Tuesday, June 21, 2016

{the lake} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

We moved into our new home six weeks ago.  It still feels like we are on vacation.  The extra space and bathrooms and newness of it all.  Our main living space is free of boxes and everything has a place. Of course, the "Honey Project To Do List" will grow as we settle in.  But for now, we enjoy it, not worrying about the flowery wall paper or hanging brass chandelier.   As our "forever home," we'll have time to make changes and update.

For now, we enjoy the newness of the neighborhood.  We moved a couple blocks away from a neighborhood lake.  When we agreed to purchase this home, I promised the girls that our goal was to walk at least one time around the lake every day this summer.  It was initially proposed to enjoy this new landscape and stop by the park half-way around the lake.  Now it's essential to head out every day to get me moving! (It was a stressful year ...)

I originally thought the girls would ride their bikes or scooters, and I'd walk along following behind.  But they have taken to walking beside me. We talk as we make our way around the lake.  We notice.  We wonder.  We ask questions. We ponder. 

Today, P. suggested that we write a book together.  I agreed, but questioned what we would write about in our book.

"Actually, we will write TWO books together.  I want to write a book like "Some Birds" and you can pick an idea for the other book," P. responded matter-of-factly.

Me?  I just smiled.  I love this time together, just me and the girls, walking around our lake.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

{my so-called life} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

I've been away for too long. I have missed this community.  This group of writers. This close-knit supporters who are always here through the highs and lows of life.

I stepped away from blogging for a brief, but all-too-quick month to collect beautiful moments like...

1.  Celebrate the girls' sixth birthday.
2.  Pack up our house and move to the next town over to "our new" house.
3.  Unpack box by box creating some order of living.
4.  Transition the girls into a new school for the last month of school.
5.  Pray for many friends going through big transitions.
6.  Prepare for our #cyberPD announcement. (Please join us!)
7.  Host a party with eleven of the girls' friends.
8.  Continue unpacking boxes, reorganizing, moving things around.
9.  Host my mom as she played "Grandma School" with the girls.
10. Finish up our kindergarten year and my school year.
11.  Walk around the lake in our new neighborhood.
12.  Start this so-needed summer break ...

Each a story to tell in my so-called life.  It's amazing how much can happen in a month, but last month I did not have the time, energy, or words to share.  But I can't wait to jump back into writing on Tuesdays and read what is happening in your little corner of the world!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Announcing the 2016 #cyberPD Book Choice!

Cathy Mere, Laura Komos, and I are so excited to announce the PD book title for the 6th annual #cyberPD event!!!

It was not an easy decision ... every year seems to get more difficult! We scoured the PD book stacks. We researched. We read. We discussed.  We pondered. We questioned.  Back-and-forth Voxer messages. Trying to select this year's title that meets our criteria and high standards of PD.

This July we will spend time each week reading, reflecting, sharing, writing, responding, learning, and stretching our teaching brains and muscles to be the best we can be in the classroom.  The best part about it?  We are NOT alone!

It all started six summers ago ... sharing PD book titles that were to be read over the summer.

A small group of educators decided to read a book together, share some thoughts with a blog post, and respond with a comment.  It was an amazing learning experience because we all know reading and learning is social!  What better way to read and learn than with colleagues around the globe?

Each year our  Google+ community grows and the ideas and learning opportunities continue to expand and reach all heights -- from preschool teachers to professors to LRC directors to reading specialists and ALL classroom teachers and educators in between.

Today our Google Community is 200 educators strong!  (Cue confetti!) How amazing that so many educators take time during their summer break to join in conversations about teaching and education?!?

Bravo to each and every one of you! 
You make this community work.  Please join us!

This summer we will be reading this new, popular Heinemann title by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts ...

It's all beginning this July! Order the book, start reading, and join in!  Share your thoughts each week around specific chapters with a reflection in the Google Community -- a blog post, a Google+ comment, and on Twitter (#cyberPD and #DIYLiteracy).  We encourage you to respond and comment on at least 3 other participants reflections.

The #cyberPD July Schedule of Events
Week of July 3rd: Chapters 1-2 and the Bonus Chapter
Week of July 10th: Chapters 3-4
Week of July 17th: Chapters 5-6
Week of July 24th: Final Twitter Chat

**Last year we added a weekly Twitter chat for participants.  This was a popular addition, so we will continue to host a weekly chat for participants who prefer a little real-time conversation. Stay tuned.   

Additional Links

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

{box by box} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

It's been a whirlwind of a week that has felt more like a month with the official moving day:

Packing and emptying a 1950 Cape Cod family built and owned house full of 11 years of ... stuff.

A move to just the next town over ... but far enough away to find newness in it all.

A new house with bedrooms and bathrooms for everyone ... and an extra for Grandma and Grandpa.

Setting up room by room with the help of family ... even when I don't know where I want that.

Arriving at a new school ... for the first time on a school bus.

A new teacher, new routines, and new friends  ...  only for a month.

It seems like we are on vacation settling into a rental home that we will leave in a week or two.  It's still surreal eating breakfast at the new dining room table and making dinner in the new kitchen.

But box by box, unwrapped item by unwrapped item, memory by memory, this house we are making into our home.  A vacation that will last many, many years.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

{I could write about} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

I could write about ...

the crazy mixed up schedule
and the look of sadness and despair
when I informed my friends
that small group and book sharing
would be temporarily put on hold
due to PARCC testing.

I could write about ...

the excitement that's been building
since January is finally happening
in the next week and the feeling of
anticipation and sense of urgency to 
pack, make numerous phone calls, and
create checklists for the move into the new home.

