Monday, March 31, 2014

Another March

31 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
The first year I did the Slice of Life Challenge, I was ecstatic at the end: just completely filled with pride that I had accomplished such a monumental task.

Last year was my first as an ELL teacher and my first challenge writing alongside my students. Thus, my feelings at the end of the month were more along the lines of being relieved that I survived my part of the challenge. Thus, my reflections and pride were all about bringing the challenge to them.

This year, my head is swirling with mixed feelings. Lots of last year's exhaustion and relief are definitely prominent, but I'm also even more proud of my students and even more excited about what slicing has done for our classroom community, since I learned from last year and improved the way I implemented the classroom challenge with my students. Moreover, I brought several of my colleagues and friends into the challenge, which added another dimension of joy and pride this year.

Since swirling emotions are perfect for poetry, it seems that the ideal way to wrap up March 2014 is with a poem:

Another March

Another March,
another month of writing.

A month of thinking
of playing
of stretching.
A month of pushing
of nudging
of encouraging.
A month of connecting
 of understanding
of growing.

Another March,
another challenge vanquished.

A month of excitement,
A month of frustration, 
A month of courage,

Another March,
another month of writing                              

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The power of play

30 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
"Where did you learn all this?" My mom looks sideways at me with an incredulous smile. I've spent the past hour helping her set up a new blog for staff communication and providing a few mini-lessons to extend her general blogging skills.

We customized the design of her new blog and added essential widgets to the sidebar, including HTML Twitter widgets. Next, we reviewed labels/tagging, which I'd introduced her to when she started her blog last summer, but which she hadn't mastered independent use of yet. After practicing by adding some important labels to old posts, I knew I also had to reinforce why to use them.

"Do you remember why it's nice to use tags?"
"So, let's say someone wants to read all your posts about family, they can click on the 'family' tag..." I went to the public view of her blog and clicked on it, just as I do when teaching my students to tag on our class blog. "... and see, they can read all those posts with the 'family' label in one spot! Or professionally, they might want to read all your posts about PLCs..."
"Ohhh, yeah, I can see how that would be useful!"

Because I'd noticed her starting to include web images in her posts, I introduced her to PhotoPin. Like my students, she was amazed at the variety and quality of their photos. "I can't wait to tell my kids that I taught you to use PhotoPin! They'll get a big kick out of that!"

However, because PhotoPin gives you an HTML code for attribution, I knew we'd have to go into the HTML editing... and I knew that would be a big leap for her.

"Ok, so I'm going to write 'This is the caption' in the caption box so I can find it easily in the HTML. You're going to freak out when I click this button, but all we have to do is look for that note."

"OOOOH! What'd you do to my blog?!" As soon as I clicked "HTML", she shrieked melodramatically.

See where I wrote "This is the caption"?
"It's ok, we just have to look for our note. See? Here it is: 'This is the caption'. Now that I know where the caption is, we can just delete that note and paste the PhotoPin code in that spot. And then..." I clicked back on "Compose" to return to the normal WYSIWYG view... "Look how nice it looks! PhotoPin's code gave us these nice links in this nice format!"
For example:
photo credit: splorp via photopin cc
"Oooh, that does look professional... Wow... So you just pasted that code right where you wrote 'This is the caption'?"
I could hear the hesitance in her voice.
"Yeah, it's not so scary if you write yourself a note like that! ... I'll help you next time you want to do it, if you want."

"How did you learn how to do all this?!"
"Umm, I..." I paused. Where did I learn how to do "all this"? I had never really thought about it.
"I... I don't know..."  My lack of an answer shocked me. "Just playing around, I guess, and sometimes I read things online when I need to learn something new... But mostly, just playing, I guess."

I've always been glad that I learned a little bit of programming in high school and college, back when I thought I wanted to be an engineer. Even though I learned C++ and C (not HTML), simply having a little coding experience means that I can look at code and not be intimidated by it. When I look at code, I see language (even if it's one I don't really speak well), not gibberish. I can decipher meaning, instead of feeling overwhelmed. Far from being paralyzed, I'm willing to play.

And play holds the power of learning.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cozy comfort

29 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
I can't move.

Do you know how difficult it is to write while lying nearly horizontally on your back, with a tummy so full it's making your eyelids droop heavily?

Do you know how sluggishly the words come when you're huddled in a fleece sweatshirt while leftover snow drifts drearily outside your window?

