Wednesday, March 31, 2021

#sol22 March 31 The Challenge

Thank you Two Writing Teachers
For creating this wonderful community
And for hosting this massive SOL Challenge. 

"You should keep writing every day," she said casually, as if she was noting I should take a shower every day because it was good for others!  

"It's a lot of pressure," I volunteered, "every year I wonder if I can possibly add this to my list and consider not dong the SOL. Then, every year I marvel when I do it. . It is a reminder that the more you write the easier it is to write."

At the finish line of this year's marathon, I am thinking about all the routines of life, commuting, cleaning, cooking, laundry, exercising and eating healthy.  All of them are easier when you just do them every day and keep your momentum going.

Yet, that is the challenge, to keep your eye and mind focused on what is important. To keep yourself from the distractions of reality TV, the last chapter, and a gooey snack. 

It's a challenge every year, but I plan to return on Tuesdays while I wait for next March.

Thank you to all who stopped by
Taking a moment to read, reflect,
Shared a kind word,
It is true that comments fuel

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

#sol21 March 30 Spring Break


This month, I am noticing and reflecting,
Writing daily as part of the Two Writing Teachers' Challenge

Spring Break Reflections: Through the Years

Spring Break circa 1961 Windows were open and the sounds of neighborhood kids waffled into to the bedroom where I was holed up with itchy, scratchy, chicken pox. 

Spring Break circa 1970 Protests and passionate discussions along with gunfire in Ohio closed college campuses as I yearned to be on a college campus. 

Spring Break circa 1985 Spring Break was cancelled due to the debacle of cleaning up asbestos during the Winter Break!  

Spring Break circa 1990 My children were back at school, so I cleaned, raked, and (shh,...relaxed) as they had been off the earlier. I was exhausted, though, after trying to manage their different break! 

Spring Break circa 1999  "Baseball every single day of this vacation?" I asked in disbelief of the schedule in front of me. 

Spring Break circa 2006 We hiked for hours through the still soggy woods in incredible spring sunshine that filled our hearts and souls with hope and light in spite of sadness.  At the top of the mountain, we saw sat in awe of nature.

Spring Break circa 2010 Spring break was cancelled because of too many snow days.  Those who were lucky enough to have nonrefundable tickets went away, the rest of us were stuck in school. 

Spring Break circa 2012 We made cupcakes and had tea parties with tiny china tea cups. Then we did arts and crafts til' we crashed, the girls and I both! We never left the house. 

Spring Break circa 2020 We never left home as the fear of the rapidly spreading virus consumed our thoughts and movements.

Spring Break circa 2021 Older and wiser, I reflect that this is not a big get away week for me and I realize it is really only students and teachers who get a Spring Break.  Thus, I feel a bit guilty complaining that totally online classes do not take a break!  Sigh, but shhh..I am....

Monday, March 29, 2021

#sol21 March 29 Great British Bump Off

Before we started,
I needed to find the link
Buried in a sea of texts and emails. 
"Was I supposed to download something?"
"Do we have to bake something?"
Others began roll playing right away.
It seemed as if they had done this before!
I scanned the directions,
Tried to understand my character,
Made a cup of tea.

Oops, timed out of Zoom.
Resend, restart,
Change my screen name
Introduce ourselves, 
I became Cia Batta, 
Self-centered opera singer.

One donned a hat,
No other costumes,
No sets, no props,
No cake, no rolls,
A virtual, for sure
 Baking competition
Murder investigation.

A socially distanced family celebration,
Aunties, uncles,
Cousins, second cousins,
A birthday from afar
2020-2021 style. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

#sol 21 March 28 Perspective

Thank you to the Team at Two Writing Teachers
For hosting this writing challenge.

I squeezed out the last drops of Trader Joe's shower gel,
Lingering in the steam with my thoughts.
I used the curling brush, taming frizzy ends
Adding smoother to my locks,
I picked an outfit, carefully, 
Layering a matched sweater
I selected earrings, 
Used blush, mascara,
Hoping I looked 
As excited as I felt. 

