yes, I was an English major with a poetry concentration.  Yes, my dad continually questioned why on earth I would get a degree in such a thing.  That's another post for another time.


Today, my musician husband gave his musical daughter a red ukulele.  As I watched her carry around her new musical fascination in the restaurant where daddy was playing, clutch it tight in the car ride home and then insist on bringing it up to her bedroom with her at bedtime, I was inspired to write a new version of "The Red Wheelbarrow."

The Red Ukulele

so much depends
upon

a new red
ukulele

lined with pluckable
strings

beside the singing
beauty


Thursday, March 16, 2017

I have a problem 16/31 #sol17


Here is a picture of my dresser which is next to my bed right now:

So I have a problem.  They say admitting it is half the battle.  I have a serious book addiction.  I know this.  I am aware of the fact that I cannot leave a bookstore without a purchase.  I know that when I hear about a good book, I immediately have to have it.  I know I have a problem.  Unfortunately, my cleaning lady apparently felt the need to throw my problem back in my face.  Normally, I have many little piles of books everywhere in my house.  Some were on the floor next to my bed.  Some were in a pile on the dresser.  Some were on the shelf over my bed.  Some were in a pile at the top of the stairs.  You get the idea.

After a visit from the cleaning lady (a Christmas present to my husband that I have to admit was more like a gift for myself that keeps giving every other week!), when I came upstairs and saw this new giant pile, all of my little piles merged into one towering pile...well I  realized that yes, I have a big problem.  My to-be-read pile is starting to take over the dresser.  It sort of makes me think of one of my favorite poems from Shel Silverstein...Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout...she was that little girl who never wanted to take the garbage out.  Remember her?  And the garbage kept piling higher and higher up to the sky.  I fear my book pile is going to keep growing and growing.  And when will I ever get the chance to actually read all of these books!?

For now, I think I am going to stop writing and try to tackle my pile, one book at a time, one page at a time.  

And like in the end of the poem where there was a reminder to all children about always taking the garbage out...
I will say, remember readers, always make sure to keep reading through your to-be-read piles.  Don't let your piles take over!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

You a little sick mommy? 15/31 #sol17

Definitely needed this new badge...I am a write by the seat of my pants slicer and proud of it!
I came home from work today and was excited and relieved to be able to get in some snuggle time on the couch with my daughter.  She is just beginning to reach that age where we can sort of have a conversation.

Me: Did you play with your daddy today?

Emerson: Yes!

Me: What did you play?

Emerson: I played babies.
(This is her answer everyday.  She loves taking care of her baby dolls.)

Me: Do you still have a little cough?

Emerson: I sick mommy.  I don't seel good.
(Definitely don't have that 'f' sound yet.)

Me: Aw, I hope you feel better soon.  Mommy will give you some medicine tonight.

Me: Cough, cough

Emerson: Mommy, you sick too?

Me: Yes, I'm a little sick.  I have a cold.

Emerson: Oh, you a little sick mommy?  You ok?

I just love when she tilts her head to the side and changes her intonation at the end of her sentences to ask a question.  I know I need to record her so I can hang onto that little voice long after she is a toddler.  When did she become this little human who carries on a conversation with me?  Earlier today, I was having a conversation with a teacher who was talking about her daughter who is probably soon going to have to stop breastfeeding her son.  I was sharing the story of how Emerson and I only made it to about 6 months with breastfeeding.  It was a gradual ending.  I remember how I treasured our early morning and bedtime feedings.  And I also remember how I kept thinking, when will our last early morning or late night feeding happen?

That last feeding came and went.  Time apparently does not stand still like we sometimes want it to.  In fact, as I watch her grow and change and surprise me everyday, I feel like time has decided to not only march on, it seems to be steadily jogging at a pace that I am desperately trying to keep up with.
There is no slowing my little human down.  I guess I need to figure out how to pick up the pace.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Snowed In 14/31 #sol17


When we woke up this morning, the snow had already begun to fall.  The ground had a snowy blanket covering it.  With the prediction of many, many inches, lots of wind and blizzard conditions, that meant it was going to be a snow day!

No going to work.  No going to daycare.  Lots of endless opportunities for activities.

With a mug of hot tea in my hand and her sippy cup of milk clenched in her little hand, we entered the play area, excited about a morning of play.

