Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I could have sliced

I could have sliced about Youngest remembering on the way to the bus stop to tell me about the it'll-be-here-earlier-than-usual-and-hopefully-it's-not-too-late bus reminder.
I could have sliced about the unplanned-I'm-sure-the-kid-didn't-mean-to-touch-it fire drill that happened as kids were entering the building today.
I could have sliced about the 2 separate encounters with special needs kids who let me hop over an alphabet rainbow and shared some out-of-context-but-heartfelt-and-cheerfully-given advice.
I could have sliced about the joy of rediscovering hidden-and-almost-forgotten Halloween candy at just the right moment.
I could have sliced about Husband waiting in the parking lot and me holding dinner for the I-don't-know-where-my-swim-practice-schedule-is Oldest.

But I didn't.

Instead I called for Middle to bring her notebook and pen to the sofa across from me.
I told her a little about what a slice is.
I told her a little about why writers slice.
And then she sliced.
I could have sliced....but Middle did.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Short look at 16 years

Sixteen years ago today, Oldest was born.
Last year he came home from his high school health class,
during which they watched a video about childbirth,
and he apologized.

I told him I'd think about it.
Labor started Monday;
he was born Wednesday.

He said he understood.
I think he was worth the wait.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

College Football Game Day

Youngest and I had an almost perfect Saturday. Perfect would have been if Husband, Oldest, and Middle had been there too, but truth be told...it was kind of nice just the two of us.

Grandpa's Purdue football tickets were ours--he was out of town. Sometimes one or the other of us gets to go with Grandpa, and when he's not able to go, we trade off who gets the tickets. If the tickets end up at our house, it's almost always me and one of the kids. And there are rituals to be observed.

We get up early and eat a little, but not too much. We stop about an hour away from the stadium for breakfast sandwiches to go and turn the radio dial to the pre game show as we head on down the road. We park where Grandpa has parked for years, up the hill from the stadium in a wooded neighborhood. Youngest has the best memory for where we leave the car.

We walk down the hill, going slowly past any tailgate that smells good and always hope that we get to the stadium gates in time to see the band arrive and play the fight song. And beat the world's largest drum.

After the band moves on, we pull out our tickets and move toward our gate. By this time, the music playing from inside the stadium and the growing crowds have us grinning ear to ear and walking more quickly.

When we get into the stadium, we face the climb to our seats--3 rows from the top of Ross Ade Stadium. It's a long climb, but we can see the whole field clearly. That makes it a lot easier to make our own coaching or officiating calls.

We watch the seats fill as we wait for the team to take the field--the train whistle, the flags, Purdue Pete, and our Boiler boys taking the field...awesome way to spend a Saturday. We cheer and groan and chant and sing the fight song.

The best days, of course, are when we get a win. But either way, on the hike back up the hill to find the car, the discussion almost always turns to what kind of ice cream sundae we'll get at Hap's on the way home. Hap's is a tradition started by Grandpa, and one we're a little afraid to break. The sundaes are huge and the menu for them is too--around 80-some options. Whether we're celebrating a victory or drowning our sorrows, the trip doesn't quite feel complete without stopping here. Besides the ice cream, they have little electric trains that run on tracks near the ceiling. What Boilermaker wouldn't love a place with a train?

At the end of the day, we drag ourselves into the house. For us, the drive to and from is longer than the game. But worth it. Completely worth it.
Boiler Up! Hammer Down!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The backpacks dropped on the floor just inside the door near the bottom of the stairs are heavy.
I keep stubbing my toes on them, pausing to cast a disappointed look at the basket sitting empty
beside them;
it is the job of this basket to corral the backpacks.

The breakfast dishes from each morning greet me at the end of each long day.
I cringe at the bits of dried-on food, trying in vain to avoid noticing the mostly empty dishwasher sitting
inches away;
it is the job of this machine to keep dishes out of sight.

The laundry basket sits tipped on one side just inside the door of the tiny laundry room.
I cannot open the door to get to the dryer without a complicated dance with the door
and the pile of clean clothes;
it is the job of this basket to contain those clothes.

The refrigerator packed full with food just two days ago appears alarmingly empty again.
I fill it regularly, making sure that there is food to feed five hungry people for at least
one work week;
it is the job of the refrigerator to be full of food.

All these undone jobs mock me as I walk from room to room day in and day out.
I issue clear reminders, simplifying as much as possible so there is no
confusion over what to do;
it is my job to see the jobs get done.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another First Day

The kids start school tomorrow.
         Can you find your other shoe?
I've been back for two days.
        What do you mean, "what other shoe?!"
I'm already worn out, but somehow still energized.
        Eeew! what is in this backpack?
Summer seemed shorter this year.
        Hey--use soap. You need to smell clean for tomorrow.
I think we're all looking forward to a consistent routine.
        Did you set your alarm? Really?
I know the kids are glad to go back....mostly.
        I know you think you know where your key is...where is it really?
Tomorrow morning we'll all be excited; tomorrow evening, exhausted.
        Why are you still up? Go to bed! Yes, I know it's still light outside.
Tomorrow is another first day.
        Yeah, I know. I'm excited too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

7 sets per second

Did you know Lego sells 7 sets every second? Yep, for real.
I know this because Husband got an email from Lego today. He loves Legos. A lot. So do Oldest, Middle, and Youngest. We probably have enough Lego sets at our house to qualify as a small store.

The email came because Husband and Youngest were putting together a 1,000+ piece set last night and there was 1 white piece missing. Over 1,000 pieces put together and 1 not there. They called Lego (did you know you can get a real person at Lego at 9pm?) and were told a new piece would be sent out right away. The confirmation email that came today included the fact. Seven sets per second. That's a lot of Legos.

My dining room table currently doubles as a display space for the most recently assembled pieces, and Husband's office has several more. Lego sculptures adorn spaces here and there around our home--some are sets imagined and created by Lego, and others were crafted by my own team of visionary Lego experts who live and work right here.

Our basement holds tubs of Legos--some sorted by set, but many dumped together into large containers meant to store things like bed linens or winter clothes. They don't stay in storage; they are periodically brought upstairs to litter one room or another for a day or a week or so.  Oldest has dumped multiple boxes of Legos out on the floor of his room. He's been sorting for days. Youngest started to do the same, but lost steam. Or maybe interest. He did build a really cool......something. I don't know what's happened to the sets in Middle's room. Over time all 3 have created buildings, spaceships, castles, forts, room layouts, cars, planes and lots of other stuff, all full of extraordinary detail.

Our front room was once carpeted with Harry Potter Legos for over 2 months. There are a lot of Harry Potter sets at our house, and they were all out at once. I shudder to think about the lack of opportunity for vacuuming, but have wonderful pictures of Husband and kids surrounded by piles of brightly colored blocks, sorting and building together. We all worked on it--it was a big project. We never really finished, but with Legos, can you ever really finish? I'm not sure.

On our trip this summer, a much-anticipated destination was the Lego store in Mall of America. If you've never seen it, you really are missing something. There are stunning models that can be seen from inside the first floor store, but even better from the second level of the mall. They are huge--larger than life huge. Even teenage Oldest was impressed. We visited the store several different times, waiting until the very end of the day to make purchasing decisions. I didn't watch the lady ring things up. Sometimes I'm better off not knowing.

What I do know is that Lego sells 7 sets per second, and we're a part of it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Today I read something a friend wrote in which she described me, along with others, as being insulated by books. I chuckled, but then realized that she's right. I do use books as insulation.

