Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An Ending, and Some New Beginnings

I have really enjoyed this month of writing. I enjoyed reading others' Slices and finding inspiration in what you wrote. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy your comments, but the feedback was terrific! I enjoyed the memories and emotions my writing has evoked. I will miss this daily act but I hope it will continue, in one form or another.
Interestingly, we celebrated a triple baby shower at my school today (must be the water!). So as I end this month of writing, my friends will begin a new chapter in their own lives. Perhaps I could encourage them to write for their children, or for themselves. Then again, we don't need an excuse to write. It just feels good.

Monday, March 30, 2015


I'm sitting at my dinner table, remnants of the meal still around me, feeling like I have nothing at all to write tonight. Then I read Kendra Limback's Slice about a book called, Dinner: A Love Story. What a great idea for a book! Just reading about it brought back so many delicious memories for me.
Dinner as a child was a ritual. We ate together: mom, dad, my sister and I. There were no electronics back them so nothing to distract us. If the phone rang, and it rarely rang at dinner time, we would answer it (because there was no answering machine) and quickly end the call. We talked, we ate, we laughed.
When we moved to our new house, we ate in a room we planned to remodel so we were allowed to decorate the walls any way we liked. What fun! My dad brought home a huge map of the world, and dinnertime turned into lessons about geography. I think those early conversations inspired my curiosity about the world and my love of travel.
Fast forward many years to dinner in my own home, with my husband and our two daughters. We created our own rituals - one of my favorites was highs and lows, where we would share the best thing (and the worst) that happened that day. When the girls were young this was a great opportunity to see into their worlds. As they got older, we didn't need the pretense of the "game," we would just talk.
As I get ready to celebrate the holiday this weekend with my immediate and extended family, I'm looking forward to sitting around a bigger dinner table and sharing good food and great conversation.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sister Love

Just over 18 years ago I gave birth to my second daughter. All I wanted was a healthy child, but my older daughter, almost four years old at the time, was sure she was having a baby sister.Although I didn't find out the baby's gender during my first pregnancy, I figured I would need time to help my daughter adjust if, in fact, we brought her home a brother. Halfway through my pregnancy we found out it was another girl and we broke the news to a very excited big-sister-to-be.
Of course I had heard stories about first children who want to send their newborn siblings back to the hospital when they got home, about the change of heart that is not unusual once they realize that they must share their parents' affection and time.
So the day after I gave birth (it was a late night delivery), when my husband brought her to the hospital to see me and meet the baby, I was ready. We had a plan. He called from the lobby saying they were on their way up. I sat up in the chair and left the baby in the bassinet. I wanted to hug my daughter and let her know I still loved her so much and nothing would change that.
She walked into that hospital room, took a look at me and announced more than asked, "Where's my sister?" What a great moment. The three of us got into bed together, big sister holding the baby, staring lovingly into her eyes, creating the bond that will last a lifetime. She's still the best big sister I know! And I am an incredibly lucky mother.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Secret of Life

It's March 28th...I made it this far in the SOL challenge without quoting any of my favorite song lyrics. Today seems like a good day to share one.
The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time... James Taylor sings its beautifully.
I've just spent a wonderful day with my husband. We had some good quality time together, starting with a trip to the gym this morning and ending with an interesting off-Broadway play in NYC. We love finding small theaters with off-beat shows.
James is right - we need to enjoy each day. And today was a great day. Hope you all had a great day, too!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Parent/Teacher Conference

Just finished a week of teaching combined with parent/teacher conferences. Yes, I am exhausted.
As I met with parents this week, I was reminded of my own parent/teacher conference when my younger daughter was in 2nd grade.
For whatever reason I had difficulty getting pregnant that second time. My daughter used to ask me stories and I would tell her she was always in my heart but I had trouble getting her into my belly. She knew we went to a special doctor in New York City for help.
At the conference her teacher shared a story. Another parent had come in for a birthday celebration and was talking about living in NYC. My daughter's hand went up and when she was called on she proudly announced, "I was conceived in New York City!"
We all had a good laugh. That was a memorable parent/teacher conference.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

And the Lie Is...

Thanks for all your comments yesterday. 
I mentioned 3 truths and a lie I shared at a staff ice breaker. 
They were:
1. I sailed the Greek islands on my honeymoon with a captain named Philip.
2. I was a contestant in a game show when I was in college.
3. I was an extra in a Woody Allen movie.4. I got stuck in an elevator in London and called a friend in the U.S. for help.

Good guesses, everyone! The lie is (drum roll please) #2. I love to play along with Jeopardy but I was never a game show contestant. 
My husband and I did go to Greece on our honeymoon. Knowing how much he loves to sail, I organized a 5-day sail of all those tiny islands the cruise ships can't get to. The sailboat came with a captain who spoke almost no English but he accompanied us everywhere. We still laugh about spending our honeymoon with Philip!
I was an extra in a Woody Allen movie!! When I was in junior high school, I was a member of a community group that got invited to be extras in the movie. We had to dress up in 1950s style and we were paid ($50, I think - it was a long time ago), but I had to donate the money back to the organization. It wasn't one of Woody's best, but it was fun to watch and look for myself!
And yes, I got stuck in an elevator in London - one of those tiny ones, and I was with my whole family! At first we thought it was funny, then we (I) started to panic. We tried to call for help but nothing was working. So my husband called his business associate back in the states, who called the local London fire department to send for help. Eventually, we got out.
Thanks for playing along. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

3 Truths and a Lie

Reading through some of the Slices posted today I was reminded of an ice breaker event I attended with the staff at my school earlier this year.
We were told to write down 3 truths and a lie about ourselves to share at the meeting. Immediately I felt the pressure. "There's nothing exciting about me," I complained to my husband. "I'm so boring!"
We started reminiscing about some of our adventures together and stories we've shared with each other, and soon I realized that I wasn't quite as boring as I feared.
Here's what I shared that day. Can you guess which one is a lie? Check back tomorrow!
1. I sailed the Greek islands on my honeymoon with a captain named Philip.
2. I was a contestant in a game show when I was in college.
3. I was an extra in a Woody Allen movie.
4. I got stuck in an elevator in London and called a friend in the U.S. for help.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Angelina Jolie and I Have Something in Common

I shuffled into the kitchen in my robe and slippers, hit the remote and started the coffee pot. As I waited for it to warm up I turned to my favorite news channel and listened to the top stories. Angelina Jolie had her ovaries removed. By the time my husband came into the room, I was in tears. I have almost nothing in common with Angelina Jolie, except for the fact the both of our mothers died of ovarian cancer. And now, we both have had our ovaries removed as a preventive measure.
It was almost six years ago. I had debated with myself and my doctors for a few years already. I knew I was finished having children, but I wasn't psychologically ready for this surgery and all that it entailed. Every few months I went to the doctor, I had check ups and blood tests, sonograms and MRIs. Every time I went I held my breath waiting for the results and hoping to be lucky.
My mother was diagnosed when she was 45. She died at 48 after three difficult years. She was an amazing woman, brave and beautiful, and she fought this horrible disease with all she had. But it's an awful disease.
So six years ago I went for one of my check ups and got bad news. The worst. My doctor felt something suspicious and was recommending surgery as soon as possible. I don't know how I drove home, I was crying so hard. How could I have waited, I kept thinking? My daughters were still so young. I was terrified.
Long story short, I did have my ovaries removed later that year. It wasn't an emergency after all, but after that scare I wasn't going to take any chances. I think about my mother every day, and my own daughters and their increased risk for this disease. Turning 48 was an emotional year; turning 49 felt victorious.
I understand what Angelina said in today's NY Times: I don't want my daughters to say their mother died of ovarian cancer. I wish her good health.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Take the First Step in Faith - Part 2

My post a few days ago was about Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote:

On Friday I shared it with my students. The comments and conversation that followed were, I thought, worthy of sharing. I put the quote up on the smart board and just started by asking what they thought MLK meant when he said this. Hands flew up in the air.

You don't have to do everything quickly.

Do the first thing to change something - even if you don't know everything.

Do things step by step - don't rush, you'll finish sometime.

Go at your own pace.

Don't grow up too fast. Take your time in life.

You don't have to know what the ending is going to be.

If you look at the whole staircase it may be too scary.

Imagine the good things that will happen, not the bad

I asked my students if anyone had ever done anything when they didn't know what the ending would be. Every hand went up and they started sharing stories - "like when I went on the monkey bars for the first time." "It's like a painting, you don't know how it will turn out." "Like jumping off a diving board!"

Then I had them think about MLK and why he said this, and my students were able to relate it to him because he changed the law step by step.

It was a great conversation and left me feeling that I really am making an impression on my students. I hope they remember this quote as they get older!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Different Kind of Sunday

It was a Sunday quite a while ago. We had sailed across the sound and spent a beautiful night on the water aboard my husband's dream boat, a gift to himself on a milestone birthday, We awoke the next morning to grey skies, rain and a bleak forecast. We'll just take the train home and come back for the boat, I thought as I rubbed my eyes and sipped my coffee. Before I could speak I felt the rumble of the engine and sensed we were moving. "There's a clear window," he called down to me. "I think we can make it home if we leave right now."

I wasn't happy but off we went. I'm a reluctant sailor on the best of days. The rain and cloud were making me nervous. We headed out of the harbor as the fisherman were coming in. Finally out in the sound the wind wasn't helping our sails and our little engine was chugging along as fast as it could. I looked ahead, keeping my eyes on our destination. The relaxing sail across yesterday, listening to great music and laughing, felt light years away. 

Finally, land in sight, I started to breath again. "Go down below and get the rain gear," he said. What? Why? "Just do it!" I turned around and saw black clouds moving quickly in our direction. By the time I came up with the gear, the few boats I had just seen were gone. "Where did they go?" I called above the sound of the rain now pouring down. "Their engines are faster than mine." Then lightning lit up the sky. "Don't touch anything metal," he said. I looked up at the tall mast attached to the boat and looked at him. Neither one of us spoke. 

Finally the dock in view. We're almost home, I thought. The rain still pouring down, we eased the boat into its slip, tied up the ropes and headed for home. Lock the door, don't answer the phone, we are done for the day. Check one thing off my bucket list but don't ask me to go again. We can almost laugh about that experience now. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Change of Plans

Friday night ritual - sushi and cocktails. Sharing the day, the week. Talking face to face. Looking each other in the eye. Unwinding.
The snow today changed those plans for tonight. What's in the freezer? Put something together. Open a bottle of wine.
Still...sharing the day, the week. Talking face to face. Looking each other in the eye. Unwinding.
Friday night.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Haiku

Haiku for a Thursday

Winter says goodbye
Spring arrives tomorrow but
wait - there is more snow?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Take the First Step in Faith

I made it to the gym today. No small feat after the day I had but perhaps it was because of the day I had, that I felt a workout would be good for my mind and body.
On the way home I was listening to talk radio (my favorite) and someone mentioned a quote of the day.
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
These words were spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. I smiled to myself because I'm in the middle of a biography unit with my students and I have introduced them to some pretty wonderful people, including Dr. King.
Today we were talking about how these people we're studying affect us personally. It's not so easy for young kids to understand and appreciate how activists and other important people had an impact on their own lives. I've been impressed with some pretty deep thinking on their part, though.
I love this quote and can't wait to share it with my kids. I'll enjoy the conversation I'm anticipating we will have about what it means, what it meant to him, and what it means to us today.
Take the first step in faith. What a great lesson for us all!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Quote for St. Patrick's Day

A best friend is like a four leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have. -- Author Unknown

Shared this with my kids today and we had a lovely conversation about friendship.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thanks for the Inspiration

Today's Slice is inspired by Beverly Baird, Skinned Knees & Runny Noses, and others....


the sound of soccer coming from the tv in the family room


herbal tea...ahhhhh


my favorite fuzzy slippers


like allergy season has begun


I'm so glad my husband's back from his business trip



Sunday, March 15, 2015

She Did It? Part 2

I've had the weekend to digest the wonderful news about my daughter's college acceptance. Today we planned our visit there for next month's accepted students day. She seems relaxed, happy, more at ease than she has been for a while. I'm hoping the physical ailments that have been bothering her lately will also ease - not that it was all stress, but that surely didn't help.
So now I sit back and realize - next year she will be away and my husband and I will officially have an empty nest. It doesn't seem possible. Has it been so long since I wore my big, dark sunglasses to cover my teary eyes as the school bus took her to kindergarten that first day?
When we celebrate a student's birthday in my class we always invite the child's parents to share a story about the day their baby was born. My students love to hear these stories and I have found that parents love to share them. I've had stories from birth parents, surrogate parents and adoptive parents. I've seen mothers cry when recounting the day their child was born. I've witnessed the glow on parents' faces when they talk about the moment their child came into the world.
I, too, can recall with great detail the day my daughter was born. The moments leading up to it, and that wonderful, exhilarating, fantastic, breath-taking moment when she was born and placed on my chest. She was perfect. Still is. I cried that day and I'm crying now just thinking about it. No doubt I will cry when I drop her at college in the fall.
I'm proud of the woman she has become; happy that I shared in her parenting with my husband who has always been the ying to my yang. So though I may shed a tear looking back, I look forward to seeing all the great things that are still ahead for her.
Empty nest? Really?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Morning Treat

Woke up late this morning and had the luxury of staying in bed for a while. What's better than curling up under the covers on a rainy day with a good book? I kept telling myself I'd get up after one more page, but I couldn't stop reading. My reward to myself for a week of hard work. Eventually I did get up. Laundry and report cards were waiting. Happy Saturday!

Friday, March 13, 2015

She Did It

Not much time to write tonight because I'm celebrating with my daughter. She was just accepted to her number one choice of colleges for next year. I'm incredibly proud of her and so happy that she's going to be where she wants to be, where she feels she "fits in."
The high school years are rough. I advise any of you with kids this age to buckle up. Academically, socially, these are tough times for kids. We've been waiting with bated breath for months now. She was accepted into almost all the schools where she applied, but this is the place she wants to be.
There are times when we have to accept as parents that things are out our control. We can't make everything right for our kids. When did this happen? And when did she get to be 18 and ready to go to college?
I will ponder these questions tomorrow. Tonight I'm off to drink my celebratory champagne. Cheers!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Gift of Friendship

I just returned from a 1 1/2 hour walk with a friend I haven't seen in a few months. Talk about lifting my spirits! The combination of good girlfriend chatter, bright sunshine, temperatures in the 40's, and brisk walking was just the thing I needed.
Although we haven't seen each other in a while, we quickly fell back into our easy conversation. She is one of those friends with whom I can share anything, and we picked up where we last left off, both remembering what was happening in each other's lives and eager to find out the latest news.
What a treasure a friend is!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Teacher as Student

There is a photograph hanging up on the front wall in my classroom. It's a picture of me in a sundress, holding an oar, smiling proudly. I had just finished my first stand up paddle board lesson last summer and my legs had almost stopped trembling when my friend snapped the photo.
I turned 50 last year and was determined to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. This was certainly out of my comfort zone!
It was an interesting morning on the river. My friend and I were alone with our instructor, a gentleman a few years older than us. I was acutely aware of my role as student in this situation. He spoke with us at length, then started to demonstrate. I've long thought I was a visual learner, and seeing him helped much more than listening. I had a lot of questions, and he patiently answered them. I had a lot of self doubt, but he didn't manage to assuage those feelings. Still I paddled on, doing my best. Miraculously I managed to: 1. not fall off the board, and 2. have a really great time!
I've kept that photo as a reminder of how terrified I was to learn something new, and how good I felt when I learned it. It was my hope that having that experience would make me a better teacher somehow. These kids have to get out of their comfort zones every day as they learn new things. They have to trust me and take risks. They have to hope they don't fall off their boards and if they do, they have to know that I will be there to pull them back up and keep on showing them the way.
At the beginning of the year I pointed the picture out to my students. I look at it every once in a while to remind myself of what it felt like to be out there, floating on the river, a little scared, a little excited, and needing the guidance of my teacher.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Room with a View

