Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Recap of Today

I am watching an episode of Bones from last week.
Before that, I kissed the best parts of my day goodnight.
Before that, I read The Giving Tree and Noah's Ark to my sons.
Before that, I visited with a dear friend and her precious new born baby and remembered what it was like to hold my own newborn babies. They grow so fast.
Before that, I enjoyed a dinner of chicken fajitas with my family and watched as my toddler cleaned her plate. Three times.
Before that, I smiled from the inside out at the sound of my laughing children as I cooked dinner.
Before that, I pushed my kids on the best tire swing ever (built by my very handy husband).
Before that, I cheered on my almost-four-year-old as he improved his bike riding skills.
Before that, I worked out, which immediately made me feel better.
Before that, I arrived home from work, ready to start the second part of my day. :-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Requests from the Back

"Mommy, can you play "No Way Out?""
From the backseat, I hear my oldest requesting "No Easy Way Out" from the Rocky soundtrack.
"Sure." I happily play one of the newest additions to my running playlist. Pretty soon I hear my younger son.
"Mommy, can I hear "Ghostbusters?"" This is one of his favorite songs right up there with "Baby, It's Cold Outside," which he STILL requests even though it is April and I have taken it off of my iPhone.  After that, we listen to "Uptown Funk" which my oldest LOVES.  

Just like I do, my kids go through phases of music.  They really like to hear some songs over and over and over again and then, eventually, they move on to something else.  Like every other preschooler in the world, my son requested "Let it Go" every time we were in the car ALL. SUMMER. LONG. During the Christmas season, Mason's requests were "Rudolph" and "Frosty" and Jack had two different versions of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" he enjoyed. My husband preferred the Willie Nelson version. 

They sing along with me from the backseat and I love that we can enjoy music together.  I love they have preferences and make requests...even if that means I have listened to "Ghostbusters" more than any one person really should. :-) 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Challenge Completed!

I have been following Two Writing Teachers for awhile now and thought it would be a good experience to participate in Slice of Life Tuesdays, but I just hadn't yet.  When I read about the month-long challenge, I thought it would be a good time to jump in and give it a try.  Writing is one of those things I have enjoyed since I was a child, but sometimes it goes by the wayside.  The great thing about writing, though, is that you can pick back up any time.  It is always somethings you can work on, work towards and improve.  And here I am, 31 days later, reflecting on this journey.  Some days I wrote with gusto; I knew exactly what I wanted to write about and the words came easily.  Some days I had no idea what to write. I found following formats from other writers like I Believe and Today's Recap helped tremendously. Some days finding time to write was difficult.  Many nights I was posting pretty close to the end of the 24 hour period.  But I did it.  I completed the challenge!

It meant a lot to me to reconnect with a part of myself (writing) that many times gets neglected.  I used to teach Language Arts and Reading to middle school students, so I had many more opportunities to write and share my writing with my students.  Now, I am working with students on reading and math interventions and I do not have the same opportunities to teach, model and share creative writing.  It felt good to try different formats, be creative and practice my craft.

Being a part of a writing community was a new experience for me. I was inspired by reading what others wrote.  I gleaned ideas from my fellow Slicers, I gained perspective from their experiences and I enjoyed reading their stories.  It felt like checking in with friends.

As I wrap up this challenge, I am hopeful I will continue Slicing on Tuesdays.  I am anxious to share this challenge with my colleagues and I really want to introduce the Classroom Slice of Life Challenge to students. It is very inspiring to see the long list of (31!!) writing pieces I have completed this month, and I think that can be very motivating to students.  Writing will continue to be a part of my life.

And so for now, I sign off...until next Tuesday.  :-)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break To-Do List

1. Work out every day.
2. Clean out the closets.
3. Do an inventory of my kids' clothes and what they need for Spring and Summer.
4. Catch up on laundry and all that other household stuff after a weekend away.
5. Watch last week's episode of Bones.
6. Read at a time other than right before bed.
7. Finish a book.  Even if it is a short one. :-)
8. Have dinner with a friend.
9. Play outside with my kids.
10. Take my kids to Open Gym, which we never get to do during the school year.  They love playing on the equipment and there are bouncy houses!
11. Do an art project with my kids.
12. Decorate Easter eggs.
13. Make cookies with Jack.  He loves making cookie dough!
14. Listen to Mason read his new books.
15. Follow Amelia as she toddles around and see the world from her view.
16. NOT have to rush to get anywhere in the morning. ALL WEEK!!
17. Go to bed early.
18. Feel rejuvenated and rested.
19. Enjoy the time with my family, with myself, and appreciate that I have this time.
20. Go back to work next Monday with a smile on my face ready to give it my all. :-)

