Friday, March 31, 2017

31: For the ages...

 Dad and I were in their garage workshop this week
He updated me on current furniture refinishing projects
and I noticed a new one: this

A showstopper

"What do you plan to do with this mantel?"
I ask before I get too attached
even though I already have designs about 
how it might be sanded, stained, sealed
to allow the piece's beautiful details to shine

How we might revise our current builder-grade mantel with this
what arrangements we'd need to make to start the installation project
support its progress, and see its completion
what materials we might use in the square opening: brick, tile, or shiplap

Even in its roughest form 
I know it is a beauty
a rare find
full of potential

In the hands of someone who knows about
types, characteristics of wood
how to use tools and materials artfully
the time and care it takes to refine roughness into beauty
{someone like my dad}
the piece will become the truest version of itself
one for the ages
for those in the past
and the special people yet to come
to remember them, him, me

Then I started thinking about 
how these special antiques mimic my writing life
March reminds me to get back into the workshop
and notice the beauty in moments, minutes, months
March reminds me
to lovingly refine
and save each one 
as the truest version of itself
to remember
for the ages
for my people
for you

Write on,

Congratulations, fellow writers, on SOLSC 2017! 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

30: You

I snuggled into bed with you
early afternoon today
You yawned - I knew it was time
You cradled your blankie and rubbed the tag
while sucking your thumb
Your tell-tale sign

It was time for me, too
I don't remember much
past your yawn
your blankie
your thumb

I made it over the hill...
...and then woke up to you 
tapping my nose and 
finger-combing my hair
and giggling

One more tiny kiss on the hair
"Sleep tight"
"I'll set the timer and you can get up when it goes off"
"Make sure you're quiet enough to hear it..."

And you ran around upstairs instead
while I sat downstairs reading

So I invited you, again, to
"Stay in bed quietly"
"Just five more minutes"
"Be super still..."

And guess what?

You were

For better than three hours


At dinnertime
you bounced downstairs
to notice the cookies on the cooling rack
"I was TIRED, Mommy!"
"That was a goooooood nap!"
fell between cookie one
and cookie two


Sleepy you...
Funny you...
Growing you...

Write on,

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

29: Heart check...

Tonight I escaped into the laundry room
to fold the finished clothes and transfer the wet load into the dryer
to find a little peace

I opened the washer
"Moooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmy!  Where ARE you?"
"I'm in the laundry room."

I could hear the elder little's feet 
pad down the stairs and across the wooden floors
until they stopped on the rug beside me
17 seconds.  17 seconds.

"What do you need?"
admittedly sounding more annoyed than charitable

"I just wanted to see if you need any help.  Can I help you?"

{heart check}

"Yes.  Absolutely.  Thank you for thinking of me.  Thank you for being so unselfish and caring to ask.  Your words made my day."

Write on,

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

28: Weighty questions...

After orange chicken and fried rice at Panda Express and dominoes at home on New Year's Eve, the elder little and I prepared for sleep by snuggling up for Elephant and Piggie stories.  I hopped out of bed to flip off the bedroom lights in favor of the dimmer closet light. His still-wet spikes of chocolate brown hair stood tall against the red-and-white-firetruck pillowcase and his eyes were dark pools as I knelt beside the twin bed for prayers.

"When we're in heaven, will I know you?"

That's a good one.  

"Of course, Buddy."

I mean, I can only guess.  But it seems like we would, right?  

Ever the rational one, the elder little made a plan. "Since you'll get there first, do you think you can call me to tell me what it's like in heaven?  You can tell me where you are."

"There are no phones in heaven; we won't need them," I rationalize in return, already anticipating the peacefulness.  I looked over to his soft, sweet cheeks...they were turning red hot.

He paused and then stammered. "But how will I find you?  There will be millions of people there."

The enormity of it all.

The red hot cheeks progressed into a full-blown sob.  He continued.  "And you're just one person."

I slipped underneath the covers next to his little body and covered the right side of his velvety forehead with the tiniest kisses.

"You'll know my heart, right?  In fact, there are only two people who have been nearest to and your brother.  Don't you spend even one second crying about that... We will find each other."

I just know it.  

I turned away to catch a tear or two sliding, hot, across my right cheek. His face, covered by the crimson quilt with ivory stars, hid equally well.

"I love you...always will; whenever...wherever.  Night-nights."

I pulled down the quilt, just a smidge, to kiss his forehead one more time before tiptoeing downstairs.

He had me thinking...

