Tuesday, December 16, 2014

{sols} tick tock

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I'm still trying to figure it out.  {Tick. Tock.}

I know there is no magic schedule or formula.

But, how do you do it all?  Balance everything in life?  {Tick. Tock.}

I'm just trying to be the best mom and wife and teacher ...

Time for home and school.
Time for reading.
Time for writing.
Time to just be in the moment.
Time for you.  And you.  And you.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for just me.
Time for reading the Bible.
Time for exercise.
Time for blog reading.
Time for Twitter, Pinterest, You-Name-It.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for planning.
Time for PD growing.
Time for fun.
Time for slowing down.
Time for to-do lists.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for cleaning.
Time for organizing.
Time for laundry.
Time for grocery shopping.
Time for just-for-fun shopping.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for browsing.
Time for talking.
Time for sleeping.
Time for enjoying the company of friends.
Time for praying.
{Tick. Tock.}

I understand there is always some give and take.  There is always time for this and not for that.  Priorities are made, and they change day to day.  And do you ever notice that everything takes way longer than you think?!?

Always time to forget.  Little time to remember.  Time for time.

Sometimes I wish there was a magic formula and schedule.

Then I wouldn't have to take time to try and figure it out.

{Tick. Tock.}

Image from Pinterest

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

{sols} the big baby

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First it was moaning.  Then the chills.  A trip to the bathroom.  More moaning with a little whining.

"Ask Daddy if he's a big baby," I told the girls.

"What?!? Daddy is a baby?" P. repeated with a laugh.

"Ask him when he comes down," I replied.

Yep.  My hubby is sick.

You would have thought the world stopped turning.  Or, at least, that is what he wanted us to believe.  Instead, I did what I thought was right.

"Stay.  Away." I told him.  "We love you, but don't come near us."

"Daddy, Mommy said you were a big baby," M. emphatically told Daddy, which as you know wasn't quite what I said.

"Oh, I see how it is," Daddy said softly, turning away.  His world didn't stop turning.  He wanted to be babied.  And I wasn't playing his game.

"Sorry.  I just don't want anyone else to get sick.  Go rest in the basement," I told him.  "Love you.  Feel better.  Away from us."

"Hey, Daddy, look at what I'm coloring!  I'll make you a picture to make you feel better," P. said.

"Thanks ..." and the door to the basement closed.

I feel bad that he doesn't feel good, but I have two little -- four and a half year old -- babies to take care of every day.  I don't want them getting sick ... and I don't want to get sick.  (You know what happens when Momma gets sick ... the world DOES stop turning!)

No babying the big baby.  But I'm pretty positive he went and called his mom.

"Hi, Mom."

"Awwww....what's wrong?"

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

{sols} ella arrives

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We were away for five days over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Enjoying time with my parents.  Warmer temperatures.  Lots of rest and relaxation away from all the busyness of life at home.

But that meant for a crazy busy Sunday afternoon after we returned home.

Unpack the car.  Sort.  Unpack the bags.  Put away.  Start laundry.   Repeat until complete.

And then I remembered that Monday was December first.  The day our elf was due to arrive.

Add that to the to do list.

A quick trip to the grocery store with the girls for what I planned on "only the essentials".  We ended up with more, so we were offered help out.  I had never accepted help before, but with a full cart and two little shoppers, we needed an extra cart and the assistance.

"That would be wonderful. Thank you," I replied.
"What's he doing, Momma?" P. asked.
"Why is he getting another cart?" M. wondered.
"He's going to help us bring the extra groceries to our car.  Isn't that nice?"  I explained to the girls.
Less than a minute later we were headed out the door and P. whispered to me, "Mom, you know how Grammy talked about doing kind things for others?"
I nodded in agreement as she began to slowly point toward the gentleman assisting us.  "He is doing something really kind for us."
"You are right ... " Smiling in amazement that she truly understood our conversation at dinner a couple nights before about being extra kind to others this holiday season.


We returned home.  The rush of putting away groceries.  Eating dinner.  Finishing laundry.  Making room for the Christmas tree.  Getting the girls ready for bed.  And then it was time to focus on Ella, our elf.

A quick peek on Pinterest for any last minute Ella ideas.  
Dig out Ella from one of the Christmas bins. (Which one is she hiding in?)
A letter written from Santa.  (Tweaked and printed.)
Another search on Pinterest ... searching for "random acts of kindness" ideas. (Thanks, Mom, for planting this seed.)
Edit the Santa letter.  Added the part about helping Ella make Christmas magic by being kind to others.  (Reprint.)
Print out "random acts of kindness" idea cards for kids. (Thank you, Pinterest! Cut out.)
Wrap the pajamas.  (Ella arrives with a new pair of pajamas.)

Ella wasn't hiding on December first.  She was right there in the center of the kitchen counter.  Smiling with excitement about the Christmas magic and joy that is to come.

Whew.  And that was only December first.  Twenty-four more days to go.

And I am excited about all the extra kindness that is to come this month.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

{sols} giving 100 thanks

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Over a month ago, I received this personal invitational tweet:

Yes, a little challenge.  I'm not one for a blogging challenge.  I apologize to anyone who has offered up a challenge in the past and I miserably failed by doing nothing.

This was one little challenge that I wanted to do ... it just took the right time to complete it.  This little challenge was to share 100 that I am grateful for and right now felt like the right time to share my list.  Thank you, Terje, for your little challenge.

Here it goes ... 100 things I am thankful for.  Right now.  In this moment.  In no particular order.

