Reading Life #SOL22 Day 13

I’m not a one book at a time type of person. I have no problem having multiple books going on at the same time. I have no problem starting books and abandoning them. There are just too many good books out there to read with rules. So here’s the list of books I’m currently reading—

This is my current book club selection, so it was immediately moved to the top of the stack. Our book club shares copies of the book we are reading, so we try to read pretty quickly and pass the book on to the next reader. I won’t have any trouble finishing this one in just a few days. It hooked me within the first 25 pages.

I’m working my way through every Mary Oliver book. I read a few poems every morning as a part of my morning routine. Today, I learned about gannets and whelks through her poetry about the natural world. Her poetry is very grounding and starts my day off with an awareness of the world around me. I am reminded to slow down, to “Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it.”

I was introduced to this book by my office mate. She thought it was a quick read, and something I would like. I’m really enjoying reading a chapter at a time when I am able. I’ve also started listening to her podcast “Ten Things to Tell You.”

I was a big fan of Writers and Lovers by Lily King, so when I saw her new book of short stories, I knew I needed to check it out. I quickly put it on hold at the library. When I received notice that it was ready for pick up, I rushed there to get it. Now I read a story every few days as I work through this book.

I’ve usually always got an audio book on the ready to listen to as I walk or clean. I often choose nonfiction or memoir for my audio books. For some reason I can stay focused on those better than fiction. Our high school girls cross country team did a book club with this book over the summer. They went on to win the state title. I immediately added it to my “to read” list. So many important themes in this memoir.

I sometimes feel like I’m the only educator who has never read Harry Potter. I’ve tried multiple times. I put it on my “20 for 20” list. Then my “21 for 21” list. Still didn’t read it. When one of our fifth grade classes formed a book club in order to read Harry Potter, I thought to myself, this will be the year. Nope, I’m about half way through, and I can’t finish it. I may abandon it forever and resign myself to the fact that I’m not a fantasy reader.


All the Little Things #SOL22 Day 12

Siri, play Nashville by the Indigo Girls.

I looked up from my book, Strangers in the Boat by Mitch Album to see the city ahead. The sun setting behind Nissan Stadium. The batman looking AT & T building towering over the city. My husband was driving; he always drives the first leg of the trip and gets us south of Nashville. Yearly, we take off as close to 3:00 pm as we can on the Friday of Spring Break and head south for a week at the beach.

I turned my book face down, and took in the city.

As I drive
From your pearly gates
I realize that I just can't stay
All those mountains
They kept you locked inside
And hid the truth
From my slighted eyes

We belted out the words as the lanes of cars sped along the highway.

I came to you with a half-open heart
Dreams upon my back
Illusions of a brand new start
Can't I carry the load
Is it my fault that
I can't reap what I sow
Did you give me half a chance
With your southern style
And your hidden dance away
You dance away
And you dance away

The fact that my husband spontaneously played this song as we passed through Nashville says everything. He knows all the little things that make me happy. How much cream to put in my coffee, what Tshirts I wear to bed, which blanket I want to wrap up in, what songs to cue at just the right moment.

That’s what 27 years of being best friends does. You know all the little things…

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge

What We Leave Behind #SOL22 Day 10

Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad–A must read for writers. Now out in paperback.

Between Two Kingdoms, by Suleika Jaouad is one of the best books I read last year. I was so inspired by it as a writer and a human. Suleika started a writing community during the pandemic call The Isolation Journals. I receive her weekly newsletter which always contains a writing prompt. Today, I’m writing to the prompt “What We Leave Behind” by Joy Juliet Bullen. The heart of this prompt is to find an old object or picture and examine it for clues about the person that left it behind or what might have been happening in the moment.

As a child, this is how I spent every Wednesday of the summer. A day on Lake Monroe. My dad’s pride and joy, Bubba, a 1967 Chris Craft, was given to him by his father when he was a teenager. It is a beautiful wooden boat that he has cared for by hand for over 50 years. It is not just a relic; it doesn’t just sit to be looked at. My dad takes it out and enjoys it. My parents now live on a lake, and Bubba is still running and gets noticed every time my dad putters around the lake in him.

Clues about the past in this picture:

  • Who is taking this picture? My Grandad. He was sitting on the back bench in the boat. He would often join us on our Wednesday boating trips. He was so proud of my dad and his love for water and this boat. I remember looking for geodes with Grandad. We would sink in the mud and at the banks and pull big out big geodes and try to get them back to the boat.
  • My dad is driving the boat. He was always the driver. Never my mom. Never my Grandad. Never my brother or I, even when we got older. That was his role.
  • My dad’s hair blowing in the wind. He was blessed with a full head of dark hair, and still has it to this day. My Grandad has been bald for as long as I can remember.
  • My mom’s hand has probably just pushed her hair back out of her eyes. Of course it was windy on our boat rides. I remember how tangly my hair would be after a day at the lake. Matted down from repeatedly getting in and out of the water, drying, getting wet again, blowing in the wind. It was a rat’s nest by the time we got home.
  • My brother and I lying face down on the motor box. We loved riding on the motor box. The vibration from the engine would lull us into a peaceful rest, sometimes even to sleep.
  • The strap from the scratchy orange life jackets. They were so uncomfortable, but it was the rule. You wore your life jacket on the boat when it was moving. I remember what a treat is was to take your life jacket off for lunch.
  • My feet curled over the back of the front seats. I can feel the sticky upholstery under my left foot and the cool sheet under my right foot.
  • The Mini Mouse towel behind my mom’s back. The polka dotted sheet draped over the front seat.
  • The leg of the ladder that hung along the back of the front seat. It was a challenge to get in and out of the boat. And we were always reminded to make sure the legs were out on the ladder or the boat would get scratched.

Boating with my family was a huge part of my childhood. I have such happy memories from it. My love of the sun and water was definitely a trait passed down from my parents.

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge

Pink Little Pill #SOL22 Day 9

I opened the bottle and there was one lone pink little pill hiding in the very bottom. Josie, my almost 13 year old yellow lab, is on a daily thyroid pill. Why do I always let it get to this point? I want to be the kind of person who is more intentional, more organized. Someone who calls the vet when there are about 2 weeks worth of pills left to get a refill. Someone who is not always rushing around at the final hour to get things down. I knew I didn’t have time to run up to the vet’s office to get a refill today. And, when I did have time on Friday, I had called and the office was closed. I shoved the pill into the back of her cheek followed by her “chewy” pill for her joint health. She choked them down.

Then I remembered! Sometimes, she manages to spit her pink little pill out, and I find them around the house. I remember seeing one in the corner of the laundry room behind her dog bed. Is it still there? I rummaged around under the edges of her well worn, flattened dog bed. There it was! One more pink little pill. I added it to the bottle, and now I am set for one more day. I must call the vet today! (unless I know of one more place where there might be a discarded pink little pill)

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge

The “Real” Sue #SOL22 Day 8

“What time is it? Gretchen asked.

We were weaving our way through the birds and mammals section and couldn’t figure out how to get back to the main atrium. Every exit sign lead to a dead end.

“3:48′” I replied, a hint of frustration in my voice.

We had been in the Chicago field museum since around 2:00. Our original plan was to tour the aquarium first, but all of the timed tickets were sold out until 4:00. We decided to explore the Field Museum first, and then head back to the aquarium at 4:00. It was pretty ambitious to try to explore two museums in four hours. Gretchen was on a student budget, so she was making the most of her parents and their credit cards being in town.

“I have to see Sue, the T Rex, and get my picture in front of her!” exclaimed Gretchen.

We finally saw the light of the main hall and raced toward the stairs. Once we reached the second floor, we asked for help immediately. After our experience in the animal exhibit, we had little confidence that we could find it ourselves. Of course it was on the opposite end of the museum. We entered the area. A guide assured us we would find Sue in the center of the exhibit. She must not know what our last hour looked like. We wound through the fossil zone, as fast as we could without bumping into people.

“There it is!” Gretchen squealed.

She found just the right spot and we took several pictures. Some in front, some on the side, some looking at the dino, some candid (but not really candid). Okay, there has to be one good on in the batch.

Gretchen and what we thought was Sue

Time?” she asked. “4:01, we’ve got this,” I assured her.

We had a 15 minute window to get to the aquarium for our timed admission. We had seen Sue, and now needed to find the exit. Here we go again. Every sign led to another dinosaur section or a dead end. As we entered the next part, there was a mob of people standing. Ugh! We just needed to get through here to get back to the atrium and the stairway. Then we saw her…the “real” Sue. We burst out laughing. Of course, she had to get some more pictures.

Gretchen with the “real” Sue

“Are we going to make it?” Gretchen inquired. “Yep, 4:05,” I answered. “Now we’ve just got to get out of here!”

We wound around, found the exit, rushed down the stairs and raced to the aquarium. We made it just in time. I think we will always remember the “real” Sue at the Field Museum with a chuckle.


Positive Feedback Challenge #SOL22 Day 7

Our building was given a challenge…to see the good in our students and provide our families with positive feedback. We had five days to contact 120 families sharing some form of positive, specific news regarding their student.

I pulled three flowers from the basket and stuck them to my cork board above my desk. I wanted the visual reminder to look for the good, focus on the positive, find students who might need some good news shared at home. Throughout the week, my lens was on focused on seeing all the wonderful things our students were doing. The glass was half full and more water was added each day. It makes such a difference to look at life optimistically!

Our chart grew and grew as the week went on. This was what it looked like on Friday at 9:00 am after I added my three flowers. A few minutes later, a teacher popped into my office to let me know the chart was full.

In addition to the feeling of an accomplishing a group goal, we also get the perk of wearing jeans all week and leaving 15 minutes early each day. More importantly than that, we have trained our brains to seek the good, and to hunt for reasons to share positive news with families. I think we will reap the benefits of students feeling good about themselves and continuing to give us their best while they are at school. It’s a win-win!