Write on,

Monday, March 27, 2017

27: Surprise...he's in the club





Write on,

Sunday, March 26, 2017

26: Pieces...

I think we were probably doing dishes, reflecting on the day, recapping ball games. That's when we noticed the house was quiet...

The elder little was upstairs working on his arcade.  It is the smaller little who sometimes...disappears.



"Where are you?"


We both walked the first floor, only to find this about a minute into our search...

A piece of hair here, a clump of hair there...


More pieces.

Big pieces.


We turned the corner into the powder room to find him with orange safety scissors.

Up against more of his "yellow" hair!


He offered, "I'm cutting my hair.*  Reid says I look like a 'goyl'..."

*Now, for your frame of reference, it is helpful to note that this blonde hair has been the source of many conversations over the past couple years.  I'm on team "let's not cut it -- he has curls;" my husband...well, opposes that team, and often asks, "Can you please just cut his hair?  It's time..."  I resist.  Every.  Single.  Time.  

I surveyed the damage -- large chunk of bangs, missing; even larger chunk of hair from his left side, missing.  Noticeably.

*Until this time...

"Tomorrow we'll get a hair cut after church.  This style needs some tweaking."

Together we shuffled over the living room carpet and also the wood floors to pick up the pieces.  My mind imagined the smaller little with one 'little boy cut.'

This morning, we tried to comb straggly strands of wispy blonde hair over the offending sections. The right side didn't hide the second bout with the safety scissors quite as well as we'd hoped.

So, as promised, after church we went for the long-awaited haircut.

The pieces fell to the floor, first large...and then small.  His 'do, shaped, in a way that only someone who truly knows how to cut hair, can.

"One little boy cut," Abigail proclaimed. She cleaned up his neck, preened his risky sections, and added, "I texturized know, so it all blends in the best it can."

"I appreciate that.  You are really good at what you do.  Thank you."

We lifted the older-looking little boy from the car chair and stepped over the million little pieces toward the door.  Abigail began sweeping them into a pile.

A few minutes later, inside the car, Grant celebrated.  "Mommy, I like my hair."

"I do, too, Mr. Moo..."

Very grown up.

Write on,

Saturday, March 25, 2017

25: That snack...

You know how it feels to just want a snack.

The kind of snack that you should really just reconsider and not put that first delectable, delicious morsel inside your mouth.  The kind of snack with no nutritional integrity but instead a score of sinful adjectives...ooey, gooey, or salty, or sweet, or even salty and sweet together. The kind of snack that you'll regret later but can't seem to turn down....because...

That snack.  

Ree Drummond made that snack on this morning's episode of Pioneer Woman. Barely finished with breakfast I became obsessed with how quickly I might be able to get my hands on that snack.

So in rapid rehearsal, we got out the chocolate chips, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and butter (so it would be room temperature).  We lined up the flour, salt, and baking soda next to an assortment of measuring cups and within reach of the Kitchenaid mixer.

We ran to Target for eight ounces of bagged perfection...

And then we went to town.

Half butter, half shortening (the secret)
brown sugar, white sugar


Vanilla, two eggs


Flour, soda, salt


Chocolate chips


Pause -- you think you know about this snack, don't you?  Yep; I did too.  I know all about this one. Could make it in my sleep.  But, that Pioneer know she doesn't like to just hang with 'standard'.  She likes to make snacks homespun.  And hearty.

So, the next step invited us to get out a gallon-sized baggie and pour in the chips.  All of them.  (Well, except the handful we snitched for two reasons: a) because we do not buy chips at our house, and b) because we couldn't wait [refer to former reason]).  Then, we closed it up and took turns crushing them to medium-sized bits with the first little and smaller bits by the second little.

And then we poured half of them into the batter.  Half.


Note: I tasted the batter at this point just to ensure we were on the right track.

(Undoubtedly, yes.  That snack...)

Then, we used the cookie scooper to make nice, rounded spoonfuls that we plopped into the remaining clump of crushed chips and rolled them around before a toasty fifteen-minute trip into a 375-degree oven.

That snack.  

Golden. Crunchy.
Chippy. Chocolately.
Ooey, gooey.
Sweet, salty.


The downfall to this recipe is what happened next -- waiting five minutes to remove the cookies from the baking sheet.

But oh -- with one bite many details disappeared
time, space,
propriety, objectivity
restraint, concepts of calories and weight
and were replaced by golden, crispy sweet-salty goodness, melty chocolate chips
in ooey-gooey batter.

