Friday, March 31, 2017

When You Think You're Done You've Just Begun

Today is day 31 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  Hip! Hip! Hooray!  I sliced every day for the entire month of March for the second year in a row!

When You Think You're Done You've Just Begun!

Here it is day 31 of the March Slice of Life Challenge and I am still writing with energy and stamina!  The first thing that comes into my mind is that writers workshop phrase we all know and love so well: When you think you're done you've just begun!  Why do I say that?  I say that because I know that I am a writer and I have much writing left to do and more importantly I have much more growing to happen!  

But first, I want to celebrate all that I have accomplished.  

Here is my list of my March SOL 2017 accomplishments:

  • Writing for 31 consecutive days
  • Digging deep into places I don't like to write about
  • Trying my hand at some of the craft moves that I ask my kindergarten and 1st grade students to use: dialogue, catchy beginnings, tying up the story with a bow so you don't leave the reader hanging...
  • Attempting new formats of poetry: ABC, Phone number, and book spine, to name a few
  • Infusing my writing with a touch of my OLW (one little word - JOY) as much as possible 
  • Commenting on many more posts than last year
  • Growing from other mentor writers that participated in the SOL Challenge - I can't thank this community enough!
  • Discovering many new educational ideas and thoughts
  • Learning how to schedule my posts and cross-post to Twitter

And here is how I think I can continue to grow as a writer:
  • Commit to contributing each week to the Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge
  • Recruit colleagues to join in the writing fun
  • Consider volunteering to be a welcome wagon team member next year (Time to give back!)
  • Learn more about writing poetry
  • Continue to add to my google doc listing slice ideas
  • Copy the links to posts that generate slice of life ideas so that I can better acknowledge the original author
  • Buy a small, pretty writing journal to place in my purse so I can capture my new ideas while out and about
With this great list I must say that I am looking forward to the journey!  For when you think you're done,you've just begun!  

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Today is day 30 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year participating and I am in awe over the growth!


I had my post all written, ready to push the schedule button when my daughter screamed. 
What's wrong?  The weather channel is predicting 5 inches of snow Friday night.  What?  No way.  Yes!  I'll pick you up right from work so you can get your car from the garage and we'll go right home.  I mumbled: More snow? Yuk!  Another scream came from the livingroom.  What's wrong now?  Mom, the weather channel just upped the forecast. Now we are getting 8-12 inches Friday night into Saturday!  
That's it!  I'm fed up.  I promised myself no more posts about the weather but how can I not write about this seemingly endless winter?  
I've had it!  
Go home Old Man Winter! 
I want spring and flowers and green grass.  
I know April Fool's is Saturday but enough!  

ENOUGH - I say!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Letter to My Granddaughter on her 1st Birthday

Today is day 29 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. This is my second year participating in the month long challenge. 

A letter to my granddaughter on the occasion of her first birthday

Dear Maddie,
I love you. 

I can't believe that one year ago today you came into our world and changed our lives forever.  Your warmth radiated into my soul as your tiny pink fingers wrapped around my finger and my heart.  In one short year you have shown us so much as you learn and grow into your own little being. You remind us that each day is new and fresh and full of learning and potential.

The first time I saw your daddy holding you in his arms I cried. I saw my baby holding his baby, my first grandchild. I also felt proud and knew right then and there that all was right and good.  I saw your dad instantly become a dad and I felt confident knowing he had the best role model possible.  My only regret is that you couldn't meet your Papa Dave. He would have hogged you and never let anyone else hold you because he was such a lover of babies.  I dream that he still holds you and watches over you day and night.  I know he is here to guide our way and remind us of all the things he knew were important in life: family, love, laughter and faith. 

Maddie, already we see you as extremely curious and determined. You are crawling everywhere now, and are enjoying the freedom of exploring every nook and cranny no matter where you go!  You love going on adventures near and far with your mom and dad.

You are a lover of dogs too!  Especially with Tucker when he wants to cover your sweet cheeks with kisses.  But then again, who wouldn't want to kiss your rosy cheeks!

