March 19, 2015

Here are 10 things I have to get off my mind, even though just putting down a few words feels beyond me tonight:

  • We’re still waiting for the baby to come.
  • My dishes aren’t done.
  • My table at school is so piled with papers it is beyond tolerance.
  • There’s snow in the forecast again.
  • Some say that we have to have another snow day so that the county can apply to the state to have an earlier start date to the school year.
  • I’m itchy and worried that my students shared their head lice (oh, misery).
  • My son taught his first college PT class today and loved it.
  • I can’t stop thinking about my silent 3rd grader.
  • The number of unfinished projects I have could fill a lifetime.
  • Writing helps.

March 18, 2015

My daughter’s baby was due yesterday.  Today she cried.  She’s so ready, but so unsure of herself.  I wrote this for her.

My Lastborn, Her Firstborn

I swaddled, lullabyed,

fed and bathed her.

No one told me

How much I could love her.


I’ll be reminding her

that she knows,

as all mothers know,

what she needs to know.

She doesn’t believe me now.

But she will.

March 17, 2015

Most people I know don’t wear aprons anymore. I guess some foodies, chefs, or bakers do, but the daily wearing of aprons for home cooking, is probably a thing of the past. Like many pieces of my past, aprons bring nostalgia.

My mother had a lovely assortment of aprons. She had everyday aprons made of inexpensive, floral-print cotton. Some she embroidered. I remember her making many aprons from all colors of gingham fabric. She used black embroidery thread to cross-stitch designs along the bottom of the apron. My favorite was a lilac gingham apron with little windmills and dutch girls. I wished that one could be mine, but I was only 7. Sometimes she gave these aprons as gifts or donated them to sell at the Church Bazaar.

Mama also had Sunday aprons that were a little fancier. They were made from organdy (a dressy translucent fabric), trimmed in lace or with ruffled edges. But even those were not as fancy as her party aprons which she got out for when she had invited guests for dessert or other social events. As a child, I could often take cues for my behavior based on the apron mama was wearing. I knew that the fancier the apron, the more I needed to stay out of her way and be as helpful as possible.

An apron is a simple piece of clothing, but to me, an apron is love.

March 16, 2015

If you go whitewater rafting, you are probably going to be told some rules.  Rules such as:

“Stay in the boat.”

“Wear a life jacket and helmet.”

“Hold on with both hands.”

I was thinking today how much teaching can feel like whitewater rafting. The pace is fast. The challenges are as varied as the rivers and classes of rapids.  The water temperature and the weather are factors which affect the experience. There is beauty all along the way, but we have to focus on the river and staying in the boat more than we can focus on the scenery passing by.  We must be present in the moment. Dangers lurk below the surface such as suddenly shallow waters or boulders older than time. More and more, teaching can feel like a dangerous sport.

So what makes me stay in the boat? What helps me hold on with both hands? What serves as my life jacket and my helmet? I think hopes and dreams help me stay in the boat. Hopes for reaching a child. Dreams of change in education that might actually honor a child’s need to play, honor everyone’s need to belong, and the need to live purposeful lives. I hold on with both hands to my beliefs about reading and writing. To the belief that words can make peace and kindness. To beliefs about the “glory that can light up the mind” (Steinbeck). I want that for all children. My life jacket and helmet are my family and the fine teachers who mentor and inspire me.

For now, I’ll stay in the boat and hang on for dear life.  Yes, dear life.

March 15, 2015

Back in October, 2014, several things happened that “rocked” my world, and I struggled with depression.  It was all I could do to get up and go to work, make it through the day and do it again the next.  Sometime during the following months, the image of being a ball on a pool table came to my mind.  I felt like I kept getting hit from out of nowhere and I’d be sent in directions that were not of my choosing.  I’ve been wanting to draft a poem to express some of this. . .here’s a VERY ROUGH draft that hopefully, I can revise and improve.  Suggestions welcome!

If my life

Is like a billiards game–

the balls racked,

connected in a perfect triangle–

Then possibility is high and order is established.

But if,

When the break comes,

And the cue ball comes from anywhere

Sending me in unanticipated directions,

Then, do I stay on the table

To take the hits again and again,

Or hope to find the


March 14, 2015

I’m one of the best procrastinators I know.  Perhaps that is why I’m a late poster.  Perhaps that is why my to do list is always impossible.  Perhaps that is why I get migraines. Perhaps that is why my sister, who finishes her to do list almost every day, laughs and shakes her head at me.  Even my mother gave me a poem in 1970 which she had found that reminded her of me.  (This was highly unusual behavior for my mother.)   Here it is:

“I Meant To Do My Work Today”

by Richard LeGallienne

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?

Actually, I meant to do my work today.  I meant to practice the piano for an upcoming performance.  I meant to prepare my lesson for church tomorrow.  I meant to do the laundry.  I meant to find the tax papers so they are ready for the yearly March Madness Tax Preparation ritual.  I meant to do some cooking.  I meant to write and post early. After all, it is Saturday. I meant to do so many things.

Instead, I slept away a migraine that had lingered for 3 days.  The good news is that I can try to do better tomorrow.   The good news is that baby Maggie will be here very soon.  The good news is that my family supports me even when I don’t function very well.  The good news is that spring is coming and soon the brown bird will be singing in the apple tree.

March 13, 2015

My daughter reported seeing a bunny on her walk today in Utah.  She was walking with long strides, hoping to self-induce labor (it would be very cool for her baby to be born tomorrow on Ultimate Pi Day).  I feel like the 2000-mile difference in our locations is more like infinity.  I’m waiting for my spring break to travel so that I can stay a longer time with her.  However, her bunny sighting instantly closed the distance-gap.  I “trained” my kids to report all wildlife sightings because it made me happy and because I always felt that it was important for children to observe and notice the natural world.  To take none of it for granted.  To appreciate beauty every chance they got.

I remembered driving my children to and from sports practices at twilight–a time we came to call “bunny time.”  We’d roll the windows down, smell the fresh air, and call out, “It’s bunny time!”  There were certain places in our routine travels where we could expect to see bunnies at twilight, especially during the spring when new grass and young, green shoots lured them from forest thickets.  Now that over-development has caused such imbalances in our local eco-system, I am more likely to see a fox than I am to see a bunny.  I miss the bunnies, but not as much as I miss my kids.

I have noticed the bluebirds are returning.  What a treat it is to see a flash of blue.

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