Today I Will

Today I will enjoy every last sip of that delightful coffee.
Today I will finish my Slice first thing in the morning, rather than at the end of the day.
Today I will explore a new city with my family.
Today I will learn something new.
Today I will feel the warm sunshine on my face and breathe in the fresh air.
Today I will hold my husband's hand while we walk.
Today I will enjoy the excitement and curiosity of my children as we explore this new city.
Today I will laugh.
Today I will eat at a new restaurant.
Today I will enjoy a ladies night out.
Today I will embrace Spring Break.
Today I will go to bed satisfied with a one-of-a-kind, full-of-new-experiences, go-to-bed-with-a-smile-on-my-face day.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Kids Table

I love that my children have cousins around their age.  When I was a kid, all of my cousins were much older than me and when they started having kids, their kids were much younger than me.  At family functions, the kids at the kids table consisted of my brother and me.  Who wants to sit by her brother? I saw him all the time! It was so boring.  I LONGED for cousins around my age.

Tonight we went out to dinner with my husband's brother and his family.  We went to Buffalo Wild Wings for those of you curious about such things (I LOVE knowing where people go to eat!). The kids got to sit at their OWN table, right across from us. They had so much fun together and while they did come over to swipe boneless wings and chips, they were totally fine at the kids table.  They were giggling and having fun together with VERY few reminders from us about behavior.  The adults were able to carry on a conversation without too many interruptions.  It was great! 

My kids have seven cousins and they are all ten and under. They will grow up together, build memories together and I bet that the kids table will be WAY more fun than the kids table from my childhood. :-) 

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Tribute

We drove to
The Mississippi River
Just to see if it was still there
Barefoot feet and pajamas

A front porch
A swing
My head on her shoulder
Talking, laughing
One of my most favorite places
One of my most favorite people

An all day process
To prepare the sauce
Not measuring
Taste it to test it
The house smells amazing all day

They are with me
In my memories
In my heart

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Road Trips

Here I am, traveling down the highway with my favorite road trip partner and our three wonderful little travelers.  We aren't quite halfway through our seven hour trip.  They are happily chattering and giggling away in the backseat and my husband has just put on some Willie Nelson. I am not one of those people who dreads a road trip. There is something comforting about the expanse of the road, good music on the radio and sitting shotgun while my husband drives.  We chat, we sing along to songs we like, I read, he drives; it's a great system. The kids handle seven hours like champs.  The last time we made this trip, no one asked for the iPad for the first six hours! Well, except for me. :-) 

As I look over at my handsome husband, I am reminded of the many, many, MANY road trips he and I have taken together. 

I remember our trip to Nashville with friends--our FIRST major road trip together. 

I remember driving his truck out to Virginia Beach to help his brother move.  On the way home he told me how impressed he was that I didn't need to stop very often.  I am pretty sure the lack of required bathroom stops is one of the reasons he married me. 

I remember driving out to South Dakota for a friend's wedding in a 1984 Chevy van. There were six of us. In the Badlands, the van stopped idling.  We didn't shut off the ignition until we got home sixteen hours later.  I thought I might die that weekend. 

I remember driving out to Washington D.C. the week after I had been home sick for 3 days and every time I coughed it sounded like a small woodland creature was being tortured.  He was still recovering from breaking his tailbone a month or so before that.  What were we thinking?!?!

I remember the first time we took our first born to visit family seven hours away. As first time parents we FILLED the back of our SUV.  We don't even take that much stuff now with THREE children.  

I remember driving 23 hours straight in our mini-van with three children and his parents behind us, caravan-style, for his brother's wedding in North Carolina.  The. Longest. Trip. Ever. 

We don't flinch at a road trip. Unless it is 23 hours.  That makes me flinch a little. We pack the car and we load up the kids and we go.  I love that he does that.  It's one of the many, many, MANY reasons I married him. :-) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All the Married Ladies

Today after school, we celebrated a colleague's upcoming nuptials with a wedding shower.  We all wrote quotes about love and advice about marriage. Included were things like, "Every love story is beautiful but ours is my favorite," and advice about not going to bed mad--things like that.  As I was browsing Pinterest for ideas during lunch, I came across "Rules for a Happy Marriage." The list included things like, "Never both be angry at the same time," and "Never yell unless the house is on fire." Both of which, I really like.  I'm not saying I follow them all the time, but I like them--something to work towards. This little visit to Pinterest got me thinking.  Yes, most of that advice is great advice and I agree with the vast majority of it. With that being said, there are some things that your husband will do that WILL. DRIVE. YOU. CRAZY. And you will drive him a little crazy, too.  For examples, see Weird Things All Couples Fight About. I laughed so loud I cried.  Because I have had most of those fights with my husband. Good advice would be to gear up for that. :-) In the long run, these things don't really matter...but seriously, does it really take any longer to just open the dishwasher and stick the plate inside? BLAHHHHH!!! When you first get married, you just put the dish in the dishwasher, no big deal.  Then, you still put it away but you are slightly annoyed. Pretty soon you are 95% sure he leaves the plate there on purpose just to drive you crazy.  You start leaving the plate there and it turns into that suitcase on the stairs like on that old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. True story.

