SOL#31: Dear Molly

Dear Molly,

Thank you for introducing me to the Two Writing Teachers blog only a few months ago. You showed me a great resource for ideas and tips to become a better writing teacher.

Thank you for letting me read your own blog. I enjoy news of a new post in my inbox. Sometimes I leave my house late in the morning, just so I can finish reading your work! You write such eloquent poems, prose, and slices. I am inspired that you take risks with your writing.

Thank you for giving me a gentle push to commit to the Slice of Life Challenge. I never thought of myself as a writer until now. You showed me that I can have my own blog and that I can do something new that challenges me.! You gave me confidence that I could write for 31 days in a row, especially by listening to my slice ideas. 31 days ago, I wouldn’t have thought I would get comments on my writing from fellow slicers, my friends, and family. I’m so glad you teach right across the hall, mostly so we can talk about slicing multiple times a day!

Above all, thank you for being my mentor. I’m so lucky!


SOL#30: You win, Hannaford

We recently decided to try a new grocery store because we heard it was a lot cheaper. Going to a new grocery store is like beaming to another planet. Where do I park? Why are there 3 types of carts? Where is the soy milk? Where is the garlic? WHOA there is a whole isle with individual bins for making trail mix! What an incredible selection of fresh fish! Wait a minute; my favorite wine is $3 cheaper!

I wasn’t entirely sold on the new grocery store until today. I mean our new grocery store is a 3 minutes drive, but our old grocery store was only 30 seconds away from our house. Today I drove the extra distance after work and explored the new store. As I turned out of the last isle and headed toward the register, I peeked around the magazine rack. No line!

I put all of my items onto the conveyer belt and was greeted by an upbeat clerk!

“Glad to see you brought your re-usable bags!” she said (Portland, Maine charges 5 cents per plastic bag, so I never go anywhere without them)


“Well I’ll just put them right in your cart because today is Free Bag Day!”

I watched, open mouthed, as the clerk packed my groceries very comfortably into 4 brand new re-useable bags. What a surprise! Free stuff! It was like I won the lotto! What is better than a little perk on a Tuesday?

Ok, Hannaford, you win. You have a new loyal customer!

SOL#29: Too Tired

I know I’m tired when I dream about not getting enough sleep
I know I’m tired when I leave my house 20 minutes late and don’t care
I know I’m tired when I walk into school with my eyes closed because it feels better
I know I’m tired when I when I let Morning Meeting last 15 minutes longer than usual
I know I’m tired when I have 9 parent conferences in a row
I know I’m tired when I have a great slice idea, but typing it seems impossible
I’m not too tired to hear a parent say, “my daughter is so lucky to have a teacher who cares so much”
I’m not too tired to sit in the driveway and listen to the last 5 minutes of the “Off Camera” podcast
I’m not too tired to kneel on the floor and inspect the progress of my seedlings
I’m not too tired to tell my a silly story from school that makes my husband laugh
I’m not too tired to smile, because Monday is over!

SOL #28: 20 Years Later

Easter Sunday is exactly like Thanksgiving. We all gather at my uncle’s house and wait for the turkey dinner. This year, we, The Cousins, decided to retake a classic family photo. Boy did we make a scene.

Easter 1

easter 2016

As I look at these photos, I can’t believe that 20 years have passed. The Cousins haven’t been all together for a long time, so it is such a special photo. For the last few years some of us were off with spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, living in another country, or working on a holiday. There were also no other significant others who come could to our gathering today. It was just us, and nothing really has changed. Robbie was still being silly, Amy couldn’t stop giggling, and Kari was trying to get us organized. It was like we were all back on the front steps like no time had passed.

I couldn’t help but think that soon we will be the ones hiding the eggs for our kids. Soon we will be the ones behind the camera urging everyone to say “cheese”. But for now, we are still the center of attention.

SOL #27: Grandma’s Surprise

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My family took my grandparents to lunch at Olive Garden yesterday. My grandparents are 90 years old and live in an Assisted Living complex. They don’t get out much other than their daily trek to the dining room with their walkers.

After we ordered and ate surprisingly delicious meals, we patiently waited for our dessert to arrive. Grandma surprised me by insisting that we order tiramisu, her favorite. While we were waiting, she took a straw wrapper, crumpled it up, and flicked it across the table at my sister.

My sister’s eyebrows raised up and she flicked it right back at her. My grandma pursed her lips and flicked it back with more force this time. Uh oh, all of a sudden the wrapper hit my grandpa and whizzed to the floor. He is a quiet, serious man that doesn’t say very much. Well game over, I thought.

I was surprised to see that he bent down, picked up the wrapper. He put it on the table and flicked it across the table back and my sister.The wrapper war began!

I added another wrapper into the fight. My mom flicked it to me and I passed it on to my grandma. Occasionally one would fly over a shoulder and lost onto the floor. The excitement grew when my grandpa carefully placed his wrapper in the middle of the table. We all stopped flicking. He carefully aimed in the space in between the salt and pepper. 3, 2, 1, he scored! My mom and I threw our hands in the air!

Who knew this lunch would be full of so many deep laughs and high-pitched giggles? The best laughs came from my grandma and grandpa who had big smiles as we left the restaurant.

SOL #26: Late Night Treats

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When I walked in the door of my parents’ house last night at 10:30 PM, I knew it would be a late night. I left Maine hours earlier, stopped in Boston to pick up my sister before heading to our childhood home in Connecticut.

While stopping in Boston, my sister and I decided to go to dinner in Harvard Square to wait out the traffic on the Mass Pike. We were walking down the street and passed Mike’s Pastry. We both simultaneously turned around and marched right through the door of my dad’s favorite dessert place. We didn’t need any time to browse the extensive menu. We bought 3 fresh cannolis and a fudge brownie. The clerk put them in the classic “Mike’s” box, wrapped in string, and we headed out.