That snack.

I texted my neighbor who responsibly spent the day working in her yard.  Want a chocolate chip potato chip cookie?

My doorbell rang two minutes later.  I answered with two perfect specimens tucked into my right hand.

We sat on the front doorstep and devoured that snack.

Write on,

P.S.  You know you want that snack too.  Here's the link to Ree's recipe...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

22: Invention...

A few months ago, the elder little and I watched "Caine's Arcade"
"I want to do that," he concluded

Last week, he decided it was time and so he built
this contraption to take your tickets, or your change to buy tickets

The back of this do-dad has a funnel straight into the
elder little's Tootsie Roll bank!

His first game reminds us both that he loves soccer
and often practices shooting goals from long distances

One goal is worth 10 points for the prize shop!

His second game repurposed a gift baggie, a newfound chapter book,
a school box as a point of leverage, and foam darts

I could make the target with one eye closed
and the other focused on this circle that seems to shrink!

Night after night, the arcade grew
first he'd sketch out his idea in his invention notebook
then he'd build it
...the bowling game
...the prize shop
...the ball toss
...the book shop

Last night, he brainstormed what to do next with his arcade
He realized that he has two types of games:
ones where you toss and hit something
ones where you flick and roll something
He also realized that he may need some additional labels
for his new price section
so between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.
when he was 'falling asleep'
and I seemed to be falling behind
he problem-solved to get what he needed

At bedtime, I rushed around the house
putting away remaindered items here
and there
I found this on my desk upstairs..

This note
and all the thinking
and all the plotting
and all the sketching
and all the trying
and all the troubleshooting
and all the perseverance
and all the pride in
welcoming others to play
and hosting players
makes my mama heart

Write on,

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

21: Snack!

You get an idea
and climb up higher than we'd choose
to make it happen
into the refrigerator for a drink of cold, cold milk
onto the countertop for a shorter reach to
peanut butter
(which these days, is better than Easy Mac, Uncrustables, clementines,
and even apple sauce topped with a blanket of cinnamon)

You get hungry, so hungry right before dinner...
even while the meat and potatoes are cooking...
that you make your own luck
so today, while I was upstairs transforming from teacher to mommy,
you made the climb again
I shuffled down the stairs
through the dining room
and into the kitchen
to find you solving your own problem
by reaching for two jars

no crackers
(that would've been another climb -- inside the pantry)
no apples
no bread
no toast
no nothing

Just a spoon
(which is not a climb -- how safe)
because sometimes that is all you need...

...well, maybe really two spoons
a short one for the Nutella, a long-handled sundae one
for the 'we're not messing around' jar of peanut butter

Write on,

Monday, March 20, 2017

20: In Common...

I sat
in the running record session
Saturday morning
listening to the speaker talk about coding
how important it is to have a system
that means something
to every person who encounters the 
check marks
the M, S, and V

I sang
"Wooden Ships" by Crosby Stills and Nash
in my mind
If you smile at me I will understand
because that is something 
everybody everywhere does in the same

I pondered
Do people think smiles are constrictive?  Like codes?
Or, do you find what you seek?

Write on,

Sunday, March 19, 2017

19: Warmth

Here's my perch this afternoon
Looking south on Broadway Street
Watching the cars, taxis, walkers, strollers pass on 75th
My cheeks are warm, so are my knees as I sit in the sun
reflecting on
 taking and analyzing running records
how running record patterns guide instruction
just-right checklists to help students set and work toward writing goals
and the many ways data points differentiate core instruction

Here's my take on all of it --
I have more questions than answers
More balloon strings at risk of slipping through my fingers
than taking my thoughts into the stratosphere
up, up, up
into new places, new phases, new projects
new understandings
Is it that I'm trying to fit new ideas into old forms
Maybe that's why it all feels slippery

In just a few hours my perch will look more familiar
less like graceful towering buildings and more like green neighborhoods
more like day-to-day activities and less like vacation spontaneity
more like school, family, house
packing bags and pairs of socks
and less like a subway ride to
inspirational addresses and solid workshop sessions
to grow my thinking
How will these ideas incubate?

With time
session notes
"I wonder if's..."
coffee dates
rougher drafts
cleaner drafts

With warmth.

Write on,

Saturday, March 18, 2017

18: We're all made of stories...