Completed the dinosaur floor puzzle.
Dumped toy dinosaurs out onto floor puzzle and served them tea.
Cleared toy dinosaurs off, took puzzle apart and then redid the puzzle.
Colored in sketchbook.
Wrapped baby doll in blankies and rocked the baby.
Read three books.
Played catch with a colorful ball.
Cleaned up toy dinosaurs.
Pretended to make mac and cheese and feed mama.
Helped stuffed animals feel better using a Doc McStuffins vet kit.
Read same books again.
Looked out the window at all of the snow.
Pretended to give baby doll a bath.
Colored a Tinkerbell coloring page.

What?! It's only been 37 minutes since we woke up?!

It's going to be a long snow day!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Make the Most of Your Time Here 13/31 #sol17

Sometimes I am glad that I am clueless when it comes to current events or news that has happened during the day.  I typically don't watch any news reports on TV.  I don't really listen to the radio much anymore.  So there are many times where I learn about things that have happened later or from friends.

Tonight, I happened to be scrolling through my Facebook feed and a post by a friend of mine caught my eye.  It was an article from the NY Times written by one of my favorite authors and filmmakers. And the status update that my friend had written caught me off guard.  She talked about being sad to learn that Amy Krouse Rosenthal had passed away.  I thought...this can't be true.

A quick search led me to her obituary.   At 51, she had passed away today, after losing her battle against ovarian cancer.  How could this be?  It's not fair.  Amy has been someone who I have admired.  She is an author of so many children's books that I love and share with adults and students all the time.  A copy of her book I Wish You More is sitting in one of the bins on my shelf in my office; I keep it as the first book in the bin because I love it so much and I want others to see it and love it too.

This can't be true.  This amazingly creative and thought-provoking being can't be gone.  She was such a bright light in an often dark world.  And now, that light has gone out?  No, I don't want to accept that.  Cancer sucks.

After learning the news, I immediately went to her website, a site that I have referred my teachers to before.  In fact, I used one of her awesome video projects, The Wisdom Project, to start one of my first staff meetings this year.  My theme for our building was about bringing the joy and Amy seemed to have been making a career out of finding, sharing, bringing, and expressing joy.

With tears in my eyes, I watched her Ted Talk.  Her talk about the "7 notes on life" is inspiring, and her final message from that talk?  Make the most of your time here.  I want to believe that Amy absolutely made the most of her time here.  I just wish she had more time here.

Thank you Amy for wishing us more ups than downs.  I hope that you had more ups than downs.  I hope that you had way more hugs than ughs.  I wish I could have wished you more time here. Because you were definitely everything we could have wished for and more.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Play ball! 12/31 #sol17

There is something about forgetting about everything else, disconnecting a little bit and focusing all my attention on my two-year-old bundle of energy.  This morning, even with the whole time change thing, my daughter slept in more than she ever has before.  I guess we wore her out the day before. We were visiting with family and staying overnight at my in-law's timeshare.  And she had had a full day with only about a 45 minute nap.  So it probably should not have been as much of a surprise that she slept in until after 8:00am.

 Once she was finally up, and while everyone else had left the house for 10:00 mass, we were able to have some quality mommy and daughter time.  There is this tiny little room with an angled ceiling where we had stored her toys during our visit.  Still in our jammies, we found ourselves on the floor in this room, with a bag of random toys.  (When I told her to pack some toys in the bag the day before, here is what she chose: one ball, two toy trains, three blankies, a book about colors and a book about Christmas, a naked baby doll, one drumstick, and a random troll toy from a Burger King meal.)

After a few minutes of wrapping and rewrapping the baby doll in blankies, we decided it was time to play ball.  We began rolling the ball back and forth to each other.  My daughter sat with her legs spread into a wide split position.  Not sure how she can sit that way?  And I watched her as she sat there with her arms outstretched, big smile on her face, anxiously waiting for the ball to come her way each time.  Then we started bouncing the ball back and forth.  And sometimes we did some arms over the head "big throws" to each other.  Eventually we were throwing the ball against the walls and ceilings, cracking up laughing as it bounced wildly off our heads, hands and other body parts.

I think we spent about 20 minutes laughing, rolling the ball, telling each other "good job" with our catches, bouncing the ball, giggling when the ball bounced off our heads, and just having fun in the moment.  There was nowhere else I would have rather been than in that little room with my little girl and her little ball.

