Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Best

Tuesday writing fun at Two Writing Teachers!

Wide eyes wondering at the world
corners crinkling with delight

a toothless grin rippling across perfect cheeks
opening so wide it splits my heart with joy

gurgles, buzzes, squealing, panting
flailing arms, twisting wiggles
wordlessly shrieking "Mommy!!!"

tiny hands pat and knead
tiny arms squeeze and snuggle

sweet, pure skin against my cheek
nuzzling into delicate, silky hair

the whole world in my arms

the best way to start and end 
every day



living my one little word!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Tuesday writing fun at Two Writing Teachers!

Thin white lines beckon, stretching out and curving
                                                          and back again
across the expanse of sunset-red-orange rubber.

My feet grip the ground with extra excitement.
My legs tense in anticipation. 
Chin up. Eyes forward. Numbers. Lines. Breathe. Push.


Shoes springing
pound pound
muscles reaching
pound pound
shoulders back
pound pound
mind clear
pound pound
shadows stretch
pound pound
soaring through 
pound pound
cool air
pound pound
breathe breathe breathe breathe.

In the distance, 
getting larger 
and then disappearing
over my shoulder, different masterpieces:

scattered, brilliant blazes of orange, red, yellow
brilliant against a backdrop of greener, more patient friends
all reaching toward a cerulean sky so clear
if I could jump hard enough, I could dive 
right up
and in.

heart pumping 
pound pound
almost there
pound pound
lines and numbers getting closer
pound pound
I can do it
pound pound
keep pushing
pound pound
breathe breathe breathe breathe.

Tensing muscles, filling lungs, extra spring, new life:
Everything I've got.
Kick it.

Feet fly over the numbers.
Gulping air
arms up
walking legs stretch, satisfied.

Nothing left, but everything gained.
Bright eyes, clear mind, energy flowing.

Alive. Strong.
It's been too long. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Across time and space

Tuesday fun at TWT!
Do you remember that President’s Cup ballmark you sent me?

I smile as I swipe the alert to read the rest of Ben’s text. Twenty minutes later, after a flurry of flying words, I’m astonished to see that it’s past my bedtime. “Goodnight! We seriously have to FaceTime soon!” I force myself to set down my phone and roll over, curling up in a content haze of almost thirteen years of sweet memories.

My first season in the OSU Marching Band, I got to march next to this goofy, thoughtful, insightful third-year member. He taught me about band traditions, helped me improve my marching, and showed me how to chase my dreams. Hours on the practice field and in the band room turned into hours of talking on the phone, chatting online, and giggling in restaurants. Because of him, I won the spot awarded to the best marcher in our row. Because of him, I was inspired to switch to a major I loved. Because of him, I am a more reflective, more open-minded, braver person.

And when I look back at my years in college, I play a slideshow of snapshots of him: Ben playfully hitting me with his rolled-up charts, saying, “Silly rookie!” Ben teasing me for excitedly wearing my band letter jacket on a too-warm fall day. Ben bragging about his flashes as we watched gameday videos. Ben hugging me as tears spilled down my face after older band members from another row yelled at me.

Countless drills on the band field as our shadows grew long, striving for perfection. Yelling towards the hospital buildings until our voices echoed back, becoming stronger and braver. Our hearts swelling together at our shared love of the Navy Hymn. Perching on a table beside the piano, in awe of the beautiful music floating from his fingers. Keeping him company at work. Cookouts, dinners, and drives. Challenging philosophical discussions, silly jokes, and caring words of encouragement. Fights and frustration resolved into hugs and smiles.

As we got older and busier, the snapshots got less frequent but just as precious. Posing for goofy pictures at Ryan’s surprise birthday party. Making up a funny song at my birthday about my weird neighbor, who was mowing his grass at 11:00 at night. Email epistles back and forth, especially while I was living in Spain. Discussing how to be an effective squad leader, and later, how to be the best teachers we can be.

When Ben got a teaching job in Virgina, my face smiled for him but my heart shrank. What about the hugs and giggles? The long, thought-provoking discussions? Grilled cheese lunches and lasagna dinners? Marching to impress the guy I most looked up to in the world? His steady but gentle pushes to be better while supporting me as I got there?

Luckily, the invisible rope that ties best friends together can stretch across states without breaking, and it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. We send each other articles and recommend books we know the other would enjoy. We text, Facetime, and talk on the phone, sharing our latest travel adventures, weekend activities, and our teaching joys and challenges. Of course, it's too easy to let life get in the way of communicating as often as we should, but whether it's been days, weeks or months, we pick right up as if we were never apart.

Most people grow up with their brothers. I had to wait until college to meet mine, but I love him just the same.