When things get too hectic and stress builds, I often insulate myself from the madness by rereading old favorites. It serves to create a familiar place in the middle of chaos and uncertainty.

When faced with long, cold winter days or steamy hot summers, I insulate myself from the elements by literally surrounding my favorite spot of the sofa with new reading material.

When there are appointments to keep and children to taxi to and from lessons, I insulate myself against the cracks in time by tucking a book or magazine into my large slouchy bag.

I use books as insulation all the time--to keep in the happy or ward off the stress, to keep my cool or warm my soul. Books temper me. They keep my mental and emotional climate stable. Books as insulation. Who knew?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BONS at my house

The BONS (my writing group) were at my house tonight. It was super fun and I love that they all came and stayed until late. We always leave feeling so energized. But I'm tired now--winding down--so this slice will be a short list of tonight's highlights.

1. making a meal out of our favorite cold appetizers and desserts
2. washing it down with berry lemonade and lingering conversation
3. my family and BONS meeting each other
4. sharing our writing pieces, progress and stumbling blocks
5. giving and getting feedback and encouragement
6. my daughter giving everyone pedicures (massage and pretty painted toenails!) while we worked
7. a special stone with a message for each of us
8. a break to swim in the pool
9. ice cream from the local stand--raspberry, lemon, butter pecan, and peanut butter
10. more talking, more laughing, and plans to meet again

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Night Swim

When the pool water warms and days stay hot until after bedtime
it's time for a night swim.
Suits are pulled on and towels dropped poolside,
but voices stay low and lights off.
Only the single underwater light glows,
shifting white yellow green blue red purple.
One by one we step quietly into the still water
and slip below the surface.

Night swims are hushed and slower than daytime,
with no cannonballs or splashing.
We glide underwater, back and forth,
twirling, graceful merpeople just for a night.
Fireflies light up the yard and hover in the air
and the moon peeks from behind sparse clouds.
One by one, we start to float,
looking for stars and softly naming constellations.

After a while, when fingers and toes turn pruney,
and we are floating and gliding silently,
we know it's time.
The night swim is almost over, but we hold on
just a little longer.
Because night swims are anticipated for weeks
and talked about for months.
So we stay just a few more minutes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I only meant to sit for a minute,
but I leaned back and
felt the breeze skip over my skin and ruffle my hair.
I closed my eyes and felt the sun's early morning light
warming the back of the chair.

It was all over after that;
the chair kept calling me back,
first to finish--the rest of the coffee, the last chapters of the book.
The sun crept around the corner of the house
to finish warming my winter-chilled toes.

Later I found myself in the chair again;
it wasn't planned, but it happened anyway,
this time to start--the next book, the first of the summer ice cream cones.
The breeze danced across the porch,
tempering the heat of afternoon sun.

I only meant to sit for a minute,
but I leaned back and
slowly but surely, between the warm sun and gentle breeze
pieces of a whole day slid by in that chair
at the end of the porch.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reasons Why

The reason I don't read suspense novels when I'm home alone at night is that I don't work out and have never taken a self-defense course.. If a bad guy is hiding under the bed waiting to grab me when I'm looking for my slippers, I won't be able to punch him out or outrun him.

The reason I eat big bowls of popcorn several times a week is heredity. I inherited an unstoppable craving from my mother who says she inherited it from her father. You can't pick your gene pool.

The reason I read a lot is that I am pretty sure I have an addiction problem and I've heard terrible stories about what happens during withdrawal. My family does not deserve anything I might be capable of if I quit reading.

The reason I eat the rest of the cookies in the package or the chocolates in the bag is so they can't tempt me. Removing temptation is how you avoid things like eating to many cookies or too much chocolate. No more cookies or chocolate = no more temptation.

The reason I let my daughter be in charge of painting my toenails is that it means I don't have to bend over as much. Also, I can keep reading my book and still have pretty toenails, and sometimes she throws in a foot massage.

The reason I had to come up with an idea to slice tonight is that I actually miss it a little when I don't. And also I'm a little bit afraid that the BONS or my rouge-book-club-turned-slicers will be disappointed or will call me to rub it in that they sliced and I didn't.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Perfect Porch

I love my front porch. It's deeper than most and is as long as our house is wide. There is a little space to the right as you come out the door--just enough room for a  bench big enough to hold 2 or 3 kids waiting for a bus or for company to come down the street. To the right is the big space. The space big enough for 2 rocking chairs and one adirondack chair and 2 small tables with plenty of room left over.

Youngest has enlisted Grandpa's help in attracting hummingbirds, and this year's new feeder hangs near the far end of the porch. There is often a ball next to the bench by the front door, and the bench itself tends to collect leftovers from long, full summer days--picnic blankets, a stray book, someone's skateboard.

When they were smaller, Oldest, Middle and Youngest used to play on the porch. Rainy days were best, because we stayed dry while surrounded by the rain, playing happily with little cars, sidewalk chalk and bubbles. We stayed cool in the shade when the sun was hot, and the rocking chairs were the perfect spot to keep watch as they climbed the front yard tree or rode bikes and scooters up and down the sidewalk. I still watch as they hang out with friends up and down the street, and sometimes catch a handful of kids lounging on the porch or hear quiet chatter from a pair rocking and planning the rest of their day.

My parents like to sit on my porch when they visit. Dad takes his coffee out and sits and rocks and listens and watches. Even though we're in town, there is almost always birdsong. It's a good spot to keep track of the coming and going and in and out at our house, and it's nice to pull into my driveway and see my parents and kids on the porch relaxing and waiting for me and Husband to get home.

I also love to spend time on the porch. My favorite times are when it's warm enough to sit for a long time without getting chilly and before the late-day sun sinks far enough to shine directly into my westward-facing eyes. Like my dad, I love to take my coffee out in the mornings and sit and listen and watch. Like my mom, I almost always take along a book, and sometimes I take along some writing I'm working on. Our porch is just right for lunch outside and popsicles or ice cream cones. The first time we looked at this house, I fell in love with the porch and it hasn't disappointed. I knew when we bought the house that I needed the rocking chairs. I spent a couple of summers waiting until I found the adirondack chair that fit me well and matched the rest.

Now the chairs call me to come sit and rock or sit back and hold still. Now I have places for people and places for coffee cups and glasses of lemonade and long summer hours to enjoy it all.
Now it's simply perfect.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Talk

The things I hear from Oldest, Middle, and Youngest are different in the summer. I like it. A lot.

"Mom, what day is it today? Wait....never mind!"
"This is the way all mornings should be."
"Can we have popsicles?"
"What's for breakfast? Or lunch? What time is it anyway?"
"Have another popsicle."
"We're going on another bike ride. See you later."
"I'm taking my book out to the tree."
"Aw, just jump in with your clothes on."
"Do we need shoes for this?"
"We're just gonna run around outside a while."
"Are there any more water balloons?"
"Hey--it's way past my bedtime. Does that matter?"
"I'm getting a popsicle for J. too. I'll be at her house."
"Can I invite E. to have a picnic?"
"I mowed, so I have enough money...can I bike to get ice cream?"
"I mowed, so I have money...can I call A. or S. or somebody to go to the movies?"
"I'm gonna take my lunch to the porch and read while I eat."
"Are we out of popsicles?"

They come and they go, and between lessons and back and forth with friends and cousins, I'm having trouble remembering the day and keeping track of the time too.