You love to sing and to move. I love to watch your long legs wiggle in delight to the songs your mom and dad sing to you. Music is so important to our family and it makes me happy to see that you love music too. It is so much fun to watch you giggle in delight as we sing the Itsy-Bitsy Spider song with you and you try to mimic our every hand movements. And I can't help but feel joy when I sing you a lullaby and you snuggle in my arms to drift off to sleep.  I am filled with such love at these times.

Maddie, you are happiness and light and all that is good.  You brought joy into my life in a place that was joyless.  I love you! Happy Birthday!

Love, Bebe

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Phone Number Poetry - Please Come Spring

Today is day 28 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year participating in the month long challenge.

Phone Number Poetry: Please Come Spring!

I have enjoyed reading a variety of poetry slices posted this month during the March Slice of Life Challenge.  So far I have tried two new formats: the ABC poem, and the book spine poem.  Today I take on the challenge of writing a phone number poem. In 59 Reasons to Write;  Minilessons, Prompts, and Inspiration for TeachersKate Messner explains that in order to write this type of poem, first you need to think of a theme and then write your phone number down the side of the page (For privacy purposes, I deleted my numbers.  Note: There are some zeroes in my number).  Begin writing the poem, adding the same number of words as represented by that part of your telephone number. 0 is a wild card so you can write as many words on that line as you'd like.

I am in serious need of some spring, so I decided to write on my longing for the season of winter to be over with!

Please Come Spring!

Please come spring.  Please come!

Photo of daffodils taken exactly one year ago!  
Where are they?
I miss you.

The shoots are stuck underground, buried in snow.

Waiting to defrost...

Waiting, waiting.

I need you.

I crave your warmth and sunshine.

I dream of sweet green grass.

I yearn for forsythia blossoms.

Oh spring, please return!

Monday, March 27, 2017

KAHBAHBLOOOM - Ed Emberley on Display

Today is day 27 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year participating in this challenge!  What fun and growth!

KAHBAHBLOOOM - Ed Emberley on Display

What fun!
Ed Emberley was a familiar name to our children as they were growing up.  His books were always out on rainy Saturdays guiding our children to draw virtually anything. Our kids appreciated the simplistic step by step instructions that helped them become instant artists. The well worn books then made an appearance in my classroom and my students relished the times during indoor recess and writers workshop when they could feel accomplished at using simple shapes to generate a complete illustration for fun or for their stories.  So when I read there was an exhibit showcasing his work at the local art museum I knew I had to go.

The exhibit was delightful and full of joy.  The museum made every effort to allow children to touch and experience Ed's art. The "do not touch the drawings" signs were replaced with "please touch" plaques.  Murals replicating his work were painted across the walls and a giant Paul Bunyan's house, that echoed the illustration in one of his books, was constructed in the middle of the room.  Drawing paper was placed in a corner along with a collection of the Ed Emberley Drawing series.  Colorful tiles were placed in a light box for attendees to manipulate and play with light and color. The exhibit was all so very kid-friendly, welcoming, and uplifting. One couldn't help but smile as they walked out of the little room.  I know I was smiling, but I also left with a powerful message: Everyone can be an artist - thanks to Ed Emberley!  

Want to learn more?  Watch here 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lakefront Worries

Today is day 26 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers

Lakefront Worries

The swans gracefully swam by my lakefront window as I was cleaning on Saturday morning. I stopped my scrubbing to pause and admire their beauty on the grey cloudy day. There were only three swan today.  Knowing that swans mate for life and usually swim in pairs, I began to wonder.  Where was the fourth swan? What happened?  

My wondering turns to worry.  

It's not the first time I have worried about these swans.  A few weeks ago I woke up to find a swan sitting on the ice.  He appeared frozen to the spot.  The ice had turned rather slushy the day before but now with the temperatures hovering below freezing I wondered whether he was now frozen to the ice.  It was only 6am but I decided to text my early rising neighbor / sister-in-law.  

I had to leave for work but I continued in my worries over the frozen swan dilemma.  The one swan had not moved from that same spot.  I decided to text my daughter once I arrived at work to see if she could keep an eye on them through the day:

And finally, I get relief at 10:23 am:

Silly worries?  Yes, it is a silly worry, but it's odd how it brings me a much needed sense of peace.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Collaborating on Book Spine Poems

Today is day 25 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year participating in the 31 day challenge.  Such growth!

