Wednesday, March 4, 2015

4: She said...

She said, "I was just taking my little sister to the basketball game in Geneva that night."
She said, "He was sitting up on the top row of the bleachers with his friend from church."
He said, "She's the one -- I think I'll marry her."
She said, "He got my number and called me on the phone after that. For a date."
He said, "Will you marry me?" just a few months later.
She said, "Yes, I will."
She said, "That's how our family started seventy years ago."

That's what she told me, over coffee in Fellowship Hall, the snowy January day we buried him.  

I said, "Beautiful, Grandma..."


Write on,

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

3: The stairway message...

We had gotten up late that Friday morning
There were shirts to be picked and put on wriggling bodies
There were pants to be matched, too
And tiny socks with small shoes
There were cups of milk to warm
And a 'Curious George' episode to que

The phone buzzed, jiggling across the creamy vanity counter
I stared into the mirror applying eye liner,
first on top lid and then on the bottom
My mom and I always talk on the phone once I jump into the car,
And all is calm

Another buzz.  Voicemail.

Another buzz.  Text.

With make-up compacts jammed back into their rightful compartments
I glanced at the text

"Did you listen to my voicemail?"

Quickly,  "No.  What did it say?"

"Listen to it.  Then call me."


I pulled on pants; picked a shirt; pushed on boots; prepared to listen to her voicemail
as I bounded down the stairs to dress the awaiting littles in the family room
Darkness passed through the second-floor stairwell picture window,
dimming the steps
Mid-flight, I stopped; the morning din gone
In its place the bossy silence of shock
Her words, heavy

"I just wanted to see if I could catch you."
"Grandpa...died this morning."

They clunked around first in my mind,
and then in my heart,
and then fell out in a puddle of tears
while I stood on the tred fixed
half-way up and
half-way down
as I remembered
his smile
his laugh

"Tom," I mustered

His footsteps understood and padded toward me
I hid myself in the solace of his warm eyes
Before the shirts,
the pants,
the socks,
and the shoes

And there
in the hours since
I've stayed

Write on,

Monday, March 2, 2015

2: Preface...

Since we met last March, new writing territories have emerged -- some invited, some invaded -- while familiar ones have grown deeper, more specific.  The darkness of some has made the space for blessing even brighter.  And, while it isn't my hope for this month's stories to lie heavy upon you, my reader; I'm keeping my writing honest.

Because I'm using it as a tool for healing.
Because I'm using it as a wedge to highlight places where 
the fullness of hope and love have shone bold and true.  

Since we met last March,
  • My former job dissolved and a perfectly thrilling new opportunity emerged
  • I've navigated the waters of a new position, a new educational community, a new district, a new schedule, and new materials
  • I've traveled to places like Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; San Diego, California to learn from consummate reading and writing professionals
  • I've struggled with five-year-old behaviors that have consumed my marriage and most of my sanity
  • I've watched my smaller little's health thrive
  • I lost my maternal grandmother and two months later... 
  • I lost my great-aunt and two weeks later...
  • I unexpectedly lost my paternal grandfather
  • I've witnessed changes in my extended family because of parents' hearts break and then mend, break and then mend

It's like Lucy Calkins says, "I write to hold this life in my hands and declare it significant."  

I write to learn.
I write to know.
I write to heal.
I write to celebrate.
I write to remember.  
I write to share.

So, tomorrow, dear one, come back for a new story...a new moment to learn, know, celebrate, share.

Write on,

Sunday, March 1, 2015

1: Where I'm From...

I am from coffee breaks,
from baseball games and sweet corn
I am from lazy summer afternoons
in a small town like Mayberry
I am from the church directory
and the family cookbook whose recipes
grew me up and 
grew me strong
I'm from ham loaf and pies
from Carol and Jim
I'm from the gigglers in the back row
and joyful workers who serve
from "It's a long way from your heart"
and "Brennie..."
I'm from Nuts & Bolts* out of the baggie in the basement freezer
and homemade 7-Up punch
I'm from Gorman and Lorraine
and Clarence and Helen
from "forenoon" and "How was school?"
From the furniture factory and the canning factory
the bakery and the appliance shop
In the spare bedroom closet photo albums 
gather to share memories 
black and white, and Kodachrome
of faces I never knew and others I love to nuzzle
I am from these moments--
all the places
where yesterday
encircles today and 
births tomorrow

Write on,


*Nuts & Bolts: regional term ('country-ism') for homemade Chex mix

Mentor text: "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrate on Saturdays | Sit...

I sit here now in a quiet house, taking a break from a handful of projects at varying points of completion.  Next to me is the fifth antique dining room chair that has now been repurposed as a part of our entry hallway just needs four felt pads to cushion its place.  I moved it to the carpet because one little guy decided it was the perfect thing to push around, cutting thin shallow paths through the sea of cherry wood.  And then there are the Megablocks scattered like seashells across our eat-in kitchen that connects to the family room where their container is stored beside other toys.  Inevitably as soon as I pick them up, the littler little dumps them back out.  It's this little game we play and right now, I'm choosing to ignore the multicolored mess.   The washing machine is churning; the dryer adds its white noise.  I wonder about making some meals to lighten my after-work load next week, and what should be ironed to make mornings easier.  I consider the stacks of resources in my basement I would like to organize, as well as the binders, papers, and books upstairs.

Then I look outside.  Kids bike past, racing home from the pool down the street.  Pets and their owners stroll by, noticing the intricacies of neighborhood yards.  Leaves dance; I imagine their hushed symphony.  Every once in awhile the sun peeks out, making light earth's handiwork.

And I'm still.

