Tuesday, September 30, 2014

{sols} a write night out


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.


After the school bells rings, I quickly get organized and I'm off to start my other full time job of being a mom.  I can honestly say there are not too many nights that I get out or do what I want to do.  However, last night I took the evening off.

I didn't even hesitate when I received the invitation.  I checked the calendar and then signed up.  Put the date in our shared family calendar with the note:  Jon pick up girls!

Even after a long day of teaching, I was ready to go and learn and laugh with a teacher of writing legend.  I attended a local Illinois Reading Council conference featuring Ralph Fletcher.

Ralph shared his core beliefs, writing tips, mentor texts, love of prose, and the idea that nonfiction writing can be playful and non-formulaic.  He shared the power of story and words.  He quoted his mentors and other writing legends: Donald Graves, Donald Murray, Katie Wood Ray, and Georgia Heard.   He shared many examples of exploratory nonfiction writing and multigenre research writing.

Ralph's goal was to remind us that even in the midst of Common Core, we must continue writing our stories (narrative) and be playful and try different forms of nonfiction writing.  

It was an enjoyable night to sit back and enjoy Ralph's company.  We approached him during the break and he was so kind, easy to chat with, and provided some great advice.  Ralph signed one of his books and took a selfie with my favorite literacy coach (who I tried to convince to start a blog and join this writing community ...)

Ralph would agree.






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

{sols} accountability


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.


"Are you still writing in your ten year journal?" Chris asked innocently.

Quiet pause.

I shook my head.

"Oh, I didn't mean anything by it.  I was just curious ..."  She replied trying to cover my silence.

"No, no.  It's fine.  Last year, I made it until like August and then life got busy and I just stopped.   I started again at the new year and I made it to like June."

That night I dug through the stack of books on my nightstand.  I found my 10 year journal that I started in 2012 at the very bottom.  I was curious as to when life got too busy for writing a brief three or four sentences a day.  I flipped through the blank pages.

March.

The last time I wrote in my journal this year was in March.  The month when I wrote every single day right here.  And I couldn't write a few lines in my journal?

Quite ironic.

So, with a little accountability, I jumped back into writing in my ten year journal.  The beauty of the journal is to look back and read little snippets of life on the same day in the previous years.

Thank you, Chris, for your one little question!  More memories will be captured in my every day!  


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

{sols} a good busy


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.

9:44 pm
I know my mom and dad are waiting to read this.

You see, we touch base quite often.  (But probably not as often as my mom hopes.)  Email, phone calls, texts, and yes, slices.

Tick tock.  Tick tock.  As this Tuesday moves ahead, they are probably wondering why I haven't written yet.

9:46 pm
I am, Mom and Dad.  I'm here.  I'm finally writing.  Life is just extra busy this time of year.  When school begins again, so does every other activity, sport, and extracurricular.

There was a trip this weekend to the apple orchard.  Two words:  Honey. Crisp. Yum.  But did you also know that a trip to the apple orchard cost just under $75 for a family of four.  I continued to tell myself it was for the experience ... and memories.  I can't put a price on that.

And there was a trip to the doctor too.  M.'s cold eventually turned into an ear infection.  Two nights of complaining and I made an appointment.  Thankfully she hasn't acted sick, except for Friday night when her and her sister had a sleep over with Uncle Scott and Aunt Jen and she said, "This is a bad sleepover."  That's not usually like her.  Bad attitude explained.

And then it's treat day tomorrow at school.  Once a month we celebrate the birthdays for that month.  This year we've added a theme to each celebration.  "All about Apples" is our theme!  Perfect timing!  I went a little crazy with the Pinterest recipes.  I've even been baking and mixing and making some yummy apple creations.

And then there was tiny tikes gymnastics tonight.  Watching my four year old girls gracefully control their bodies can be quite amusing.  A little laughter is good for the soul, but probably not at the expense of my girls!  But they are too cute stretching and jumping and swinging and balancing.