Today is a special day,
From my perspective.
Filled with hope and potential,
Hugs and visits,
It's Vaccination Day!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

#sol21 March 27 His Story


This month, I am writing daily
Two Writing Teachers' SOL Challenge

We see each other, 
Almost daily from afar,
People of a certain age,
Donning ear pods, windbreakers,
Walking as if our lives depended on it,
While so many others run by,
Just before sunrise.

I've long wondered
About his story.
Where does he live?
Is he walking before he spends
Too many hours watching television?
Is he walking to manage stress?
Is he walking to keep off pounds?
Is he walking to keep up with grandchildren?
Is his wife still asleep?
Does his wife relish the break when he walks?
Is he recovering from a heart attack?
Is he a former runner with a knee injury?
Clearly, I've written his story
In my mind.

I've long wondered
If he wonders about
My story?

Friday, March 26, 2021

#sol21 March 26 Where do you find books?


This month, I'm writing
Thanks to the TWT Challenge 

In the evening, I make a bit pot of (caffeinated) tea, start up the Zoom, and welcome grad students to share strategies for supporting struggling readers and writers.  I stay logged in after class to answer a myriad of questions about students and managing teaching/learning in these challenging times.  Sometimes, they just want to share a mute-unmute story and sometimes they have stories  and questions that break my heart. Sometimes, all I can do is to listen and encourage.

"I want to get all those mentor texts you show and I want to put books in the hands of all my students like you suggest.  But, where do I find all those high interest, just right and engaging books," she asked. 

It was late, after 10, as I looked around my house, filled with books for grandchildren and began talking about book resources to a newbie teacher in a high needs, city school district. 

Meanwhile, I thought about:
  • All those books I have purchased over the years..
  • All those freebies from conferences..,
  • All those yard sales over the years...
  • All those family and friends who donated books...
  • All those Scholastic book sales....
  • All those bookstores,,,,
  • All those Amazon orders...
  • All those former students and families who shared outgrown books...
  • All those books I made because I did not have the right book..
  • All those books sitting in the back of classrooms, forgotten..
  • All those books sitting unused in crowded bookrooms and storage rooms..
  • All those books books sitting unused right now but saved by teachers, just in case their grade changed...
  • All those teachers, like my friend, who shared her collection (after retirement).  Some are in my living room, but most were passed to newbie teachers and their students. 
  • All those underused books lying around....just waiting....
  • All those teachers wanting/needing books and how to create a distribution system....
  • All those underused books resources needed a distribution plan.....books belong with readers!  

Thursday, March 25, 2021

#sol21 March 25 Becoming a Writer

It was a perfect spring morning,
I was sure we needed fresh air,
She grabbed a notebook, pencil,
Headed outside to explore, notice,
Experiment with
Letters, sounds,
The power of words
To convey ideas. 
Like this spring, 
It's new
Filled with potential.

"This is what we will eat in the wilderness,"
She giggled as she shared her list,

A stick,
A rock covered with dirt,
A dirt salad,
A rock covered with moss
A rock

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

#sol21 March 24 A Different Duckling

I took a deep breath when he pulled the old book from my bookshelf where I had decided it needed to rest. For a few years, I've tried to focus on stories that do not have characters bullying unless I am specifically focusing on the impact of belittling or the power of kindness. Yet, I do I know the power of finding a "new" to you book in a bookcase.

"That's not nice," he cried as I read about the other animals teasing THE ugly duckling (from the classic tale)

"How about we call him different," I offered already sensitive to the words of the classic story.  That's why I had shelved it, I thought to myself, changing the story as I went.  

I was proud that a preschooler was thinking about using kind words; however, I was thinking about whether it is better to share these old classics under the lens of how words can hurt OR is it better to just focus on books that show the kindness we want our students to embrace.  