Maybe we should start showing You Tube clips at showers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Believe

Inspired by a fellow slicer AND Jacqueline Woodson, here are my belief statements.

I believe that family is family and that it doesn't always require being related.
I believe we need different people in our lives for different reasons.
I believe sometimes it is more important to be kind than it is to be right.
I believe you should listen more than you should talk.
I believe in getting lost in a good story.
I believe in God and I believe in heaven.
I believe in three-hour long dinner dates with friends full of laughter and stories and happiness.
I believe in date nights.
I believe that sometimes life just isn't fair.
I believe in licking the cookie dough off of the beater.
I believe a long drive with loud music is good for the soul.
I believe in dessert.
I believe that there are many ways to be a good parent and a good person.
I believe we never have to stop growing and learning.
I believe in helping.
I believe in love.
I believe I could go on and on...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Step by Step Directions

When the time comes that you have LOST YOUR MIND and signed up three children ages 5, 3, and 1 for swimming lessons AT THE SAME TIME, follow the procedures below.
1. Allow for an extra half hour because you never know when someone might need help with a coat and mittens, or wander aimlessly across the parking lot like he has all the time in the world (this is why double strollers were invented) or HEAVEN FORBID some one has to poop either before you leave, while you are driving there or once you have arrived.
2. Take snacks.  Take snacks for before swimming lessons, take snacks for after swimming lessons, and as I learned today, take snacks for after you have dressed the smallest child but you are still trying to help the second smallest child wrestle on his pants.
3. If you are going to be actively participating in swimming lessons, dress yourself in swimming attire BEFORE you leave the house. It'll save you the 5 minutes you'll need for when someone has to unexpectantly poop.
4. Take all three children into the women's locker room to change and shower (even though it is technically against the rules to take the 5 year-old boy there). That whole "conquer and divide" rationale DOES NOT WORK HERE.
5. Park in the farthest spot from the entrance to swimming lessons.
6. It's okay for the 3 year-old to just run quickly through the shower. No, he doesn't need to scrub.
7. The baby will probably not appreciate the shower either.
8. Thankfully the 5 year old may be completely competent at changing himself AND taking a shower, although he will need you to turn the water on for him.
9. Make sure EVERYONE goes to the bathroom before you leave the locker room, lest you want to figure out how to manage supervising the 3 year-old while in the parent-child class with the 1 year-old or drip water all over the place with a shivering baby in your arms while you escort him to the locker room.  You may still have to do this, but the odds are in your favor.
10. Escort all three children out and deliver the older two to the appropriate swim instructor before getting into the water with the littlest one.
11. Silently appreciate that the water is SO MUCH WARMER than the water in the pool where you took your first child to swim lessons. Live and learn, right? This is so much more pleasant.
12. Take a breath and enjoying the art of blowing bubbles in the water and singing a water version of "The Wheels on the Bus" while occasionally glancing over at the other two and waving and smiling. They are so excited their sister gets to enjoy swim lessons now, too.
13. Feel a little bit guilty for doing baby swim lessons with the first child and the third child but not the second child.  Make a mental note to buy him a pony someday.

We'll stop there, because let's be honest, going into the locker room after swim lessons and prying wet swim suits off of FOUR people is way more chaotic than putting on dry ones.  You may need a cocktail afterwards.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming

I began Brown Girl Dreaming a few weeks ago, but as usual, it takes a few weeks for me to read a book.  When I go to bed, I have every intention of reading for awhile, but after two or three pages, I fall asleep with the book on my face and later, my husband kindly pries it out of of hands and off of my face and sets it gently on the bedside table.  I barely move.  Night after night of this and I don't get through a book very quickly. Until I am halfway through it and can't put it down.  I zip through the second half of a book in about two days. 

With a seven hour drive, a husband to prefers driving to not driving and three children who travel quite nicely, I finished Brown Girl Dreaming.  I loved it.  Jacqueline Woodson's story is filled with the hope, joy and sadness that comes along with growing up.  With the Civil Rights Movement, revolution, the south and New York City as her backdrop, she tells HER story.  Threaded throughout is her personal journey as a reader and a writer. She tells how the teachers want her to read faster and older, "But I don't want to read faster or older or any way else that might make the story disappear too quickly from where it's settling inside my brain, slowly becoming a part of me." This reminded me of my students and makes me wonder...is this what they need? How do I help this happen for them? She writes of her "forever friend" and I am reminded of the family of friends I am lucky enough to have in my corner. She writes of her special bond with her grandfather and I am reminded of my grandmother, who always made me feel special and worthy and kind and loving.  She writes about wanting to be a writer and I am reminded of my twelve year old self wanting that very same thing.  I am still chasing the right words. She writes of her composition journal and how "the smell and feel and sight of bright white paper could bring me so much joy." I am reminded of how the empty page just waits for me to write my story. 