We arrived at my parents’ house and I grabbed my giant duffle bag, backpack, and our precious Mike’s Box.

“Dad, there is a surprise waiting for you on the coffee table,” my sister said as we gave our mom and dad big hugs.

“WHOA! You guys went to Mikes?????” he gasped with a giant smile. It didn’t take more than a minute for forks to appear as we sat around the sweets and chatted about all of the great things happening in our lives.

As we all headed to bed after midnight, I snapped this picture, the only evidence that remains.

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SOL #25: Poetry Slam

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Yesterday was our 2nd Grade Poetry Slam! I love inviting parents into my classroom when students are presenting their work. Leading up to an event, I usually get nervous. Are the kids prepared? Does my classroom look neat? Will the parents be happy with the learning the kids are doing? What should I wear to make a good impression?

To get ready, the kids practiced reading their poems to each other and to the team. Classmates gave feedback such as “try slowing down” and “read a little louder.” When students rehearsed in front of the class I could clearly see how proud they were of each other! We moved furniture to create perfect viewing areas. The kids were bursting with excitement.

Through the window in the door, I could see parents waiting in the hallway. I was surprised they were waiting to be invited in, but it gave us an extra few minutes to practice. We were finally ready. I gave the thumbs up.

Two students opened the door and greeted the parents. They handed a small brochure that listed the students’ names and the title of the poem they would present. Parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters filed into the room. The first row of chairs filled up. Then the second row. More people walked in the door and soon we were out of chairs!

As I moved to the center of the room to welcome everyone, I was not nervous at all. Instead I was overcome with pride and joy. There were about 25 adults in the room all waiting to hear from the 18 second graders. Cameras flashed and the first poet sat on the stool. I put a copy of her poem under the document camera to show off her illustration as she read the lines.

There were giggles, belly laughs, and thunderous applause from the audience as all of the students proudly read their work. I was so moved by the enthusiasm and support of all these family members that literally filled our classroom. It was a moment that inspired me. All of the work my students and I are doing really matters. I’m so proud!

SOL #24: Never Too Old to Play

I didn’t feel like going for a run yesterday, but I’m so glad I did. I took a left out of my driveway and a then a right. As I got into my rhythm, I noticed the lawns of the neighbors’ houses. Some had Easter decorations and one had a brown Christmas wreath still hanging on the door. There really wasn’t any activity. People were cooking dinner or on their way home from work. I imagined homework getting done or videogames echoing in the house. I rounded the corner and I was surprised to see people outside.

Two young children were running on the grass and one other child was dribbling a basketball at the end of the driveway. The father waved as I passed just after he shot the ball into the hoop. Behind him was his wife, dressed incredibly nicely, as if she just arrived home from work. I looked back and saw her shoot the ball next.

I looked back a second time and wondered, when was the last time I saw a family playing outside together. Everyone was engaged in activity and enjoying the moment. I didn’t see any cell phones, or hear “I’m too busy” or “wait just a minute.” Maybe it was the fact that two adults were shooting baskets, not just watching.

On my way home I passed by the house again. No one was outside, but on the ground in front of the basketball hoop was evidence of a game of hopscotch. I imagined each parent taking their turn and laughing as they tried to keep their balance on one foot.

What a great reminder. We are never too busy or too old to play.

SOL #23 A Lesson for Me

We are wrapping up a poetry writing unit. Yesterday we focused on revising 2 poems to make them as great as they can be. In only two days the students will be sharing their poems with their parents at our version of a poetry slam. I was so excited to get ready for the celebration and I’m so proud of the poems. Many students were writing from new perspectives, experimenting with line breaks, making interesting comparisons and playing around with patterns. The poems turned out better than I had expected!

I was surprised that I became frustrated during writing workshop yesterday. Our revision day was not going as planned. I already felt rushed since we had a snow day yesterday and it was already Tuesday! When I asked the students to choose 2 of their favorite poems to revise, most did not pick the ones that were their best work. It seemed like I needed to conference with everyone- all at once! All of a sudden writing time was over. I felt so unproductive. This didn’t work.

As I was reading through the poems at home later that night I was surprised again! These poems were just amazing! One striving student wrote a poem that stuck out to me. She repeats the first stanza again at the end of her poem. We didn’t even talk about this in a mini lesson or a mentor poem. Wow.

Sometimes I need to remind myself to trust the work my students are doing. My students are growing; I just need to make sure that I slow down, so I can see it.


SOL #22 Goodbye Winter

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When I woke up yesterday morning and opened my eyes for the first time, I could tell that it was snowing. The closed binds had a bright halo around them. I tiptoed over to the window and peeked out. Hmm there’s not enough yet.

I made some coffee and headed to our home office to read and comment on some slices. I turned on an acoustic playlist from Spotify and just relished in the peaceful morning of a snow day.

Thirty minutes later, I looked out the window to the left of my computer screen and looked at the falling snow. Still, there’s not quite enough.

I turned on part of the Today show, had some yogurt with homemade granola, and looked out onto the street. Yes! The plow hasn’t come yet! I threw on my boots, opened the garage and put my foot into the snow. Yep, 4 inches will have to do.

One of my favorite things about living in our new house in Maine is this moment. I lace up my cross-country ski boots, and strap on my skis. I push off and glide down the driveway and take a left. There are no cars on the street, just me. I travel across a soccer field of a school in our neighborhood and make it onto the trail. I’m so glad I didn’t bring my headphones. It was so quiet and everything was still except for the swoosh of my skis.

Thank you, spring, for letting me cross-country ski one last time. I know you’re here, but I’m glad I got to have a proper goodbye to my friend, winter.