I'm not sure of the answer, but for now, the book is off the shelf and will be renamed, The Different Duckling.  It will be in the rotation along with a host of books that show the diversity and kindness of  physically, racially, culturally, socially, economically, or politically diverse people. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

#sol21 What Was I Thinking?


It took me five weeks to assemble a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, a tiny little red and yellow classic that will forever be a reminder to rethink any Little Tikes assembly project. In the end, I recruited the parents of the intended user. To be honest, the web site and discussion boards say the problem is an old design that does not exist in any other products. I'll never know. I now look for such items by the side of the road and rehab them.
It took me 6 months to assemble a gas grill which I ordered after I could not figure a way to bring home an already assembled grill in my compact car. To be honest, I put the project on the back burner for 5 months after growing frustrated. In the end, I got everything assembled and have a wonderful grill. I should have taken the stress of that project as a sign to just pay whatever it costs for delivery.

I have been wanting to rent a power washer for several years to rid the patio of moss and dirt, but again, I cannot fit one in my car. So, with the pandemic looming and the thought of more days at home this spring/summer, I ordered one.  It came quickly arriving with a giant thud on the porch as I finished my grading.  The sight of the box filled with a million pieces and untold hours of stress brought back all the old memories of assembly.  Then, I tried to lift it and I cannot!  What was I thinking? 

So here is sits. How long do you think this will take? 


Monday, March 22, 2021

#sol21 March 22 Not Just a Statistic


A friend,
Kind, in word and deed,
Generous, in nature and being,
So many shared memories,
Adventures, birthdays, school,
In recent years, 
We gathered rarely,
Yet, our stories were 
Intertwined by our children
Life choices.

A wife, mother, grandmother,
An aunt, cousin, friend.
An immeasurable loss,

Not just a statistic,
In the tally of losses.
Each one, someone's 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

#sol21 March 21 Closer to Normal


They took a few trucks from the garage
Slowly, lovingly, they drove them through the muddy garden,
I wonder if deep inside, they were remembering the last time.

They took the aging tractor out for a spin, or two or three,
Peddling with gusto as if they were on a mission,
I wonder if they were remembering Sundays before quarantine. 

They took out the soccer balls and the basketballs,
We practiced shooting and dribbling,
I wonder if they were thinking how much stronger they were
After a year.

They ran and played and laughed and were giddy,
Even though we stayed outside and we wore masks,
I wonder if they were thinking this was the new normal
Or if it means we are closer to normal?

Saturday, March 20, 2021

#sol21 March 20 You Can Only Have One


This month, I am trying to write every day
Thanks to the TWT SOL Challenge

"You can only pick one," she emphasized again to her virtual students.

"I don't have one," he continued, challenging the need to pick one. 

"Then just choose one season you like the best today," she concluded, "and write your answer in a sentence," she reminded them all.

I had been grading paper in another room, but the question lingered in my mind. How would answer that question? 

I guess I would start with saying spring is my favorite because it is springing out of the long barren earth and the sunshine is warming our long bereft souls. I love to watch the pussy willows pop and the forsythia brighten the landscape. I love to see children outside running and taking on the power of the sun.  

But, I adore summer and the opportunity (for teachers) to recoup and realign the demands of personal and professional lives.  I love to lie on the sand on the beach and consume novels as if they were chips, I am empowered by the morning breeze through an open window and an evening breeze after a hot day. 

And, I also love the crunch of leaves and the feel of a sweatshirt on that first cool morning. I love the smell of new pencils, shoes and pumpkin coffee.  I am empowered to be outside soaking up the colors and magic of fall, every year,

Of course, I still get excited for those lights that twinkle over the first snow. I love the warmth of a familiar coat and the excitement of a snowy hill. I love to snuggle under a warm blanket and decorate with abandon. I love the "memories" of this season and the "time" winter offers to craft, sew, read, and write.