This was a beautiful story about growing up and embracing who you are and who you want to be.  

I think reading this book during this Slice of Life journey was perfect timing. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Right Now

Right now I am relaxing, curled up in the guest room of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house. I can hear my little daughter babbling as she wanders around the living room.  My husband is watching a bit of TV and cuddling with our son while our other son plays with his cousin.  My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are each taking their turn getting dressed and ready for his 40th birthday party tonight.
Right now I am thankful for my family. The family I was born into, the family I married into and the family I created with my husband.
Right now I am enjoying the calm of the storm before the party starts.
Right now I am not feeling inspired to write, but I write on.  A little bit every day. It's good to be committed. It's good to practice. It's good to meet a goal.

Friday, March 20, 2015

On My Mind

I am worried about my mom. She's a tough lady, but this is a tough time for her.  I am so glad my dad is coming to be with her tomorrow.
I love visiting my brother-in-law and sister-in-low.  It is so comfortable with them and we laugh and laugh and laugh. 
I need to remember to buy socks for Amelia.  I can't believe I forgot to pack socks for her.  Again.
Mason and Jack have so much fun playing with their cousin.  I'm so glad they have this time together.
I am so tired.  I really should go to bed.
I am going to run in the morning.  
I am nervous about writing my aunt's eulogy.  How do I do justice to her life, her experiences, her friends? 
That chocolate cake was delicious.
I wish I could have done more for my mom today.
I felt her absence today. 
I am so tired.  I really should go to bed. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Acrostic for My Children

My first born, so wanted, so loved
A thoughtful thinker and tinkerer, wise beyond his years
Sweet and smart with a warm and giving heart
Outstanding big brother and protector
No doubt he will make a difference in this big, wide world

Joyful and jubilant and full of the best kind of energy
A character all the way bringing smiles and laughter wherever he goes
Creative and expressive and imaginative, so very imaginative
Kind and funny and sweet and happy and loved beyond measure

A smile that fills my heart with joy
My daughter, my little girl, my baby
Eyes sparkling with excitement
Loved and adored
Inherently curious
A bright spot in every day

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today's Recap

Today…is a busy day with work, a trip to the vet, shopping that needs to be done, a big batch of homemade mac and cheese for freezer meals for a few friends having babies, and packing my family for an extended weekend trip.

Want to be: Just what it is.
Blessings: Countless.  At the top of the list are my husband who is also my best friend and our three amazing children. 
Thinking: I am thinking about best progress monitoring tools for comprehension.
Planning:  I am also starting to plan for the next school year already! I am keeping track of changes I want to make, interventions to use and things I do not want to forget!
Writing: I am writing much more this month because of the Slice of Life monthly challenge.  This has been a WONDERFUL exercise for me; it has gotten me to find my voice in writing.  It's been awhile. 
Loving: I am loving the boots and skinny jeans look right now, although I am really looking forward to wearing my Toms on a regular basis, because that means the weather is nice!
Grateful: I am grateful for my parents, who drove an hour to spend the morning with my son at his Family Day at school.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An Old Friend

Last night my friend's daughter was in a dance performance not too far away from our home, so I took my children to watch.

I have known this friend since high school.  We knew each other when friendship meant hanging out on the weekends and sharing a locker and laughing and crying about boys and friend dramas. We have been friends through our college years, early career years and now our mommy years.  We have been friends through the best and worst of times.  Months can go by now before we talk (a side effect of being in the mommy years), but when we get together, it is like no time has passed.  We know each other's history and family and strengths and weaknesses.

When we arrived (just a few minutes late, so I am going to count that as on time), my friend spotted me right away.  She was in the back, corralling the dancers and supervising the ones waiting to perform.  We shared a brief smile and greeting and I ushered my children in to watch the performance (already underway). As I sat there watching her sweet daughter perform, I thought about how times have changed.  This friend, who I went to high school with, almost 20 years ago, is a mom.  And I am a mom.  And we do mom things! When did that happen?!?!?

