Tomorrow

“Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow.  You’re always a day away!”

The girls used to sing this song from the musical Annie at the top of their lungs while they scrubbed the kitchen floor, bounced on the beds, or danced up and down the stairs.

Well today all I can think about is tomorrow, and how it’s a day away.  I’m finally going to see my youngest daughter.  She has been in Italy for three months.  She returned to New York a week ago, but between working and seeing her friends (I know…at this age they come first), I haven’t been able to see her.

It’s taken just about all of my willpower (which I don’t really have a lot of when it comes to my kids) not to get in the car, drive to the city, and just give her a big hug.  I was tempted to pick her up at the airport last week, but when she sent me her flight information and I saw that she was coming into Newark….on a Thursday…..at midnight, even I couldn’t find the energy to do that.  When she asked if we meet her for dinner tomorrow, I practically said yes before she finished her sentence.

Of course we have texted, emailed, Instagrammed, Facebooked, and FaceTimed, but there is nothing like being in the company of my daughter.  She is fun, smart, cool, hip, interesting, and so kind.

So tomorrow is coming.  It’s only a day away.

 

 

 

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Writing With a Fellow Slicer

One of the second grade teachers in my building decided to join the SOLC this year (See her posts at Standingtall47.) so we decided that it might be fun to do some writing together.  Our second graders are about to embark on a poetry unit, so we decided that our first joint writing experience would be to try our hand at poetry.  Our plan is to write a poem and then try to revise it in a few different ways (just like we are going to ask our kids to do).

We found this task challenging, but fun.  Here’s my poem:

Our second graders are starting a poetry unit this week.  One of our second grade teachers has joined this writing challenge this year (See her posts at Standingtall47) so we decided to try out our own poetry together.  Our plan is to write a poem and then try to revise it in a few different ways (just like we are going to ask our kids to do).

 

We found this task challenging, but fun.  Here’s my poem:

 

The Writing Caddy

Once bright yellow

Now stained with smudges and pencil marks.

A busy writing classroom.

Twistables, Pencils, Crayola Markers

Choice

The pencils need sharpening.

Hard Work.

 

Let’s see what my revisions look like!

The Feather

I recently heard an interview on NPR with Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard. He was discussing his book, Autumn.  In this text Knausgaard works to describe the world for his newborn daughter. He describes everything from teeth and chewing gum to dawn and Flaubert.

This interview made me think about the writing I am doing with my Joy Writers group (inspired, of course, by Ralph Fletcher’s book Joy Write).  We spent some time this summer observing, sketching, and writing about objects around us.  I worked on writing about some sycamore bark and trying to write off of an art card. I thought maybe I’d try out one of these descriptive pieces of writing for this week’s Slice.

Feather

I often find feathers on the ground. I pick them up, turn them over, bring them inside, and spend some time wondering about them and the the birds they came from.

Who lost this feather?

Why did it drop here?  

Was the bird in trouble, or is this just natural moulting?

What type of bird does this belong to?  

Why was he/she here?

Where was he/she coming from?  Where is he/she going?

I found this particular feather on my yard this summer.  It is so beautiful that I decided to add it to my collection of small items that I keep under my computer.

The feather has a yellow stem (Is that what you call the center of a feather?) with brown markings on either side that look like waves rippling in the ocean. The waves on the top of the feather are softer and less defined, while the waves on the bottom are clearer with deep troughs and higher peaks.  When I turn the feather over to the side that would sit closer to the bird’s body, it has a shiny yellow hue to the underside, and the “waves” look a bit out of focus. The feather feels smooth on both sides. I love running it through my fingers.  It has a calming effect on me.

The feather sits on my desk, on the stand that holds my computer screen.  I look at it often.  It reminds me to be curious, to ask questions, to wonder, to learn, and to remain in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds us.

 

 

 

Disrupt Thinking or Maintain a Classic?

Two of our daughters came home for the weekend. (Our neighbors are away and gave us the task of looking after their beautiful pool!) In our family, I am in charge of cooking breakfast. Over the years, I’ve become famous for my cinnamon rolls (made with Jiffy), corn muffins (Jiffy again) filled with fresh corn, banana muffins (fresh), pumpkin muffins in the fall (canned pumpkin), scones (from scratch), pancakes, waffles, or french toast with Challah. I add scrambled eggs, fruit, sausage, or bacon as needed.  It has become a ritual, and one that everyone looks forward to and enjoys.

This weekend I decided to try something new!  We recently traveled to Sweden as a family, and we enjoyed some delicious Kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon rolls). I wanted to try my hand at making these treats.  I went to the Swedish store to get a few of the ingredients, and prepared to spend a few hours making these delicious rolls (The recipe calls for yeast, so it’s a bit of a process.).

On Friday, as we sat in traffic coming out of New York City, I announced the breakfast plan. Let’s just say the response was not what I had expected.

“What?”

“Why?”

“We love your cinnamon rolls.  You know, the ones you make with Jiffy?”

“We don’t want something new!

This is particularly strange when you consider that one daughter is a true foodie who runs a supper club and creates and tests new recipes all of the time, and loves nothing better than to try something unusual and different when she is out at a restaurant (One of her latest experiences was a duck tongue salad!). The younger daughter is a modern dancer and fashion expert who loves nothing better than to be on the edge of her craft.