I love this time of day in my classroom - all alone with my thoughts, my ideas, my plans. Usually I blog from my house in the evening but today I'm still here in this cheery spot. Let me take you on a tour.
Chairs are up on all the desks and I can see inside them - surprisingly neat and tidy for some (most!). There on the far wall are our books - our special treasures in which a child can get lost, go on an adventure, learn new facts, solve a mystery. Nearby in the corner are the bean bags - they love to get enveloped in those chairs, like a hug from mom or dad. They do their best reading in them. On top of the bookshelf are their book bins, colorful bins overflowing with books they are reading, notes they are taking, strategies they are learning.
Over there in the other corner is our math area - games, dice, blocks, cubes, coins, and so much more. The world of numbers opens up to them! They are learning more than they realize and enjoying the process. Above there is the Word Wall, almost filled by this time of year with juicy words they have learned and use in their writing. It's hard to believe that wall was almost empty 120 days ago when the school year began.
Posters cover every available inch of wall space. They hang above the cubbies. They remind us all how much we've learned - capital letters, spelling patters, how to hook your reader...
I love this room. It is my home. But it's not complete without my students.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Lost: patience. Description: fairly long, very gentle, over 50 years old. Last seen: either in a second grade classroom or at a teacher’s home nearby. If found please handle with care and return to owner.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Trip to the Airport

I took my husband to the airport last night. It's something of a ritual for us, these hour long rides to the airport. He travels for business, usually about 4 times a year for about a week each time. Not terrible - I know many people who travel longer and more frequently - but still...
He gets all jazzed up for these trips. I'm so happy for him and proud of him - he's good at what he does, and he loves his job! Growing up abroad, he's especially happy to go back and visit with old friends (not to mention how delighted he is to have the chance to see his favorite soccer team play!).
When our kids were younger they would come to the airport with us. Back then we were still allowed to go into the airport to see him off - security rules have changed that now. We'd have tearful send offs but happy reunions a week later. They always insisted on making daddy a welcome home sign, usually on poster board, but once my older daughter got more creative. She took many sheets of plain white paper and attached them all to make a l-o-n-g sign which she held on one end and her sister (sitting in the stroller) held at the other. That got some good stares and happy sighs in the airport.
Last night it was just us. As we approached the airport he started the last minute reminders of things I need to do or look out for, while I was checking to make sure he had packed everything he needs. Inevitably, I started to tear up. I miss him terribly when he's away. With promises to text as soon as he lands, we kissed goodbye outside the car. I hope the week passes quickly!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Who's the Stranger in the Mirror?

Did you ever look at yourself in a mirror and wonder, who is that person?
I've just returned from the hair salon. Honestly it's my least favorite place these days, but the gray hairs need covering. Working with young people (students and colleagues) I feel the need to cover the grays in an attempt to hide my true age. (Haha!)
By the way, I have told my students I'm 114 years old. I found this the easiest way to handle the questions about my age. I am not shy about being 51 but one day, while subbing a few years ago, a cute little girl sat close to me as I read a book aloud to her class. As I put on my reading glasses to focus on the words, she looked at me and said, ever so sweetly, "You look just like my grandma." Stab to the heart. I smiled and replied, "You must love your grandma very much!"
So there I was today at the salon, forced to stare into the mirror for over an hour as she worked her magic, wondering, when did I get so old? Is that really what I look like? The image doesn't match how I see myself, how I feel I portray myself. Then I wondered, how do others really see me? I continued to look and think, hmmm there's something in those eyes. Wisdom. Life experience. The look of a person who loves and is loved. The twinkle of a person who has indeed found happiness in her life.
One of the privileges of getting older is supposed to be not caring how others perceive you. I'm getting there, slowly. I think I'll take the person in the mirror with me on the journey.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Unexpected Visitor

