Saturday, January 21, 2017

Community is the Foundation

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations.  It's important to take time to celebrate the big and small things in life.  You can read more celebrations at Discover. Play. Build.


I've been thinking a lot about community.  This week, I've had the opportunity to spend time with different groups of people.

I was invited to a gathering with other Ph.D. students who are in the same program.  Drs. Bloome and Katz invited us to their home to share in a potluck meal.  There was no agenda other than getting to know each other a little better.  I'm someone who is more comfortable being around a small group of people that I know well, so this gathering was a little out of my comfort zone.  I'm so glad I went.  I got to catch up with others in my class, and meet some new people.  Dr. Bloome asked us to go around the circle and share what our research interests were.  While I felt a little out of my element, it was so interesting to hear what others are studying and as I told a friend, only one person used a word that I didn't know the meaning of.

Once a month, we meet with a group of teachers in our district who want to grow as writers.  I love this group.  Each person has a different agenda as to what he or she wants to write.  We have people who are writing for themselves, someone who is working on a picture book and some who are wanting to begin blogs.  One of our group members, my principal, posted her first blog.  Remembering my own feelings when I first pushed the publish button, I was so excited for her!  I invite you to read her blog and leave a comment.  http://learningthrucommunity.blogspot.com/2017/01/what-do-we-want-to-be.html 

Thursday afternoon was spent with a friend over coffee after school.  We don't get to spend together very often, but when we do, we are always amazed at how our lives seem to follow parallel paths.  We talked about our kids, our work, our next steps.  I left with a happy feeling in my heart.

This morning, our group from the Columbus Area Writing Project summer institute met.  We haven't seen each other since the beginning of July.  We caught up with each other's projects, our work and in the process I left with a list of new books to buy and new ideas to try.

Each of these communities feeds my soul.  They stretch me and help me grow.  I leave each group feeling energized and excited about the work I am doing in different places.  Belonging to each of these communities is so important to who I am as a woman, mother, writer and teacher.

What communities feed your soul?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Take Time to Play

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations every weekend.  Please visit her site to read what others are celebrating and share your own.




"Sometimes you need to stop working and make time to play," I said to my husband as he stood at the sink finishing up dinner dishes.

Did I really just say those words?

I believe those words with all my heart, but I've always practiced the exact opposite.  No playing until all the work is done.  We all know that the work is never done, which means, I rarely gave myself permission to cut loose when I knew there were tasks to be completed.  As our kids got older and they didn't really want to play with me anymore, working long hours became easier and easier.  My husband was the one telling me to make time for play in my life.  He reminded me again and again that I can't work all the time.   Life is too short and it must be enjoyed.  And now, here I was saying those words to him.

Making time to play has become very important in our home.  We are learning the importance of play in helping children with attachment disorder.  Play, along with eye contact, safe touch, and a calm voice all help a child connect to her caregivers.  She begins to know it's safe to trust the adults in her life.

So we play.  Before bedtime means it's time to stop all work and we play together.  Destiny rolls a die and depending on the roll, we either play a card game, do some yoga, draw or color together, write together, listen to a children's meditation, or do progressive relaxation.



Last night she rolled a 6, just what she wanted.  It was time to play Go Fish with Destiny's new Shopkins cards.   Keith left the dishes in the sink, I put away my classwork, and we played.  I couldn't help but smile. Such a simple game brought so much joy to a little girl.  Giggles erupted among all three of us and we all slowed down just a bit.  The slowing down is what I savor most.

Creating a space  for play has become more and more important to me.


I forgot how fun it was.



If you are interested in reading more about caring for children with attachment disorder, I highly recommend the following books.

Integrative Parenting by Wesselmann, Schweitzer, and Armstrong

The Connected Child by Purvis and Cross






Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Temporary Parent

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Please visit their site to read other Slice of Life Stories and continue the conversation through comments.


Yesterday, the courts granted us custody of two young ladies who are dear to our hearts.  At the ages of 7 and 12, they've seen their share of heartache.  The court has entrusted them to us until October, when we will meet again to decide what's next for their future.