Collaborating on Book Spine Poems

It has been fun to see slicers write a variety of poems during the March Slice of Life Challenge.  One variety of poetry that I have found intriguing is the book spine poetry.  I wanted to try writing this type of poem so yesterday I went into work early and pulled a few books from my shelf and voila - a book poem was born in 10 minutes!  It was so much fun!  Take a peek:

Today is Monday

There's Nothing to Do

No Friends

The Doorbell Rang

Chicka! Chicka! Boom! Boom!

All in a Day!

I was so excited about the product, and the process, that I couldn't help but share.  My opportunity came later in the day when I met with a teacher to plan our co-teaching session for the following week, I excitedly shared my stack. She immediately said "Wow! Let's try it with my class!" She was gushing with such enthusiasm that we quickly brainstormed ways to adapt the project for her first graders.  We decided we would start small and choose several titles for the students and place a stack of books at each table.  We'd then let the students have a go at it, either working individually or in partnerships.  We giggled with enthusiasm about the idea and decided we would try it out soon.  

After my colleague left I reflected on my gratitude of all that I have discovered about writing through my participation in this March challenge (Where else would I have learned about this poetry form?) and for the joys of collaborating with colleagues that take up the challenge of trying new ideas!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Perspectives

Today is day 24 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year participating and growing as a writer!

Two Perspectives

Early Spring

Morning colors reflect upon the lake
Creating silhouettes of beautiful geese
Black shapes moving slowly,
Peacefully, and quietly
Nibbling on the grasses below
Taking flight into the red skies of dawn


Late Summer

Summer fun in the sun
Walking barefoot carefully
Around the droppings
Picking up another bag-full 
Bit by bit by smelly bit
Honking, clacking, noisy, dirty, birds

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Update - I've Been Kicked Out of the Group

Today is day 23 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  

I've Been Kicked out of the Group - Update

Last week I posted a slice about a student who had judged he was kicked out of the small group because he no longer needed support in a specific skill. Read here. I made the mistake of not telling the student about his "dismissal" and he reacted by telling the classroom teacher he couldn't write because he'd been "kicked out of the group." In my post I reflected that I had made a mistake and that I needed to ask for forgiveness from the student and have a conversation with him about my mistake. Here is a snippet of that follow-up conversation I had with the student.

So J., I need to talk to you. I made a mistake. You know how I came in the room the other day and I didn't take you to my group? Well - I guess I should have told you. I'm sorry.

Yeah, I felt left out.

I know! I am so sorry. I probably should have had a conversation with you about it. Adults make mistakes too and you know - this is a time when I made a mistake. Can you forgive me?

Of course. Thank you.

So let's start over and talk about why I don't think you need to come over to my group. You see you are now a writer that can work independently. I need to spend some time with other children that your teacher thinks need more help. Are you o.k. with that? Can you work at your seat during workshop time?

Well, I kinda like sitting near the word wall. I like to make sure my spelling is perfect.

Oh I see. Well anytime you need to come closer to the word wall you most certainly can come by to see better. But I was also wondering since you now are such a focused writer, could you share a few tips to stay focused on your writing? Maybe you could be their teacher, since you are an expert at this now!

Really? Me? Yes! of course!

Great. Lets talk next time I come in and we can make a plan. And by the way, thanks for being such a good sport about accepting my mistake. We all make them and we just need to ask for forgiveness and move on! Thanks!

No problem Mrs B. See you next time.
Boy did that feel right!  I think what I discovered is that there is always a way to go back and make right with a child.  And surprisingly enough it usually ends up better the second time around! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Writing Consumes Me

Today is day 22 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  The month is flying by!

Writing Consumes Me

Topics swirl around my head
Or family?

Sigh... Drift back to sleep

4 am
Format needs to be considered
Photo essay?

Sigh... Drift back to sleep

Alarm awakens me from my slumber
Type it!
Read it!
Post it!


I AM an early morning slicer!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Power of Compliments

Today is day 21 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year participating and I am loving it more and more each day!