Upper West Side Starbucks (75th & Broadway)

We stopped for coffee, breakfast for the train, and lunch treats for our book bags
For learning day at Columbia's TCRWP
This wall art made me think about connection
How we all pour into each other to light up new ideas
Make brighter those at first glimmer

Drew Dudley talked in this morning's keynotes about how we are all leaders
because we ask questions
live with Day 1 excitement over and over
remember names and stories of others and
create 'lollipop moments' that matter years later
Everyday leaders step up to make a difference over and over

with our stories

"For this is our world...we're all made from stories."
Excerpt from A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

Write on,

Friday, March 17, 2017

17: Quiet...

This morning we woke up here on the Upper West Side
and decided to go downtown
down, down, down,
all the way down to The Battery's Castle Clinton
to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty's shining torch
and Ellis Island's spires
the 9/11 Memorial

Its location is quiet, unassuming -- I almost missed it
except for the flock of people who banked into the space 
to catch a glimpse of the familiar square outlines, airy waterfalls and pools
and to read the names, one by one

...and her unborn child: There were three mentions like this in the names listed at North Tower.
These babies would be driving now, thinking about college...

Across from the pair of pools is The Oculus
an attention-getter from first sight 
I analyzed the structure as would my husband;
it's his wheelhouse

First thought: What IS this?

It beckons passers-by inside to notice 
two levels of shopping tucked underground
and even a train station
but it is quiet
so quiet

Second thought: Look how small the people are down below!  This IS big.

Across the street is St. Paul's Chapel
Built in 1766
I remember seeing its silvery steeple during 9/11 coverage
Unscathed and poised to serve

How could two gigantic buildings fall across the street and everything here remained intact?
Today's cornflower sky reminded me of my morning commute
that September day so long ago
It was beautiful, just like the water cascading into the footprints of the twin towers
It was bright, just like the glittering gold letters separating sections of names
It was quiet, just like The Oculus' deep, deep drop

...just like me

Write on,

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

15: Day by day, dose by dose...

the past two nights, this has been the bedtime conversation
between my husband and me around midnight
"So, if he doesn't feel any better when we get up in the morning,
who is going to stay home?"
and like clockwork, we'd nickel and dime our calendar engagements
"Well, I have this deadline..."
"And, I have this meeting..."
In unison, "I'm absolutely committed to..."


but he's not breathing well
(due to the post-baby RSV twitchy lungs)
and he's not sleeping soundly
because he is coughing
so we're not sleeping soundly
because we're worrying
that he's not breathing well


this afternoon's idea: 
if I call the pediatrician's office now
maybe, just maybe, we can still get in 
before I leave town tomorrow
"Sure.  How about 4:15 p.m.?" Barbie offers 
from the other end of the phone line
the cursory exams folllowed
listen to breathing
look in mouth
check out ears

"Buddy, do your ears hurt?"
"No." the eternally happy patient returns


I've seen this episode
lived this moment before


"You have a double ear infection"
"How about some nice, pink bubble gum medicine?"


the smaller little unpacks the CVS bag we picked up on the way home
even before removing his new shoes and placing them back in the blue box
"Can I take my medicine?"


dose 1; day 1
19 more doses to go
his eyes are brighter already

Write on,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

14: More than words...


this is all that is swimming through my writer's brain right now



maybe -- well -- I could write about...

just commit already


I can't ** not tonight


Write on,

Monday, March 13, 2017

13: Mirror Image...

Sometimes I just go in there and shut the door
I have a project to do
They play ball, cars, trains, planes downstairs
My fingers click and clack across the black and silver keyboard
I am surrounded by the shelves of literacy mentors
Calkins, Ray, Serravallo, Roberts, Zinsser, Anderson, Ayres, et al
the binders of notes from institutes that turned into planning files encircle
New Teacher Academy, T1 ELA Coaches 3.13.2017
I sit at the antique desk much like my childhood teachers' back home
The chair swivels, ideas pause and then grow, change
To keep going, I reach for the next tool
in my sunny haven upstairs

Today I found him there before dinner
What are you working on? 
He stacks, staples a lot, and creates something
that looks like a bedazzled layer cake
His weight shifts as his little right palm pushes down my favorite stapler

He sits at my desk opening the jars that hold paper clips, rubber bands, markers
and experiments with pens and pencils from the polka-dot mug

The chair swivels, his project expands into letters...
Here's Hayden, Mommy.  See -- H.

and pictures...
Here's a crane, Mommy.  See -- it has a long arm.

and paper clips...
How do you do these, Mommy?  I need two.

The wide center drawer opens with a tug from his tiny hands
Here are more markers, Mommy.  I'll just use these for my project.