But I do know we need more popsicles.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's here

I finally had time to plant my little garden and my flowers,
The cushions are on the chairs on my front porch,
I am slowly regaining control over the mess in our house,
Youngest just pointed out that he's still up....after 9 pm,
Today I read 2 books cover to cover,
I lingered over my coffee on weekday,
We'll open the pool this week.
Summer vacation is here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Club Gone Rogue

I belong to a somewhat unconventional book club--we'd like to think of ourselves as a rogue group, but since we're all teachers, women, and somewhat nice people who meet in a coffee shop, it's difficult to get people to buy that. Maybe if we started meeting in a motorcycle bar. Or in an abandoned factory down by the tracks.

Only those places don't have coffee and yummy pastries and comfy chairs gathered around a coffee table. The other problem is that other than coloring outside the lines when establishing the rules for our club, the most dangerous thing we do is refuse to wear socks in all but the coldest weather and willingly spend all day with middle schoolers and first graders.

The group is small--just the 4 of us. A. and I started meeting just because we've been friends since her son was in my class and she was a parent helper. We missed the days of chatting over coffee in my classroom and had started recommending book titles to each other. One day we met at the coffee shop to exchange stacks of books and the nontraditional book club was formed.

For a long time it was just the two of us. That was the first slightly out of the ordinary thing about our club--most people don't consider 2 people enough for a real club. However, we like to think that our personalities are big enough to pull it off.

The second unconventional thing we did is refuse to read the same book at the same time and then discuss it. Instead, our meetings are part book talk about books we want each other to read and part spilling our guts about what we'd thought about the books we'd urged upon each other at the last meeting.

Oh, and meetings. They are somewhat less than regular. We meet when we need something to read, want to push books on each other, or when we want a reason to spend time in the coffee shop with other girls.

After a while, A. and I thought that maybe we should expand our club. A. invited her teacher-daughter and I invited a young teacher-friend. B. and L. are great additions to the group, and they like our rules. A. and I sometimes wonder if we are corrupting the young.

Our newest adventure is blogging. I started a while back, and decided it was time to corrupt expand the horizons of the rest of the group. I thought that if I enjoyed it and it was good for me as a writer, it must be good for others, right?

We met recently, but with no books or book talk (see? rogue!). We made sure that everyone had a blog set up, spent a very long time playing with the backgrounds (we like to look good), and made sure each person posted. Tonight, I sent a nagging reminder to the others and the text messages started flying. Imagine my chagrin when L. and A. both had ideas and I had nothing! Then they both posted before me. I toyed with the idea of just typing out the text messages, as we like to think that we are rather clever; however, that involved some risk (what if we find out we're not clever? or funny?).

So instead you get the slightly skewed history of our following-our-own-rules book club. Happy reading girls!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Train Sounds Then and Now

Right now I can hear the long, mellow whistle of a train. It covers for just a bit the low rumble of the train moving along the tracks. I'm too far away to hear the more abrupt clacking of the wheels. From this distance, the sounds are softened and smooth.

When I was a little girl, I remember lying in bed and listening to the trains. The tracks were about a half mile from our house, and the whistle threaded its way through the woods and into the window of the room I shared with one of my sisters. I'm sure that I sometimes heard the trains during the night, but I mostly remember hearing them in the early morning, especially when we had the windows open to the cool night air of late spring and summer. I would lie there in the gray almost-light before dawn, not awake or asleep, and I'd listen to the trains. Maybe I wondered where they had been or where they were going, but mostly I think I just listened to them pass.

I still hear trains in the early morning. The tracks are not so far away from our home, but now the rumble of train on tracks and the long warning whistles pass through neighborhoods and parking lots to reach my ears. There is still just enough distance to mute the sounds so they match the muted light of early morning, and it's just as I remember it. As dark to fade to light, I sometimes find myself listening. Not quite awake, but definitely not asleep, I listen to them pass and remember.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Literary Litterbugs

At our house, books are like litter along a stretch of abandoned inner-city streets. Rooms here are often abandoned by people, but the reading material left behind is ever present.

No matter how often magazines are placed back into baskets, books onto shelves, and newspapers carefully stacked, they reappear almost instantaneously. Some balance precariously on the arms of chairs or sofas, near end tables with coasters still coffee-warm...wonder who left those?

Magazines, with their slippery, glossy covers somehow slide from their designated spots back to a place at the table, joined by sandwich crumbs and a leftover cup. They sneak into bookbags and purses and lie open on sofas next to people-shaped dips in the cushions. Others find their way somehow into the bathrooms, maybe paying tribute to the days when Sears Roebuck played a critical role in this room of the house.

Still more books lie piled in places both imaginable and slightly surprising. They are commonly found sorted into piles of reading-now, just-finished-but-not-ready-to-reshelve, or waiting-to-be-read. Books alone or in piles in the usual places, like the large ottoman in the living room or the bedside tables in the bedrooms. But they are also found in the beds themselves, nestled under pillows or tangled in sheets. They turn up under couch cushions and in the garage and in the car.

Little by little, the text-litter grows. Stories and information fill rooms left empty by the family. Those wandering through are likely to get caught--a tantalizing picture, an attention-grabbing title. None of us is immune to the call. And woe to those who try to control the litter, to create programs and public awareness of the importance of reshelving. Results are gratifying, but short-lived. Even when the rooms remain empty, the reading material seems to appear on its own, perhaps blown in from another family's out-of-control reading habits. The litter is even going high-tech; often the cover of the Kindle can be spotted among the titles gathered near the sofa, and the iPad or laptop have joined ranks with the newspapers and magazines.

Litterbugs...we are a household of literary litterbugs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Morning in Different Ways

I like mornings. Mostly. Today I came across something I'd written Oldest, Middle, and Youngest were Big Guy, Little Girl, and Baby, and I started thinking of morning in different ways.

waking, stretching, yawning, washing,
dressing, eating, brushing, cleaning,
rousing, changing, feeding, singing,
driving, walking, opening, planning,
prepping, waiting, smiling, greeting,

I though, if I can think about mornings with verbs, why not nouns? Are they different for weekends and workdays?

Morning                                                Morning
Pillows and blankets                             Pillows and blankets
Alarm and light                                     Slippers and robe
shower and brush                                  Whispers and lamp
clothes and shoes                                   Coffee and cookies
coffee and toast                                      Sofa and book
Morning                                                 Morning

Hmm...maybe morning is a person....with a split personality?

Morning calls softly on voices of birds,
its coffee-scented breeze pulling you to your feet.
It breathes deeply as the first rays of sun
touch your face, welcoming you to 
a new day.


Morning screams suddenly with a shrill voice,
vaulting you abruptly from dreams to reality and bed to floor.
It pours glaring lights into unready eyes
and laughs at weak protests over
a new day.

Maybe I should try irony--after all, I'm composing poems about morning as the sun sets through the windows by the sofa.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sun Play Here and There

April sun in Indiana is thin
and plays hide and seek with flat gray skies,
but mostly chooses hide.

April sun in South Carolina is loud
and calls for you to come play in warm breezes,
but also sits in calm corners.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MIdnight Memory

       Midnight Memory

The rhythmic squeak of the rocking chair
slices through the silence
of the sleeping house.
Shadows from the streetlights
sketch hazy pictures
on the walls,
and a small warm body
drapes over my shoulder
like a blanket
tucked under my chin.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Really There is no other choice

Some not-quite-as-random-as-they-seem facts:

  • Once the SOLSC was over, I knew I wanted to keep slicing on Tuesdays
  • I have an old notebook and a tattered folder with some bits and pieces of old writing
  • Last night, the BONS were together--eating, laughing, telling stories, and sharing writing
  • The BONS know there is poetry hidden here and there in the notebook and folder
  • It's Poetry Month
So really, there is no other choice. I'm feeling nudged (pushed, pulled, encouraged, called--you pick) to pull out a couple of the poems and put them here. Where you can see them. 

