Tuesday, April 29, 2014

{sols}: planning

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

Researching online
Filtering what's important
Clicking through the photos

Looking at reviews
Searching for the right answer
Skimming the amenities

Selecting the right dates
Marking possible favorites
Reading the fine print

Resetting the filter
Scrolling through again
Finding the right place

Getting an instant quote
Emailing or calling for details
Staying up late searching

Hoping to find the right combination
of everything-everywhere
at just the right price

Ah. Who knew planning 
a summer vacation
was so exhausting...

Image found on Pinterest

Saturday, April 26, 2014

{celebrate}: this week

I'm here to {celebrate} with Ruth Ayres and YOU!
Finding the little moments of joy in life.

Today I am celebrating: {portfolio sharing}

Talk about celebrating!  This week we hosted portfolio sharing conferences at school.  Yes, they are two loooong days.  Yes, I always hope to sneak in a little extra organizing in my classroom.  But I celebrate the time with students visiting over the two days.  I get to see big older brothers and meet little younger sisters.  It is enjoyable to watch the students celebrate their learning.  Big smiles.  Proud Moms and Dads.   And teachers.  

In my role as a reading specialist, I teach small groups of students that are developing readers.  Reading isn't easy.  I am always on the hunt for the right books for the right kids.  And still reading isn't a natural fit.  Yet, we celebrated growth that was made over the year and stressed the importance of the last five weeks of school.  We will continue to push hard.    

It was awesome to connect with parents.  To see their smiles.  To hear their stories.  To know they are doing the best they can.  Even when they worry about working and jobs, housing concerns and moving situations, family problems and battles about reading at home.  Yet, they smiled knowing their child, who means the world to them, are readers, writers, and thinkers!

{a day off}
After those two long days, I celebrated a Friday off.  My girls went to school.  I enjoyed taking a slow morning.  I ignored the dishes and the laundry piles.  I spent some time on Pinterest planning my girls four year old birthday party.  I did a little party shopping and then I met some of my teammates from school for lunch out.  A slow lunch to enjoy conversation -- as opposed the the rushed school day lunch!  And then we were off to see the movie Divergent.  I devoured book one and thought they did a great job with the movie.  I also loved seeing how they created my hometown Chicago.  Oh, and Four was just as adorable as I imagined. {Smiles.}  

Taking time to celebrate -- BIG or little -- is truly fulfilling.

Friday, April 25, 2014

{five minute friday} friend

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday  writing challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker
The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given word.  Just write and share.

Today's Five Minute Friday word:  {friend}

I have always been the type of person that feels more comfortable having a few close friends rather that a whole lot of acquaintances.  I feel more secure in creating a strong bond and truly knowing someone inside and out.  And for someone to know me just the same.

Those few really close friends have changed over the years.  As my life twisted and turned down different paths, I have had different friends.  

Growing up friends.  High school friends.  College friends.  After college friends.  Some are now acquaintances, and some are long forgotten.  Church friends.  Couples friends.  Online friends.  My husband.  He's one of my favorites and my best friend!  

Yet, there has always been one constant friend.

My Mom.  

She is always there, lending an ear, saying a prayer, sharing her two cents, or providing advice.  I never considered my Mom a friend growing up, just as it should be.  After I graduated from college, got a real job, and moved out, she became my friend.  Basically, when I grew up and realized that she was right (most of the time), we became friends.  She is the one friend that I turn to.  She is the one friend that I trust the most.  She is the one friend I that I can always count on.  

I am so thankful for my friend, my Mom.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

{sols}: more to the story

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

Last week ... 

P. got sick at school.  I had to quickly leave a meeting, rush to pick her up, wondering if there were any signs of sickness I missed in the morning.  Nothing came to mind.

After I picked her up from school (and dealing with my other daughter's tears), I asked her in the car what she ate for breakfast.

"I don't know, but I had a cupcake for a snack."

Hmmm...really?  A cupcake?  At 9 o'clock in the morning?  Maybe it was too much sugar too early.

Of course, I called Miss Kathy to get the inside scoop.  Yes, there was a cupcake, but it was a small cupcake with little frosting.

Nothing else came of this illness.  I blamed it on the extra sugar.

Fast forward a couple days later ... 

M. asked if she could have some sugary snack for breakfast.

"No way.  Do you remember what happened this week when P. ate too much sugar in the morning?"

"Mommy, it wasn't the sugar.  She put Mr. Potato Head pieces in her mouth!" M. responded.

"What?!?  P.?  Did you put Mr. Potato Head pieces in your mouth?"

"No.  No, I didn't."

"Yes you did!" M. told her.

"Tell me what happened." I insisted.

"We were under the little white table poking holes in the Mr. Potato Head bag and she put some pieces in her mouth." M. explained.

"How many pieces did she put in her mouth?"  I didn't even bother asking about why they were hiding under the table or why they thought it was okay to poke holes in the bag.

"Um, maybe like 3 or 4.  No, it was like this many." Showing five fingers.

"No!  It was only 3!" P. jumped in, unknowingly owning up to her poor decision.

"Oh, so you did put the toys in your mouth?"  I asked to which I received no answer.

"Mommy, she did."  M. said again as P. sat quietly.

"M., why didn't you tell me about this sooner?" I wondered.

"Because you left!" M. emphatically stated reminding me of her terrible, no-good, very bad day moment when I had to leave her behind.

According to a four year old ... There's always more to the story.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

{celebrate}: this week

I'm here to {celebrate} with Ruth Ayres and YOU!
Finding the little moments of joy in life.

Today I am celebrating.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday.  Bunny baskets filled with green grass, new bubbles and outside games.  Brightly colored hidden plastic eggs stuffed with chocolate candies and jelly beans. 

Sounds like a win, right?  Sure, maybe a temporary victory.

But the true victory is in Jesus.

Jesus died a brutal death.  None of us will truly understand the depth of His suffering.  He lived out God's plan and died for you and for me.  For our sins.  For our wrong doings.  For our disobedience.  For our disregard to do what is right.  Past. Present. And future.

But the true victory is in Jesus.  He is the {glue} that keeps my sticky, messy life together.

Tomorrow I will celebrate this good news.

Friday, April 18, 2014

{five minute friday}: glue

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday  writing challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker
The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given word.  Just write and share.

Today's Five Minute Friday word:  {glue}

{glue} is sticky, messy, connects, everlasting, hardens.  Just like life.

Reflecting on this holy of holy weeks, with much help from specific daily devotions from my pastors, be a part of the many praying for 120 hours of prayer, Ruth Ayres' 40 Stories for Lent, and deep conversations with my small group, I have witnessed how Jesus is the {glue} in my life, holding everyone and everything together.    

Jesus loved.
Jesus forgave.  
Jesus cried out.
Jesus suffered.
Jesus died for us and all of our sins.

Jesus is the One.  

The only one that I need to desire to have a relationship with to keep me from 
and falling apart.

Through His relationship, He connects me those that continue to nudge and push and encourage my spiritual growth.

And then Jesus rose from the dead and stood in Victory.

Jesus is my everlasting Savior, my {glue} and He promises to connect to me in this life that is sticky, messy, and occasionally when my heart hardens.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

{sols}: sick day

Monday morning started as any other usual Monday.

I flipped on the light switch and started quietly singing, "Good morning! Good morning! Good morning! It's time to rise and shine!"  Big stretches and groans and yawns.  I know this feeling.

After a slow wakeup, the girls got ready for the day, had a quick breakfast snack, and they were out the door with Daddy.

I took a deep breath and prepared my bags.  I was out the door to head to my professional development meeting about assessment.

About an hour into the meeting, I noticed my phone light up:

Missed call.

Missed call and voice mail.

iMessage: Call me.

Missed call and voice mail.

iMessage: P. puked.

iMessage: Can you pick her up?