No? Then come with me through neighborhoods so new they still surprise me...

down old country roads,

past farmhouses with peeling paint and leaning barns...

across re-frozen fields where wintry winds whip another dusting of sugar-white topping...

into a tiny downtown lined with quaint Sears & Roebuck houses and well-worn brick storefronts...

around the corner to warm fireplaces and the heavenly aroma of Amish-style bread, chicken, and noodles.

As homemade cream slowly melts into my rich hot chocolate, I break open a fluffy roll and spread velvety apple butter across it.

Then, the buffet. Chicken, pot roast, ham, stuffing, vegetables... and noodles.

Ohhhh, those noodles. I spoon pile HEAP them on my plate over a gloriously creamy serving mound MOUNTAIN of mashed potatoes. Of course, my dad's mountain is usually twice as big, and then he goes back for seconds... or thirds.

I can't move.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Un níquel más

28 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
at Latinaish!
Today is Spanish Friday, so this post is in Spanish! 

If you don't speak Spanish, try out Google Translate... just be prepared for some nonsensical errors! Machines don't do languages like people do!

-- Como tu abuelito solía decir, Viajar de primera clase sólo cuesta un níquel más. -- Al abrir la puerta de nuestra habitación, mi mamá sonrió con ojos brillantes.

-- ¡Wow, la habitación del capitán! -- Siempre nos quedamos en el mismo hotel histórico cuando regresamos a Marietta, pero, hasta anoche, no habíamos logrado nunca quedarnos en la habitación más especial.
La habitación del capitán es la con el toldo azul más grande, en de la esquina delantal en la segunda planta.
Todos los muebles de cada habitación son históricos, pero los de ésta habitación son los más ornamentados.
-- ¡Mira, podemos salir en el balcón curvado! -- abrimos la puertita al otro lado de la habitación y salimos a una vista bellísima del la calle histórica y el gran río.
Al lado izquierda, la calle central con sus tiendas antiguas...
y por delante, el río Ohio.
-- Wow... -- Sentí los cientos de años de historia y los miles de años de la naturaleza.

Contentas, escuchamos las olas suaves del río, soplando a la orilla con l ritmo del pasado.

Sí, abuelo, a veces vale la pena ir de primera clase.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A break from routine

27 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
"Let's go somewhere this break. I want to get out of here!" It was mid-March and I was up to my neck in stress and frustration. (Although that seems far away now, that's only because I've been ignoring the two sticky notes filled with to-dos that glare at me whenever I open my laptop cover. Other to-dos are more important.)

"When's your break? ... Remember, Caleb will be gone for his honeymoon." Husband shattered my hopes of a stress-free getaway. His building could not be completely devoid of IT support, even for a few days. "But we can have a special week right here at home!"

I rolled my eyes. "Right... I'll feel real relaxed as I sit in a dirty house, surrounded by piles of schoolwork..."

Determined to cheer me up, he started going to work an hour early so he could come home an hour early, giving us an extra hour in our all-too-short evenings together. We've gone out to dinner. We went to a wedding. We've caught up on TV shows, played video games, watched videos, and even gone shopping.

Fun, but not out-of-the-ordinary special.

Luckily, my colleague Stella is amazing when it comes to exploring the hidden gems of our city. It seems that whenever I scroll through my Facebook feed, there's another intriguing new post from Stella about an incredible restaurant, shop, park, or other activity that I've never heard of!

Unfortunately, I usually think "Wow, cool! We need to go there!" ... and then promptly forget about it...

Then, last weekend, Cathy included links to some activities in her Spring Break poem. Those few simple lines nudged me: You don't have to go away to make your break special! Even better, one of those links was to an extraordinary art exhibition that I'd also seen on Stella's Facebook page.

"That's it! We have to go see Light!" I screeched.

So we did. We meandered through enchanted gardens. We giggled and held hands. We captured our wonder in pictures and videos. We even enjoyed a delicious treat right under the dazzling lights of one of the installations.
a huge cream cheese brownie and exotic fruit sodas!
And not only did we forget about the stressors and routines of everyday life, we forgot we were in our city. We almost forgot we were on Earth! It was that incredible.
What?! You still didn't click on yesterday's phoem yet?! Go look at it now! I'll wait!
Then, yesterday, I drove to campus to meet him for lunch. After some comfort food in the old-fashioned diner, we walked to a new campus discovery: the Cartoon Museum, which has a Bill Watterson exhibition right now. Husband is a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, so he was practically scampering all the way around the room.
It was fascinating to see the original strips and sketches, with information about Watterson's creative process.
The exhibit even included some of Watterson's tools and unfinished sketches. We learned that he drew the black & white outlines on one page, then did the watercolor on a separate page. Fascinating! 
When you know where to look, there's so much to discover... even right in your own town!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


26 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
Have you ever experienced a work of art so stunning it seems to have jolted you out of a lethargic slumber? Suddenly, all your senses are wide awake and alert. Suddenly, you're ALIVE. Suddenly, you wonder, like Rip Van Winkle, what else you've missed.

It's so incredible that the only way to capture it is by trying a little of Elsie's phoetry.


Beautiful blossoms awaken,
beckoning and enticing.

Brilliant bubbles hover,
delicate and alluring.

Enchanted orbs 

Elegant shapes swirl,
sparkling and smiling.

Peaceful blooms 
with hope.

The old*, transformed
into wild newness.

Vibrant colors dance,
pulsing and echoing.

Fiery flashes 


*Many of the pieces, including the dome and the colored towers after it, were made from re-used materials like old plastic bottles!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


25 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
Is that...?
No, it can't be...

I squinted through the half-open blind slats,
rubbing my eyes and hoping that I was just imagining...
White. Fuzz. Outside my window.
It is.
On Spring Break.

But I've only been home for two hours!
It did THAT in two hours? 
Without me noticing?
I mean, my students' slices were delightful and entertaining...
and I was having fun ordering a World Book Night t-shirt to get ready for April...
and playing cute games on my new phone...

On SPRING Break?

And I didn't notice?


Well, I guess I know what I'm going to slice about today...

Monday, March 24, 2014

I might be

24 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
This Spring Break slice is brought to you by Cathy and Michelle! Their poems looked like so much fun I just had to write one of my own!

It's Spring Break!
If you are looking for me,
I might be
sleeping in far too late
and lounging in my pjs
until erm-hm-hmm in the afternoon.

It's Spring Break!
If you are looking for me,
I might be
chasing levels in a game,
catching up with friends,
gazing at the sunlight streaming through the window.

It's Spring Break!
If you are looking for me,
I might be
diving deep into a book:
lost in words and worlds
that change me as they wash over me.

It's Spring Break!
If you are looking for me,
I might be
click-clack commenting
on my students' slices,
smiling at the strength of our classroom community.

It's Spring Break!
If you are looking for me,
I might be
drumming fingers on my laptop,
reaching and capturing words,
eyebrows knit as I spin slices to share.

It's Spring Break!
If you are looking for me,
I might be
eating lunch with someone special
(my mom or my husband),
sharing stories and smiles over favorite food.

It's Spring Break!
If you are looking for me,
I might be
thinking but not worrying,
envisioning but not stressing,
refreshing and recharging from this full teacher life.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My list of things to do this break

23 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
The ever-present sticky notes beside the trackpad of my laptop are filled with tasks I need to take care of before school starts up again. Household tasks I never have time for drift through my mind.

My heart freezes with trepidation as I imagine a Spring Break full of schoolwork and cleaning.

But then a sunbeam wraps me in soft light, my husband's eyes twinkle with a silly joke, and one of my favorite songs begins to float through my mind.

So I'm making a new list of things to do this break:
  • Linger in peaceful dreams and wake up with a smile.
  • Breathe deeply and let peace flow through me.
  • Curl up with beautiful books and let their delicious stories wash over me.
  • Dance with words.
  • Create new crafts from old memories. 
  • Spend more time looking into Husband's eyes and less time worrying about what I have to do.
  • Watch and notice. 
  • Wonder and delight.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Celebrating Spring!

Discover. Play. Build.
with Ruth Ayres!
22 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
What a week to celebrate! Although it was heavy with end-of-the-quarter exhaustion, this week was also sprinkled with so many sweet moments to savor!
  • Incredible culminating lessons (and such a thoughtful present!) from my graduate student observer! I'll miss our conversations, her enthusiasm, and her kindness with my students. (They all said she will be a good teacher!)
  • All my wonderful students... like D., who greeted me one afternoon by asking, "Are we going to do something fun today? Like we do every day?!" with a smile sweeter than any you'd ever imagine a teenage boy could wear...
  • ... and S., who shyly handed me a cold plastic container one morning: "Mi mamá hizo pozole y tostadas para Ud." 
  • Adorable thank-you notes from students for helping them participate in our school's multicultural event. I was astounded when A. delivered his note before school, and then these others appeared on my desk later that day: 
    Apparently my colleague must have suggested they make them... so cute!
  • Ravenous readers who scoured my shelves for Spring Break books! My ears never got tired of hearing eager voices call out "I need a new book for Spring Break!" Some students took home two or three books... are these really the kids who hated reading when they came into my classroom?
  • Superb student slicers who are taking risks, applying ideas from mini-lessons, and living writerly lives this month. They are just incredible!
  • A smartphone! (That's right, we still had flip phones until yesterday.) Husband says we've joined the 21st century... and because of Ting, we could do it without compromising our budgeting principles. 
  • SPRING BREAK and spring weather! (What more do I have to say?)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bienvenida, primavera

21 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
at Latinaish!
Today is Spanish Friday, so this post is in Spanish! If you don't speak Spanish, try out Google Translate and you'll get the gist... along with a few hysterical errors!

Hoy quité un cargo pesado de mis hombros.

Hoy mis estudiantes y yo nos reíamos mientras jugábamos a Manzanas y Manzanas.

Hoy despedí a mi aula por una semana. 

Hoy, cuando salí de la escuela, desabroché mi chaqueta y sentí el calor del sol en mis mejillas. 

Bienvenida, primavera.

Bienvenidas, brisa suave y rayas calmantes. 

Bienvenidas, mangas cortas y tela fina.

Bienvenidas, flores fragrantes de colores vivos.

Bienvenidos, helados ricos y batidas espesas.
Después de cenar, disfrutamos del helado Jeni's (famoso para sus sabores únicos) en el centro histórico de nuestro pueblo. Comí "Brambleberry Crisp" y "Birch Marshmallow". ¡Riquísimo!
Bienvenidos, paseos tranquilos por el pueblo por las tardes. 
Un poquito de luz todavía en el cielo, ¡después de las ocho!
Bienvenidas, tardes largas de luz alargada y colores brillantes. 

Bienvenida, primavera.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Words to hold

20 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
Two days before Spring Break and the end of the quarter. Day 20 of the March Challenge. For the past few days, I haven't had a second to breathe. My desk, usually an organized mess of several specific to-do piles, is now a muddled whirlpool of cluttered papers falling all over each other. I've been frustrated and frazzled. I'm just trying to stay afloat.

When the warning bell rang this morning, A. suddenly appeared in my doorway, his giddiest grin (which only appears every once in a while) stretched across his face. "Here!" Nearly bouncing with excitement, he handed me an elegant envelope.

"What's this?!" My voice squeaked out my surprise. It's just Spring Break, not a holiday or the end of the year...

"The writing's kinda messy on the envelope..." he mumbled with a sideways smile.

"That's ok! But what..."

"It's a thank-you note!" he declared, puffing himself up and flashing me that rare huge smile again. Before I could open it, he ran off to class.

I split the sticky seal with my finger and pulled out an exquisite card. A bubbly warm feeling spread across my cheeks... and then the ending took my breath away.
His whole family proudly came to watch him present at our multicultural literacy event.
"You don't give up on people when they give up on themselves." I repeated it under my breath like a mantra.

When you're lost at sea, sometimes all you need is an anchor to pull you back where you belong. When the world is swirling around you, all it takes is a few simple words to keep you grounded. I'll hold these in my heart forever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sparks from writer to writer

19 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
"I got you a little present and I just can't wait for you to open it!" My graduate student observer beamed at me as she unveiled a friendly pink bag with cheerful yellow-confetti tissue paper peeking out the top.

"Aw, you didn't have to..." I assured her as I dug into the bag. (My husband will be the first to tell you that I tear into presents like a ravenous carnivore disemboweling its prey... as opposed to his family members, who gingerly loosen the tape and ribbons as if they are performing a risky surgery!)

I skimmed the card and grinned without really letting the words sink in. "Thanks!" I nodded, but I knew I'd have to re-read it later. (For someone who loves words, I sure get preoccupied with the gift... I think it's just the anticipation of discovering a hidden treasure! I've always thrown the card aside until the present has been revealed. It's not that I don't value cards, I just can't concentrate on them while there's a SURPRISE taunting me!)

"Ooh, it feels book-y!" I wiggled as I felt a pliable rectangle under the tissue paper. Aw, a writing notebook, yay...
A word at the bottom of the cover caught my eye.
One little word.
MY one little word!
Wow, right?! The pen matches too, with "spark" on one side & the colors on the other!
I squealed and hugged her. "Oh my gosh! This is so cool! This is, like, the best present..." I sputtered.

I ran my hands over the cover and the paper, savoring that crisp, creamy new-notebook-fresh-start-iness. Then I flipped it over to the back cover, hoping to see what company she'd used to make it. Instead, the present just got better:
<3 <3 <3
I almost cried. I think I hugged her again. I probably hugged the notebook. "Thank you so much! This is just so special!" I gushed.

"Well, you're a writer... and one day I saw your word in one of your posts, or maybe on your desktop background... and I thought of it," she said sheepishly. "I've just learned so much from you... this experience has been so much better than I ever hoped... You're like, the best teacher I've ever seen!" As she chattered, I read her card more carefully. Now it was my turn to be sheepish.

My classroom won't be the same without her eager, bright eyes and thoughtful questions. My students will miss her patient kindness and her positive, authentic teaching style that's so much like mine. I will miss our honest, reflective discussions about teaching, learning, and life.

I'm humbled and honored that my small sparks have helped make her a better teacher, and I'm so excited when I think of how her sparks will change the lives of so many ELL readers and writers in the future.

30 hours of observation doesn't sound like much, but it's plenty of time for sparks to fly.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Paying it forward

18 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
"He makes me sound like I'm the most wonderful person in the whole world!" My mouth hung open as I read my assistant band director's letter of recommendation for my study-abroad program in Spain. Wow. He really thinks this highly of me?! This is incredible! "Look! Read this part!" I wiggled the paper at my boyfriend, jabbing my finger at different sections.

Nine years later, I still have a copy of that letter. I haven't looked at it in a while, but I don't need to look at it to remember how it made me feel. In fact, I can almost recite the ending... something about how I'd be a fantastic ambassador for Ohio State and the United States of America. Just remembering still sparks an incredulous giddiness that floats up inside of me.

This wasn't the usual "oh-she's-responsible-dependable-and-hard-working..." blah, blah, blah. This made my heart soar. 225 band members, and he'd taken the time to make me sound that special. Suddenly, he wasn't just my assistant band director, but a role model who noticed my hard work and believed in me.

I'll never forget the confidence and self-worth that letter kindled in my heart. Maybe I really was that special. I could do great things with my life. I wanted to work even harder.

Nine years later, I've now written my first letter of recommendation for a student. Because of that cherished letter, I didn't view S.'s request as simply another line on my to-do list. I viewed it as an honor, an opportunity to give her that same feeling my band director gave to me. So I created and crafted, reflected and revised, choosing just the right words to let her (and the universities) know how special she is.

And as my gel pen swished my signature smoothly across the plush, elegant paper, I shivered to see my words emblazoned below my school's stately letterhead. So official. So important. Just like his.

Nine years later, my words now hold the power to make another soul soar.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My nest

17 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
So yesterday, when I didn't want to write at all, I fell back on my good ol' ideas list in Evernote. As I enjoyed skimming through delightful mentor posts, an old post of Elsie's caught my eye: her description of her writing spot.

That was it! Writing suddenly didn't sound like quite so much torture after all!

Then my introduction got too long and turned into my whole slice. So all day I've known what I was going to write about, which is a comforting feeling on a busy day.

Now, I invite you to join me as I lounge in my footed pajamas, half-listening to Jon Stewart and grinning at Husband's giggles beside me.
Since I can't stand perching stiffly on overstuffed couches that seem to be holding invisible "DO NOT TOUCH!" signs, our #1 priority while couch shopping was comfort. When we settled into this gloriously soft microfiber, we knew we'd found the one!
Nothing feels better after a long day of teaching than putting my feet up and leaning back into a soft cloud of calm. A stuffed friend (wintertime Mickey right now, but it's almost time for a bunny!) cuddles under my left arm as my laptop settles comfortably on my lap.

There's a glass of milk or juice right where I need it, and some chocolate-covered blueberries wait on the armrest, just in case. If I add another book to the end table, they'll all slide off in an avalanche of please-read-me-next. Under the lamp we hardly ever use, My five-year journal is balanced precariously on my speaker dock, taunting me with missed pages. My iPad is always within reach: a convenient dictionary and thesaurus if I'm in the writing zone... or a quick escape to Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and a dozen cute animal games if I'm not.

When my brain needs a minute for my swirling thoughts to settle, I can gaze out the window or smile at the posters adorning our walls: WALL-E and Eve, Marietta's most historic hotel, and our own elated faces on our wedding day.

Beside me, Husband sprawls with his iPod or a book, snuggling a stuffed turtle and fast-forwarding through commercials I'd never even notice. Even though he's far away through my writing mist, I still love his sweet presence beside me.

It's a lovely place to write. Where do you settle in?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Even when it's tough

16 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
"I don't have anything to wriiiite about..." I whined at my husband.
"Write about not having anything to write about!" I glared at him out of the corner of my eye. I've done that before, and so have other people!

"What about going to see country music last night? How tired you are? The fluctuating weather?..."

He was full of ideas, but none of them sounded any good. I'd already written about that, or that idea would take too much work, or I couldn't possibly come up with anything good about that one...

I was NOT in a writing mood. I was sleepy and grumpy and just wanted to take a day off.

I visited my students' blogs and left them comments. Nope, still didn't feel like writing.

I played some games on my iPad. I just wanted to keep playing.

I scrolled through Twitter and Facebook. I visited some of my friends' blogs, knowing I was really behind on leaving comments and hoping that would get me in the writing mood. I didn't even feel like leaving comments. I scrolled through posts and left the tabs open, figuring I'd go back and leave comments after I wrote. Which I still didn't feel like doing.

Ugh. Why did March have to be such a long month, anyway? 

I sighed and huffed and whined a little more.

Finally, I opened up Evernote to look at my list of saved mentor-text posts and things I want to write about someday. As I scrolled, I found several possibilities. The clouds hanging over my head dissipated.

I chose Elsie's post from last year about her writing spot. That would be a fun short post!

I jumped up, cleared off some clutter, kicked Husband off of the other end of the couch and took a quick picture. Now, snippets of the post I'd write were rolling through my mind. I settled back in, ready to write a quick description of my spot.

But first, I'd just write a short introduction about how I chose that writing idea...

And since I can't write a short post, I ended up realizing after a few sentences that the introduction was going to turn into a post. I grinned, changed the title, and ruefully announced, "Well, I guess I have a idea ready for tomorrow!"

I love how the challenge reminds me not to be annoyed the next time a student complains he doesn't have anything to write about. I love how writing begets more writing. I love that tomorrow, I can go into school and tell my students how I really struggled to write yesterday... but I did it anyway, and then I felt proud.

After all, that's why it's called a challenge, right? It teaches you to keep going even when it's tough.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Irish roots

15 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
This morning, as we walked through the green doors of my old middle school, we overhead the father in front of us talking to his little girl. "Green doors to the green syrup!" She skipped beside him, making up a little song to herself about green syrup. For a moment, it seemed like I was having an out-of-body experience, watching my little girl self excited to eat green syrup pancakes with her daddy.

When you've lived your whole life in a town whose slogan is "Irish is an Attitude!", it just wouldn't be March without a very green Saturday.
A recent addition: an Irish folk band plays before the parade!
With bellies full of green pancakes (The Lions' Club even put food coloring in the batter this year, in addition to the syrup!), and ears full of Irish folk music, we spent the hour before the parade reminiscing.

"Remember when my Brownie troop marched? It was so cold we were all bundled up in our snowsuits like little marshmallow girls!"

"You probably don't even remember, but you were in it with Monkey Junction [kids' gym] too!"

"And every year in high school, it snowed! I thought my fingers would freeze right off in those thin marching band gloves!"

Now, the sun warmed our faces as a cerulean sky framed the historic church that was my preschool. Sitting back, we soaked up the fun and marveled at how the parade has grown.
Now there are even big balloons!
I know this is the same balloon, but I just LOVE how this picture came out!
Irish dogs, including the huge Wolfhounds!

One of two bagpipe corps!
One of three Irish dance academies!

The marching bands from all three high schools! This is the one where I teach.
Even floats!

Our school district's transportation department got in the spirit too!

A calliope brought back riverboat memories for my mom.

The second of two trick-horseback-riding clubs!

This drum group came all the way from Maryland!

And they saved the cutest balloon for last!
I may only have a little bit of Irish blood, but I'm a Dublin girl through and through!