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge.
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One Hour a Day Challenge #SOL22 Day 6

After reading Britt Decker’s post, I was intrigued to try the #onedayhh challenge. I know this typically takes place in November, but I decided to give it a go yesterday. I knew I was going to have a fun filled day visiting my daughter in Chicago, and I wanted to document the day together.

6 am–rise and shine

4 scoops, 10 cups of water, and a little half and half = liquid gold
My morning routine of scripture, prayer journal, poetry, and writing grounds me for the day ahead.

7 am–packing up

A small bag of essentials for our weekend in the Windy City.

8 am–taking the dog

Loaded up and ready to drop Josie off at Mimi daycare for the weekend.

9 am–on the road

Getting a little Breathe For Change work done on the 3 1/2 hour drive up.

10 am–still on the road

The city is in view

11 am–Lakeshore Boulevard

The first mild day of the season in Chi-town. So many people were riding bikes, walking, running just on the other side of the bushes.

12 pm–but first food

Filling up before we hit the town-YUM

1 pm–Field Museum

Such a beautiful, light, airy museum.

2 pm–Field Museum

Quick family picture with the huge hanging plants

3 pm–Field Museum

Obligatory picture with what we thought was Sue, the T Rex
As we were trying to find our way out of the dinosaur exhibit be stumbled across the real Sue 😂😂

4 pm–Shedd Aquarium

Cool jellyfish

5 pm–Shedd Aquarium

Seeing the beluga whales was a highlight of the aquarium.

6 pm–leaving the city

Exiting the museum to a beautiful view of the city. The wind was brutal and we headed to the parking lot. A storm was approaching the area.

7 pm–dinner time

We walked to a restaurant in G’s neighborhood—The Bad Apple. I’m always the one taking the pictures. So thankful for this one of just the two of us.

8 pm–pub grub at its best

Beer flights and burgers—double YUM

9 pm–family time

No picture 🙃 But it was so great to hang out on the couch, cuddle and just visit.

10 pm–bed

It was a great, but exhausting day! We made the most of every moment.

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9 Weeks #SOL22 Day 5

I unlocked my home screen, 0*2**, clicked on the calendar app, scrolled down to January 2nd, and begin to count the weeks. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. I can’t believe it’s been 9 weeks since I’ve seen my daughter, Gretchen. She is a senior at Indiana University and student teaching 1st grade in Chicago Public Schools. I’m not sure we’ve ever gone more than two, maybe three weeks without seeing each other. Today, we are driving up to Chicago for a quick weekend trip to catch up with her. I was giddy with excitement last night!

Our agenda might include..

  • walking to lunch in G’s neighborhood
  • visiting a library or bookstore
  • checking out the Chicago History Museum
  • wandering in the city
  • shopping in some unique boutiques
  • sipping cocktails together
  • seeking out a cool eatery for dinner
  • taking a yoga class
  • finding a new breakfast joint

But the best part will be…

  • giving her a big hug
  • hearing about her 6 year old learners
  • sharing about our last few months apart
  • talking about upcoming events
  • organizing her tests/job applications
  • planning for graduation
  • discussing a fun summer trip
  • dreaming of her future

It’s going to be a great weekend!

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge.

Breathe In, Breathe Out #SOL22 Day 4

I heard the crying coming from the hallway. I knew it was D, one of our kindergarten friends who struggles with self regulation. I had just sat down at my desk to catch up on a long list of tasks that seem to never get crossed off of the list. Deep breath in, deep breath out. I got up to see if I could help.

When I approached the room, D was sitting on a chair outside the classroom door. His tiny frame and light brown eyes wouldn’t be what you would expect this loud wailing to come from.

Hey, bud. What's going on?
More crying.
How can I help? 
Let's try making a big balloon with our breath.

I interlaced my fingers and cupped them on top of my head. I took a deep breath in and lifted my hands up off of my head like a big balloon filling with air. As I exhaled, I lowered my hands back to my head, deflating the balloon.

Let's try it together.

D began to interlace his fingers and blow his balloon up and down with me. The crying began to cease and his breath regulated. We made several balloons together.

Are you ready to head back to class?

There was no audible response, but D slid out of the chair and began to walk into class. I followed him to his table where his math work lay in a pile. Cut out shapes glued on to his paper plate pizza. He was ready to count the shapes and record how many of each kind were on his pizza. We worked together to count and write the numbers. After we finished, we turned everything in and he sat on the carpet, ready to be called to line up for lunch.

Something in class had frustrated D, which led to his outburst. This happens often. I hope with more practice, he can begin to use his breath to regulate his emotions. Maybe he can find a spot in the room to blow his balloon up and down, calm himself, and return to the work at hand.

I sat back down at my desk, ready to tackle my to do list. Breathe in, Breath out.

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge.