Posted in Family, Slice of Life

Mommy, Will You Play With Me? (#SOL19, Day 31)

Last night, at the end of her family birthday party, Szofia asked me, “Mommy, will you play with me?”

I was cleaning up and putting away leftovers, so Grandma played dolls with her for a little while.

This morning she asked again, “Mommy, will you play with me?”

But I was updating this week’s crazy schedule on our calendar, then had to get ready for church.

When we got home, she asked again, “Mommy, will you play with me?”

I was in the middle of finishing up our taxes. I sent her outside to play on the trampoline with her brother before we had to rush off to a birthday party.

When we got home, as I was in the middle of folding a huge load of laundry, she asked me again, “Mommy, now can you play with me?” And she threw in, “You promised.”

I set down the clothes, half folded, pulled up a chair, and we played with her dolls. We played school and sang silly songs and laughed together.

It was one of the best parts of my day.

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community!

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Posted in Family, Slice of Life

Wisdom on the Radio (#SOL19, Day 30)

I couldn’t believe my ears.

For years, I’ve told my kids absolutely, positively do not do it.

It’s gross, I told them.

It’s absolutely disgusting, I’ve nagged.

You’ll get sick! Daniel has warned them time and time again.

But I still catch them doing it a bit more often than I’d like to, especially my younger child.

Yesterday morning, on our way to school, the worst contradiction in the world came on the radio: Despite what parents have been telling their kids for years, doctors are now saying it’s actually healthy for kids to pick their nose and eat it. It builds immunity and won’t cause any harm at all.

My kids, who hadn’t heard a word I said when I asked them to put their shoes on or brush their teeth, picked up every single word.

I’m hopeful this is a bit of scientific knowledge they’ll soon forget…

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community!

Posted in Family, Slice of Life

Pierced Ears (#SOL19, Day 29)

She’s been asking, she reminds me, since she was four.

Never mind that she only turned five a month ago. In her eyes, it has been an eternity since she first started pleading to get her ears pierced.

The conversation had died off for the past several weeks, but flared back up again yesterday. Apparently Priscilla came in with her ears pierced, and now all of the girls in pre-K are wanting to follow the trend.

She got on the phone when I called to check in from the theater last night. “Mommy…can I have my ears pierced and get a cat?”

She mentioned it repeatedly to Daniel while I was gone.

This morning, it’s all she would talk about on the way to school. I tried explaining that she would have to put medicine on them every day for awhile (she hates medicine). I tried telling her it might be uncomfortable and pinch a bit (she doesn’t care if it hurts).

She just wants her ears pierced.

When I picked her up this afternoon, she had made some pretend earrings out of buttons.

She asked three times on the way home if she can get them pierced today.

This evening, she decided to take matters into her own hands. A few moments of silence, followed by the sounds of crinkling plastic. She mentioned taping up a sign, but I wasn’t expecting this:

The sign, carefully adhered to the door with band aids, informs anyone who cannot find her that “I’ve gone to the mall to get my ears pierced.”

It’s not that I don’t want her to get her ears pierced…I think I’m fighting against the time that has passed so quickly to make her old enough to want pierced ears just like her friends.

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community!

Posted in Family, Slice of Life

A Night Out (#SOL19, Day 28)

As anyone with small kids knows, it’s difficult to spend a night away. From homework to activities to bedtime, life is busy, and it’s easy to lose yourself sometimes.

Two years ago, I splurged and purchased season tickets to the outdoor summer theater in my city. Some shows were appropriate to take the kids, so we went as a family. Others were not, so I got to go with my husband or my mom.

I’ve always loved the theater, and that summer made me fall in love all over again.

When I found out the next spring that Hamilton was on the tour schedule for our local theater, I invested in a pair of season tickets. I saw old favorites and new shows, and loved every moment. The season ended with Hamilton, which met and exceeded its reputation.

There was no question about renewing this year, this time with a new friend.

Tonight was Mommy’s Theater Night. My husband picked the kids up from soccer practice and handled dinner and bedtime while I went to see Waitress. Every bit was amazing: the singing, the actors, the set, the theater. We even had time to eat at the diner next door and have some theater-themed drinks beforehand (an Aladdin for her, a Brigadoon for me).