I could write about ...

the daily moments and stories
that make me smile with love
as I think about who they are
as almost six year old girls
navigating school, a move, and a birthday --
my beautiful, funny, caring, wonderful daughters.

I could write ...

but instead I spent the evening
playing games and reading books
doing dishes and folding laundry
creating more checklists and
party planning as I watched HGTV
and realized I still needed to write.

I could write about my day ... and I did.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

(uncertainties} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

Life is full of so many uncertainties.

Right now, family, friends, and colleagues
are dealing with a multitude of uncertainties.
The uncertainty of what's to come.
The uncertainty of the right decision.
The uncertainty of just not knowing ...

Surgery and treatments
Infections and infusions
Sudden death of a student
New positions at school
Decisions to stay home
Hopes of a growing family
Concerns about words said
Frustrations with students
Busy overbooked schedules
The end of the year pressures

These uncertainties can tear us apart
create a layer of stress and frustration.
Or our uncertainties can grow us
and make us stronger in who we are
trusting in the One in control of it all.

Even when life is full of so many uncertainties ... there is still so much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

{that book} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

I have a hard time squeezing in all that I want and need to do.  Every day priorities shift and change depending on the schedule and the little things in life that come up.

Until I find that book*.

Then everything in life stops.  Priorities are set aside.  And I read.
Every waking moment that is free from responsibility, I read.

A couple pages during my breakfast while I watch the time tick-tock and I shuffle girls along.
Relaxing at lunch with my book open, falling deep into another world.
After school, waiting while the girls tap and dance, I jump into this other life.
The girls are tucked in bed, I'm on the couch desperately holding onto the last word.
Later at night, I click on my side light and reenter the pages of that book.

Every waking moment that is free from responsibility, I read.
Then everything in life stops. Priorities are set aside. And I read.

Until I finish that book.

This is what I hope and dream about for my students, my readers.  That book that they can't put down.


Image retrieved from tumbler

*That book that I'm reading right now:  salt to the sea by Ruta Sepetys. It's amazing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

{glitter gift} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

A week ago I celebrated my birthday.  It was a big birthday of sorts.  After living with that birthday for a week, it really seems as if not much has changed.  

Another year, another number.  I guess I'm good with being forty {sigh}.

This weekend I was lucky enough to meet up with a dear friend and fellow slicer.  She gave me one of the best birthday gifts ...

My very own sparkly and purply and glittery board (with a side of delicious chocolate).  

I remembered seeing visions of the fabulous #glitterboards on Twitter mentioned by the always sharing and inspiring JoEllen McCarthy.

It didn't take me long to find the perfect spot in my classroom, right by my door and across from my classroom library, to share words of insight and inspiration.

Thank you, Chris, for one of my favorite birthday gifts that will bring me -- and all those that visit my classroom -- the joy and power of words!  And, of course, a little reminder of you ... every day!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

{solsc reflection} 31/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join us for a month of writing!

I did it.  I wrote for all thirty-one days in March.

This being my sixth year participating, it felt different than any other year.  I never stressed about the writing.  I never worried the stories wouldn't be there.  I wrote for me, to capture stories, to live in the moment. I let go of any worry about my writing.  It was quite a relaxing March challenge.

All my slices were written in real time. The true meaning of a slice of life.  A story from the day.
None of it was perfect.  Some slice were well planned, thought out, and crafted.  Others were just written and shared.

I usually like to write at night.  Reread, edit, and publish the next morning.  Usually didn't cooperate this year.  My schedule and life didn't allow myself this time or energy.  Many late night posts squeezed in and published in the last hours of the day.  But I wrote every day.

I usually spend my down time reading your slices.  Each year there are more and more and more writers joining in this journey.  It makes it difficult to keep up and read all my special slicers' writing and new slicers' stories.  Again, time did not permit me to join in and read as much as I had hoped.

However, it still mattered more than ever that you were here to read my stories. I appreciated each and every comment, adding your voice to the conversation and connecting with my story.  The community at the Two Writing Teachers amazes me.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

I believe that over the last five years, I found that I had the urge to continue writing days into April. That writing habit was formed and the writing bug bit me.  Hard.  This year is different.  This year I'm looking to put my laptop away and refocus my life on other priorities.  I need time for my family. I need time to read.  I need time to reflect.  I'll still have my notebook and I'll still capture stories.  But I need this time for me.

And I'll still have my Tuesdays.  See you back here then.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

{a surprise} 30/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join us for a month of writing!

Yesterday was just another day.  It happened to also be my birthday. A special kind of birthday.

I don't like big surprises.  I did not want a big surprise for my birthday. I warned my family, particularly my husband, Jon.  I. Do. Not. Want. A. Surprise. Of. Any. Kind.

I got a surprise.  And I liked it.

You see, my husband woke up early at 4:39 AM as he usually does on a Tuesday.  He got dressed and said his quick goodbye to go play racquetball. I dozed back asleep.

My alarm buzzed me awake an hour later.  I hit snooze.  No need to get up early on my birthday.

Six o'clock glowed brightly in the darkness.  I dragged myself out of bed and trudged towards the bathroom.  After getting out of the warm shower, I overheard Jon getting the girls up and dressed.  I continued to take my time until they were all ready for the day.  This was a treat -- but not the surprise.

Once we were all dressed, we headed downstairs together. That's when it happened.  I turned the corner into the kitchen and saw this:

Crepe paper decorations, black tablecloth, a big 4-0, special birthday plates, donuts with candles ...

I smiled thinking about how Jon planned this all out.  I could handle this little surprise.  It was the perfect way to start my day that was just another day that happened to be my birthday.

"My fortieth birthday," I smiled and said without an ugh.