Typically, my weekend looks more like rewarmed weekdays with checklists, timeframes, and calendar reminders.  Today, however, I push them aside and celebrate the time to notice, to name, to truly see.

And the view is nice.

Write on,

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Celebration! 7.5.2014

It's Saturday...and while the sun shone, the green grass somehow looked more like an emerald comforter; the blue sky more like an azure ocean; the light breeze more like a refreshing hug.  And, as I followed a little yellow bike with training wheels around our neighborhood, or pushed a red umbrella stroller through a gathering of classic cars, I thought of you.  Because there is so much ground we need to cover.  So many tidbits to tell.

Like this one: I got a new job.  God connected each and every dot to create an amazing opportunity...and I'm over the moon about it.  I will be working as district literacy coach by supporting seven building-based coaches, creating and providing professional development sessions on a variety of reading and writing topics, setting goals with administrators, and encouraging all my colleagues to be passionate risk-takers.    

Or this one: Reid is learning how to swim.  Last week he wouldn't jump into our neighborhood pool without an adult catching him before his toes even hit the water.  This week he met Miss Courtney and over three lessons a world of intriguing possibilities opened to him like an unlocked treasure trove.  He's confident.  He's trying new things.  He's smiling.  And, he's asking to go to the poolallthetime.

Or this one: My boys are playing together.  THIS has been a long time coming.  You see, the elder little is an unflattering shade of green whenever the smaller little is nearby.  It's maddening, these behaviors.  It's maddening, the discipline.  For these stretches of strife, my words and actions aren't flattering either.  Sometimes I feel like I'm running on a treadmill, all day every day, or refereeing a boxing match.  It (seemingly) never gets better and it (seemingly) never ends.  Until, lately, when I'm not looking -- I'll turn to catch a glimpse of two boys playing cars quietly in the family room.  Or, four little feet pattering across the wood floors in an impromptu game of chase.  Sometimes they giggle.  Then, my heart melts, just like it did the other day when I witnessed Reid passing Grant the board book he dropped from his car seat when we were on our way to Target.  Somehow this summer is bringing the brothers closer...

Or this one: Tom and I took a short trip.  Which, incidentally, has also been a long time coming.  For four days, we talked, and breathed, and chewed and tasted our food at restaurants; we stood on dunes overlooking Lake Michigan; we splurged on appetizers and a tennis outfit for me; we rented a court and played -- for the record, I beat myself; we window-shopped in picturesque little towns with historic names.  And it was relaxing.  We smiled at the feeling of limitless time -- until we were on our way home.  Then we sped toward my parents' to scoop up two little guys.

Or this one: Grant is healthy.  If we've hung out electronically over the past 20 months, you know my littler little has had breathing issues since birth which surrounded us with a host of nebulizer meds, more than our fair share of pediatrician appointments, two stays in local children's hospitals, and a satisfied insurance deductible.  April brought pneumonia, four days at Riley, and new inhalers.  It also provided a new day care situation because my lovely friend offered to watch G in her home so he could fully recuperate.  And he has.  He hasn't been sick since.  He's growing.  He's happy.  He's full of energy.  His eyes are bright.  Ours our too.

I'm hoping today also finds you with bright eyes, bluer than normal skies, and close family ties. Celebrate this long weekend! :)

Write on,

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What's in a name? | Tuesday Slice

I'd seen her before. Sometimes with a toe-headed little guy bouncing about. Sometimes by herself gardening. Down the street from our house, in front of one we looked at during our never-ending search nearly two years ago now. It demanded some work and we moved on, serendipitously as I judged from the backhoe cozied up to the curb in front.

Today, she made the most of the afternoon's sunny warmth by schlepping large hardware store paper bags of lawn clippings down their steep driveway for trash pick-up in the morning. I watched her progress as I pushed Grant, tucked neatly into his red umbrella stroller, nearer. After all, we were making the most of the weather too.

"I think a boy from Reid's soccer class lives down the street in the house we looked at know, the one with the unfinished basement?" Tom's words from months before echoed in my mind.

I played the 'what if' game while bumping rhythmically over the neighborhood's sidewalk cracks.

What if I stop and introduce myself and she seems indifferent?
What if I stop and introduce myself and she wants to be friends?
What if I stop and introduce myself and her little boy becomes a friend for Reid?

The latter idea won out; I fashioned my opening line.

"Hi. I know this may seem random, but I think you have a son who is about my son's age...four?"

"Yes, we do."

"My husband noticed that he followed your husband back from a soccer class the kids were both in last winter. And I've seen your little guy outside playing."

"Oh, yes. Callum was in soccer. Little Kickers in Carmel, right?"

And we went on to chat about their house, and her remarks about it being "tired." So tired, in fact, that they had to destroy the existing deck because it was close to collapsing...not to mention that it somehow encouraged basement flooding in recent months when all the snow decided to exit stage left. 

Whew -- we dodged a bullet.

"What's your name?"

"It's Jo. Josephine. But Jo is easier. For everyone."

"Josephine is a pretty name. My name is Brenna."

She giggled. GIGGLED.

I'm used to being called just about anything. Breanna. Breena (as per my college graduation). Brenda. Breonna. Branna. But a giggle? On our first meeting? My face must have given away my thoughts...

"That's Celtic," her British accent more pronounced now, "maiden with dark hair."

"That's what I hear -- although my hair color's off with these dirty blonde tresses," I offered as comic relief. "Why do you giggle?" Did I really just say that?

"We call our black Labrador 'Brenna.'"

And now I've heard it all.

I giggled too, the awkward way one might when she doesn't exactly know what to say next...

Home base.

"So, it would be fun for the boys to play together sometime soon. Can we call you?"

Write on,