Can you close the door, Mommy?  I need to be able to think...

Write on,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

12: Sitting, Waiting, Wishing...

Dear Stella,

While we both have claims on the Big Apple this week, mine are of the educational persuasion and yours seem bent on causing trouble.  You see, I've been sitting, waiting, wishing it was time to come back to Columbia University and now it's here. At Saturday's Reunion I'll listen, learn, collaborate, and grow.  With old friends, new friends.  And, typically, because I'm an easy-going type of gal, I would say the weather really doesn't matter...

But you see, little by little I pack my carry-on and refill my stash of travel-sized toiletries...and I realize how you intend to shift what I want to pack in my tiny carry-on.  I borrowed gloves -- because in the Midwest it's on to spring break clothing for retailers and glove displays disappeared with the Mayish month of February -- and packed a new mini umbrella. Because of you and your aspirations. My packing list before you included stylish clothing, fun shoes, and room for a few other items I'd planned to purchase in the city.  Now, I'm squeezing in sweaters and extra layers and heavy socks and a hat and all of it has to match the one pair of boots I'll wear because they won't fit inside the suitcase either.

Really Stella?  Double digit deposits?

Is it possible you're simply full of hot air...the way so many like you are?  Is it possible that your fickle winds will flit away and that the forecast will be redeemed?

Dear Stella...go fly a kite.  Because that's what we all should be doing right now anyway.

And I'll go to New York to learn...and walk...and enjoy.

In spite of you.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

11: Tangled up in blue...

the ornaments came off
like for like and were piled up 
in a tidy semicircle on the carpet
around the Christmas tree
the trunk grew looser and looser
as Tom unscrewed each bolt
holding the trunk

"I'll find a sheet so we can pull the tree to the back door"

because of the needles
the needles

feet flew 
linen closet doors opened
eyes scanned the shelves
blue flowers were up front
hands grabbed

but my mind remembered...

the sunny blue bedroom in the front-right
of the ranch on Dearborn
the green furniture
the shag carpet
the soft blue flower sheets
on the guest bed
at Grandma and Grandpa's house

the sheets still folded ever so neatly
now upstairs at my house

my grown-up house

I buried my face
and I was there again, little
following around Grandma
standing in the tiny pantry tucked off the kitchen
opening the freezer for an afternoon treat

they haven't lived on Dearborn for 20 years...

I unfolded the fitted sheet just a bit more

Write on,

Friday, March 10, 2017

10: Friday night...

Two littles upstairs
one mommy down
one daddy getting take-out
no greater gift is found

Cheesy pasta on its way
I'll get the drinks
Salad, chicken, bacon bits
We're both too tired to think

Friday night's for pizza,
Chinese, or Applebee's
Sweatpants, laundry, couches
and (if I make it)
a little TV

Write on,

Thursday, March 9, 2017

9: The decision...

Most often, the decision I'm making right now is whether
to stay up to get just one more project done or
to give in to sleep since I've just woken up in the smaller little's bed
and I can find the way back into the cocoon post-haste
Scenarios beg me to try them on, like last Spring's clothes

I could stay up, set my timer for thirty minutes to work
I can do anything for a half-hour
And, the time will be up before I really even get settled in
Thirty minutes is easy, doable
And, it's transient...noncommittal
I could stay up, set my timer for thirty minutes to work

I could go to bed, set my alarm for 3:00 a.m.
I can fall asleep, the sooner the better
Because if I fall sleep now, within the next couple minutes,
I will wake up to a quiet house and a clear mind
3:00 will give me luxurious time
And, it's space for coffee...growing ideas
I could go to bed, set my alarm for 3:00 a.m.

Tonight, the decision to sleep now wins
The sooner, the better
For clarity,

Write on,

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

8: Bow ties!

It all started last Easter
with the two matching sky blue gingham button-down shirts
I found on sale at Carter's
that'd go with the khaki pants
already hanging upstairs
and the accompanying Chambray bow ties on clearance
So I bought two
the elder little wore it
the smaller little wore it proudly

Then Christmas and all the red-black-grey-flannel-corduroy-plaid displays hit stores
one red and black plaid flannel bow tie
jumped out at me as I rushed back into Carter's
one Friday after school
that'd go with the white button-down shirt
already hanging upstairs
So I bought one
the smaller little wore it to parties and family gatherings

"Nice bowtie!" special people remarked
"You look so handsome!"