I am so glad I made it a point to just play ball this morning!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Breakfast planning 11/31 #sol17

After a short drive this afternoon, we arrived at my in-laws timeshare on the Cape.  My daughter and I had agreed to come for a short overnight trip to visit.  During this cold week in March, there is not a whole lot to do down here.  We usually swim, hang out in the condo, go out to eat, and repeat that cycle.

Today, we spent the late afternoon swimming in the indoor pool.  And we tried out a newer restaurant for dinner.  As we were wrapping up at dinner, licking the last spoonful of ice cream clean, and paying the bill, we began to make our plans for tomorrow.

My in-laws informed me that I needed to go to "The Little Bookstore."  Book and store together in a title...no need to convince me.  Then they shared that at trip down to the Cape without visiting "The General Store" would not really be a complete trip.  Complete with a pickle jar and penny candy, that sounded like it was a definite addition to Sunday's agenda.  I chimed in and reminded them that we needed to have breakfast at The Red Cottage, a place that has cinnabon french toast on the menu.  Do I really need to go into anymore detail or did I have you at cinnabon?

There was discussion about which mass they would be attending, the early one, not so early one or late morning one.  As I began to raise the concern of Emerson being up early and then needing a nap and then us eventually needing to get on the road, my father-in-law made a statement that caught me slightly off guard.  They were discussing the idea of going to an earlier mass when he came out with, "In all likelihood, we will wake up in the morning."

We all sort of stopped and looked at him.  Not sure whether to laugh or shake our heads at him, we all looked around the table and then burst out laughing.

"What a positive thought, Dad," my sister-in-law said.

"Well it's true, we will most likely get up in the morning," he smiled at all of us.

Yes, hopefully we will all wake up in the morning, and then we can follow through with our breakfast and Sunday adventure plans.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Time To Put My Feet Up 10/31 #sol17

Long, tiring week means that I am only feeling motivated to write a very short post.  In fact, I am thinking a haiku would be perfect right about now...

Feet, tired and sore
That under-the-covers feeling
Oh how I love you

Writing that haiku made me think of the time I spent in Japan many years ago.  My lines might not follow the typical haiku 5-7-5 pattern, but I can tell you that the true haiku poems simply focused on the idea of "one breath."

I am so tired from this week that I am going to keep focusing on that simple idea of one breath as I let myself drift off to sleep soon.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fingers crossed 9/31 #sol17

Our Family Literacy Night was slowly winding down.  Families had been reading by flashlight in tents.  Families had been playing games like punctuation toss and sight word tic tac toe.  It was time to draw some names to win some prizes.

Imagine the excitement of waiting to hear your name called.  The kids were all gathering around, waiting for me to pick another winner.  Everyone was eager and hoping to win.

I overheard one little girl say to her mom, "Cross your fingers.  But don't cross all of them.  That would definitely be bad."

Her name did not called.  Maybe someone made the mistake of crossing all of their fingers?!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream 8/31 #sol17

It was only a short distance between the automatic exit door at Staples to my car.  Unfortunately, my toddler had begun to start melting down.  I had to think fast.  Do I keep her in the cart and push the screamer to the car, risking the chance of her throwing bags out of the cart?  Do I try to reason with her and get her to hold my hand while we walk, drop to the ground, stand up, repeat all the way to the car?

My answer, neither.  I picked her up like a sack of rice.  She immediately began screaming, flailing her arms, screaming bloody murder, flopping around all over my arms as I tried desperately to hold her and speed walk to the car.  Suddenly it seemed so much farther away.

As I tried to gracefully deposit my child into her car seat, she arched her back, making it next to impossible to buckle her in.  As I tried to talk to her and calm her down, she screamed louder and louder.  If there was anyone within a two mile radius, I felt that all eyes were staring at me, "that mom."

And then I shut the door and climbed into the driver's seat and the tears stopped and the screaming stopped and the kicking and flopping ended.

That 'scene' was certainly one I had witnessed many times with other parents and their children.

Lucky me, now I'm one of the main characters, and I get to work with an academy award winning actress.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Man Boss 7/31 #sol17

I had to bring a student to the nurse's office today.  I was spending some time with him when he let me know that he felt like he was going to be sick.  As he was lying down to rest for a few minutes, the nurse struck up a conversation with him.

He was talking about what his parents did for work.  And he began to talk about his dad getting what seemed like a possible promotion.

"You know how there is like a man boss?" he asked us.  "And then there is like the other boss, not the man boss."

"Um, ok I think I know what you mean," I replied.