My eyes bugged out in surprise.  I quickly responded to my husband's texts and whispered to my table group that I had to go.  As quietly as I could, I quickly exited wondering if I missed any signs in the morning.

After the fifteen minute drive, I arrived at my girls' school.  P. was ready wearing her coat and a smile.  Then her sister, M., walked around the corner with big tears falling down her cheeks.

"Mommmeee.  I.  Want.  To.  Go.  Home.  Too," she sobbed.


"I have to take care of P. and I need you to stay here.  I'll pick you up soon. I promise," I reassured her.  We hugged and kissed and Miss Kathy nudged her to the other room so we could make a quick exit.

P. was chatting and happy and not-at-all acting sick.   She did feel bad for her sister.  She came home and made a picture and a card for her.

"Mommy, can you help me write a note?"  She asked.

"I love you! I miss you so much!"

After some toast, a nap for both of us, and a few more stickers added to her sister's card, it was time to go get M. from school.  She survived the rest of the afternoon.  Miss Kathy mentioned how much the girls really care about each other.

A twin connection that I'll never fully understand, but it's so sweet to witness.

It's also sweet to have two healthy girls.  No more issues the rest of the day (or night).  Everyone is back to school today.

Monday, April 14, 2014

{celebrate}: this week

I'm here to {celebrate} with Ruth Ayres and YOU!
Finding the little moments of joy in life.

Today I am celebrating.

{successful practices}
My girls are taking swim lessons and hockey tot (ice skating) lessons.  Both evenings this week as we rushed from school to home to eat to back out the door, they said, "We don't want to go."  Yet, we encouraged and attended both practices with huge successes this week in the pool and on the ice!

{a birthday}
My husband celebrated a birthday this week.  This year we agreed that we wouldn't exchange cards or gifts because, quite honestly, we have all that we need or ever wanted.  But I still wanted to give him something, so I wrote him a little something that he truly appreciated and teared up reading it.

{reading moments}
This week I celebrated some book reading love by sharing a special reading moment.  And that love spread to some of my students and they shared a special reading moment too.  (If you have a moment, I know they would appreciate your comments!)  It was pure delight to hear their stories in their own words.  My absolute favorite conclusion to a reading moment:  That's the truth.  I am a book reader.

{sleeping babies}
As I sat on the couch, late in the evening, reflecting on this week, I heard my girls laughing and talking in the monitor.  It was almost two hours past their usual bedtime and we have a busy day on Saturday.  Maybe it was all the fresh air and exercise we got Friday evening playing outside.  We tucked and re-tucked.  We spoke softly and a little louder.  We encouraged and we (sadly) punished with threatening to take away toys.    

Finally, one last time, I went up to their room, laid down on the floor, and told them a made up little story about two little girls who were sisters that loved each other very much. "Mommy, that's us!"  It was an amazing moment to have their full (quiet!) attention.  After I finished the story, we all laid there quietly.  I celebrated my storytelling skills -- something that I have never really tried before, but enjoyed it immensely.   

As I prayed for peace and sleep for the girls, they finally fell asleep.  I celebrated that the majority of nights, the girls go to sleep quickly and without a struggle.  Even in the scheme of life, this was not the big deal we made it seem.  But I'm celebrating my sleeping girls right now with hopes of sleeping in. (Note to reader: They did not sleep in this morning, but are in a happy mood. Hope that lasts throughout our busy day.)


Thank you for stopping by and celebrating this week with me.  When I take time each week to celebrate, I realize there are so many other little moments of celebration that happen during the week.  I'm grateful for this opportunity to celebrate with you. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

{five minute friday}: paint

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday  writing challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker
The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given word.  Just write and share.

Today's Five Minute Friday word:  {paint}

Displaying photo.JPG
There are layers and layers on that old rocking chair.

Layers of paint hiding underneath a shiny black.

Each layer holds a memory.  It once was white.  And a mom rocked babies.  To soothe.  To snuggle.  To remember.