Then we pulled out the elder little's 3T tub
Inside was a red and navy plaid button-down shirt
with a slate grey neck tie bedecked with bulldogs
"A....neckertie!" he mused
"Let's put it in the closet with my tie collection"
So we added one more
the smaller little wore it to restaurants and friends' houses

"Does he really pick to wear his ties?" special people asked

On Sunday we tiptoed through J.Crew looking for bargains
Inside at knee-level in the clearance section was a wooden bin full of odds and ends
Sure enough beautiful, classy, bargain bowties
"Can I have one?"
$19.50; no, $7.99; no, ADDITIONAL 50% OF CLEARANCE
$4 a piece?
So we added two more
the smaller little picked the cornflower blue one with thin navy stripes and
the burgundy one with wider navy stripes
Two for good measure
for white button-downs, gingham button-downs
chambray button-downs, and plaid
for friends, restaurants,
parties and family
for church, weddings
weekends and weekdays


Write on,

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

7: Lost in a Dangling Conversation

It's 11:37 p.m.
Just pulled from the warm coccoon of the smaller little's bed
(because I'm a good-luck charm, right --- I make bedtime less scary)
I sit here now
to slice
because it's 11:39 p.m.
and there are only clunky words 
adding to this post's bottom line
snippets of ideas
parlaying into nothing
but scraps of future posts
about bowties
green eyes
or might we say, hazel
because it's 11:45 p.m.
and the quote about writing
from Joni Mitchell is
poetically lost
and is another scrap added
to the pile of future posts
It's 11:46 p.m.
He sleeps
I dream
of words smooth and strong
that run around the block tonight
like a teenage boy
Will they relent tomorrow
when I sit to write again
because it's 11:47 p.m.
and all I have to offer you is
this "dangling conversation and superficial sighs"
ala Simon and Garfunkel
Because it's 11:52 p.m.

Write on,

Monday, March 6, 2017

6: Shoes!

On the way back from our little weekend getaway to the southern shore of our fine Midwestern state, we piled out of the Jeep first at Taco Bell across the highway from the outlet mall, and then secondly, in front of Stride Rite down the far left corridor of shops in Edinburgh.

Because any self-respecting mother of children with wide feet knows that Stride Rite tennies are better than the gaggle of other options.

And Stride Rite tennies at an outlet price are best.

So, all four of us traipse into the store for one pair of four-year-old shoes.  The elder two guys walk past us in favor of the clearance rack in the back.  In the meantime, Grant tries on the perfect pair that are orange and grey and I search for someone to officially measure his feet.

Because it's been a long time since he had new tennies.  In fact, his last pair of Stride Rites were purchased from a Facebook garage sale group -- for $4.  And since my little is as happy as a clam in virtually any circumstance, you'd never know they were smallish on his chubby feet.

Which, I'm thankful for.  Really.

The sales clerk works her measuring magic and suddenly the store shrinks.  "He definitely needs a Wide.  Like maybe these over here..."

She highlights the shoes that are $20 more than the orange and grey pair.

We're nothing, if not agreeable, so onto his feet they go.  It bothered me that the little velcro strap at the top wouldn't span the width of his foot, so I fixed it by pulling harder.  "Done."

"Oh, don't do THAT!" the sales clerk preached while undoing the velcro strip.  "He has cartilage on the top of his feet.  THAT will hurt!  When you velcro shoes make sure you can slide a finger between the top of his foot and the shoe, like this..."  She refastened the skinny strip at the half-way point.

Oops.  How is it that I've made it this far in life without knowing this tangential tidbit?

Grant hops up and sprints down the 'up-to-10.5' aisle. "These are fast!"

And expensive.  And only grey.

"What else might work for his feet?" I inquire, hoping for some creative problem-solving.

She takes the bait.  "Well, you could always pick a medium-width shoe but go up a half-size."

Done and done.

"Then, can we find the orange and grey shoes in a larger size?  Do you have 9.5's?"

Because here's the deal -- before we even walked into the store he specifically asked for orange shoes. It's our informal team color.  Orange shoes, orange shirts, orange socks, bathing suits, flip flops, cups, spoons, napkins, bedding, sweaters in my closet...I digress.

"Well, we don't.  But it looks like a store around Chicago has them.  We can do a phone sale."

Meanwhile, the elder two move from the back of the store to the front.  With a box.  Of unsolicited tennies.

The elder little launches into his sales pitch. "These are only $24!  And they're perfect! Look, Mom -- orange and grey!  Can I have them since my Nikes are yucky and these are nice and a little bigger?"