To the BONS: I'm holding you all personally responsible for this!

This one was first written in spring of 2003, though it's about a fall tradition.

Round the bend
at the top of the hill,
smoke curls over the barn
where family history is made.

Cars standing,
head toward the wind
like cattle shoulder to shoulder
in the pasture.

Familiar faces
appear distorted,
like looking into an old mirror;
it happened so quickly.

Approaching slowly,
reconnecting with nods
and picking up
year-old conversations.

Rich tradition
sticks across generations;
through change, much stays the same
as the family story goes on.

Friday, April 1, 2011

We Can Just Keep Going and Going

As I was trying to think of how best to reflect at the end of my first SOLSC, I realized that my first graders had summed up much of what I was feeling. While I learned a lot about myself as a writer and the importance of belonging to a community of writers, bits of doorway conversation best reveal my thoughts.

This morning, as my kids came into the classroom, giving hugs, jostling past each other and filling me in on their lives during the 17 hours since I had last seen them, N. squeezed me tight and said, "Mrs. M.--we did it! We passed the challenge!" Her face was lit up and she bounced up and down with excitement and an obvious sense of pride.

A. overheard and wandered over, shoulders slumped, his brown eyes thoughtful. "But it's kind of sad too, right?" he said, "that it's all over."

J. barely looked up as he moved past A. to get to the coat hooks. "We can still slice though! There are new books (we had slice booklets) and we can just keep going and going."

A. followed J. to his desk, and seeing a new blank book just for slices, hurried away to his own desk. He sat down, tossed a smile my way, and began to dig through his desk for a pencil.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Son Is Appealing to the Slicing Community

On this last night of the challenge, my oldest son--the one who first read my "iPoetry" last night--has asked me to throw out an appeal to the slicing community. Before I explain, can I just make an observation?

If slicing had not become such a huge part of my life over the past month, he would not be asking.
If I had not come to see myself more as a writer over the past month, I would not have shared my new writing habit with my family.
If my family had not come to see me as someone who writes daily and to become interested in my writing, my son would never have asked me to do this.

So for all that, thank you. Now back to the appeal.

Oldest wants money to replace a broken xBox game--so that he can rejoin his online community. Just now he followed me to the sofa and stared at me thoughtfully as I opened the computer to write my slice.
"How much would you pay me if I do your iPod poem idea only made it really, really challenging?"


"Like, if I did say, a 2 page ballad using only song titles. How much would that be worth? Would you pay me?"

"Are you kidding? Pay you? And a ballad? I mean, a ballad has certain rules--like the rhythms and rhyme and stuff. And it has to tell a story. What about a multi-stanza poem instead--one that tells a story (oh my gosh, he's sucking me in already....can you feel the pull of a desperate adolescent?). A ballad--too hard. The rules are you can only use song title on your own iPod. No other words."

"No, no...I mean a real challenge. I can do it."

We debate for a few minutes, going back and forth about whether he could go add a bunch of stuff to his iPod before starting and could he include his Pandora favorites, which are technically on his iPod. I have to admit that part of me wants to say yes simply because this is a kid who generally resists writing and will tell you he's not good at it--but don't believe him. He actually can write well, especially in the sarcastic humor genre (are you surprised?).

"I don't know....."  I look to my computer screen.

"Ask them," he says, gesturing to my computer.

So, slicers, here it is.
Should I, as a parent and teacher, be willing to pay my son if he does indeed produce a multi-stanza poem or a ballad composed entirely of titles from his iPod playlist (he's leaning over my shoulder, whispering to you, "yes, you should.....")? Oh, and he wants to remind you that he has provided me with material more than once this month (see previous posts).

And know that he's only asking because this challenge has caused not just me, but my family to see me as a writer, and to value this community. We all see this as part of our lives now...like it or not, you've become part of us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Let the Music Move You

I am sitting (alone!) in our local coffee shop, mocha at my side (hey, it's the week before spring break), computer on my lap, plugged into my iPod (currently Jason Mraz I'm Yours).  For me, this is definitely a treat, and I am enjoying every minute.

The iPod has inspired me--I got to wondering if there was a poem or two hiding among the titles on my playlists. when the idea first occurred to me, I thought it would be a quick little exercise. I whipped out my small notebook and pencil and started scrolling through my playlists....and now, 4 scribbled pages later, I'm thinking that there's more material here than I realized. So what you get is some random playing with this idea. My rule was that I could use only complete song titles (there has to be some element of challenge!). Enjoy!

Broken sorrow,
Livin' on the edge, cryin';
Dream on--back in the saddle;
I will survive, I won't back down;
Make it mine if it kills me.
I have found a home.
The name of the game--
The winner takes it all.

(Cool--this is working! And it is SO fun!)

   The Long and Winding Road
More than a feeling--sweet emotion.
Sitting on top of the world learning to fly;
Free fallin' eight days a week.
Come together lucky, that's the way I like it.
If you don't know me by now,
what it takes--more more more
time, love and luck.
Simply complicated,
knowing me, knowing you.
I have found me a home.

(Wow--you have got to try this! Seriously!)

  Life in the Fast Lane
Bank of bad habits--
Ain't no rest for the wicked
for cryin' out loud.
Girls just wanna have fun,
rocking all the way--
anything goes.
That's the way I like it.

(That's all for now, but I've gotta say that I have more--this is only the tip of the iceberg. Go check your iPod--what poetry is waiting for you?)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two for the Effort of One

"I love deadlines. I love the whoosing sound they make as they fly by."
                                                               --Douglas Adams

I love this quote--but I also really hate missing deadlines. I have posted once a week on on my professional blog ( Teaching with Joy and Purpose )since starting it this past summer, which was my goal. Only the past 2 weeks I've been late. Last week, I didn't post until Monday--the start of a new school week. This week....well, until just a few minutes ago, I hadn't posted for last week yet. WHOOSH!

Tonight while I was trying to come up with a slice (can't quit now--so close to the end!), I got a text from a friend. She was suggesting that I add a link on this blog to my professional blog. I wasn't sure at first, but then realized that maybe, just this once, I could get two for the effort of one.

So here goes...if you want to see what I was thinking about in my professional life tonight, you'll have to check out my post. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't Judge Me

I've decided that maybe it's time to share a little about what I've learned about me during my first SOL Challenge. Don't judge me.

First, I'm chicken to do a lot of things alone. So I go after my friends--not approaching them as someone in need of hand-holding or in the interest of strength in numbers. Oh no...I go in as the friend excited by a new opportunity for personal or professional growth, as one who would love to encourage others to experience it too. Sorry Mr. A. and Jade.....yep, you've been a bit manipulated by my hesitation to try something that felt scary to me. But hey, we're all happy we did it, right?? And we did grow, right??

I also have learned that I do have a bit of a competitive streak. Actually, what I've learned is that I may be really, really stubborn (to those of you who know me and are laughing right now, I'm sticking out my tongue at you!). When I started the challenge, I knew I'd at least try to slice every day. What I found surprised me a bit. If you look at the comments I left for Mr. A. early on, they often include the words "beat you!" and "beat you again!" (Sorry again Mr. A., I didn't know that was in me). Of course, with the later and later posting, he is beating me almost every day...and I won't pretend that doesn't sting a little. But now my stubborn nature has grown so strong that there is no way I will not post every. single. day.  I even posted while sicker than I ever remember being and was prepared to leave my house tonight in search of wireless internet access if my husband was unable to fix ours. I will not miss a day.