I am so glad I did not have to pick just one. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

#sol21 March 19 A Professional Reflection


I'm writing daily this month as part of the TWT's March SOL Challenge. This is post is spurred by a Tweet I read from Matt Renwick. .  

I was in the parking lot when the call came.  "Get here when you can," she said. I knew without her telling me, the gravity of the situation.  "He's hanging on for now," she added, "we've got a few hours according to the nurse."  

I had already shared that I would be in charge of scoring State ELA exams at the beginning of the morning and would need to be at work for the about 2 hours. Given his decline in recent days, I had already talked to my administration and had asked for someone to back me up just in case; however, that had not happened.  It seemed at that moment as if the fate of the district's 3rd graders was in my hands.

I explained my situation to my administration and my small group got to work ahead of schedule with a focus like I had never witnessed before.  I was ready to leave in a little over an hour, my part of the PD day complete. 

I stopped at the office on my way out. "If you leave now, I'm going to have to charge you for the whole day. Plus, you are going to have to reschedule your post observation reflection with me," my then principal said calmly as I left, my eyes filling with tears but not because of her. I knew not to respond, as my response, fueled by grief, would not have been professional. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

#sol21 MARCH 18 Slices: Of Pizza


I've been trying to walk in order to deal with Covid-feeling-sorry-for-myself-pounds, and I have have found more than one slice for the TWT's March Challenge in my neighborhood.

During the past year, cardboard recycling days mean stacks of Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chewy, and Misfits boxes spilling onto sidewalks, waiting to be crushed, repurposed and reused. Many of the boxes are well marked, big and boxy!  Some families "shop around," but most seem to have a favorite online shopping spot or two.

Yet, in front of almost every house, no matter who they use as an online retailer of choice, there are smaller, but also easily recognized boxes, (two or three or four every week) that seems to be happily nestled between the bigger boxes. These thin boxes do not easily deconstruct and thus sit in-situ waiting the recycling rangers.

One constant of the last year is the consumption of pizza, at least in my neighborhood!  It seems that everyone is eating multiple slices of pizza, every week! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

#sol21 March 17 One St. Patrick's Day


I'm writing daily this month as part of the TWT's March SOL Challenge. This is about a bittersweet St. Patrick's Day that was the beginning of an ending..  

We got on the 7:30 local for the city that morning along with commuters and a good crowd of revelers wearing green. There was more than a little chatter on the train, and there was a strong smell of coffee (some of it Irish, I suspect). To be quite honest, my little group was excited and hopeful, having waited weeks for this day.  For the most part, however, we were quiet, reading the Times, working on the daily Sudoku, and thinking about the day ahead.

At every stop, the train became more and more crowded and eventually, the aisles filled with suit and coffee laden commuters mingling with jeans and Diet Coke ready-to-partiers. An overall happy mood seemed to waft over the train. My little group seemed to laugh and joke a bit more as we approached the city.

At Grand Central, my brother suggested we let the crowd disperse before disembarking. We slowly made our way towards York where we caught a bus (even though we should have hailed a cab). He was a little weak; yet, he was pretty sure the "Luck of the Irish" would be with him that day. He joked about coming back next year to be part of the parade.

We checked in, right on time, and he was whisked away in preparation for his day.  

It was a long day trying to read in the crowded waiting room and calling loved ones with no real updates.  As time went on, our optimism was challenged. 

The waiting room was nearly empty when the doctor finally emerged with a it-was-a-long-day. it's-gonna-be-a-hard-road, you-gotta-have-hope kind of looks. 

The tenor in the city had changed by the time I left in search of soup and a sign of hope.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

#sol21 MARCH 16 Vestiges of an English Garden


I'm writing every day in March as part of Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life.  It's a challenge to find something to say every day, but this community's support encourages and empowers writers!

My backyard is really just a large muddy area these days, where I am told, there once was there an incredible English garden. The garden was the work of an avid gardener and her mother who worked tirelessly throughout the summer to nurture bulbs, replant seedlings, and coax vines.  