It means the world to me to have friends I share a history with...friends who knew me before I was a mom...friends who saw me come into my own...friends who know my struggles and successes...friends I have grown up with.  I think we grow up twice.  We grow from a child to an adult...and then we grow up again...and here we are...together...still friends.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Every Time the Phone Rings

When I was a little girl, she dressed me up in make up and jewelry and her smile was full of love.  When I got a little older, we went shopping together and could spend the entire day at the mall, laughing and talking. When I had my third child, a little girl, she was so excited.  She loves little girls and dress up and jewelry and shopping.  She is my aunt, my mom's sister and she was a huge part of my childhood.

She is sick.  Very sick.  Hospice sick.  I am supposed to go see her on Thursday night.  She lives seven hours away.  I found myself checking my phone several times today to see if there was a message or a text from my mom.  I froze in fear a little each time.  I don't want my aunt to be in pain.  I don't want to lose my aunt.  I want to say good-bye on Thursday, but I don't want her to suffer.  Every time the phone rings I feel this internal struggle.  I keep remembering all the times she made me smile.  And I pray.  And I hope she knows she will always be in my heart.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Washing Windows

Yesterday was a beautiful day; it was sunny and 60 degrees.  My husband and I decided to wash the windows on our porch.  Truth be told, I decided to wash the windows and my husband kindly agreed to help me.  Neither of us could remember if we had ever washed the inside and outside of the windows on the porch the entire time we have lived in our house.  It was time to wash the windows. As I was washing the windows, I started thinking about how dirty the windows were and how much better they looked.  I knew they were dirty and needed washing, but I didn't know what a huge difference it would make.  My husband wandered in a while later and commented on how much better the windows looked.  Neither of us had known how badly those windows really did need washing until we were in the process.  Later in the day, we talked again about how much better it looked out there.

This got me thinking.  How many times in life have we not known how much we needed we something until we had it? How often have we felt so much better about something once a decision had been made? This happens at work when we change a process or we begin using a particular assessment with our students. This happens when we start walking or journaling or eating healthier or when we break up with a person who just isn't good for us.  Everything seems so much better when we make a decision to make our life better.  Living in limbo is so hard sometimes.

Who knew washing windows could get so philosophical? :-)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Morning

No alarm. Ahhhh. Gentle light coming through the window and I lazily lean over to check the time.  I doze a little longer. Sweet children wander in and wake me with their warm smiles and bright eyes.

I love Saturdays.

Hot coffee in my hand, slippers on my feet, I notice a beautiful day is brewing outside. The sun is shining and I hear birds! They are quite boisterous with their songs this morning. It's like they are screaming, "It's Spring!! It's SPRING!!!"

I love Saturdays.

The whole day lies ahead. What will it bring? Lots of outside time, for sure.  The swing set and sand box are just calling for the children.  The chickens might get to move outside today.  The dead mums from last fall/winter are depressing; I should pull them and get the garden ready for fresh, green plants to grow.  It's Pi Day; I will make apple pie for dessert.  The house smells amazing when I bake an apple pie.

I love Saturdays.

It's a day for playing, cuddling children, making pancakes, catching up on laundry and sorting.  It's a day for no absolutes--nothing that HAS to be done, but lots of things that CAN be done.  It's a day for apple pie and playing outside and riding bikes.  It's a day to write with chalk on the sidewalk and grill steaks and notice the grass is just starting to turn green.

I love Saturdays.

Friday, March 13, 2015

What Am I Reading?

The last three books I read...
1. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (A great family book that made me laugh a lot...and touched my heart.)
2. El Deafo by CeCe Bell (I could really relate to this book as I also grew up with hearing loss.)
3. When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (I love young adult literature.)

I am currently reading...
1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
2. Read, Write, Lead by Regie Routman

I want to read...
1. Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop by Patrick Allen
2. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
3. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
4. The Great Green Heist by Varian Johnson
5. Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Barnes and Noble

Before I was a mom, I used to LOVE to go to Barnes and Noble (or any bookstore, really).  I would grab a coffee and wander aimlessly, browsing the books.  Once I became a mom, my visits to Barnes and Noble were quick and to the point--grab gift card for this person or look for a book for this person.  Get in and get out before the toddler climbs out of the stroller or I lose my pre-schooler. :-) No time for browsing.

Well, the other day, I rediscovered my love for Barnes and Noble and browsing...and my children were with me. :-) My oldest son, who is 5, recently started reading (!!!!!). It is very exciting for his reading teacher mother.  So, as a right of passage, I decided to take him and my 3 year old son (we left the 1 year old with Grandma) to Barnes and Noble to pick out books.  On the way there we talked about what kinds of books they were interested in looking at.  The primary purpose of the visit was to pick out books my 5 year old could read himself.  In addition, he was looking for books on sharks.  My 3 year old was on the search for cheetahs and dinosaurs.  I was so excited!! I was going to teach them how to love bookstores!! It's not like they have never picked out books before...we go to the library all the time and we pick out books through Scholastic almost every month.  They have had ample opportunity to pick books, but somehow this felt different.

