Tuesday, October 28, 2014

{sol} let it fall


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It was the most magnificent fall weekend.
Sunshine.
Blue skies.
Seventy (!) degrees.
Orange.  Red.  Yellow.
Lots and lOts and loTs of leaves.
Raking and piling and raking and piling.
Ready for one-two-three jumping!  
Singing loudly 
"Let it 
f
       a
   l
                l ..."
It was the most magnificent fall weekend.

#PerfectFallDay and a new easy PhotoGrid app!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

{sol} flashing lights


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It happened like that.  Not slowly.  Not gradually.  It just happened.  I was completely blindsided.

The blinking bright lights caught their eyes first.  They were immediately mesmerized.

As we were getting situated into the double cart, one of my four and a half year olds asked, "Momma, can we go over that way?"

Reindeer and snowmen.  Trees and icicles.  Flashing lights and decorations.  Yep, Christmas.  We were surrounded by Christmas.  In October.  Just like that.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas .... during the Christmas season!

And along with all the decor ... T.O.Y.S.  Every aisle thereafter was filled with different games, dolls, gadgets, and toys, followed by, "Ohhh!  Ahhh!  Look!  Look!"  and the never ending, "I want ... I want ... I want ..."

We don't buy toys just to buy toys (of course, there are always times of exceptions -- just not today), so we had conversations about needs and wants.  We talked about starting a Christmas list.  I even suggested taking a picture of the most special gifts they wanted.

I soon became the paparazzi.  Flash!  Snap!  Mommy, over here!  Look at this!  Flash!  Click!  More flashing lights.

We finally made it out of the store with our typical less than ten items for over a hundred dollars.  But no toys.

I'm not sure if I should be upset and avoid the stores until January with my girls, or if I should be thankful for the gift ideas.  Let me go check the photo list.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

{sols} excuses


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Another week goes by ...

I have plenty of excuses
for not writing.
Or even wanting to write.

I'm tired
and it's late --
I just don't feel it.

I've been testing
and scoring 
and grouping.

I had two late nights
connecting with families
at goal setting conferences.

I took one daughter
back to the doctor with
yet another ear infection.

It's raining and yucky
and not creating
that right writing mood.

I just don't feel it.
It's late
and I'm tired.

There are plenty more excuses
for not writing.
Or even wanting to write.

Another week goes by ...


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

{sols} a write night out


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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


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"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


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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


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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



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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


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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


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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.}