  1. My God
  2. My hubby
  3. My two beautiful daughters
  4. My Mom and Dad
  5. My brother and sister-in-law
  6. My church small group
  7. My friends
  8. My PLN via #twt #sol #twitter #pinterest
  9. Colleagues and educators that keep me thinking
  10. Smartphone (and I thought I really didn't need it)
  11. Crystal Light Ice Tea
  12. Hat and gloves
  13. Rain on the sound machine
  14. Sleeping through the night
  15. Books
  16. My daughters' love of books
  17. My cute cape cod home
  18. New siding
  19. All four seasons
  20. My job
  21. Days off with my family
  22. Holidays
  23. Holiday lights
  24. Planning ahead (just ordered Christmas cards, yeah!)
  25. Time with my Mom and Dad
  26. Snuggles and hugs
  27. Warm blankets
  28. Slippers
  29. Sunny days
  30. Anything chocolate
  31. Pants that fit just right. Pants that fit. Period.
  32. Clean sheets
  33. Sunday afternoon naps
  34. Quiet
  35. The excuse of why my house is a little messy. (Thank you girls.)
  36. The morning text and prayer from my Mom
  37. A new book
  38. Time to read that new book (rarity ...)
  39. Pinterest ideas
  40. "I thought of you" Pinterest shares
  41. A new notebook
  42. The perfect pen
  43. Organization
  44. A beautiful quote
  45. Books on CD for the car ride to school
  46. Mocha frappé
  47. Making memories with my girls
  48. Praise music
  49. Good smelly candles
  50. Good smelly lotions
  51. A crackling fire in the fireplace
  52. Time to "catch up"
  53. Providing a Thanksgiving meal for a family
  54. A home cooked meal made by someone else
  55. A clean house
  56. Christmas lights
  57. Clear starry night
  58. Glistening, white snow falling
  59. Hearing my girls just laugh and laugh
  60. Hearing "I love you Mommy" just because
  61. Always learning
  62. Word games
  63. Board games
  64. Making simple crafts
  65. Chapstick
  66. Warm infinity scarf
  67. My hubby running to the library to pick up my books on hold
  68. For those times I say "yes" to my girls
  69. Opportunities to be a better mom and teacher
  70. My earrings that always fit
  71. My faith bracelet
  72. When my hubby does the laundry
  73. Watching a kids movie with my girls (even if it is Frozen for the millionth time)
  74. A warm home
  75. Heat seats in my car
  76. Outdoor walks
  77. Fresh air
  78. My church
  79. Family pictures
  80. Saturdays with nowhere to go and an open schedule with nothing planned
  81. Sleeping in
  82. Purple. Yep, purple.
  83. Goodnight kiss
  84. A hot shower
  85. Good neighbors
  86. Peppermint tea
  87. Text messaging
  88. Fall decorations 
  89. Christmas decorations
  90. When I have nails to paint
  91. Free babysitting from family
  92. Wednesday date nights with my hubby
  93. Blogging and the TWT community
  94. Writing my stories
  95. Reading your stories
  96. This season of my life. Right now. 
  97. The Thanksgiving season
  98. A reminder to be thankful
  99. Terje's little challenge
  100. Time. Time to reflect on all that I am so thankful for. Right now.

Some things are little.  Some things are big.  It doesn't matter.  There is so much to be thankful for. Right now.

Are you up for a little challenge this week? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

{sol} not too early ... right?

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We did it.

We took our girls and we went.

I never intended to do this.  It was not predetermined or planned.

It just kinda-sorta-happened.  All on a whim.

Yep.  We saw Santa.  And his reindeer.  Before Thanksgiving.

I know, I can't believe it either!  I am one to celebrate the holiday that is coming and not any earlier.  I love Thanksgiving, so we celebrate being thankful.  And this last weekend, we rushed by it all and saw Santa.

The good news?  It was free.  I snapped a few cute photographs.  Now we can avoid the busy mall and the overpriced photo with a crying child trying to get away from this big man in a funny red suit because we waited and sweated in our fancy dresses for hours...

And the conversation overheard on Santa's lap was priceless:

Santa:  And what would you like for Christmas this year?
M:  Um ... a trampoline. (By the way, this is the first we heard about this!)
P (leaned forward to look around Santa at M):  You can't put a trampoline in a present!
M (leaning forward to respond to her sister):  You can put it into pieces!
Mommy and Daddy and Santa:  {Laughing.  Out.  Loud.}

Quite a memorable way-too-early trip to see Santa.

And that night it snowed ... because Santa had to head back to the North Pole.

Not too early, right?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

{sol} something is different

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I can't quite put my finger on what is different this school year.

I'm busy with home and with school.  Always something new happening.  Always trying to keep up.  Always not quite meeting my own expectations.   Giving and giving and giving of myself and my time and my energy.

Then tonight I read Dana's slice about the tightrope -- the pulls of being a mom and being a teacher and all we can keep doing is put one foot in front of the other.

Our lives are so full and there is so much to be thankful for every single day.  And yet, it's hard.  I struggle.  I want the best for everyone, for everything, for everywhere.  Balancing on that tightrope.

Then tonight I read my mom's slice about her mission trip to Guatemala -- so promising in a world I know nothing about nor could I fathom the struggles of life beyond what I know.

I'm busy all day long.  I'm accomplishing what I need to get done when I need to get it done.  But it's never enough.  And it's never good enough (in my eyes).  Yet, I still push forward, going through the motions of life.

Then tonight I read Elsie's 100 things gratitude list slice -- full of the little things that mean so much in life.

I need to work on that little list too.

Reminding myself that time to write each Tuesday is important for me.  Carving time into my schedule to write hasn't been a priority.

And time to read other's words and slices is fulfilling too.  Finding pockets of time to read, share, and connect through your words has been difficult.

Even when my life feels too full and I'm too tired all because this year is just different.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

{sol} let it fall

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It was the most magnificent fall weekend.
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 
                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.


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.