Each layer tells a story.  It once was green.  And grandmas rocked grandbabies.  To love.  To hold.  To remember.

Each layer shares a moment of love.  It once was brown.  And great-grandmas rocked great-grandbabies.  To just remember.

The paint on that old rocking chair chips and exposes another layer of paint.  Sharing another memory.  Sharing another story.  Sharing more love.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

{reader} a reading moment

Yesterday, I shared my daughter's reading moment.  A memory about reading that just made her happy as she chose to read a book over playing.  Even if it was just for five minutes.

This reading memory gave me an idea for my students at school.

I challenged my third and fourth grade groups to blog about a reading memory:  Think about a reading moment when you were all wrapped up in a book.  Or you were secretly reading in class.  Or you stayed up in bed and read under the covers.  Or when you couldn't put a book down, but your mom asked you to help her.

I shared my most recent reading moment as a mentor text:  {late night reading} 

As the day ended and students' saved their reading moment drafts, I spotted a few other student reading moments ...

image found on pinterest

A boy standing in the busy, loud multi-purpose room.  Students waiting for the bus and laughing as he stands alone, away from the bus line, holding an open book.  Reading.

A girl standing at the end of the bus line, swaying back and forth.  Ignoring the noise around her, holding an open book.  Reading.

A boy walking behind a long line of students.  He moves closer to the bus, trying not to walk into anything, holding an open book.  Reading.

I snapped a picture of each student in my head, wanting to remember and share these real reading moments.

Here are the students' reading moments shared on our class blog:
Please feel free to leave a comment!  Thank you!
  1. Jocelyn's reading memory about  Pat the Bunny
  2. Sandra Can't Stop Reading
  3. Luke wanted to Read
  4. Luis enjoys Flashlight Friday
  5. Anthony almost got caught Staying Up Late
  6. Chris was left behind reading a Book 
  7. Evelin wanted to read the new book The Pigeon Needs a Bath!
  8. Nathaniel Stayed Up Late reading
  9. Kathalyn shared a time she Read to Her Sister and Brother
  10. Rachel shared a funny Reading Moment
  11. Ohm wrote about Reading at Night

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

{reader} reading first

Yesterday evening was a perfect night to get outside and play.  Sunshine late into the evening with a slight chill in the air.

"But I want to read this book," P. demanded.

I never want to discourage reading, but we wouldn't be able to play outside all night.

"Hey, we can read it when we come back inside before bedtime.  Let's go play outside now!"

"I'm bringing the book with me." 

I wasn't going to argue with her.

P. jumped into her shoes, slid on her coat, and lugged the books outside.  Daddy gave her a questioning look as she stepped onto the patio.

Surrounded by daylight (and wearing a bike helmet), she kneeled at the outside table and read her book first.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

sol: {a number}

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

My birthday was last week.  My husband's birthday was yesterday.

For one week we are the same age.  (And that age is really bothering me.)  He is now one year older.  And it's not bothering him.  He says it's just a number.  He says that you are only as old as you feel.  He says to enjoy the life you have now.  He even says that the older I get, the longer he will have loved me.

I have never had an issue with age before.  Twenty-nine to thirty.  No problem.  Early thirties.  Easy.  I was even okay with thirty-five and thirty-six and thirty-seven.

I was okay with sharing my age. Telling my students the year I was born and letting them do the math.  I usually had to do the math too because age wasn't a concern.  I even had no issues when they started saying that I was older than their parents.

But for ten days I have not forgotten my age.  For ten days I have been thirty-eight and this number scares me.  Really scares me.  It's not that I don't feel thirty-eight, whatever that is supposed to feel like.  I still feel the same.

Perhaps the closest biggest step is (shhh!) forty.  That scares me a little.  Yet, I know forty is not old like it used to be years ago. (You know, when I was younger.)  Fifty and even sixty these days aren't considered old, especially when everyone is looking great and active and healthy.