So when I raised this dichotomy, my oldest daughter said, “Yes, change is good, but not when you are talking about a classic!”

OK, I know a bit of sweet talking when I hear it, but that statement really made me think.  I’m currently reading Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. In this text the authors push us to think about how we can challenge children to disrupt their thinking by not just reading what a text says, but also thinking about how they are responding to the text (in their heads and their hearts) and how reading a particular text might change them.  The authors also wonder why so many teachers seem content with current “best practices” instead of driving toward what they call “next practices.”

Are we afraid of change, even resistant to it, or is it that some of our teaching practices are “classics” and shouldn’t be changed?

Some food for thought (pun intended).

p.s.  I’m making the Kanelbullar this weekend for a different audience.  We’ll see how it goes.  I might be running back to cinnamon rolls with Jiffy, but at least I can say that I tried a next practice.

 

 

Cocoa by Candlelight

Today was a cold and rainy summer day.  My husband and I declared it a Summer Snow Day!  We didn’t go anywhere.  Instead we did some indoor projects, made cookies, organized files, and then curled up with our books and read for hours. The extra time devoted to reading allowed me to finish A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I loved every minute of reading this book!  It was laugh out loud funny on one page, and then incredibly touching on the next.  It is a story about a cranky old man.  It is a story about loneliness, loss, and love.  It is a story about the importance of community.

This power of community to make people happy (or happier in the case of Ove – the cranky old man) reminded me of something I learned while traveling to Scandinavia this summer. As you probably know, Denmark (and much of Scandinavia) is considered to be the happiest places on Earth!  How can that be when they have long winters filled with many days of almost complete darkness and extremely cold temperatures?  How can that be when Danes pay some of the highest taxes in the world?  According to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Danes are happier because they practice the art of Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga).  The word hygge is defined by some as the art of creating a wellbeing of the soul, a feeling of safety, “cocoa by candlelight.”  Wiking states that Danes spend a great deal of time gathering with family and friends. When they gather, they practice the art of Hygge.  Here is his Hygge Manifesto – 10 Things Needed to Create Hygge:

  1. Atmosphere (Candles are essential.)
  2. Presence (Turn off the cell phones.)
  3. Pleasure (Coffee, chocolate, and cake are recommended.)
  4. Equality (“We” over “Me”)
  5. Gratitude
  6. Harmony
  7. Comfort (Wear warm sweaters and comfy socks.)
  8. Truce (No drama.)
  9. Togetherness (Build relationships and narratives.)
  10. Shelter (A place of peace and safety)

How can we bring this practice into our schools and into classrooms?  Maybe we can’t burn candles (although I’m buying a few of those fake flickering candles for my office), wear our sweats to work, and eat cake in the classroom, but I’d like to think about how we can create an atmosphere of trust and safety where we are all present and feeling a sense of joy.  A place where “we” is the operative word, and where students and teachers leave the drama behind and work together to build relationships and narratives.

Here’s to creating a little Hygge this school year! If it can work for Ove, it can work for us!

p.s.  I’m sitting in my warm kitchen, wearing comfortable summer pajamas, eating a cinnamon roll, drinking good coffee, and writing.  I’m feeling the Hygge!

 

 

Holding Fast to Summer

Today is a dreaded day. It’s the first day of August!  We teachers all know what that means.  School is around the corner.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the work I do, and I look forward to returning to my work family, seeing the children and families, and trying to outgrow myself by learning new things about teaching and learning.  This year promises to be a great one, filled with new learning and new experiences!  What I dread is the loss of the summer schedule (or lack of schedule).

It takes me some time to settle in to the routines of summer, but by the middle of July I’ve transitioned.  I go to sleep when I’m tired, and I wake up when I want to.  I make the coffee, quickly check emails, and then sit out on the porch for a bit.  As I look out over the lawn and the gardens, I might see something that needs to be done.  If so, I get up and do it.  If not, I read or write.  If it happens to be raining, I work on my list of indoor projects and get a few things accomplished and crossed off the list.  Then I read or write some more.  Maybe I have coffee or lunch or a glass of wine with friends, head into New York for some urban fun, take a vacation, head to the beach, or invite people over for a cookout.  I have time to walk the dog every day (some days we even sneak in two walks),  exercise (when the urge strikes me-it often doesn’t), clean the house (when the the urge strikes me – if often doesn’t) and pretty much just do what feels right at any given moment.  And the best part of this non-scheduled summer is that I have time to think deeply about books and ideas and writing and people and events. That all changes when school starts in 24 days.  But do I have to lose all of this lifestyle?  Is there a way to hold on to summer?

I’m starting a list:

Holding Fast to Summer

-Get up a bit earlier and have coffee on the porch as long as the weather allows.

-Walk the dog every day, even if it’s dark or cold or rainy. (It’s good for both of us.)

-Take a few minutes between work and dinner to sit down and read or write (even if it’s just for a few minutes).

-Stay up late sometimes….just for the heck of it!

-Be spontaneous whenever possible.

I’m going to work on this list for the next few weeks.  I need to hold fast to summer for as long as possible.