Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My twentieth slice-of-life story...

Just like any self-respecting kindergarten teacher, 
I had my thematic book tubs neatly displayed, organized, and labeled.  
School. Fall. Spring. Weather. HOLIDAYS.  
Now that Reid is in the picture, these textual treasure troves seem to find
their way home like clockwork to provide our daily diet of seasonal reading.  
(God bless this child's future primary teachers: 
"I already know that book..." they'll hear.)  

I can do like Owivia!

 "I want Owivia Helps With Cwistmas!" my reader proclaimed greedily grabbing the hardback from among the lesser holiday selections in the tub.  Jumping in the comfy rocking chair, we cuddled back up to explore how Olivia prepared for Christmas festivities with family.  Teachers like to talk (and we like even better when a rapt pupil listens...).  Together we noticed, and studied, and committed to memory each tangential tidbit of interest.  

She cut the tree top off to decorate the dinner table!  Oh my!
Look at the dog drinking Santa's milk and eating Santa's cookies!
A raccoon is making noise on the roof?  I thought it was Santa's reindeer...
Olivia got skis for a Christmas gift!  What are skis?
(Skiing where I am is NOT topographically feasible, 
so a little picture exploration will have to do.)

Picture copied from Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer
A few hours later what I spied from my kitchen abuzz with dinner preparation (and in the meantime didn't notice the character who absconded with a few choice utensils) was my little Midwest skier, intently studying his mentor while figuring out how to make the plastic whisk and metal spatula work in his favor. 

Now about that hill, Mommy...

Write on,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My nineteenth slice-of-life...


Honestly, life's been an absolute whirlwind the last week --- I was in Chicago, now I'm home, and then my family will be traveling for Thanksgiving.  I'm still looking forward to reflecting with my session notes, a chai, my tunes, and memories from the complete NCTE experience because it was marvelous (and that may be an understatement).  I'm sure from this content there will be many posts forthcoming, but for now...to keep in the spirit of the season I'm sharing an NCTE list of thankfulness!

I am thankful...

for the friends with whom I reconnected.
for the new ones I met.
for the slicers with whom I was lucky enough to share breakfast.
for the people who joined our session.
(It was early Saturday morning and the conference room was just shy of polar.)
for my presenting colleague who knew we could do it...and we did.
for the countless topics that pushed my thinking.
for the contagious buzz which filled convention spaces.
for the hotel that graciously upgraded us to executive level.
(So, yes, Virginia --- there is a hotel with two bathrooms per room to make mornings a snap!)
for the historic city which served as an inspiring backdrop.
for the limo driver who picked up the whole National Geographic dinner crew
for the Roy's charred filet mignon I couldn't stop eating.
for the signed copy of 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know.
(I'm looking forward to a little holiday reading...)
for my new picture book, The Bracelet.
(Do you know this story?  What a tear-jerker!)
for my rekindled drive to do more, learn more, and be more.

Just like Lilly in Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, all I can say now is, "Wow." 
(I can't wait to reflectively take it all in...)

Write on,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


So, tomorrow, we leave...making the drive to the big city.
Books, laptop, speakers, handouts,
the million miscellaneous items
(we think)
we'll need to

I'm excited.
I'm nervous.
I'm busy.

Laundry, packing, organizing, (deciding what to wear each day---OK I'll admit it), planning for the meetings I'll host at school tomorrow and the professional development I'll deliver after the conference, cleaning, grading running records, studying school data, (drinking coffee filled more with my favorite peppermint mocha creamer than the dark stuff I'll never become accustomed to), blogging, packing some more, dreaming.

Dreaming of
what I'll learn,
who I'll meet,
where we'll go.

The other busyness will take care of itself...

Write on,

Friday, November 11, 2011

My eighteenth slice-of-life story...

The Colors...

Through a sea of faces and as many insignia,
an experienced soldier hobbled up the restaurant aisle tonight. 
His dark ball cap, tattered and worn, sat squarely atop a thinning tuft of white.
Across from our table, he stopped.
Eyes locked. 
His wrinkly hand pat the diner's shoulder, firm and strong.
Once, twice, three times.

It had to be the colors.

Black and gold for Army,
the colors set in motion a connection
spanning space and time
and melding experience.
In a word: beautiful.

Next through the throng of diners, servers, and trays,
a young buck with shiny black shoes,
dress blues,
and medals blazing
strode with precision
past his kindred:
in sweatshirts, in hats,
clutching picture frames,
their memories.

"He was in my division," my husband spoke up.
"See his colors?"

I honestly hadn't.
In fact, I'm not sure I ever have.

Last night, the third episode of "Vietnam in HD" was on TV.
I watched from over my laptop,
through my presentation planning,
and under the guise of a child whose father never fought.
But he was still drafted,
second to last in our rural county's lottery.
And he still went,
to Germany instead of Vietnam.
And his life still changed,

It had to be the colors...

I used to think that unless a soldier engaged in battle
somewhere scary
with bombs
and guns
and death,
the service wasn't 'real.'

Tonight, I know I'm wrong.
I saw it in my husband's glassy eyes when he studied
the young buck
in dress blues.
I heard it in his sturdy voice when he explained
what divisions are
what each decoration on a soldier's uniform signifies.

The colors tell the story,
written in another language 
only natives 
and immigrants 

It would do me well to listen
because the freedom
I know each day
has been paid for

It has to be the colors...

Write on,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My seventeenth slice-of-life story...

Professional in a slick black dress and fitted cardigan,
not the comfy cord bell-bottoms and turtleneck sweater.
Fancy with fishnet tights and my Ann Taylor suede heels,
not the standard brown Mary Janes with argyle socks.
Dangly, beaded earrings,
not the daily diamond studs.
Well coiffed hair resting on my shoulders,
not the haphazard ponytail flipped every which way.

Waiting in the darkness to make the left turn into Starbucks,
I capitalized on the spare second
to apply color and shiny gloss
to my familiar lip line.
A small cosmetic light overhead supervised.

But not closely enough.

After school projects A, 2, and C and before the big meeting began,
(yes, the one for which I was dressed to impress...)
I quickly peeked into my closet mirror
intent on smoothing a few rowdy pieces of hair.
Much to my surprise, the hair was spared.
It was my lips that stole my gaze,
pronounced in clown-like glory.
(or terror, take your pick)

New lipstick last week; new gloss too.
New problem.
One of them ran...
into the billion tiny wrinkles framing my already-generous smackers.

Embarrassed, I took a covert survey while chatting with my classroom neighbors as students shuffled by;
no one noticed.

Shopping tonight.
New colors; new products.
Hopefully, different results.
Because Halloween was YESTERDAY...

Write on,