I miss my family terribly when I go out on nights like these, but I can’t wait to tell them all about the show in the morning.

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community!

Posted in Family, Slice of Life

The Bedtime Saga (#SOL19, Day 27)

Our bedtime routine goes something like this: clean up the toys, have a snack with a few minutes of TV time, take baths, brush teeth, say a prayer, read a story, and lights out. Then everyone falls asleep.

Except when they don’t.

My daughter, who recently turned 5, has outgrown naps. However, by habit or magic, she still sleeps at school, resulting in a complete lack of sleepiness at bedtime.

She tosses and turns.

She asks a million questions: How does water turn into ice? Are the hyenas in The Lion King the same kind they have on the African savannah? Why do people kill killer whales? What’s a food chain?

She asks for music.

She needs a drink.

Today was a napping day at school…I wonder which one of us will fall asleep first?Image result for slice of life

Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community!

Posted in Classroom, Coaching, Literacy, Slice of Life, Writing

Six Minutes (#SOL19, Day 26)

We returned from break today, a little bit tired, a little bit remorseful, and a lot overjoyed to have traded our winter coats for jackets and sunglasses while we were off.

It was a day filled with meetings and catching up. I dusted off my to do list and tried to get my head back in the game.

Late in the morning, I left my office to fulfill a commitment I made before break: the first in a series of grammar lessons in a second grade classroom.

We’re exploring options for grammar instruction right now in my district (none doesn’t seem to be working out very well). Several weeks ago, I acquired a copy of Patterns of Power after it was recommended by literacy leaders in some neighboring districts. One of our second grade teachers, seeing my excitement about this new resource and wanting to see the lessons in action, graciously invited me in for a week-long series of lessons to model the instruction. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this work since before break.

As I walked in, four rows of still-subdued, ready-for-lunch-the-day-after-break children were waiting for me on the classroom carpet. Taking the deep breath of “I’m about to try something new,” I dove right in, putting up the mentor sentence and reading it aloud. Then I asked the pivotal question: What do you notice?

I gave them a few moments to think, then extended the invitation for them to talk to a partner. I circled the perimeter of the rug, subtly listening in as I’ve been coached to do. They noticed vocabulary, punctuation, and capitalization. As they shared, the focus quickly came up: we are going to learn about punctuating dialogue with quotation marks this week.

I pushed them even further, feeling the energy in the room beginning to rise. “Look at the quotation marks! Now what do you notice?” Once again, they turned, talked, and shared out with the group.

I quickly shared our focus for the week, then left them to think: “Hmmmm…I’m starting to wonder if any of you will notice this same type of pattern with dialogue in the books you’re reading…or maybe even try it out in your writing? I can’t wait to take a closer look with you tomorrow!”

And with that, I left. The entire lesson took only six minutes, but in that small amount of time we were able to do the incredible work of evaluating, looking for patterns, connecting prior knowledge, collaborating, discussing, and setting the stage for transfer.

Six minutes is all it took.

Sometimes less really is more.

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community!

Posted in Family, Slice of Life

A Busy Sunday in Reverse (#SOL19, Day 25)

The house is quiet now, the last raindrops from the storm that just blew through tapping intermittently on the windows. The kids are asleep: Szofia clutching her stuffed Nala from our trip to Chicago tightly, Sebestyen curled up under the racecar blanket he has almost outgrown. Lunches and backpacks are ready to go in the morning, and the dishwasher hums quietly. Daniel is playing in his Sunday night hockey league, leaving me a few solitary minutes to read and blog.

Before that it was bedtime. The kids bounced all over the second floor of our home after putting on their pjs until I pulled out Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package, another installment in Kate DiCamillo’s Deckawoo Drive series, and started to read. By the second page, both were snuggled up close to me. By the end of the second chapter, they were begging for a third.

Before that, we finished the birthday cake from my niece’s first birthday party with tall glasses of milk and fresh strawberries.

Before that, the kids went out to jump on the soaking wet trampoline while we cleaned up after dinner. I’m pretty sure their laughter was even louder than the storm that had just blown through.