Mom, you look great skiing!  For someone who learned to ski later in life you have got great form and ease.
These were the words I heard from my daughter-in-law a few weeks ago when I was skiing.  The funny thing about these words is that they were said near the end of a day of skiing in which I felt slightly rusty, out of control, and not in any form what so ever. I was also aware that I hadn't skied in a few years so I was feeling particularly wobbly on my skis.  But after hearing that compliment, I judged I was lighter in my turns and better able to deal with the ever changing conditions of the mountain.

Funny how a compliment can turn your attitude and judgments around!  I have experienced this same attitude turn around from compliments received during this March Slice of Life challenge.  I'd hesitantly post a particularly vulnerable slice and slowly press that publish button and wait...only to be pleasantly surprised by the energy I receive with the comments posted.  The compliments make me want to try harder and write true to myself more often.

Ahhh... the power of a compliment.  

I know there are plenty of children in my school that are writing ever so vulnerably and just waiting for the compliment to drive them forward. They need our encouragement and our comments just as much as I need them. I see the power of words and I am committed more than ever to strive to add more authentic compliments to my toolbox for my student writers. I certainly know the benefits! I lived them on the slopes!

Monday, March 20, 2017

I Hate Being a Burden

Today is day 20 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  I am participating for the second year in a row and I am grateful for the support that this community provides to me and so many others living the writerly life.

I Hate Being a Burden

I am here to shovel you out.
No, I can handle it really.
Have you been out yet?  The snow is very heavy.
I know but I can do it. Besides I don't want to bother you.
Chris, stop it. You aren't a bother - I love using my snowblower.

I close the door and cry - I hate be a burden

Fast forward 2 days

I think the heating problem is because the thermostat is broken. Why don't I come over and fix it?
No, I'll call the electrician.
Why?  It's easy - I'll be over next weekend.
I don't mention it again because once again - I hate being a burden.

Since becoming a widow I have had to learn to accept help. This is hard for me because many times I judge Dave would have been able to handle these little occurrences without so much fuss.  So when trouble strikes I can get frustrated and even angry.  But a few years ago a good friend told me that they too were sad about Dave's passing and offering to help was their way of honoring Dave.  Each time someone offers to help I need to remember that they are doing this because they loved Dave and miss Dave too.  

I have to let go and let others love Dave in their way.  Still I cry because deep down I hate being a burden.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reunion Blues?

Today is day 19 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year participating in this fabulous 31 day writing journey!

Reunion Blues?

The email arrived in my inbox on Thursday: The 92nd Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reunion schedule of offerings.  Should I open it?  Should I risk crying even more over the fact that I once again would miss this opportunity?  I hesitantly opened it knowing that for the second time in a row I wont be driving to Teachers College to take advantage of this fantastic free offering.  Clicking open meant breaking my heart more but I wanted to see what was happening, who was presenting, and what new idea I'd be missing. I looked briefly and then closed the email just as fast.  Why torture myself?  I consoled myself saying that I would follow along on Twitter, and live and learn vicariously through those that could attend.

I wallowed around a little on Saturday thinking about the Reunion... until he arrived.

Oh Joy!  What reunion?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Joy-filled ABC

Today is day 18 of the month long writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.  This is my second year writing in the challenge.

I was inspired by the many slicers who have tried out the ABC format for writing poems. Since my OLW (one little word) is Joy, I thought I would make my poem celebrating all that is joyful in my life.

Joy-filled ABCs

A year devoted to finding joy!
Babies that surround me
Children that make me laugh, smile, cry and remind me of the importance of family
Dreams of lazy summer days
Eagle sightings
Family always near by
Georgie, my first grandson
Hugs from my little babies and big grown adult children
Inspiration from slicers near and far
Jewels of dew sparkling in the sun
Kitchen filled with sounds of laughter and aromas of cookies
Maddie, my first granddaughter
Neighbors to my left and right that are always there to enjoy and assist
October leaves glowing at sunset
Planting and weeding
Quacking ducks float by the dock
Roses blooming in the garden
Swans swimming in such graceful pairs
Time with family to enjoy nature
Umbrellas of varied colors
Vases of daffodils
Walks in the woods
X-citing times on the water
Yearning for lazy summer

Zest for time spent with family