I have learned that I am a comment junkie. I love comments. I covet them. Keep 'em coming.

I found that I am not too ashamed to force my children into providing me with material. When I hit that mid-month slump (don't pretend you don't know what I mean--I've read your slices), I turned to them and shared my little writing adventure. Not to be a good role model. Not to become more comfortable putting my writing out there. Nope, it was purely in hopes that they would come up with ideas to keep me going. They did not disappoint me. After all, I hold not only the power of grounding, but also the knowledge of where the cookies are hidden.

On a related note, my children are now comment junkies too--they keep track of comments on any slice than mentions them.

This challenge has made me much stronger as a writer. But on some level it may have corrupted me a little too. Don't judge me. You all had a part in it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I am a woman with secrets. Not the kind of secrets that get you locked up somewhere or disowned, but things that no one knows. I'm not sure why I'm telling now, and I'm pretty sure I shouldn't because it will ruin my chances of achieving a childhood dream. Actually, I'm still holding on to a tiny bit of hope that it could happen...but this is likely to destroy any chance I have to become a spy or an undercover FBI agent.

But here they are--my secrets laid bare.

I eat cookies for breakfast sometimes. Actually, I do it a lot. Not on school days--too many people in our kitchen on those days. Unless I don't eat until I get to school. I have secret cookies there (some of you know that from an earlier post). But on weekends and vacations...  I can get the cookies out without anyone hearing. It helps that I make coffee every morning. The sound of running water covers the sound of my sin, and once I'm settled on the sofa, my book hides the pile of cookies from prying eyes.

When the toothpaste is new, I squeeze in the middle. Maybe that's not a problem in your world, but I am basically a rule-follower and also a person who hates it when people squeeze the middle of the tube. But when it's new....I can't resist. I pick up that big, fat tube and squeeze a big blob onto my toothbrush. Then I lay the toothbrush down, replace the lid on the toothpaste, and carefully squeeze up from the bottom so that all evidence of my little indulgence is erased.

I am afraid to light the gas grill. Oh, I do it. But it scares me. It did when the starter worked and it does even more now that we usually have to use a match to light it. Every time I stand there in front of the grill, ready to light it, I cannot help but think that this is the time that it's going to blow. I imagine a huge fire-ball and a blazing inferno. Even worse is that I still think this even when my son goes out to light the grill...and I let him do it anyway.

And the ice cream (deep breath--I cannot believe I am about to reveal one of my deepest, darkest secrets). Once I ate a whole half gallon of ice cream by myself. In a day and a half. It was after the kids were in bed and Husband was in the basement playing video games, so no one was witness to my shame. Even I cannot believe the lengths I went to in order to make sure no one found out. I made a quick trip to the store the next day, smuggled a new container of ice cream into the house and quickly ate just one bowl of it so that everyone would think I had only had a normal amount. After that first time, it was so easy to do it again--yes, I have done this more than once.

I like to think that having secrets give me a mysterious air--that something unnameable that people sense when they meet me. That feeling that there is more to me than meets the eye. Only now you know. Just don't tell the CIA or FBI. I would make a great spy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Falling Again and Again

"When am I going to get a slice?"
Husband just walked into the room where I sit on the sofa (see the picture on the left!), just opening my computer to write my slice for today. He's only passing through with an armload of laundry, but he's right. He deserves a slice.

There are so many wonderful, amazing things I could say about Husband. After all, I fell for him once years ago and have been falling over and over ever since. There are a lot of reasons why, but here are the ones that come to mind tonight:

He does laundry...a lot of laundry.
He parks outside year round so I can park in the garage and never have to scrape my windows.
He doesn't care that I wear flannel pajamas with crazy patterns to bed all winter long.
When someone gives him dark chocolate, he gives it to me.
His eyes are the color of cinnamon.
He giggles and chuckles and laughs till he can't catch his breath when he sees or hears or reads something funny--it makes me laugh too.
He holds my hand in the car.
After I started blogging, he got me a Macbook Air for my birthday/anniversary present (yes, I'm using it now and it's almost as awesome as he is).
He's smart...really, really, really smart.
When he hugs me, it's always the most comfortable I've ever been.
He teaches our kids to have fun and to do things like plan trips so you see stuff like the world's largest catsup bottle and what day new comics come out (Wednesdays).
He reads my posts and tells me he likes them.
He is the most handsome man I know.
He stopped by my school on Valentines' Day and, in front of my first graders, asked me to be his Valentine...they told me to say yes. I did.

How could I not fall for him again and again and again?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Next Book

Tonight I find myself with a familiar, frustrating, but somewhat welcome dilemma. I have finished the book I was reading. It's time to pick the next one.

It's agonizing, but I love it. I read a lot (sort of like people breath a lot). There have been times when I've finished a book and have stalked from room to room like an addict in desperate need of a fix and can't find anything to read that I haven't read before or that I'm ready to read again. I mutter incoherently, pull books from shelves, shove them back, and whine and snap at anyone who is unfortunate enough to come between me and a bookshelf. For me, that's truly hitting rock bottom. It isn't pretty and I'm not proud of it. It's just the way it is.

Thanks to my sister in law, I have occasional access to shelves and shelves of stock for a library book sale in her town. They have a tremendous amount of stock and a huge selection. They sell all the books for 50 cents per pound. For $5, I can buy 10 pounds of books, some well-loved and some brand new. Do you know what 10 pounds of books is? Heaven. I have 2 stacks of books that I have not read yet from my last trip to the book sale.

My mother and sisters and I trade books. I have a stack in my kitchen and another in my bedroom--more that I haven't read yet. My children got books for Christmas (of course) and for birthdays and because if we are near a bookstore on the weekend we go in. They have started piles they think I should read. My friends borrow my books and loan me theirs and I have a bag with some of their must-reads waiting.

As a voracious reader, an addict in need of her next hit, I am empowered by the possibilities and promise of so much unread material within easy reach. Yet I find myself bewildered and struck powerless by an overwhelming inability to choose. To choose one. The one. The next book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Right

We've been reading a lot of fairy tales and folk tales in my room lately--because they're fun and there are so many that are so well done, but mostly because kids love them. It seems like winter has been going on and on and on, and we needed to do something just because we enjoy it. I want my little readers to know that sometimes readers immerse themselves in something that may not push their thinking deeper or teach them something. Readers often indulge themselves simply for the fun of it. So that's what we've been doing.

And while reading Galdone's version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I may have let it slip that I am in possession of a recipe....for baked porridge. And maybe I let it be quietly known that the creator of said recipe was one Mama Bear.

Imagine the awe, the joy, the hopeful anticipation as one little hand tentatively reached up. "Can you make it?" a little voice asked. There was a collective intake of breath as they waited for my reply.
"Well," I said, "maybe I could."

Then I got sick. For a week. When I came back to school, we continued reading fairy tales. No mention of the porridge until yesterday. "Hey," said J., "weren't you going to make us baked porridge like Mama Bear?"
"You can go to the store on your way home," added A., "and get what you need and then get that recipe and just make it and bring it to us tomorrow."
All those little faces looking at me and nodding and smiling. I'm pretty sure they knew I'd do it.