My neighbor shared her children's prom pictures in a field of amazing azaleas, ravishing rhododendrons, draping dogwoods, and some pretty phlox as ground cover. Those spring colors were incredible and the stone patio was vaguely familiar. 

I will never know the English garden that once was, but each spring, in the days before the deer, rabbits and weeds return, I see glimpses of what might have been.  

This morning, these tiny crocuses poked through the muddy mess as a reminder that while that English garden is long gone, spring in still near.  

Monday, March 15, 2021

#sol21 March 15 A Commute to Remember

I'm writing every day in March as part of Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life.  Today's slice in reverse is based on Fran McVeigh's post, Resource-Full. Thanks Fran for this great idea.

By this point, the sun was doing its thing and the rest of the ride was uneventful. My pulse slowly, but surely returned to normal.  I made it to work with just minutes to spare and a story that made others look at me as if I was telling them about a bad dream.

I did a fast prayer of thanks for making it down the hill alive and for avoiding the police cruiser.  Then, I did a fast prayer of thanks for new tires. Then, I heard to unmistakable sound of abundant sand and salt on my tires and I knew things were going to be all right. 

I too slid down the black ice covered road at a 90 degree angle from the guardrail. I think I remembered to turn into the skid, but to be honest, I am not sure of anything other than the beating of my heart as I passed the police cruiser with inches to spare. 

As I crested the hill, I realized there were police lights at the bottom of the hill, and a car going sideways down the hill, scraping the guardrail as it passed. There was at least one wrecked car on the guardrail near the bottom; however, I could not focus on anything other than my own precarious descent.

Traffic was definitely moving slowly on the Saw Mill that morning as we all stayed in the one lane with a respectable distance between cars.  It all changed as I went up that first hill, slowly, and traffic slowed nearly to a halt. 

A few cars on the interstate passed me by, but most were going slowly and being respectful of the patches of black ice everywhere.  I thought about pulling over but the sun was already above the horizon and warming the earth, plus I felt safer in my lane with the salt and sand. 

Once I reached the highway, I noticed several cars and two tractor trailers off the road. I figured things must have been pretty dicey as that ice storm rolled through. I noticed the passing lane appeared to be covered with ice, so I went slowly and carefully staying in my lane where it appeared there was abundant sand and salt. 

My car was covered by a thin layer of ice, but the street had been sanded and salted.  It looked perfectly passable.  Yet, walking  around the car to scrape the windows on the slick ice was nearly impossible.  So, I got into my car and cranked up the defroster. 

It was still dark that morning when I decided the thin layer of ice on the driveway was going to challenge my walk to the car. I checked my phone one last time to make sure there was not going to be an ice delay. Then, as I had done many other mornings, I slid down the driveway, a lot faster than I had planned, on my trusty long coat, arriving at the wheel well, safely.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

#sol21 March 14 This Old Tractor

This tractor had had been in retirement,
After years of hard play and many children
It was clearly loved and used,
Already old, wobbly, and rusted,
When it came to entertain 
My children
Providing years of wagon pulling,
Dirt hauling and racing
Across lawns and gravel driveways.

After a few more decades of retirement,
It was older, wobblier, and more rusted,
When it came out to entertain
My grandchildren
Who have finally
Driven it into the ground.

According to Ebay
In mint condition, it would be valuable
I prefer to call it, a good value,
Or prehaps, invaluable.  


Saturday, March 13, 2021

#sol21 March 13 This Year


I'm participating in Two Writing Teacher's 
March Slice of Life Challenge

I (we) wrote about a hard week,
I (we) could not have imagined,
A year marked by:
Virtual, hybrid, zoom-based learning.
I (we) could never have dreamed
Lysol, masks, food, toilet paper shortages.
I (we) could not plan for a year
Family, friends, hugs apart. 

Today, I'm (we're) thinking of all those lost,
Their families, friends.
Those postponing celebrations, holidays,
Those alone, lonely, saddened by this year.