9:59 pm
So, Mom and Dad, sorry I missed our talk this weekend.  Sorry I haven't responded to your texts.  But I hope this slice brings you some ease that life is good, just always, always busy.  {Hugs to you and Dad!}


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

{sols} seeds of writing


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.


Seeds of writing possibilities await
as I cannot settle on a story to share.

Attending the Garth Brooks opening night concert in Chicago
The September storm that whipped through the northwest suburbs
Trees ripped, branches rested on power lines, leaves scattered
Twenty hours of power loss and the gain of imagination play
A lantern lit peanut butter and honey sandwich dinner
A cold and cough means up in the middle of the night
Holding, caring, loving with all the patience required
Rushing and late, trying to get out the door in a hurry
Yelling and then feeling the guilt because she doesn't feel well
Frightened to learn about this new virus
Wondering if she has this one and praying for her health
Too tired after five days of a busy life to cultivate an idea 

Each possibility a story to share, 
but today they sit and wait as seeds of writing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{sols} worries



Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.

I snuck downstairs to change out the laundry.  The girls were upstairs playing dress up.  Tiaras, capes, dresses, and fancy plastic shoes.  I was enjoying a minute of quiet time, thinking to myself, worrying about the week to come, when M. quietly walked into the laundry room dressed to attend a princess ball.

"Mom.  Can I share something with you?" She asked.

I smiled to her as these were not the usual words from a four year old, but it was sweetness to my ears.

"Of course, M.," I responded and continued to fold the warm clothes.

"I don't want to die forever," she told me.

I wondered to myself,  "Where in the world did this come from?" as I quickly flipped through my internal files about "How to respond to the fear of dying."

I stopped folding the clothes and kneeled down right in front of her.  I turned to God for the answers.

"I know that dying seems scary.  I don't want you to worry about dying.  God is in control.  Remember that we are only here on Earth as people for a short time, but if you believe in Jesus, if you let him into your heart, we will be in heaven together forever ... "

Just as I was feeling solid about my response and was going to say more, M. interrupted.

"Mom, when is Daddy going to show us that flying helicopter?"

I looked to where she was pointing and realized her worry was gone.  She had moved on, but for that slight moment I was able to share with her about Jesus.

I hate to see my baby girls worry.  Especially worry about something that they have no control over.  Hmmm... I'm guessing that's how God feels about me and my worries.  I need to do a little more trusting and have more faith in His plans.  It's time for me to move on too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

{sols} old but new


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.


I picked up the girls after school.  I asked them about their day, but P. only wanted to know one thing.

"Mommy, did you wash the clothes?"

I know exactly what clothes she is talking about.  The hand-me-down clothes the girls picked out from friends from our old church.  They generously shared two large boxes of clothes in just-the-right-size for the girls.  The other night, after the girls were in bed, I dumped out the boxes and scanned the possibilities.

Most of the articles of clothing were not my style for the girls.  In addition, my girls are currently on a "let's dress alike" kick.  I wasn't buying two of everything.  I wanted them to have some choice. In our house, we said, "similar, but different."  Perhaps the same shirt, but one in pink and one in purple.  That's what I was going for, and then mornings came with tears.  Now, every morning (for more than two years), P. picks out her clothes and M. picks exactly the same thing.

There were no duplicates in the boxes.  So I picked out a couple items that I kind of liked or I thought were perfect to add to the dress up box and set them to the side.  Our friends mentioned that we could donate the clothes that we did not want.

The next day, the box was set to go for donation.  Until two little curious pairs of hands opened up the boxes.  The girls did their own shopping.  P. loved a colorful dress while M. picked out a cute skirt with sparkles.  The girls continued to pull out shirts, skirts, dresses, sandals until they filled a laundry basket with choices of their own liking.

And they were okay with different.  Maybe this is what I needed to help them be their own little person.  I was pleasantly surprised with the old hand-me-downs.

Today she wanted those "new" clothes.

"Oh, honey.  I was at school all day too.  I wasn't home to wash any laundry," I explained when M. jumped into the conversation.

"What do you think that Mommy's an octopus?"

I laughed out loud at her very smart comment.  And yes, some days I wish that I was an octopus!