We wandered up to the children's section (which is directly BEHIND the toy section--super fantastic marketing there). We found the early readers and after finding ones I thought he could read, I presented choices and then we were off to find a shark book.  My 3 year old and I started looking for cheetahs (he found a roaring dinosaur book right away).  After looking for a bit, I noticed my 5 year old wasn't right with me.  I looked around, and be still my heart--my child had found a spot for himself and was READING HIS BOOKS...completely unprompted by me, completely on his own.  Definitely a proud mom moment.  I later made him reenact the moment so I take a picture. :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tonight's Playlist

It is day 11 of this Slice of Life adventure...it's time you get a glimpse into the REAL me...the good, the bad, and the ugly...and here it is...my playlist from tonight's run.

Glory by Common and John Legend (a GREAT song to get you pumped to take on the world)
Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars (Just fun...really, really fun)
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson (my favorite Michael Jackson song)
Shut Up by Black Eyed Peas (a good running song)
Baby I Got Your Money by Old Dirty Bastard (I was in college in the late '90s...I can't help it.)
Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake (another good running song)
Yeah! by Usher (reminds me of college, best friends, and dance floors)
Roses by Outkast (another good running song)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Yesterday, I was inspired by a fellow Slicer.  She used this format and I thought it was great! So, here goes!

Last night, exhausted, I curled up in bed to read a bit of Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.
Before that, I caught the tail end of The Bachelor finals and After the Final Rose. I didn't even watch this season, but I was flipping through the channels and got sucked in.
Before that, I kissed my children good night and happily wandered downstairs as my husband prepared to read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! 
Before that, I snuggled with my sons as my husband tucked in our baby girl.
Before that, I washed, dried and dressed an unhappy three year old, desperately trying not to get water and soap onto his scraped forehead.
Before that, I unsuccessfully tried to convince said three year old to eat his corn and chicken.  His father was partially successful in this attempt.
Before that, I enjoyed dinner with my husband and children--complete with laughs and no milk spills.
Before that, I simultaneously prepared dinner and entertained three children.  Thank you, Blaze and the Monster Machines.
Before that, I enjoyed a play date and outside time with a dear friend and her children.  I also comforted a distraught three year old after he took a digger and scraped his forehead.
Before that, I drove the children home from swimming lessons.
Before that, I caught a little bit of throw-up in a towel when my five year old took in a little too much water on his "magic carpet ride."
Before that, I watched the swimming lesson teacher rightfully give my three year old a time out after a few warnings about splashing. I love days he doesn't nap (enter sarcasm here).
Before that, I picked up the kids from the babysitter to take them to swimming lessons.
Before that, I enjoyed a 2.21 mile run on a beautiful early spring day and managed to dodge most puddles.
Before that, I left work ON TIME!
Before that, I had a great day of work!
Before that, I handed the phone to my five year old so he could call his dad and ask him nicely to bring his backpack...which was still sitting on the couch at home.
Before that, I arrived approximately 4 minutes late to work...it's hard to get up on the first Monday after setting the clocks back an hour.

Reading back through this, it dawns on me how MONDAY my Monday really was. :-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Early Spring

When I walked into work this morning, it was 28 degrees. The melted puddles from yesterday were frozen and dangerous in the parking lot.  While I was in the school building, spring sprung! I walked out at 1:30 without a coat and it was 55 degrees! Water streamed downhill from melting snow.  The sun was shining brightly and I didn't need to turn on the heat in my van! Yay!

I am not foolish to believe winter is totally over...this is how spring in Wisconsin works. We get a few warm days (in March, warm equals anything over 40 degrees) and everyone bolts for the outdoors.  You will see people in shorts! Because I wanted so badly to take my kiddos outside, I DROVE them across our muddy, snowy, water-logged driveway to get to the road so they could run outside and ride bikes with their friends from up the road.  The grassy ground is still covered with snow, and there are puddles EVERYWHERE. This is early spring.  It will still freeze and it will still probably snow.  We will get a few days of warmer weather and then a few days of winter.  It will rain and most of the remaining snow will get washed away.  It will be very, very wet for awhile.  Eventually, though, the water will seep deep into the earth and grass will grow and tiny buds will begin to open and everything will turn green!

This time is so exciting...the anticipation of the soon to come spring season!! Rather than rush through it, let's enjoy it for what it is...and know that spring is coming!!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sushi First Timer

I love to eat. I love to try new restaurants and new recipes and I love all kinds of cuisines.  But, I have my limits...there are certain things I just was not interested in trying...like sushi.  It's the raw fish. I just couldn't wrap my mind around eating raw fish; I don't even like my steak rare.