When the kids got to school this morning, they were greeted with warm scent of cinnamon and this:

We settled in and read Brett's version of the story, then enjoyed the still piping-hot baked porridge. And it was just right.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Pressure Is Just Too Much

Last night:
"You know, I've sliced about your brother--twice. And now your sister....so what've you got for me? I gotta have something every day and you're up. It's your turn to provide some inspiration." I looked across the room at my youngest.
He looked up from his book. "Do I have to have something now? It's almost bedtime."
"No," I replied, "but you better start thinking. This challenge doesn't end til the end of March."

Talk about pressure! My youngest is the type of kid that will take this sort of thing seriously, and he hasn't disappointed me yet. Right now (yep, this very minute) he's eating a snack and thinking. From time to time he calls out from the kitchen.

"What have I accomplished?" (thoughtful silence) "Well, I won 87 consecutive basketball games on Wii but then I lost."

"You could write that I really like these--these are really good (the new Cinnamon Burst Cheerios--they really are delicious)"

"Just don't worry...I'll come up with something before bed."

"I didn't really do anything out of the ordinary today."

Now he's sitting beside me:
"Mom--you really just typed all that?"

"Really? This is what you've come up with?"

And it is...this is all we've got tonight. I guess the pressure was just too much this time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Same Girl, So Changed.

Last night, my husband and I watched as our daughter was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. A friend, there for his son, was sitting in front of us. As our daughter's name was called and she walked across the stage, he turned, his eyes wide with disbelief.
"Boy, she's really grown up. A lot!"

I looked back to the stage and was struck again by what I've noticed from a distance several times over the past couple of months. She has grown up. A lot.

Her eyes are not so far from being able to look straight into mine.
Her legs, once so short and pudgy, are long, lean, and well-muscled.
Her body is softly curved and her shape is no longer that of a little girl.
Her interests lean more toward friends and causes and not so much dolls and toys.

But her eyes are still warm brown and full of life.
Her legs still carry her up on her toes, her walk full of bounce.
Her body still stretches slowly in the morning and leans into me for hugs in the evening.
Her interests still lie with things that bring joy and laughter, and her heart still feels for others.

The same girl, so changed, and yet the same.

Monday, March 21, 2011


If you ever need a little love, to feel important, or that what do you really matters, I know what to do. It sounds a little extreme. First, become a first grade teacher--wait! Don't stop reading...really.

Ok, so become a first grade teacher (stay with me here). Spend over 100 days with your kids, reading and writing and exploring and doing math; some of it will be fun, and some of it will be...well, a challenge. Then get sick--don't worry, with a room full of 6 and 7 year olds coughing on you and handing you damp bits of things all day, that part won't be hard.

Stay home sick for 4 days plus the weekend. Yes, I know the sub plans are killer and the room will likely be a mite messy when you return. Do it anyway. Then come back to school on Monday morning. Stand in your doorway as the kids enter the building. Brace yourself.

They will see you from down the hall. Their eyes will light up and they'll begin to walk faster--not fast enough to get in trouble for running, but fast. As they reach the door, they'll fling themselves at you, wrap their arms around you and hold on for dear life. "You came back!" they'll exclaim, "you're here!" One after another, it happens.

If that doesn't make you feel loved or needed or that what you do is important, then you just aren't trying.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I love popcorn. A lot. I love buttery, salty popcorn and caramel corn. I love cheese popcorn and am also fond of kettle corn. My current favorite is a white cheddar popcorn that my husband once special ordered when the store was out. Most any kind of popcorn will do, though I prefer kinds that come by their color and flavor naturally.

Once in a while, I'll come across an unexpected flavor that I find appealing--like the marshmallow kind my grocery used to carry. It was hot and buttery and sweet and slightly sticky and surprisingly delicious. They quit carrying it soon after I was hooked.

I could eat popcorn almost every day--and I often come close to that, especially in the winter. It's difficult for me to watch a sports event or movie without eating it. When I read, I often have my blue popcorn bowl nestled against me and I eat piece after piece while turning page after page. I just finished eating a giant bowl of popcorn--I needed inspiration for writing, and my go-to snack didn't disappoint.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sounds on a Quiet Saturday

Saturdays are not generally quiet here, but today was. It was a much-needed change from the usual pace. If you listened closely in our house this afternoon, you could hear...

the rhythmic churning of the washing machine from behind the laundry room door,
basketball games, one after the other, playing softly on tv,
the pages of books turning,
birdsong from the tangled branches of the shrub outside the window,
the deep breathing of someone napping,
soft tapping on computer keys,
the muffled rumble of cars passing by but not stopping.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What to slice?

What to slice tonight?
I seem to have hit a block.
I read other slices and saw clever lists,
and lovely poems,
and fun anecdotes.

What to slice tonight?
I cannot make up my mind.
I noticed things like the sunshine on the floor,
and a huge gray squirrel,
and three big black crows.

What to slice tonight?
I have to decide soon.
I thought it would come to me,
and be easier,
and it's not.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The saga ends?

Yesterday my oldest asked, "does it feel to you like gravity has somehow gotten lots stronger the past couple days?"
I mumbled some sort of agreement from my prone position on the sofa opposite him. For the past few days, we've been suffering from what we've decided to call the horrible plague. Gravity did indeed feel stronger, as we struggled yesterday to lift even our heads from our pillows.

But today gravity seems to have loosened its grip. While certainly not well, we are upright. That's a start.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My mother is reading my slices

Last night I found out my mother is reading my slices (hi Mom).

She and Dad called on their way home from a trip to find out how we've been doing (thanks Mom) because she read the slices about the plague that has brought us to our knees around here.

It got me to thinking about my other slices--is there anything in them I wouldn't want my mother to read? Nope (don't worry Mom, you raised me to know better). I was surprised to learn she was reading them and glad to know she's enjoying them.

Hopefully the plague will end soon and I can slice about something else so Mom doesn't lose interest. For now though, this is a short post--my mom told me to get lost of rest ('nite Mom).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Germ-ridden Pit of Misery

News from the germ-ridden pit of misery (we used to call it our home):

My husband went back to work this afternoon after almost 4 days under the influence of this ghastly virus. Oldest, youngest and I spent the day curled up among blankets and pillows, each moaning softly in our own quiet corners. Middle still won't come near any of us. Smart girl.

Coughs, fevers, aches and dizziness....check.
Fluids, ifuprofen, cough meds and tissues....check.

"That was really horrible," my husband said. "I haven't been that sick in years."
"uuuggghhhmmmmmmfffff," I replied.
"Yep," he agreed. "horrible."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Slicing Sick

Short slice tonight:

My husband has been sick for 3 or 4 days. Stay in bed for real sick. High fever sick. Coughing and aching and chills sick.
Our youngest was sent home from school with a fever this afternoon. Our oldest came home and went to bed with a fever.
That left our middle and me. She had a swim meet. I should have known something was wrong when I was so cold in a pool area where everyone else was sweating.
By the time we got home, I too had fallen among the pathetic, miserable sick at my house. It's some sort of horrid plague. 
Our middle is avoiding us all.

Stay away. Wash your hands after reading this.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It may be time to admit that something's up with my eyes again. I've worn glasses or contacts since I was a kid and am very nearsighted. I have had some other issues that have resulted in floaters that act like bugs on a windshield through which I must look at everything--though all but a couple are so small I don't notice them most of the time.

But over the past week and a half, it has gotten harder and harder to deny that I may have to call my eye doctor again. The first clue was squinting a little harder to see the scores of the basketball games on the tv. During the day, I found myself blinking hard to try to clear the slight fog that had descended. Then I realized that I was moving my glasses up and down my nose to make the print clear enough to read while propped in bed at night. But the clincher? Well, over the past few days, when I sit down with my laptop to read posts and slice...well, I have had to enlarge the print to keep the letters sharp enough to read them easily. Actually, I sometimes have to enlarge it a couple times. Making the print that big sort of takes away the coolness factor of my very cool little Mac Air. And the floaters? I am noticing them more and more. Especially that big one--it's right in my way when I read.