Yesterday was both joyous and sad.

We were thrilled to know that we had a plan and that the girls would be with us while their mom works on getting better.  We've watched the girls begin to thrive and feel safe.  We know their quirks and can anticipate (most of the time) what they need in order to feel emotionally secure.

And yet, my heart was heavy because I knew that our good fortune meant that another mother, their mother, was going home brokenhearted.  It was not the outcome she was hoping for.

For now, she is not the one who gets to give kisses goodnight.  She is not the one who gets to sit at the dinner table listening to the highlights of their days. She is not the one who gets to read bedtime stories.

For now, we have those privileges.

And I know she wishes it were different.

It is my hope that she will someday understand why we took the steps we did.  I hope for right now that she will trust us to do everything in our power to nurture her daughters and help them grow while she works on healing herself.

Being a parent is hard work.  Being a temporary parent of someone else's child brings tremendous responsibility.  I pray every day for guidance and strength to do what's best for two very precious girls.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#mustreadin2017



A new year.
Lot of new books to read.
Lots of books to read that have been sitting on my shelf (or on my Kindle) for awhile that I haven't gotten to read yet.
I was happy to find #mustreadin2017.

I'm going with what some other bloggers have done.  I'm choosing 12 books, which means that I will commit to reading one book a month.  I always read more than one book a month, but they tend to be professional books.  The books I'm putting on my list are books that are for me, some nonfiction and some fiction.  I know that I can never read everything I want to read, so this will be a great place to start.

Check out There's a Book For That to read others' #mustreadin2017 lists.

The Underground Railroad  by Colson Whitehead (bonus..I finished this last night, so I've already got one under my belt).

Reading right now:  American Girls Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales

The Connected Child by Karen B. Purvis and David R. Cross

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir a Family and a Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

I'm participating in a book club with Dr. Barbara Kiefer where we will meet to discuss books that received starred reviews for 2017.  I'm really looking forward to this group and the great discussion.

Forever or a Long, Long Time by Casela Carter

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue

Now, I'm off to see what others are going to read this year.  Happy Reading!




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

One Little Word 2017

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Please visit their site to read others' Slice of Life stories.


I have wrestled with my word this year.  It came to me early and I wasn't sure I wanted to accept it.  I searched for something more other centered.  Last year's word, cultivate, was intended to reach out and support others.  I really liked that word and the opportunities it brought me.



This year's word is commanding me to pause, slow down and pay attention to what is most important.  I tend to be scattered...there is so much I want to do and before I know it, I'm in over my head.  It's so easy for me to get caught up in the busyness of life that what is most important to me gets pushed to the wayside.

So my word is sticking with me.


At work, I am going to focus on leaving space in my calendar to better prepare for teachers and students.  Too often, I am squeezing things in at the last minute and don't feel good about the work I am doing.

To go along with that, I need to focus on accepting the fact that I can't (and don't need to) do it all.

I am going to focus on discerning what others really need, so that I can be supportive and bring comfort when needed.

I am going to focus on saying "Yes" to those opportunities that help me reach my goals, which means I need to focus on what those most important goals are.

I am going to focus on giving myself permission to say, "No."  In fact, I had joked with a fifth grader that my OLW was going to be, "No."  :)

I am going to focus on doing what's best for "our girls" and not worry so much about what others might think.

I'm going to focus on my writing.  I've struggled to write lately.  Stories about the girls seem too personal to share.   I can't seem to find my voice as a writer in my role as a literacy coach.  I've been floundering.  I want to find my focus again.  In order to do that, I am going to commit to writing every day.  Not all of my writing will be public.  I'm going to join A. J. Juliani's 30 Day Blogging Challenge.  

Finally, I am going to focus on the beauty and good things that are happening amongst all the uncertainty in our lives right now.  My default is to begin to weave stories that bring anxiety and turmoil, and that doesn't help anyone.  I will work to change those stories by focusing on the present and slowing down to savor the positive.

After writing this, I feel at peace with my word.

Even though I resisted it, it's the word I need right now in my life.

What word will guide you in 2017?