"We can wash your new clothes tonight," I told them, imagining what I'd look like as an octopus and all that could get accomplished ...

 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

{sols} deep breath


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.


This is a deep breath kind of moment.

Just a day before a new year begins.
Anticipation of the what's to come.

Smiling faces walking through the school doors.
A fresh start.  To begin again a year older.

Brand new clothes and shoes and backpack and supplies.
A missing tooth grin.  Fancy hairdo.  Looking too cute.

Excited to be with friends in a new class with a new teacher.
Nervous about the newness of it all.  Ready to start.


Me? I'm ready to foster new and old relationships.
To show them I care.  Wanting to make the difference.

To read and write and laugh together.
To laugh and write and read together.

Take risks, dare greatly, show some grit.
Learn from each other.  Make mistakes and push on. 

Butterflies of excitement of what is to come.
Just a day before a new year begins.

This is a deep breath kind of moment.

And I can't wait until Wednesday.  {Smiles.}



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

{sols} last days of summer


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.

The last days of summer are almost here.
Soon it will be time to trade in ...

Late sleepy mornings
Busy but no-rush days
Vacations away
Play at new neighborhood parks
Swimming lessons
Trips to the library
Grandma time
Bike rides around town
Craft and project days
Movie nights in the living room
Catching fire flies
Later bedtimes

For all the back-to-school routines ...

Earlier wake ups
Lights on, rise and shine
"Let's go!" mornings
Quick hugs-n-kisses drop off
Long, long days apart
Dreaming about summer ways
Missing the small moments
Thinking about our time
Rushing home for pick up
Squeezing what we can
In the late hours of the evening
Before early to bed, again

Until next week, we'll enjoy our time together.
The last days of summer are almost here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Possibilities #pb10for10

Check out other favorite Picture Book Lists at

Every year that I have participated in the #pb10for10 -- sharing ten (yes, only ten!) picture books that I could not live without in my classroom -- I usually shared my here-are-my-now-favorite ten picture books.  My lists had some standby solid favorites sprinkled with a few newer titles.  Never once had I thought about a theme like many of the other smart picture book lovers that were sharing.  This year I thought I would stand my ground and share my right now favorites.

And then I got to thinking a little more.

Oh, the possibilities ...

______________________________________________________________

What Do You Do with an Idea?
1.  Possibility of IDEA:  
What Do You Do With an Idea? 
by Kobi Yamada

Love the possibilities of ideas that grow! A gift of nurturing your dreams, being unsure to share, watching them grow!  Just a beautiful story accompanied by gorgeous illustrations.  Let the ideas flourish!  Something I want to encourage in my children and my students.


2.  Possibility of WONDER:
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert EinsteinOn a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein 
by Jennifer Berne

An important book to encourage children to never stop asking questions, wonder, think, and asking more questions about all things BiG and small.  Kids already have this natural curiosity and we need to continue to foster and encourage that wonder and questioning in the classrooms.



The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend3.  Possibility of IMAGINATION:
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend 
by Dan Santat

Everyone needs a friend, even an imaginary friend is looking for a friend.  Beekle courageously sets out to find his perfect match to do the unimaginable.  Loved all the imagination that Dan Santat used in creating this book.  (Fabulous illustrations!)  And Beekle is just too adorable!


4.  Possibility of HOPE:
Fly Away HomeFly Away Home by Eve Bunting

This is one book that has stayed on my list.  A touching story about a father and son living in an airport trying to live unnoticed.  This story is full of hope and a future beyond the glass doors of the airport, especially after the boy watches a trapped bird is freed.  It's sure to allow for many questions and wonderings.




The Invisible Boy5.  Possibility of KINDNESS:
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

This is one story that will never, ever be forgotten.  A heartprint book. (Oh, that would have been a great idea for a book list!) A story that needs to be shared in every classroom.  No one wants to feel invisible, especially Brian.  Yet, there are many students that feel invisible even in our own classrooms.  This is one story that tells about the power of one little, "Hello." The words and illustrations work together beautifully to tell the story about the invisible boy.