Batten down the hatches.  With this weekend's track record, how will it really go if we walk out of here with one surprise shoe box and one promised pair?

The last straw..."Daddy said he thought they were a good deal.  And I can't wear them until my other shoes are kaput."

"Alright, then; lay the box on the counter."

"Thanks, Mommy, I love these shoes!  They're perfect." the elder little pronounces before all manner of other littles and their parents.

The smaller little attaches himself to my left leg.  "Mommy, where are my shoes?"

[Pull out cheerleading skirt and pom-poms.]

"Your shoes are so special they are coming in the mail from Chicago to our house.  Do you think they will fit in the mailbox or will someone leave them on our front porch?"

He thinks.  Normally packages retrieved from the mailbox after school are soft-sided envelopes from the Facebook Anthropologie Buy-Sell-Trade group and can be stuffed in spaces much smaller than ours. Or they are books.  And books can fit just about anywhere.

The diversion helped.  "I think the mailman will bring the shoes to our front porch. Yeah, the front porch.  When, Mommy?"

"In two to five days," I parrot.

The elder little joins the cause, "Grant!  That's exciting!  You and I will get shoes on the same day...maybe.  My baseball cleats we ordered are coming on Friday!  We will definitely have to check the porch. Both orders won't fit in the mailbox."

Ah...the promise of new shoes...and new orange and grey items to add to our collection.


"Nine West, anyone?"

Write on,

Sunday, March 5, 2017

5: A Progression of Verbs...

Do...unpack two suitcases, sort laundry, take suitcases to basement, make dinner
Wash...plastic cups, creamy white plates, silverware from my grandmother, All-Clad
Launder...greys, socks, chlorine-drenched swimsuits, jeans, jammies
Study...reread fourth chapter from Anderson's Assessing Writers, draft PD session

I should slice now.  What will I say? 

It's only Day 5.   DAY 5.

Sort...match and fold socks, sort by boy, ask boy to take upstairs, check "put-away"
Pack...fill Corksicle, tuck breakfast and lunch items into purse pocket


Take...laptop, phone, earbuds upstairs to antique desk in office


Open...Blogger, new post



Write on,

Saturday, March 4, 2017

4: Drifting...

A barge makes its way down the winter river that cuts North from South
It drifts, almost unnoticeably 

I breathe in this quiet room perched atop a south-facing cliff
I type, stretched across a sun-drenched bed 

It floats incrementally closer
I dream, What must it be like to be on a barge?  
How far will you travel today?
What's your cargo?

I drift, almost unnoticeably, into topics and territories
A girl trying out new worlds in which to live, write, teach...

Write on,

Friday, March 3, 2017

3: Just the groceries and the pizza...

"You know what?  I think I'll just go grab our groceries and then pick up the pizza on the way home. They said, '25-35 minutes' until it's ready -- I can definitely do that."  My husband concurred; our pantry is bare.

After adding some hasty checkmarks to the You should buy... pad of paper hanging off the side of metallic fridge, I set my phone timer, tucked my phone into my purse, and hopped into our Jeep to make the five-minute trek up the road to Super Target.

28 minutes until pizza.

I parked in the first spot, pushed the first cart away from the neat rows just inside the store, and reevaluated my timer.  Better take 10 minutes off to cushion check-out and travel from the store.

The store's remodeling plan threw a wrench in my typical shopping strategy.  The chips were by the Dollar Spot; the freezer section by the candles.

10 minutes until pizza.

Olive oil.
String cheese.
Whole milk.
Frozen pizzas.
Uncrustables.  Uncrustables.  Uncrustables.
Garlic bread?
Orange juice.
Cough medicine.  But they don't have orange-flavored syrup.  $12 on the grape is a gamble.

(Enter heavenly strum-sounding alarm.  TIME'S UP.)

The second tier of my time-saving strategy included self-checkout.  I bagged the items by storage area at home and even made it to the final item with no additional 'hit the help button' stressors. Well, until, I had to hit the payment button.  Credit card, of course.  Let me just grab my wallet...

It's gotta be in here somewhere.  I just had it at lunch.  And then in the car on the way to get the guys. And then...

"Do you accept personal checks?"

"Yes."  Yes!!!!  Redeemed.  Perfect.

The guest services worker suspended the transaction and reentered the corresponding code at a different register to prompt the payment (Might I add, without scanning each item again).

"Here's the check.  Thanks, again, for saving the day."

"Can I see your ID?"