I'm (we're) wishing recovery to businesses,
Small-big, new-old, failing, hanging on.
School, state and local budgets,
Learning, adolescence, childhood,
Revised by this year.

I'm (we're) hopeful that we have learned 
To be grateful, listen more, slow down, 
To appreciate game night, grocery shopping, 
Movie going, concert expenses,
Travel hassles, family celebrations,
The power of a loved one's hug.

Friday, March 12, 2021

#sol21 March 12 A Scrap of Paper


I suspect it's the pending-anniversary-of-the-day-the-world-as-we-knew-it-stopped, but I am nostalgic for hugs, holidays, and a carefully planned, not yet taken trip (I am sure I am not alone)!  

It may look like a scrap of paper, but it really is one piece of a carefully planned epic vacation in the hours when we could not have imagined our world would come to a screeching halt. This trip would include mornings at the shore and days exploring the island, at our own pace. There would be opportunities for fresh fish and local wine at restaurants and cafes.  With our trusty travel guidebooks, a NY Times article, and a few reviews, we had the bones of a wonderful opportunity to live and learn in another land. Sure, we had heard about the virus in Asia, but we were confident it would be under control before our trip!  

 It's going to take a while before we can feel safe traveling afar; however, I'm holding onto that scrap of paper because it is not only a reminder of what might have been, it is also a harbinger of a future that will hopefully include hugs, holidays, and adventures.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

#sol21 March 11 The Backhoe

"Can I get the backhoe, pleeeeeeaaaasssse?" he asked with hope that I would open the long closed garage door. 

We both still had gloves on to keep our fingers warm, but certainly the sun spoke clearly of the impending season. And so, after many months, I opened the door to where the backhoe (and its friend bulldozer) were hibernating.  

There would be no digging in the still frozen ground, yet, but the lingering "piles" of snow would be perfect places to make sure the backhoe was ready for a spring season filled with mud!  

"Look," he implored, "it still works!" Then, he was far too busy to speak as he and the backhoe carefully moved lingering snow piles to new locations as if they both were destined to do this task on this still-snow-covered-but-sunny morning filled with the promise spring was very near.


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

#sol21 March 10 To Walk or Not To Walk

 I sighed as I watched the orange orb peeking over the horizon.  In spite of the many excuses I had already tried, I tied my sneakers and donned my gloves for a cold, early morning walk.  I found a TED talk  I had not yet heard, and tried to find peace with the sidewalk.  The first 1000 steps are always the hardest; then, when I'm a few blocks away, I usually find some sort of rhythm. If nothing else, after I am a few blocs away, I have to keep walking!

  • I tried to convince myself that lying in my cozy bed was what my body needed.
  • I had tried to convince myself I'd walk later in the day.  
  • I tried to convince myself that I'd eat only small portions of no carb foods today. 
  • I tried to convince myself I could read and comment on a few more blog posts.
  • I tried to convince myself I would walk tomorrow. 
  • I tried to convince myself I should unload the dishwasher, read emails, check on the bills.....
  • I tried to justify an extra long shower and an extra cup of coffee
In the end, I knew that I had better get out for a walk today as the excuses were predictable and while plausible, not convincing. I know that the only solution for my Covid pounds is fewer calories consumed and more muscle mass resulting in more calories burned.  I know I feel better if I get outside and walk...and so I did, reluctantly, walk today, and yes I feel energized and ready for the day.

Amazingly, I will have the same conversation with myself tomorrow and use the same excuses to not walk. I wish I could. but I cannot promise the same outcome as today. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

#sol21 March 9 Anita Jane


I'm participating in Two Writing Teacher's 
March Slice of Life Challenge, sharing stories
Every day in March   

Including Fran Haley
Wrote about their names.

When I was born, I was a surprise to everyone (except my parents) who lived far from their families in the days before Zoom and social media. My mother left my father with the task of making long distance calls to share the news that hot August morning.  