6.  Possibility of OPPORTUNITY:
Each KindnessEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Another heartprint book.  A perfect pair with The Invisible Boy.  We all know a Maya.  The new girl who wanted to be invisible because of Chloe and her friends.  Chloe wasn't an outright bully, but little things like ignoring, whispering, laughing still hurt.  A lot.  However, Chloe learned a BIG lesson about kindness, but after it was too late.  (A powerful activity to see and remember the scars of bullying: The Crumpled Paper.)


The Lion and the Bird


7. Possibility of FRIENDSHIP:
The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

I was taken by surprise by this book.  The simplicity of the text.  The unlikely friendship between the lion and the bird.  The lion's kindness.  The hope of goodness.  The soft, beautiful illustrations. So much to enjoy in this book.


8. Possibility of JUSTICE:
The Day the Crayons QuitThe Day the Crayons Quit 
by Drew Daywalt

If only the crayons could talk!  This book holds so many possibilities!  Every crayon shares a frustration with crayon box owner Duncan. And they are just not happy.  Quite amusing to read from their point of view.  Laugh out loud funny.  (A great mentor text too!)




Bear Has a Story to Tell
9.  Possibility of STORY:
Bear Has a Story to Tell 
by Philip C. Stead

Not your average bear book -- and there are a lot of bear books out there!  A story about Bear who is so sweet, so kind, so patient, so willing to help his little animal friends prepare for winter, even when he wants to tell his story before everyone is asleep ...



10.  Possibility of POSSIBILITIES:
The Most Magnificent ThingThe Most Magnificent Thing 
by Ashley Spires

All the possibilities are held in the creation of the most magnificent thing.  The struggles, the in-betweens, the wanting to give up, the sticking-with-it, the triumphs ... This books holds the power of teaching creativity and perseverance -- and even a little lesson about making mistakes. The perfect book for the perfect time - and I love that the main character is a girl!



*After thought:  I was amazed after compiling this list that the illustrations play such a crucial role in the power of a picture book story. (I know that's why they call it a picture book, but not all picture books were created equal.)  Almost every one of the titles I added to my POSSIBILITIES list was included because of the words and complimentary (and usually beautiful) illustrations. 

Oh, the POSSIBILITIES picture books bring into our lives.  
Enjoy ALL the possibilities today!
______________________________________________________________

My previous #pb10for10 {non-thematic} selections:
2013                    2012                    2011

______________________________________________________________

Be sure to check out other favorite #pb10for10 picture books at
On Twitter: #pb10for10

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

{sols} solo shopping


Slice of Life hosted at the
Join in and share a slice of your life.

These days I never make the time to shop.  With two four year olds, slow-pace-easy-shopping is rare.  Let's just say I do plenty of online shopping.

However, today the girls and I took the fifteen minute drive to our local IKEA.  The girls have been asking to go to the play land.  Every time we shop at IKEA (again, rare), there is a long line of kids waiting.  We end up shopping together as a family.  Well, the quick version due to endless whining, "I wanna go home!" 

I thought we'd try visiting during the week when maybe it wasn't as busy.  We were sort of right: there was a wait to get into the play land, but only 15 minutes.  We sat.  We waited. We people watched.  And then finally the girls' names were called.  Shoes kicked off.  Kisses on the cheek goodbye.  And they were off and playing.

It felt strange leaving them, but I turned around acting like all was okay.   I was on the search for a few baskets, picture frames, and a lamp.  I walked away reminding myself that I n-e-v-e-r shop by myself, enjoy it.

Except, I didn't know what to do.  I wandered endlessly in this large store.  Usually, I'm eyeing cute (or practical) items for home or for school.  Filling my cart with stuff that I don't really need as my hubby rolls his eyes.

Not today. Nothing caught my eye.  Nothing stopped me for another look.  Nothing placed in my cart.

Instead, I continuously checked the time on my phone.  Waiting for my free hour to be up.  And I realized that I forgot how to solo shop. (My hubby was happy with the free shopping trip.)