"Well, see, that's just it.  I must've taken out my wallet at home.  I DON'T HAVE IT."

"Well, without it, I can't accept the check."

"Well, that's perfect.  I just wasted a half-hour."

And there's my vanilla ice cream melting...there's the juice for breakfast...and the cough syrup which was the impetus for this trip anyway...all together in one nice cart that someone wearing red is now going to have to put back item by item in aisle 2 aisle 3 aisle 7 and then take the chips way over to the makeshift aisles by the Dollar Spot.  Which, would not be a fun job, but then again, it won't be fun walking out of this store without my groceries.

In the interest of full disclosure and absolute transparency, what flashed through my mind was the scene in Father of the Bride where Steve Martin's character, George Banks, rants in the supermarket aisle over the conspiracy between hot dog bun bakers and hot dog makers to con innocent consumers out of extra money by not making package sizes consistent.  I'm tired, just like he was, although the basis for my exhaustion has less to do with wedding planning and more to do with the fact that it is really just Friday night after a long week...

I bit my tongue and let go of the cart handle.  "Thank you."

Five minutes to get to the pizza place.


"Hi, I have a pick-up order.  I also have one more question -- Do you accept personal checks?"

The overly made-up teenager behind the cash register tapped her contemporary's elbow, "Do we accept checks?"

"No.  Actually we don't.  Two days ago the owner made the decision to not take checks anymore."


"Well, no."

My eyes must've done something.  Could they see me envisioning the walk of shame into my house with no groceries and even worse, no pizza?

"I can ask the boss if you want."

"OK; that'd be super."

She traveled with the other teenagers behind the gargantuan silver oven to pow-wow with the owner.

"He'll make an exception.  Just this ONCE.  The total is $18.54."

Date.  Store.  Amount.  Amount in words.  Signature.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip.

"Thank you.  I appreciate his exception.  My family does, too."


Can I please just have my groceries, too?

Write on,

Thursday, March 2, 2017

2: Lion or Lamb?

It is the second day, Dr. Seuss' day
Indecisive snow covers the blooming bulbs
Chilly air overshadows last week's sandals, sun
It is all milquetoast now despite the greening grass
Two nights ago the wind howled
like a freight train
like a spring storm
like an 'almost trip' to the basement
It's too early
for you
for me
for March

Is it in like a lion?  Or a lamb?

I sit in the living room's antique rocking chair
Nestled atop its black leather seat
already wearing wooly slippers, a TC sweatshirt, and jeans
writing, thinking, writing
trying to put thoughts
into words
into stanzas
into sense
into published sense
for you
for me
for March

Is it in like a lion?  Or a lamb?

A neighbor lady runs by our living room window
She's warm from rhythmic breathing
focusing on the next stride and the next
contemplating her day, listening to music
making it all go away until she sees her own driveway
It's nine weeks until the big half-marathon in town
one long run each week
five miles
six miles
seven miles
eight miles
for March

It is in like a lion?  Or a lamb?

The boys form Play-doh masterpieces in the kitchen
They're friendly, perched on bar stools at the island
collaborating on creations, coaching each other
making my mama-heart sing
It's been a long time coming
after fits
and tears
and time-outs
and retail therapy
and prayers
for March

Is it in like a lion?  Or a lamb?

Is it possible, both?

Write on,

1: Break the Budget

It's like I'm standing in a store
nickel and diming the decision to pass or buy
that unique (and beautiful...) dress
My inner monolog presents
                            resonating reasons
In dissent, in affirmation
The crowds mill, I'm lost in thought

This is where I've been the past few weeks
"Do I slice?"

"I don't have time to write right now...projects, presentations, complicated bedtime routines"
But you can make the do every March

"I don't have much to say right now..."
But you can use all the stories from the past year...the special, the can preserve them

"I don't think I'll be able to keep up with reading and commenting"
But you can budget, my dear, a little bit every day...

"Are you slicing?" my mom asks this morning

It's like capturing lightning bugs in the clearest Mason jar
swooping up one memory and screwing on the lid
to admire its significance, its glow
Preserving this chapter
my littles
      my loves
             my thoughts
For them, for me
The responsibilities tug, I wonder
"Do I slice?"

If I don't slice, memories flicker and fade into time's deep, dense, shapeless expanse
If I don't slice, opportunities evaporate to connect with old friends who celebrate, encourage, share
If I don't slice, chances to name and notice these blessings in this little life speed by every day

"Yes.  I'm going to slice," I say for the eighth time.

Write on,