Today, I did something that made me very uncomfortable.  I ate sushi...with raw fish in it and everything. :-) And I liked it!! It didn't taste fishy like I thought it would.  It didn't make me gag like I thought it might.  It wasn't even just "tolerable"...I would choose to eat it again.

I have many friends who eat and enjoy sushi on a regular basis.  People just rave about sushi! Even my brother, who is NOT someone who usually pays money to eat food from a restaurant unless it is a pizza, loves sushi.  This caught me completely off guard and was completely unexpected, but for the last couple of months on many occasions my brother has mentioned how delicious sushi is.  Hmmmm, I thought.  If my brother eats sushi and likes it...maybe it is worth a try.

He and I went and bought five different types of sushi rolls.  I apparently embarrassed him when I asked which one was good for beginners.  Anyway, we went back to our mom and dad's house and spread the packages out on the counter.  "You have to try them all." He said to me.  No way was I eating those rolls with the big ol' pieces of RAW FISH on the top.  I was new to this and I was only trying the California roll and the shrimp tempura.  "You can start there.  But you are trying them all." He said when I informed him I would not be eating THOSE rolls.  Well, I started with the California roll and it was just fine...very tasty.  Next up, the shrimp tempura...VERY tasty.  My favorite of the day.  Sushi was NOT terrible; it was great! And so, I kept eating down the line.  I ate those rolls I had no intention of trying.  They were all good! My brother...and all of those other people were right!

Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised when we try something new.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Out of My League

I was thirty when I ran my first 5K. One day I decided there is no reason I shouldn't be able to run 3 miles.  So, I did the Couch to 5K program (kind of), signed up for a race (Shamrock Shuffle) and I did it.  Last year, at age 34, I ran an 8K for the first time. I have given birth to three children in the last six years, so my "running regimen" as I will loosely call it, has been somewhat lax. I am slow and certainly not trying to win anything.  When my children ask me, "Mommy, did you win?" I proudly say, "No, Mommy finished." However, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment when I finish a 3 mile run, and as a running friend once said to me, "A 12 minute mile is the same distance as an 8 minute mile."

Last fall, I saw there was a triathlon training series at a nearby gym.  The flyer said it was meant for beginners all the way up to seasoned tri-athletes.  There were 5 events, one a month through the winter months.  It was a 10 minute swim, a 20 minute bike and a 10 minute run.  While the swimming part made me a little nervous, I signed up.  Why not? It's worth a shot, and I figured I could just do the breast stroke during the swimming part since I wasn't confident with my front crawl. I thought it would be a good practice run to see if I was up for a REAL triathlon.

During my first of these triathlon events it became VERY clear to me I was out of my league.  These people were TRIATHLETES. They participated in these events to train for the events that they were actually trying to WIN.  Regardless of what the flyer said, I did not see any other "beginners" in my heat.  Maybe I just signed up for a heat where there just so happened to be mostly "advanced" triathletes. :-)  Later that week, when I checked the results and saw I was third from the bottom, I was reminded that this training series probably wasn't meant for me. That's okay, I thought, it doesn't matter.  It's a good workout and I will see it through.

Yesterday, I saw it through and finished the last of the series (I did miss one due to the WSRA reading convention; good excuse, I think). Each time I walked into that gym and completed the 10 minute swim doing my breaststroke, I was reminded I was out of my comfort zone and way out of my league.  I kept going back, though, because isn't that part of what life is all about? Trying something new and stepping outside of our comfort zone? Don't we ask our students to do that? Shouldn't I be modeling this for my children? Coming in last, and yes, I did come in last, happens...and it's okay.

I'm so glad I did that triathlon series.  For the little girl in me who was always picked last for anything athletic and for the woman in me who isn't afraid to come in last, I'm glad. And you know what, I learned I probably could complete a triathlon. I just might do it using the breaststroke.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Little Feet

Little feet
On the stairs

Little hands
Wiping the sleep
From his bright eyes

Blonde hair
Sticking up
in the back

Good morning, mommy

Curls onto my lap
and fits perfectly

Best part of my day

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Math Night

To-Do List for Math Night (one hour until start time)
1. Check on the hot dogs.
2. Carry all of the buns, water, soda, condiments and fruit to the cafeteria.
3. Re-organize the list of people coming so I can sort it in Google sheets for easier check-in.
4. Set up the registration table with check-in list, goodie bags and raffle tickets.
5. Hit the bathroom.
6. Check hot dogs again.
7. Add link to the website.
8. Get raffle tickets ready.
9. Smile. Breathe.
10. People are arriving...and GO!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Baby Dear