Yet, they were not surprised that at the last minute, my planned name, Colleen Kathleen, was changed after my arrival on my mother's best friend's birthday.

Thus, I became Anita Jane, an entirely un-Irish moniker that I never really liked as it was not popular, like Linda or Debbie.  Even the nickname that came with my moniker was strange - Nity (pronounced Neetee). Amazingly, there was never, ever another Anita in any class of mine ever.

Anita, which means gracious, has Spanish origins and actually, my namesake and I were named after the housekeeper who helped her mother during a bed-ridden, twin pregnancy.  The Jane part of my name came from a beloved English Grandmother who would never meet the first Anita Jane. 

I must admit that it took me many years to embrace my Spanish name, but over time, it became OK to have a name that was just a wee bit unusual. These days, I do see Anitas every once in a while; although the Anita Jane moniker is not one that I expect to see again!  


Monday, March 8, 2021

#SOL21 March 8 Many Books

 I read Lisa's post about her roots in a book infused home and it really struck a chord because I did not!

I spent  my early years in a an Anderson trailer home something like this (without all those modern upgrades!).  As in many homes today, there was an "open floor plan" and you could see from one end of the home to the other. As in so many modern homes, the kitchen was the heart of the home, but there was no island, an what we called a "table" would come out to take over the living room when we were ready to eat.  

Everything that came into our tiny abode was carefully planned and there were no extra clothes, shoes, or socks.  Yet, early on, my parents must have realized I loved those books gifted to me by Aunties. I would beg to have books read to me and then pretend to read by retelling the memorized stories.  

During our weekly grocery store trip, I sometimes got a new Golden Book to add to my collection on the wheel well ledge. Golden Books , still available today, are small and very thin; thus, you could get quite a collection on a 12 inch ledge!

I could (and probably should) write a whole post about the magic of having a small, carefully curated book collection where I knew every word of every book; however, this post is about how I evolved as a reader after I discovered the school and then the local library.  I was sure books could take me places I would not be able to go. 

These days, in spite of drastically reducing my book collection through moving and sharing, it is still "over the top" with timeless classics,  magical newer books, and many, many books about learning to be writers and readers in the 20th and 21st Centuries!

Unlike Lisa, I grew up to love books in spite of my early years!

                                                    A curated collection for read across America 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

#SOL21 March 7 Me and My Burpees

 I'm participating in Two Writing Teacher's 
March Slice of Life Challenge, sharing stories
Every day in March.

 It was just 32 degrees when we started. There were three reps of Arnold presses, squat lifts and mountain climbers followed by two minutes of burpees. Then were was another set of exercises followed by three minutes of burpees. Them, more exercises and four minutes of a routine I have grown to appreciate, if not love. Squat down, jump back, plank slowly, and lie with hands stretched for a nanosecond. Then, push up, slowly jump back, and get ready to do it all again.

Before the Pandemic, I thought of Burpee as a company that produced seeds.  I also thought I was pretty good shape, walking around Manhattan, swimming laps at the YMCA, and going around the circuit to push and pull weights once a week. But then, my lifestyle, work-style, and free-time-activities changed dramatically as I hunkered down at home, not even going to a grocery store to walk around! Like so many of us, over the span of a few months, I gained a few pounds and lost a great deal of muscle mass resulting in strained jeans and tight tops.  

One Saturday morning late last summer, I joined what she referred to as "Meme" or Grandma boot camp. It was really hard and I was really sore and totally miserable after than first workout, even though she had not introduced the burpee and steered clear of planks and pushups! Over the past few months, I have huffed and puffed through an hour or so of exercise and weights to build strength and agility each weekend.  I follow up with daily weights, planks, push ups and burpees because.......I like the way I feel when it is over! Admittedly, I am not in bathing suit shape even now, but my jeans fit better and I can do a lot of burpees, hold an impressive plank, and do a few pushups these days. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

#sol21 March 6 This Old Desk

I come from a long line of re-purposers who fin "treasures" at yard sales and sometimes along the side of the road on the eve of clean up day. Perhaps it's the desire to reuse and recycle or perhaps it's the exhilaration of the find!