Age truly can't be defined by a number.

But have I really lived a life of almost forty years on this earth?  And why am I letting thirty-eight bother me?  I still have two years (less than 730 days) before that big four-oh comes.  I need to listen to my husband.  It's just a number.  I'm only as old as I feel.  I need to enjoy my life now.  I need to let my husband love me more.

But, just so you know, I'm still cringing at the thought of thirty-eight.  (Ugh.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

today: {birthday wishes}

image from wallpaperfunda

Today is my husband's birthday.  Jon is one who enjoys a great birthday celebration!  Yet, today is a Monday and a day back to work.  After working all day, we'll rush home to eat quickly to be ready to take the girls to their swim lessons.

Not much for a birthday celebration!

But he still knows how to celebrate.  Yesterday, he enjoyed a day of working out in the yard, including a trip to Home Depot.  In the evening we celebrated with his parents by grilling flank steak.  He enjoyed looking at pictures from when he younger.  Then, this morning he stopped for Spunky Dunker donuts to take to work for his colleagues.  He received a video birthday message and song from the girls.  And, after swim lessons tonight, we'll devour the leftover chocolate cake from yesterday's celebration.

A celebration of sorts!  We also agreed not to exchange birthday cards.

So, instead, I write to you:  Here's to a day to remember!  Happy birthday Jon!

image from icanread

{my happy birthday wishes to you}

i celebrate you because --
you bring me the truth (even if i don't want to hear it)
you make me laugh ... and cry
you light up my life
i love you for all that you are
my husband and my best friend

our girls celebrate you because --
you constantly care that they are safe
you always provide and take care of our family's needs
you encourage them to try new things
they love you for all that you are
their loving daddy that gives lots of hugs and snuggles

i celebrate you because --
you are a hard-working man
you always want what is best for us
you remind us to trust in the Lord our God
i love you for all that you are
a caring husband, a devoted father, a constant friend, a loving son

Saturday, April 5, 2014

{celebrate} this week

I'm here to {celebrate} with Ruth Ayres and YOU!
Finding the little moments of joy in life.

{Today I am celebrating.}

It's Saturday!  After the first week back to school after spring break, this week felt busy.  So, today, in our house we enjoy a day without constant going and interruptions.  The first question I heard this morning was: "Do we get to stay home today?" We celebrate today ~ Saturday ~ Ourday. 

I enjoyed my fourth year of participating in the TWT March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I wrote for thirty-one days in March, plus five more days of continued writing (counting today)!  I had no real intentions of continuing to write each day, but the writing habit has been created.  I feel the need to write each day.  I also know the connections and comments fuel that writing.  I'll see how life and time transitions during this writing season.

{five minute friday}
Ruth introduced me to another writing challenge: Five Minute Friday.  Yesterday, I wrote for five minutes (maybe a couple more) on the prompt word - fitting for the end of this week: {writer}.  No editing, no worries, just write and publish.  Then link up on Lisa-Jo Baker's website and leave a comment for the person who linked up before you.  

{daily celebrations}
At dinnertime I am always trying to encourage the girls to tell us about their day at school.  Sometimes I feel totally ignored.  So, this week, I remembered a little discussion starter that good friends used when their children were younger: one good, one bad.  We go around the table and tell one good thing that happened and one bad thing.  The girls have bought into this!  They celebrate seeing their preschool teacher or all their friends being at school or playing a special game.  They share their disappointments about a friend being sick or getting hurt at school or not having preschool.  They quickly think of one good and one bad and leads to further conversations.  

Me?  I have struggled!  I'm tired at the end of the day and thankful to be sitting with my family, eating a meal together, and reconnecting after a long day.  I'm having a hard time thinking of one good, one bad.  I think these conversations and reflections will help us learn to {celebrate} more!

{one good}
I'm writing yet again and celebrating with you!  Also, thankful that Ruth mentioned my little post about celebrating my birthday last week by finding the joy in the ordinary.  That's my "one good" for me today.