Slice of Life Day 17 – Omar 

Thank you, Omar.

For picking up my family in the middle of the night.

For leaving your own sleeping family to take mine back to the airport.

For sharing your phone number, just in case.

For having seat belts in your taxi.

For driving your cab and making our adventure possible, even though, at home in Egypt you were an accountant.

For driving safely with my whole world buckled into your seats.

For sharing your family’s story and listening to my husband tell you ours.

For your genuine kindness.

It mattered to us.

Thank you, Omar.

Slice of Life Day 15 – A Day

It’s one of those days. The kind where you just want to put your head in your hands and have a good cry. I was awake much of last night thinking of a difficult conversation I needed to have once I arrived to school today. Starting the day both tired and apprehensive is not a winning combination.

I had to have this conversation. I am advocating for the best interest of students who need as much love and support as we can give. However, my colleague did not view my thoughts in the same way and nothing I had to say was well received. Our conversation ended with me hearing, “I can’t even talk to you. I’m not having this conversation.” All before 7:15 AM.

It took a lot of courage for me to have this conversation. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been as brave, so I guess that’s my silver lining. I know today that I will not apologize for doing what is right for students and children. My hope of conversation quickly became me feeling confrontation.

It’s now late in the afternoon, and I have resisted the urge to give in and cry or go home. Though both are tempting. But, I know the problem won’t go away with tears or avoidance. The optimist in me is hopeful that by tomorrow the, “I can’t talk to you,” will change to, “Let’s talk.”

Slice of Life Day 14 – Who am I as a writer?

I am a poet, essayist, short story writer, aspiring novelist, journalist, and list writer. My first and most formative experience as a writer was winning a citywide writing contest in sixth grade. I wrote a short story about a snowflake on a piece of wrapping paper who was separated from her family, as she was cut off the paper roll. That award was the first recognition that I received for having talent as a writer. Since then I have not received any awards, but I have regularly written many pieces – professional and personal – and continue to love the process of writing.

Another experience that shaped my craft was working as a writer for a company that provides online continuing education for emergency medical professionals. Over a three-year period, I wrote material for well over fifty courses. I researched, wrote and edited each course knowing that the content and accuracy of the work was vital and could truly mean the difference between life and death.

When my children were young and our family lived states away from any family, I regularly kept a blog detailing stories and anecdotes of our lives. My audience was family and close friends but all enjoyed reading stories of our adventures. While I do not write as routinely on that blog, I have kept numerous others and am currently part of this 31 day writing challenge, writing one slice of life every day.  In addition to writing for continuing education for medical professionals and a personal blog, I have also written other articles for local newspapers and at least one for a professional journal.

One challenge I have, that I am working on conquering, is having a writing life beyond my responsibilities as an educator. During vacations I keep a journal, but it is abandoned as we resume our daily activities at home. I have started countless daily gratitude journals to try to jump-start my writing life, but inevitably I am more grateful for not having to write about what I’m grateful for each day. I have written short stories for my children but not as often as I’d like. I have talked with colleagues about researching and publishing more professional articles, but the conversations have not morphed into printed word. Yet.

I can tell a story well, both orally and in writing, but I seem to find my strongest voice in the written word. I can convey emotion, mood, and setting in detail helping my readers to feel they are part of my experiences. While I can write a narrative, capturing the essence, I would like to improve my fiction writing abilities. I’m able to write a short story and have written a number of chunks of what I hope will eventually develop into novels, I generally turn to essay and nonfiction as preferred genres of writing. I greatly desire to improve my craft in fiction writing. After all, that is where I had my start as a writer winning the sixth grade writing contest. I’m sure there’s another story about a snowflake waiting to be written.

Slice of Life Day 13 – Writing Conferences

I would like to further and more deeply investigate the process of writing conferences with students. Currently, in my role as a Literacy Coach, I’m piloting the Lucy  Calkins Units of Study in a sixth grade English Language Arts class. This is also the first time I have taught using the Units of Study.

Currently when the students are writing, I pull small groups for precision instruction, as well as meeting one-on-one and having individual student writing conferences. During small group writing conferences, I generally review the day’s minilesson, as it relates to student writing. In the one-on-one conferences I work to notice something in the student’s writing, listen to understand why the author chose to write, and try to push the writer forward in their thinking and writing. My intentions and what actually happens are often disconnected, leading me to want to further investigate the process of writing conferences.

The Calkins Units of Study are very much process versus product oriented approach. The process oriented writing has made me work harder on my instructional approaches than I have in the past teaching writing. I need to be confident knowing where each of my students and my class are as a whole every day. However, my students are not yet fully used to learning for process, and I am not yet 100% confident in my instruction. I notice that I am leaving student authors feeling frustrated or confused during and after a writing conference. My students are looking for answers, when I am trying to instruct on process instead of driving them to produce a product. My intention is for students to understand the writing process so that they can transfer their learning from our sixth grade class  to their writing life beyond our classroom. We would all benefit from deeper learning and instruction on best practices in writing conferences.

Slice of Life Day 12 – State Champ

My son and his team played in the divisional state hockey championship this weekend. They lost their first game, so they automatically lost the ability to win the championship trophy. After that first game, in which their team played hard but was handily outskated and outwitted by their opponents, many of my son’s teammates skated right off the ice into the locker room. But my son, after fist bumping with all of the players, took off his right glove and shook hands with each of the referees and the opponent’s coaches. I swallowed tears at this gesture. My son knew they were out of contention for first place, but he had the heart to still act like the champion.