I told myself that I was reading too much--yeah, right! I always read a lot. My next bit of denial was that this laptop is small, so maybe that's the problem. And it couldn't possibly be an age related thing. Not going there. Then I told myself I was just tired--and that could be it, right? I've been working hard and doing a most of my reading and slicing and commenting later in the evening, so that could be it. And then that perception was shattered when I sat down this morning, coffee in hand, ready for a relaxing morning of writing my slice and reading other's bits and pieces. To my chagrin, the first move I made as I started reading was to move my fingers across the trackpad, enlarging the print until the letters became sharper and stopped waving at me.

So maybe it's time to make that call to the eye doctor. Or maybe it isn't me at all. Maybe it's the light in here....

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Getting from here to there and back

Our family spent between 4 and 5 hours in the car together today. Luckily, as mom, I get shotgun for life. Since the kids are older, the backseat has gotten a little crowded. We're home again now, and everyone has staggered off to bed, but I've been thinking about how car trips in our family are almost always sort of fun. Not that we don't have a bit of sibling tension from time to time, or parental pleas for just a few minutes of quiet, but for the most part, we travel quite well together.

We almost always listen to podcasts from NPR. We're all addicted to the Sunday Puzzle and to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (we love a good quiz!). Usually it starts with mom and dad calling out answers, but from time to time, one of the kids will get one first....ok, maybe more than once in a while. We like listening to see if someone will win Carl Kasell's voice on his/her home answering machine and we love hearing famous--or sort of famous--people play "Not My Job". Today the NPR podcasts finished pretty quickly and the backseat crew turned their attention to dad's iPad, each trying to claim the high score on Angry Birds (am I the only one who has never played that game?).

On the way home, podcasts over and iPad out of power, we listened to music. We've got pretty eclectic tastes, and tonight was all about staying awake for the long drive home in the dark. A little Meatloaf, some Pink Floyd, and classics like Hot Rod Lincoln and Cover of the Rolling Stone. The kids know Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" and Foghat's "Slow Ride" and "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. Yeah, our playlists are a little....varied? We've also been known to blast a little Bohemian Rhapsody from time to time. Whatever it takes to get from here to there and back again.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Sounds of Tournament Time

They are calling me--the sounds of tournament time;
fist-pumping chants,
the thud of pebbled leather hitting hardwood,
sharp whistles halting play,
the squeak of rubber-soled shoes,
the swish of the net as a ball drops dead-center,
bands blaring fight songs,
the metallic twang of the ball bouncing off the rim,
grunts as bodies collide in the paint,
the backdrop of on-screen commentary,
roars from crowds in the stands echoing against shouts from the couch;
music to my Indiana ears.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reasons No and Reasons Yes

I wasn't sure what to slice tonight, but my 15 year old son just provided me with some great material. He wanted to play Xbox. My devious side just couldn't resist putting him through a little parental torture. It might be good for him and I knew it would be fun for me.

"Give me some reasons I, as a parent, should say no," I told him.
"Seriously?" he said, looking incredulous, "why would I do that?"
"Well, you'll get to give an equal number of reasons why I should say yes." I waited with a half smile and met his eyes expectantly.
"Ok," he replied as he rubbed his hands over his head. "Um..."

Here's his list of reasons I should say no:
I played yesterday and wasn't supposed to (true--and he knew enough to list that first).
It's a school night.
I put my cup and hot plate on the new table with no placemat.
I play a lot of Xbox.
I didn't stop by your school today when I got off the bus.

Here's the list for why I should say yes:
My friends are on and want me to play.
My grades are pretty good.
I'm a good kid overall (he really, really is--and he's a good sport)
On the radio there was a study that says that, I'm not kidding, video games are good for reaction times and problem solving.
No matter how much I drive you crazy, you love me?

"How about that?" he asked. "And you should know this is painful."
I grinned. "Ok, I get a kiss on the cheek and you can go."
He laughed, "I don't know--is it worth it?"
Ok, so I deserved that; he is my son after all. He ambled over, kissed my cheek and bolted for the basement.

And my slice got written!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

They Are Here Somewhere

They are all here somewhere;
I can see the evidence.
Backpacks--one in the basket, two beside it.
Coats are on hooks and shoes are scattered about the entryway.

The kitchen says that someone has been here;
counters with tell-tale crumbs.
Chairs not quite pushed back under the table.
Dishes that started the journey to the dishwasher and didn't quite make it.

In the family room, there are books;
a few lying face-down, open.
A blanket sliding from the couch to the floor.
TV remotes stuck in the crevice created by someone sitting in the recliner.

The bathroom mirror is steamy;
damp towels on the floor.
The drawer where the comb resides is ajar.
Toothpaste tube with cap mostly on lies next to wet toothbrushes.

Yes, they are here somewhere;
or were recently.
But now the house is growing quieter.
I find myself wandering aimlessly, wondering how they got by me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I had something really good typed here. It was almost done. Really. I mistyped something, so I hit the delete button. Only 5 times--one for each letter I wanted to erase. Really.

And then my computer, the one I used to love and will likely love again (but not tonight) took over. Or became possessed. Really. It kept deleting. Letter by letter, word by word, line by line, I watched in horror as the whole post disappeared. The whole thing. Gone. Really.

I did not hold down the key longer than I meant to and I did not have my hand resting on the trackpad. Really. I tried using the cursor to click in what was left but it didn't work. I tried the undo button but nothing undid. In a few short seconds it was gone. Nothing could bring it back. Really.

So now I am frustrated. I do not want to try to remember what I had written and retype it. The shock of the loss of my words, carefully chosen and viciously taken away, is too raw. Really. It's too soon. And I think I need some time away from my computer to rethink our relationship. To decide if it can be saved. Really.

Monday, March 7, 2011

You Gotta Cut Off His Legs

Some needed background:
My grade level team sends home a book or 2 each month with every one of our students. In December, we sent The Gingerbread Man
Today I read another version of that story.

What happened next:
"Mrs. M.! You gave us that book only another one and on the back is a recipe and you can make a real gingerbread man. Only you hafta watch out 'cause they are made to run. So you gotta cut off the legs before you put him in the oven!"
The other kids nodded, wide-eyed and completely serious.

And that, my friends, is why teaching first grade it the best job ever.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Warm Fragrance of a Cold Morning

The memory of last night's spicy chili hung in the air this morning, but was soon replaced with the warm scent of cinnamon and the deep, earthy aroma of dark coffee. The sunlight is streaming in through the south-facing windows of the dining room, promising spring despite the snow-covered ground, and I've chosen my spot on the sofa so that I can easily glance up to see it.

Yesterday's hint of spring rain gave way to more snow showers, bringing on the need for comforting foods that not only warm your hands and belly, but also fill the air with smells reserved for cozy times on cold days. For now I'm enjoying the warm fragrance of a cold morning as I patiently wait by the windows for the fresh scent of spring.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


falling on the roof;
an umbrella of sound
soaking into my dreams.

A few years ago, woke in the night to the sound of a heavy, soaking rain falling on the roof over my head. These lines came to me just as they are here and stuck with me as I rolled over and drifted into a relaxed sleep. Early this morning, I woke to the sound of rain and it entered my mind again, so I thought I'd share it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I crochet. I blog.