Before that, we sat down for a Sunday night dinner. There’s just something about sitting down as a family to enjoy a home cooked meal before the chaos of the week begins.

Before that, I raced through the grocery store, frantically trying to beat the thunderstorm that was blowing in while mentally planning for the week ahead.

Before that, we spent a solid three hours canvassing for my district’s bond issue. The kids were amazing as we went door-to-door to leave door hangers at each home. Five miles, almost 100 houses, and two gas station slushees later, we finally finished our list. In spite of the enormity of the job, the kids didn’t complain once (and may have used some adorable smiles to convince the handful of voters we saw in person).

Before that, Sebestyen reunited with his buddies at the end of Spring Break for an indoor soccer league. He played his heart out today and was elated when he was able to assist with a goal.

Before that, we grabbed a quick fast food lunch. The kids were excited that they got applesauce instead of fries today–who would have thought?

Before that, we went to Mass together.

Before that, we enjoyed starting our day off a bit on the lazy side. No alarms and some time spent reading and watching a movie in bed before we made ourselves start the day.

Before that, we slept soundly, a peaceful slumber at the end of a wonderful Spring Break.

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community

Posted in Family, Slice of Life

The Lake (#SOL19, Day 24)

I hadn’t set foot at the Lake in over two decades, more than half of my life.

As we followed my parents down the maze of country roads today, my kids peppering me with questions from the backseat, little looked familiar. Did we once stop at this curve to pick wild blackberries? Was that always the turn we took?

My dad pulled up to the overgrown gate first, with Daniel, the kids and me close behind. We cautiously followed him through the opening in the fence, a gap in the trees the only indication of the narrow road that once existed. We hiked down the leaf-covered path toward the Lake, carefully stepping over fallen logs and saplings that dotted the landscape. I kept a cautious eye trained on the ground around us, ready to shriek and run if anything even slightly resembling a snake appeared in my field of vision.

When we arrived at the end of the path, the wear of time and nature were all we could see. The cabin had fallen in; the garden was overgrown; the path down to the Lake was almost completely obstructed by a fallen tree.

But as we looked around, I could vividly remember what once had been there. My grandpa’s cabin, filled with books and the old organ I loved to tinker around with as a little girl. The driveway where we used to park when we came to visit, carefully lined with fresh rocks I would jump across as I collected the walnuts that fell from the trees. The garden, bursting with fresh vegetables grown by my grandpa’s wife to be shared with the neighbors. A small rowboat, tied up next to the Lake to be taken out for a relaxing afternoon fishing on the water.

As we showed the kids around, an adventure deemed “epic” by Sebestyen, my dad filled in pieces of history I didn’t know: how his grandpa had built the original cabin on the property in the 1940s after leasing the land from the railroad. My grandpa, his dad, adding on to the cabin and eventually living there after retirement. How he spent so many weekends and much of his summers at the Lake when he was a kid, fishing and swimming and exploring the woods.

The journey to the Lake this afternoon was, I hope, the first of many. It is a place bursting with old stories to be told and new stories to be written.

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community

Posted in Family, Slice of Life

Soaking Up Spring (#SOL19, Day 23)

Living in the Midwest, you never know what kind of weather you’re going to get, especially in March. It might rain or snow or flood or ice.

Or it might be a cool, beautiful day filled with sunshine.

We lucked out with one of those days today.

The kids and I started our last day of Spring Break off with a movie, but by the time we walked out of the theater it was apparent that we were in for a good preview of Spring today.

We stopped at the park on our way home. While it was still chilly enough for long sleeves and jackets, the sun warmed up the playground perfectly. We spent almost an hour running, climbing, swinging, laughing, and playing, soaking up the sunshine.

The second we came home, the kids walked straight through the house and out the back door, ready to spend more time outside jumping on the trampoline.

We opened the windows and the sliding back door, filling the house with fresh spring air.

After dinner, we closed out the day with a walk. First we took a lap through the subdivision with our dog, then dug out the kids’ bikes and helmets from the garage for a second trip through the neighborhood.

There’s nothing better than ending Spring Break with a picture perfect Spring day.

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Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog to learn more and join the community