"So my dad is that other boss person.  But soon he is going to be the man boss."

"Wow, that's exciting for your dad," the nurse said.  "How is your tummy feeling now?"

"Not better.  You know that feeling when you feel home sick?" he responded.

And at this point, I realized that he was actually fine.  Call it home sickness.  Call it school work sickness.  No fever.  No vomiting.  Less than an hour to go before the end of the day.  It was definitely time to leave the nurse's office.

As we left, and once the student was out of earshot, I turned back to my nurse and asked her if she had a "man boss."

"Yep, you are my man boss!"

Looks like I have reached a new career goal that I never even knew I had!




Monday, March 6, 2017

The Music Lesson 6/31 #sol17

On Monday nights, my husband teaches music lessons out of our house.  We have a music room filled with guitars, music stands, a keyboard, a piano, and piles and piles of music books.  Tonight he was actually teaching a piano lesson to a 2nd grader followed by a guitar lesson for the 2nd grader's dad.  Usually our daughter does not pay too much attention to daddy's "moo-sic yessons," but tonight she was quite curious.

After getting her Star Wars jammies on...the top only...since she decided on "no pants downstairs mommy," she snuck back downstairs while I was folding some of her laundry.  After a few minutes, I came downstairs and found her on the floor in the hallway, just outside of the doorway to the music room.  When I peeked into the hallway, she looked at me with a big smile and said proudly, "my daddy workin', my daddy moo-sic yessons."

"Yes," I said, "Your daddy is teaching some music lessons.  We need to be quiet while daddy is working."

I went back into the kitchen to clean up some dishes.  After a few minutes, I checked back in on the hallway spy.  She was standing in her droopy diaper and R2D2 pajama top, face to face with our Australian cattle hound, clasping her little hands around Cleo's nose and saying, "Be ky-it Cleo, daddy workin'.  Be ky-it, daddy moo-sic yessons."

To my surprise, both the dog and the toddler were actually, for the most part, quiet during this evening's music lessons.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Wait, what just happened? 5/31 #sol17

It was noon.  The dealership was just opening up.  It was rather chilly out.  My husband and I, along with our toddler, walked into the car dealership.  Suddenly, before I knew it, I was test driving a...minivan.  A Kia Sedona to be exact.

Wait, what just happened?

That's right, I was test driving a minivan.  And I was actually really liking it.  After checking out the turn radius in the Target parking lot, I switched places with my husband.  And then he was driving a minivan.  He was actually really liking it.

Wait, what just happened?

Back at the car dealership, it was getting close to nap time for someone.  We decided to test drive a Kia Sorrento.  After wrestling with the car seat, unloading it from one car, loading it in the other, we were off again on a test drive.  Surprisingly, I did not like this one as much.

Wait, what just happened?

We returned to the dealership.  My husband and I chatted while chasing our two-year-old around the showroom.  We signed some papers.  My daughter sat and ate stale popcorn from a popcorn machine.  We agreed to return tomorrow to sign the final papers and pick up our new car...a minivan.

Wait, what just happened?

When did I become this person?  I am now a minivan driving mom.

Yep, that happened.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We're breaking up 4/31 #sol17

I liked the inspiration that was posted today...the person had posted a love letter to her husband, celebrating when he made the bed.  (Have to say, I am not a bed maker either.)  This past week we learned that my car, which was paid off last year, now needs a part that costs $2300.  Nope, I did not forget to put a decimal in that number.  When I was telling my sister this story she asked if the "part" needed was actually the engine?!  I mean how does a tiny little part have such a giant price tag??  Needless to say, my husband and I have come to the realization that we will be car shopping instead of car repairing.

So here is my breakup letter with my Nissan Rogue...

We're Breaking Up

When I first laid eyes on you
All sleek and new,
Years ago our connection was immediate and nice
On Valentine's Day to be precise,
You came home with me
And it seemed we were truly meant to be.

Months and years went by
And good times made the time fly.
Through rain and sun and snow
Everywhere together we did go.
You were mine
And I was thine.

But alas I fear
The end of us is near.
Why, you ask?
My answer has so many parts
But ours is not a tale of broken hearts.
I am full of doubt
And it seems the fire has gone out.
I was expecting more from you
Guess that's why I am so blue.

Time for a fresh start
Again, not because of a broken heart.
No, this relationship,
If that's what you want to call it,
Is over because of my empty wallet.