His team went on to win the second game yesterday and played for the consolation trophy this morning. Late in the second period of today’s game it was tied 2-2. My guy had a breakaway with a teammate and an opponent quickly closing the gap as they moved towards the goal. In a split second, he could have made a shot that likely would have pulled their team ahead, but he made a beautiful pass to his teammate. His teammate then shot and missed. Another teammate made the remaining two goals – alone – no passing when other players were wide open.

After the game, in which they won, and took home the consolation trophy, and well after the gear was packed up and we were headed home, I asked, “Why did you choose to pass?”

“Because I really wanted my teammate to have a goal in the tournament. I already had one yesterday.”  The heart of a champion.

I’m so proud of my hockey player. Not for winning the consolation trophy, for making goals, for winning games, but for being the person he is on and off the ice. He is coming into his own, and at this young age, already knows champions shake hands after a loss, pass to teammates, and celebrate wins and losses as a team. He’s mine, so of course, he’s always my state champ, but today he showed everyone at the rink that he is also their state champion.

Slice of Life Day 11 – Eleven

Eleven Years of…

Loving you.

Snuggling from 21 inches to five feet.

Watching you sleep.

Listening to your laughter.

Sharing my favorite stories with you.

Running with you, from your stroller to my side.

Hiking trails in our neighborhood and around our world.

Learning your dreams and nurturing your passions.

Soothing your fears and disappointments.

Admiring your genuine ability to love 100%.

Being your mama.



Slice of Life Day 10 – Tired

So this slice of life was to be published on March 10, but it’s now March 12. Sometime in the middle of the night, well after midnight, in the wee hours of March 11, I realized I’d never written my slice of life for the day. Friday afternoon. A long but fulfilling week at home and at work led me to be “bone tired”, as my mom would say, at the end of the day.

My highlight on Friday was watching my son perform a rap solo in his show choir concert. I am constantly amazed that he has the courage to try out, then the courage to perform. His choir performed as part of a high school show choir and talent show event. The high school students were nothing short of awesome after his solo – screaming and hooting and cheering for him. I love kids cheering on other kids.

We were home from the concert a little after 8 PM and I’m sure I was asleep by 8:30 PM. Tired. Slice of Life Day 10 delayed. But truly a slice of life.

Slice of Life Day 9 – Calendar

Today’s Schedule

Walk dog, make lunches, drink coffee.

Early to school – prep for observation.

Grade level literacy meeting.

Educator Effectiveness formal observation.

Work with two at-risk students discussing the power of I’m sorry.

Husband delivers much-needed cup of coffee to school.

Coaching meeting.

Coaching meeting.

Work time.

Drink cold cup of aforementioned coffee.

Learning Support Team meeting.

[Insert after school looooooong walk in the cold sunshine.]

Son’s school carnival.



Today’s reflection: Drink coffee while it’s hot, especially when fantastic husband leaves his job to deliver.

Slice of Life Day 8 – Mac and Cheese

When I was in seventh grade, my mom enrolled in a full time MBA program in addition to her job in management where she routinely worked what seemed like 60 hours a week. My dad had recently started his own business and put most of his time into ensuring its early success. That left my brother, a year older, and I to fend for ourselves and to take care of many home duties for our family. Our lives, however, were full of privileges, so these small chores were not too much to expect nor any more than we should have already been doing.

One role we played was weekday dinner chefs. After weeks of tacos and mac and cheese, our parents declared no more. My brother and I dove into cookbooks and drew on our years of experience watching our dad, a master in the kitchen, to create more interesting and edible meals. By ninth grade we were both coming up with our own dishes and by the end of high school, it was second nature to cook for family and friends.

I missed my parents in the hours they devoted to their work and studies, but I am ever grateful for the time in the kitchen with my brother and my parents. I’m at home in the kitchen and not afraid to take on a complicated recipe or admit defeat after a fail. My own children have been wielding kitchen knives and making messes with me since they could safely sit on our kitchen counters.

Yet, with all this experience, I have had a hard time turning over my pans (and never my beautiful Kitchen-Aid mixer or beloved Vitamix) and counters to my children. We are chopping, stirring and cooking all the time, but I can’t seem to let them wear the head chef’s hats without hesitation.

Tonight was a typical night for a typical family. Kids had after school activities, mom had after school meeting, dad is out of town, dog needs walking, and sports practices for all in the evening. There was no way I could make it home from my meeting and make dinner for my youngest and get him to practice on time. So, I did what I should have done years ago.

“Do you want to make your own dinner before I come home?”

“YES! Is mac and cheese okay?”

Oh dear Lord, no appliances involved, please. “Um sure.”

“Mom, we’ve done it tons of times.”

“Yes, of course. I trust you.”

My meeting ended at 4:40, ten minutes past when I  was supposed to be on my way home. I called the kids to let them know I’d be late. “Mom, we’re just about to drain the noodles. See you when you’re home.” Click.

Ahhhhh, my babies draining boiling hot noodles without me? It took everything in me not to speed the short three miles home.

And, thank goodness I didn’t. Because if I had, I’d have missed this serene scene, as I walked through the door. My children at the table, no burns, eating their mac and cheese. A plate of cut veggies and hummus in the middle of the table and a salad and glass of water sitting at my place.

Was it exactly how I would have done it? No way. It was so much better. I’m so proud of their messy endeavors and vow to let them do it more often. It was a gift my parents gave me, and I owe the same to my own two mac and cheese lovers.



Slice of Life Day 7 – Migraines

Mind numbing head pain

Immovable involuntary throbs

Gritted teeth gnashing jacked jaws

Raging storm of debilitating imbalance

Aches aching after auras after aching aches

Imitrex ibuprofen icepack intensity immensity

Nausea queasiness disgust medical vomit retching

Essential oil of peppermint soothing calm coolness

Sensitivity stress symptoms sickness suffering sensations