I crochet. Not really. But I do. My grandmother taught me when I was very young, and I remember sitting on her lap, watching her do it. Then I'd slip to the floor and face her to watch more. Grandma was right handed, and I am left handed. I watched her carefully and then copied her, just doing what she was doing, but in mirror image.

I only remember a couple of stitches, and I only make things that are squares or rectangles. And small. And only use one color so I don't have to switch to new colors. I am particularly fond of making scarves because they fit all my criteria and because I get cold easily and can make scarves that match my clothes and my moods.

Blogging is sort of like that for me. My friend taught me, and I watched her closely, mirroring her moves. I slipped over to my own blog and copied her process in my own space. She is experienced and comfortable with this genre, and I am slow coming to it.

I only know how to do simple things, like add a picture. And link to a friend's blog. And write the things that are important to me so I don't have to worry about pleasing others. I am particularly fond of writing short pieces on random things that catch my attention. I blog because it is short and simple and that fits my favorite criteria for writing and because I can write things that match my style and fit my moods.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Laundry Love

I think that my laundry is breeding;
I don't know why,
but it's not something that I'm needing.

It covers the bed, the couch, the floor;
I'm not sure how,
but each day there is more, more and more.

Maybe it's all the spinning about;
I don't care what,
but it's bringing the laundry love out.

Whatever it is or how it's done;
I don't wanna know,
but this must be how laundry has fun.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Secret Cookies

"Would you buy some Girl Scout Cookies?" Dangerous words, spoken by a pixie whose long hair, dimples, and relentless smile disguised the cunning saleswoman inside. She slipped into my classroom during writing workshop and slid over next to the student with whom I was conferring, catching me unaware and unprepared.

I hesitated. "Well....", I replied (sounding unconvincing even to my own ears), "I already bought some--twice. I really just can't buy more". She kept on smiling, seeing that my hand was already twitching, moving toward the pen just out of reach.  My first graders froze, pencils hovering in midair; they know how I feel about cookies. As my fingers curled around the pen, I could hear the boy sitting next to me take a breath and hold it.

"Maybe just one box more," I said, "but you can't tell--not anyone--that I'm buying more cookies." In unison, the devious Girl Scout and a room full of 6 and 7 year olds nodded. I went on. "It's secret--secret cookies. After all, I probably need to have some secret cookies somewhere, right? You just can never, ever tell my kids."

My students started grinning; they know my children, who are older than they are and have hero status in our room. "We won't!", they assured me, "we promise we will never tell. Buy the secret cookies!"

I picked the lemon ones. They are bright yellow. They are deliciously light. They make me think of spring.

Don't tell.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I've been looking for something for 4 days. For 4 days, I've been searching for my voice. Not my metaphorical voice...my actual voice. I find myself left with rusty bits and pieces. A gravelly whisper punctuated by random squeaks. At times I suddenly find myself with nothing at all, the trail of my words suddenly disappearing into an unseen mist.

People trying to converse with me lean closer. "What's that?", they ask apologetically. I can tell they hate asking again--partially because they care about my well-being, but mostly because listening to me is like trying to follow a cell phone conversation with a bad connection. Some give up and I'm left feeling as if I've experienced a dropped call.

Yes, I am exhausted from the effort necessary to get through the days like this. Yes, I've had something warm to drink and something cold to drink. I've tried cough drops and extra rest and just ignoring the problem. I've gargled and have spent long stretches resting my sad remnants of a voice. All to no avail.

There is nothing left to try, no magic bullet. I'm left wondering when my voice will ever return. Or if it will. And if it does, will I recognize it? After all, it's been gone so long that I've become accustomed to the less polished, less audible, but infinitely more interesting one I have now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trail of...shoes?

It struck me this afternoon that even a mediocre detective could deduce quite a lot about happenings around here by simply noticing the footwear left behind in almost every single room of our house.

First would be the big heavy boots with loose laces beside the door. Sitting in a puddle, one upright and one on its side, they speak of cold work done in the early morning. Inches beyond them lies a pair of smallish slippers left behind as smallish feet stepped out of them and into the missing pair of smallish boots--the muddy footprints remain.
A little further in and one notes large tennis shoes, untied but still holding the position of the teen boy who sat down and then walked away, neatly stepping out of the shoes and leaving them as if waiting for him to resume his slumped position at some point in the evening. On to the kitchen, where a tall pair of wooly boots sits beside a school bag, each stuffed with a warm mitten. Recess duty in February. Brrr...
And the lone ballet flat, sitting on the bed next to an abandoned sweater tells its own story--one shoe, while just right for today's outfit, is useless as a single. It teeters near the edge, ready to slide onto the pile below. Next to the pile lies another, this one with its mate. Wrong color? And which ones made the cut?

Room after room and shoe after shoe. It's like a trail of breadcrumbs that helps us remember where we've been.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nineteen Years

Nineteen years ago today I married an amazing man. It was a small, simple ceremony attended by only immediate family members. Not a lot of fancy parties and rituals and trimmings, but filled with relaxed joy and love.

I think that's why I feel so lucky. Ours is not a perfect life, but it's perfect for us. We are not formal or fancy. We like things like hanging out at home with the kids. Our favorite vacations have been road trips. Yep--our family of 5 piled into the van, driving across the country, cramming ourselves into 1 hotel room, and stopping along the way at things like the world's largest catsup bottle (no kidding--it's in Illinois) or the barbed wire museum (again, for real! Kansas). Oh, and the Corn Palace...he wanted me to make sure I mentioned the Corn Palace.

Nineteen years ago I felt like I was the luckiest woman to walk the face of this earth, and I have to tell you that now, 19 years, 2 states, 3 homes and 3 kids later--I know I am. Yes, we go places like the Corn Palace. But this is also the man that took me across the country to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time on my 40th birthday. He's the person who encouraged me to grow into the person I am and together we keep growing into ourselves.

I can hardly wait for the next 19 years to start.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rising Up

She stood in front of a sea of faces,
keeping on as things crumbled around her.
Finding her way bravely,
not willing to give in to the desire to run.
We watched and waited,
silently urging her on.
She rose up and met the challenges,
finding her way to the end.
As the sea of faces melted away,
she sank to her knees.
And we rose up
to wrap arms around her and whisper in her ear.
Together we stood again,
ready to rise again, stronger.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The snowing and blowing have started here, and I must admit to a little disappointment. Not because of the weather; because it's dark and I can't see it. I love to watch the snow--all sorts of snow. Last week, I read Cynthia Rylant's Snow to the kids at school and we spent several minutes reminiscing about past snowfalls and whether they were blowy and fierce or soft and feathery, flakes large and fluffy or small and stingy. Of course, my memories outnumbered theirs by a good bit! 
I don't know why I feel compelled to drop everything and watch it snow. But I do know that I've lost countless hours in my life silently gazing out windows, mesmerized by it. I can hardly wait for sunrise...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

my first slice

I finally have the perfect spot on the sofa. I can see out the window. I can put my feet on the ottoman. There is a spot for my coffee and just-right light for reading or writing or thinking. It's usually quiet in this room, especially in the early mornings when the rest of the family is still asleep. Mmmmm....
And tonight, I'm sitting in my favorite spot, writing my first slice. It feels comfortable; somehow right. My family pops in from time to time--my daughter leans against me. "Whatcha doing?"--and wanders out again. My youngest comes in, already in pjs and near ready for bed. I can hear my oldest and his father chuckling over something on tv in the other room.
Perfect spot on the sofa, quiet evening with everyone at home. Ahhh...