* I wrote this post as my beginner students were writing about friendship in relation to Chopsticks for the Global Read Aloud. Please feel free to check out their posts and tweet them some comments!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our new pet

Day 25 of 31 days of writing!
Upon waking up, he chirps a lively little song, excited to begin exploring.

He ventures out from his bed and roams around the room, purring with contentment. Whirring and spinning, he curiously investigates every corner, nook, and crevice. He sidles up to walls, scratching his itches and snuggling. He scouts under the bed, hunts under the dresser, and burrows under the nightstand.

When he finds something to nibble on, he gobbles it down with a cheerful little murmur, making sure to take care of every last morsel.

Eventually, he decides the room has been thoroughly inspected and his belly is satisfied. Wiggling with joy, he eases over to his bed and gently settles himself in, squirming to find just the right position.

Just before he falls asleep, he warbles another cheery song, pleased with his work for the day.

Who is this adorable new pet? Roomby the Roomba, our happy helper!

All snuggled up to his bed, ready to explore some more!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dance Party

Day 24 of 31 days of writing
"Is she having a dance party?" Husband's eyes sparkle as he leans over.

"Allison says maybe she's playing soccer in there!" I giggle. "But I think right now she's crawling around or swimming laps or something..."

"Maybe it's like one of those lap pools that's only as long as a person but has a current so you can swim in one spot!" He grins and raises an eyebrow.

"Yeah, she's so big now! See?" We both burst into laughter as a strange bump suddenly appears and squirms on one side of my belly.

"Oop, and now it's dance party time!" Way down in another spot, some little patters push against my skin. "She loves when her daddy pats her!"

I snuggle my head deeper into Husband's shoulder and we enjoy the show: wriggles, ripples, thumps, and quivers. So many surprises right under our hands.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A new grip

Day 23 of 31 days of writing
I smile as I finish commenting on my students' slices, my heart full, as always, of the new connections we're making.

Opening up my Blogger dashboard, I marvel at my stats, astounded that people continue to view my blog even when I haven't posted in days. Realizing that people have my old blog posts pinned on Pinterest always brings an astonishing wave of encouragement, especially when life has done its best to hinder my writing.

The familiar routine of starting a post is like easing into my favorite pair of pajamas after a long day. Add my tags, think about a title (but leave it blank for now), insert the slicing logo, add my typical caption... Wait, what day is it? The strangeness of having missed so many days this March jars me out of the comfort of my routine. Yikes. The 23rd? I click over to the live view of my blog to check this month's archive. And I've only written 11 posts? I shake off the temptation to be discouraged. Really, 11 posts is pretty good with everything that's been going on lately: testing and sickness, enjoying days off, and giving students quality feedback on their writing.

I take a deep breath and move beyond that caption to figuring out my hook. Playing with words again feels like stretching sore muscles in the morning in the midst of marching band two-a-days: tough, but also satisfying and invigorating.

This is the year of not being perfect, and that's ok. That means this is also the year of not giving up, of teaching myself and my students to refocus on what matters and regroup with resiliency and hope. This is the year of identifying with my struggling students in a whole new way.

This is the year of Hebrews 12:12-13: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.  Mark out a straight path for your feet.  Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.”

Today was the first day of the new grading period and the first day back after break: a good day to take a new grip, set my feet where they belong, and help my students do the same.

Monday, March 16, 2015

By my side

Day 16 of 31 days of writing!
"Sorry... I didn't quite make it..." I mumbled my sheepish confession and curled up with my arms on the toilet seat.

"It's okay, honey!" Husband looked at me with wide eyes full of concern, using his sweetest just-for-me voice. He grabbed some paper towels and got to work on the tile floor.

"See, you're going to be such a good dad!" I climbed into bed and snuggled up to him, sighing while he texted my parents to say we wouldn't be able to go out to dinner.

"What flavor of clear Gatorade do you want?" He patted my hair, tucked me in, and made an unplanned run to the store.

All through the long night, he rubbed my back, refilled my water bottle, and kissed my forehead.

After climbing back into bed one time, I couldn't find my fuzzy white bear. "Where's Valentine?"
"Do you want him?" His eyes said that he just wished he could make me feel better.
My head nestled further into his arm with every nod. He sat up, rummaged around in the sheets, and finally, way down by my feet, found the cute bear hugging a heart that he'd gotten me years ago. Tucking Valentine in the perfect snuggling spot under my arm, he patted my head again.

In the midst of the shadowy hours, I put his hand on my rollicking belly, where Baby Girl seemed to be protesting the lack of food and water with her biggest kicks and jabs.
"She wants to know where her nutrition is!"
"She'll be okay, honey! Don't worry!" His hand wrapped around mine as I bent my head toward his shoulder.

And when I woke up, I had to uncurl my stiff fingers from his. That's love.