If you were to ask me what my favorite story was as a child, I will, without even thinking, say Baby Dear. It is a an old Little Golden Book published in 1962.  It is about a little girl who has a very special baby doll, Baby Dear.  Her father gave her Baby Dear when he brought her mother home from the hospital with the little girl's new baby sister.  As the little girl's mother gives her baby a bath, a bottle and rocks the baby to sleep, the little girl does the same for Baby Dear.  I LOVED this book as a little girl and would choose it every night. I am sure my mother grew sick of reading this book over and over again. I am sure she would have LOVED if I chose something else--ANYTHING else--from time to time. I don't know what happened to the book Baby Dear, but somewhere through the years it must have been donated.  Years later, I came across a copy at a yard sale and it was like seeing a long-lost friend.  I immediately purchased the book and have held on to it knowing someday it would live
on the bookshelf in my child's room.

Tonight at bedtime, as I have many times before, I pulled Baby Dear off of the shelf and read it to my baby daughter, sleepy on my lap and sweet-smelling from her bath.  There are many books I LOVE reading to my children, but Baby Dear is one of my favorites to read because I feel like it is a piece of my childhood I can share with them.  It is filled with love and warmth for me and I feel like I pass that along to them each time I read it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmmm

It snowed and sleeted in Wisconsin this morning.  The cars in the parking lot at school were icy and needed scraping.  I put my bags in the van, started the ignition and went to grab the scraper.  Being lucky enough to park my van in the garage and only scraping when absolutely necessary, I don't remember the last time I needed my scraper.  I dug around in the glove box, compartments and back of the van.  My husband has me outfitted with enough bungee cords and tow straps to tow a humvee, some electric reader thing, a poncho and everything I need to change a tire--most of these I will never use--but I do not have a scraper.  In Wisconsin. During winter.  Note to self--add a scraper to my van! After I waited for my front window to defrost enough for me to not be a safety hazard, I headed for home.  It is one o'clock (I work part-time).  What appeared to be a school-aged child was driving a riding lawn mower (????) down the sidewalk.  Again...I live in Wisconsin and it is winter.  There was no snow plow on the front of this lawn mower. REALLY? Things that make you go hmmmmm...

Monday, March 2, 2015

It is March already!

7:30. Time to go.  My 5 year-old tossed his backpack and climbed into the back seat of the van.  I buckled him in and we were off to school.  I love driving him to school.  I love holding his hand while we walk across the parking lot.  I know my days of hand-holding on the way into school are limited, so I will enjoy it as long as it lasts. I love that I teach in the same building and he is just down the hall.  Sometimes we pass in the hall and the smile that lights up his face warms me to my core.

Today on our way to school, it dawned on me that it was March.  Wow. It feels like it was just September and he didn't need mittens and boots.  I am not sure where the last several months have gone.  Summer is three months away and his first year of school will be over.  This reminded me of what every parent of young children knows...time flies. So fast.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

No Intentions

I did not know what I would write about today when I woke up, but I can tell you I had no intention of writing about this...a hugely significant event in my life.  As I begin this "Slice of Life" adventure, this truly is a slice of my life...always there in the background and when I least expect it, I am reminded of that day in June.

This morning my husband, Kyle, and I were in church with our three children.  The pastor began the sermon referencing the story from one of the readings--the one about Peter  being very offended and upset when Jesus first told the disciples that he would die.  The pastor had us close our eyes and imagine our best friend.  I thought of Kyle.  Then, the pastor had us recall wonderful moments and all that we shared.  Then, she had us imagine that person telling us, "I will die," as a way to connect to the experience Peter shared with Jesus.  This instantly took me back to that June day and my frantic drive to the hospital.  This happens sometimes...a movie, a song, something someone says...I go back and remember that day--maybe just a moment from that day.  It shocked me at first, when this started happening and I remember asking my husband if this would always happen.  If I would always feel like the wind was knocked out of me at random times when something reminds me of all that I could have lost that day.

I had been driving when I heard those horrible words (not the worst words a person can hear, but close)...Kyle had been in an accident...med flight...cut out of the car...breathing tube...and no one knew exactly how he was doing.  It was about 20 minutes before I knew more...a horrible 20 minutes of wondering...what if it's worse than they are telling me...what if I don't make it in time...what were the last words I said to him...I love you...thank God...the children--safely behind me, sleeping off their play date--I can't even go there...and then, the best words I could have heard..."He will be okay."  Relief.  So much relief.  I can't even explain.

I reached over and I placed my hand on Kyle's leg and I counted my blessings--again--that he was next to me.  This was another reminder of how precious life is and how nothing is promised.  I take that with me every day.  This experience, this "slice" if you will, reminds me of my priorities, what matters and what really doesn't. I don't always get it right--I get it wrong a lot--but I am closer than ever before.