Saturday Morning Reflection

Today is one of those mornings when writing feels extra hard. I already spent an hour rereading old writer's notebooks looking for something that might spur an idea. My brain is just all over the place. I've got to get something down before you-know-who wakes up or I will get the "she's-at-the-computer" look again or "I thought you had a lot to do today" scowl.

 Crap, I hear him in the bathroom. I'm screwed now. It is still dark out. It's raining. Maybe he'll crawl back into bed. Nope. I don't hear the sound the bed makes when he plops back down. That means he is putting on shoes and sweats and on his way down. I wonder if he will go to the gym. If he does, he'll walk by and I will get the look. I wonder which one, he has so many. Wow, that sounded pretty mean. I  put the stools up on the island so it looks like I'm starting to clean the kitchen floor. I also throw a load in the washer. I do have a lot to do today. It is my son's confirmation. The food is ready. I just have to pick up the cake and potato salad, iron his shirt and pants, and clean. Geez I hate cleaning.

 He hasn't come down yet. Maybe he did go back to bed.  My cat Fred is rubbing on my foot and purring. He never resents the time I spend writing. Listening. Listening. Silence. Now I feel guilty. The poor guy could still be sleeping and here I am complaining about him and he didn't even do anything. He has a busy day too. He has to pick up my daughter from college. She is my son's confirmation sponsor. When she talked to me yesterday, she told me she got something pierced and it looks really cute. Doubt it. I wonder if my husband will notice when he picks her up. Washer stopped. Listening. Still quiet up there. Nope. Nope. Here he comes. Down the steps.

Three Hundred and Forty Three Teachers

On Tuesday night, our school board voted to pink slip 343 teachers and 21 administrators. They had no choice. They had to notify teachers 60 days before the end of the school year if there was a possibility that they might be laid off. Our state is facing a possible 4% reduction in K-12 public education spending. That amounts to an approximate $470.00 reduction per student. Right now, it is unknown what educational programs or teachers will need to be cut. It is also possible that the proposed 4% in cuts will be decreased. The teachers at the board meeting were not protesting the pink slips. They came together with the board and administrators to denounce the spending cuts proposed by the state.

The Important Thing About Sisters

I think poetry hides everywhere. I often use books as mentor texts that may not seem like poetry to create poems with kids. Once again, this was not my idea. I wish I could credit the teacher but I honestly can't remember where I first saw this idea. The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown is a great mentor text to create a poem that kids seem to find fun and fairly easy to do. Here is my attempt at an Important poem:

To Liz and Jennifer

The imortant thing about sisters is
They have known me a long time.

They knew me when I was named,
They knew me when I became a wife,
They knew me when I became a mom,

The rejoiced with me,
Cried with me,
Gossiped with me,
Laughed with me,
And mothered me.

But the important thing about sisters is
They have known me a long time.

Poetry Apron

This was not my idea. My colleague, Billisue, made a poetry apron and I thought it was cool so I made one of my own. A poetry apron is a fun way to immerse young writers in poetry and show them that poems can be about anything. Each pocket has an object and a poem that has something to do with that object. Students request a pocket, I show them the object, then read the accompanying poem. I think it would be fun to have poetry apron themes such as holidays, bugs, family members, or just about anything. I really like my poetry apron and so do the kids. Check out the buttons on the apron. They all came from my grandma's button box. And the denim pockets were cut from my kids' outgrown jeans.

Don't Poems

A few years ago, my kids and I wrote Don't Poems for my husband for Father's Day. For my post, I revised the poems and added some pictures to match the year the poems were written. Don't Poems are an easy format for students to follow and they also make great Mother's Day gifts!

Sam's Don't List

Don’t talk to me.

Don’t forget, I’m gonna need a ride.
Don’t wear those shorts in front of my friends again.
Don’t you think I need a new phone?
Don’t touch my stuff.
Don’t worry Dad, I’ll be home on time.
Don’t you like my hair?
And don’t ever, ever forget . . .
I’ll always be your little girl.

Mitch's Don't List

Don’t make me get a haircut!!!!!!!
Don’t forget my bat, my glove, my water, and my DS.
Don’t make me practice my drums.
Don’t worry Dad, I won’t get muddy in the creek.
Don’t change the channel.
Don’t make me ride the bus to band, please.
Don’t you want to throw the football with me?
And don’t ever, ever  forget,
I’ll always be your buddy.

An Unwanted Sign of Spring

The weather is a perfect 83 degrees with a warm west wind. The trees, covered in ice just a few short weeks ago, are now budding. New growth. Unfortunately, that isn't the only new growth that has occurred in the last few weeks. When I went to try on my spring pants, they wouldn't stretch, zip, or snap around my new growth. No, I am not pregnant. Time to get back to the, dare I say it, gym. It isn't that I hate the gym, I just don't want to go. I'd rather complain and whine and make excuses why I've put on ten pounds. Actually, I think it is more like 12. I'll get on the scale tomorrow.

Math + Music = Poetry

The song, Seasons of Love, from the musical Rent, is one of my favorite songs. Our 5th and 6th graders have been working on conversions in math and it made me think of this song. I used the lyrics from Seasons of Love as a mentor text for my own poem about conversions in measurement. Here are the original lyrics:

Rent movie trailer

Seasons of Love (From Rent by Jonathan Larson)

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure--measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?
How about love?
Measure in love.
Seasons of love.

 Here is my attempt at a conversions in math poem:

Daytime Conversions

Eighty-six thousand four-hundred seconds,
Eighty-six thousand four-hundred seconds tick away.

Eighty-six thousand four-hundred seconds
How do you measure your life in a day?
In instants, in heartbeats, in flashes or ticks.
In minutes, in jiffies, in cappuccino sips.

Eighty-six thousand four-hundred seconds,
Eighty-six thousand four-hundred seconds tick away.

My Mother's Hands

This is a poem I wrote for my mom for her birthday a few years ago. She keeps a copy pinned up on the bulletin board in her sewing room. Now everytime she creates one of her beautiful quilts, she sews an outline of her hand to the back. I just noticed that I have the same curve in my pinky that she does.

My Mother's Hands

When I look at my hands,
I see your hands,
My mom's hand
I see your mother's hands.

Trim fingernails,
No polish,
White moons
Peeking out from under cuticles. 
Bluish veins more visible,
Through thinning skin.

Hard working hands. 
Gripping and squeezing,
Dressmaker shears. 
Some days agile,

A section of the quilt my
mom made for me. Aren't I
 lucky to have an artist
 for a mom!

Some days achy.

Loving hands. 
Sliding a daughter's bangs out of her eyes.
Cupping a son's chin
As he mumbles a question.

Sometimes when I look at my hands,
As I write, or turn the pages of a book,
I see your hands,
I see your mother's hands.

Tomorrow is a drag, man

When I was searching around, I found this video clip of a beatnik poetess from the 1958 movie, Highschool Confidential. Check out Uncle Fester in the back playing the piano. Fun stuff.

Writing is Hard

There is a writer in
everyone, even me!
Composing a daily slice is hard work. Sometimes it is scary, taking risks with my writing and my topics. But it is a promise I made to myself. And now, I see myself differently as a writer and teacher of young writers.  My commitment to assisting children to write daily and find the power in their words is reaffirmed.

 I feel like I'm a baby in this whole writing thing. And now my head swirls with ideas of how to use my new learning. It is exciting to think about how much more I want to learn. I feel like I'm just getting started.

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