My son once carried an aging exercise bike home from a walk with the dog. 
Broken shovel? No problem.  Just splice and it's like new.

So I was not at all surprised when my son gave me a restored, old school desk for Christmas a few years ago.  I can only imagine the layers of grime and dirt he removed, but the end product was smooth and lovely with a patina that suggested this desk remembered many students learning to read and write.  

It served as an end table in my living room for a while.  After my renovation, it found itself in the basement playroom, a place for visiting grandchildren to pretend to read. Then, this fall, Virtual Kindergarten began and I began to search for a student desk or small table online.  As your already know, there were none available anywhere for any price.  

Then, one morning, the desk made its way back into the living room where it eagerly returned to daily use as a site for a student learning to be a reader and writer during a 21st Century pandemic.  It eagerly embraced the new technology of a Chromebook while holding treasures in its vast belly. It was thrilled to find pencils in its designated pencil groove after many years.  

While my son could not have anticipated,
I'm grateful he is wired to be a re-purposer,
I'm grateful that somehow, 
He's "in my living room" every day.


Friday, March 5, 2021

#sol21 March 5 Full-Body Smiles and Misty Eyes


"I love him," he said softly.  ""He fits in my arms," he crooned as he wrapped his arms around the old donkey.  

I stared at the image on social media in the early morning light and felt a full body smile emerge.  Then, as the full body smile was peaking, I felt my eyes fill up and stared at the picture through misty eyes, 20 miles and 1 pandemic away.  

I am sure the animal loving little-one would be interested in adopting another pet into his family's already full-yard.  

I am confident his parents would give him a full-fledged animal farm if they did not live in a sub-division.

I am hoping to feel the squeeze of those little arms, the warmth of that growing body, and the boundless love of that precious heart, soon.  

It will bring full body smiles to us both and misty eyes for me!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

#sol21 March 4 So Many Books, So Little Time

"We like to hop on top of pop," she said laughing as I thought of the many emergent readers, over many years who eagerly devoured Suess's predictable texts and powerful rhymes on their way to wide reading of more substantial texts.

"We are in a book," he read laughing as I thought of the many emergent readers over many years who eagerly devoured Mo Willems predictable dialogue.

As I read about banning of Seuss's books this week, I thought about making the best choices for our students. So Many Books, So Little Time.  Admittedly, Seuss was not writing for diversity. His first books merged parts of animals into strange creatures that emerged from growing up as the  always busy sketching son of a zookeeper a century ago. Some of the images in To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street (1937) and If I Ran the Zoo (1950), are not acceptable today.  Yet, his gift to generations of young readers is worthy of note, and Hop on Pop might still be worthy of a spot on the library shelf.

There are So Many Books, old, new, and in between and So Little Time that parents and teachers must always look critically at book choices pointing out, as we share, copyright dates, words of caution and explanations about books that depict life different from today. 

  • The Ugly Duckling? He's really just different! 
  • Danny and the Dinosaur? Clotheslines? Drug stores? Animals in cages?
  • The Night Before Christmas?  "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth....
  • So Many Books...
I, for one, am not opting to abandon Suess, Anderson, Hoff  or Moore entirely; however, I use all older texts with explanation of society as it was at the time the book was written and the timeliness of it's message that has kep the book on shelves. 
I, for one, am opting to embrace (Mo Willems, Jonathon London, Dav Pilkey.......) the many books that support that respect diversity and embrace the similarities and differences in our society as well as the needs of young readers, because there are So Many Books and So Little Time.....

Wednesday, March 3, 2021



Planning a garden?
I'm scouting today
Looking for options 
The family is growing
How do you feel
tomatoes and beans?