Look who stopped by my front door after school today! There truly is beauty all around us. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thoughts on Being a Mom

It was snowing again as we got into the car. Luckily my husband took the morning off of work - I hate driving in the snow. The three of us sat quietly and headed toward the surgical center. She's 18 already - taller than me now, but she's still my baby. It's nothing serious, I keep telling myself. Still, watching her walk away from me into the prep area I feel tears fill my eyes. Slowly I walk back to my husband and we say nothing, just hold hands. Minutes pass and I can't help myself. "Is there any way I can see her...?" I ask the kind women at the front desk. "She's my baby." They both give me that look, they understand. A moment later I'm taken back to see her. She's laying in the bed, already hooked up to an IV. She sees me and a tear falls down her cheek. "I'm here, baby."

Thirty minutes later - though it felt like days had passed - we're both back in recovery with her. The doctor is there telling us it doesn't appear to be anything serious but we have to wait for the test results. I look at my husband and I see tears filling his eyes. Our daughter, our baby. She's okay.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Another Day. Another Snow Delay.

It has become my morning ritual. The alarm gently nudges me from sleep at 5:30 am. I lean over and grab my cell phone to check for messages. There it is, again. Our schools are operating on a 2-hour delay due to weather.
Some people would roll over and go back to sleep. Not me. I grab my robe and head downstairs for coffee, pick up my laptop and get back into bed. I start making adjustments to today's schedule - now interrupted by the delay. Then I check emails and edit my morning message to the kids ("No art today but we still have Spanish this afternoon").
We've had too many of these days this year. Grey skies, freezing cold weather, snow piled so high it's almost comical, icy drives to school, early dismissals, and late starts.
16 days until spring. I wish you all sunny skies and warmer weather!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Recently I was reading aloud a book about Hilary Rodham Clinton to my students. We've just kicked off our biography unit and they are BEYOND excited!! In one part of the book, the author refers to Clinton as wanting to be in the highest office in the land. "What is the highest office in the land?" I asked my students. One boy's hand shot up. "It's the Empire State Building." This was clearly not what I was expecting. It took me a minute, but I looked at him and said, "Yes, I suppose that is one of the highest offices in the land." I went on to explain the true meaning of the phrase, but I haven't forgotten his comment. Their literal perspective is sometimes amusing, usually refreshing, always interesting. Just another reason why I love my job!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

You're Never Too Old...

This is my first blog. My first post on my first blog. Hopefully I'm doing it right. Luckily I have a wonderful mentor to help me. Shout out to Crystal!
I'm excited to join this community of educators via the internet. As a fairly new teacher myself, I'm amazed by my colleagues and their insight and abilities. I've been a 2nd grade teacher for three years now and I can honestly say I love my job! So I'm eager to read other posts and see what everyone else is doing in their classrooms.
Full disclosure: I'm new to this profession, but I'm no kid. I'm 50+ years old, with two grown children and an amazing husband who financed me through graduate school a few years ago, just as our oldest daughter was getting ready to go to college. I worked as a paraprofessional in my daughters' elementary school for a few years and I felt I had found my calling (too cliche? corny? but true!). So I did it...kept on working while going to school at night. I sat at the kitchen table doing homework with my kids. I cried to my husband when it felt overwhelming, when I doubted myself and thought I couldn't do it. I rethought the whole thing when medical issues arose and I had to have some surgery but luckily I was okay. I persevered and here I am. Teaching and blogging. 
I'm looking forward to sharing with you this month.