Hi, Mom

“Hi, Mom.  Can you pick me up?”

The words themselves sound familiar.  They are probably uttered almost daily during cross country and track seasons.

Today, the words sounded different.

Caught in a momentary state of confusion, I wondered why my brother was calling me “Mom” and why he needed me to pick him up.  He should be in New York.  After all, that’s where he’s lived for the last two decades or more.

Then, my head came out of the fog as I realized that the voice on the other end of the phone was my son, NOT my brother, Brian.  Over the last few months, I’ve caught snippets of conversations that have made me question the voice I have heard.

It doesn’t help that we went to the doctor’s office for a follow up immunization shot and he filled the whole space with his tall, lean body.

He will always be my son, but he is ever so quickly changing into a young man.

In time, I will recognize this new voice.

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Blueberry Heaven

There’s a hidden gem nestled in the white mountains of New Hampshire where the plumpest, sweetest blueberries grow.  The fields are off the beaten path, down a tree-lined dirt road, then meandering through a narrow, bumpy driveway, making you wonder if you are lost! At the end of the drive, the space opens and beckons cars to park and stay awhile.  Under an awning are a series of picnic tables lined up end to end, holding cartons, covers, and bins for measuring blueberries.  Hanging on tent poles are old milk jugs with their tops cut off and rope strung through each side, making a clever gathering tool.  A quick peek ahead invites visitors to enter blueberry heaven – rows and rows of blueberry bushes chock-full of the bluest, roundest, most perfect blueberries on this earth.

Now that you’ve safely arrived at NH’s best kept secret, you may be asking yourself how do you actually pick these blueberries?  My advice is to keep it simple!

First, be sure that you consider the time of day for your visit.  Early morning is a fine time as the sun is not too hot and the bugs aren’t quite up and energized yet.  If this time doesn’t work with your schedule, then plan accordingly.  You will want to wear a hat and sunscreen to stay cool and safe from the sun.  Also, be sure your feet are covered as snakes love berries!  Since the lake is only a short ride away, I recommend that you take a nice dip before coming!  Then, get your hanging milk jug, put it around your neck and follow the directions for where to pick.  I like to pick up high or in the center of the bushes, looking for berries that have a little pink ring around their stems, meaning that they will be perfect for eating in a day or two.

After picking, place the berries into the jug, (it’s OK if some of them make it into your mouth instead of the jug – but don’t overindulge!)  When you get tired of picking from one bush, continue down the path and select a new bush to start picking.  You will know that your blueberry picking is winding down when your jug starts to tug at your neck because it gets full!  The final step is to head back up to the picnic tables and settle the bill by measuring out how many pints you picked in the plastic bins, and pay about $3/pint on the honor system.

I challenge you to make it home without tasting a sample of the blueberries!  These beautiful blues will accompany salads, blend into pancake batter, take center stage in a rustic tart, layer into yogurt parfaits, and simply be eaten straight out of the carton!  I can hardly wait to see the signs go up for picking season!

 

Silver Lining

What happens when an expected package doesn’t arrive?

Packages travel great distances to reach their destinations and sometimes they just don’t make it.

In today’s culture, the first thing you can do is track the package, assuming that service is available.  Typically, the carrier will provide an expected delivery date, and the more sophisticated programs can indicate exactly where the package is in the journey.  So, what happens when the tracking system states that the package was delivered, but there is no sign of it at your home?

It’s possible that panic may set in and you may wonder if someone took the package from your porch.  Or, if you are like me, you immediately think that the package was delivered to the wrong address because this has happened many times before.  The next logical step is to contact the company who sent the package.  It is helpful to double check that the address the shipper has on file matches your actual address.  If it does, then there is more investigating that needs to occur.  If it does not, then you may have just solved the problem!  The shipper will need to resend you your package as they made an error on their end!

A few weeks back, our daughter was expecting a package from Tiffany’s containing a bracelet that she had sized to fit her small wrist, using a gift card from Christmas.  We went through the above steps and determined that Tiffany’s sent the package to the wrong address.  They said not to worry about the original package, they were happy to resend a replacement, exactly the way our daughter originally requested.

So, what about the original, you may ask?  Prior to figuring out that the address was incorrect, we visited the address we thought may have received the package in error.  The first time, the owners weren’t home.  The second time, we realized that all we needed to do was simply ask.  We walked home with the original package in hand, feeling like detectives solving a big case.

A few days later, the replacement package came.  Now, both our girls have matching heart bracelets.  Hopefully, if you experience a missing package, you will be able to find a silver lining, too.

 

#Bookmail on Steroids

Today turned into an historic #bookmail day when multiple boxes from a Donor’s Choose Project arrived on top of the box full of books I hand-carried into school from Paperback Junction.

We explored the books from Paperback Junction during the share time of Morning Meeting.  Students quickly saw the theme of novels in verse and poetry collections – a gap that will now be filled in our classroom library.  I explained that once the books were “checked in” to the classroom, they would be immediately available to students for borrowing privileges.  The thing is, as much as I want to get these books into students’ hands, I also want to protect the books so they have a better chance of longer shelf lives.  When I add a few books at a time to the library, this is a breeze.  Covering paperbacks with clear contact paper has been a lifesaver, especially for the spines.  I’ve taken to covering book jackets for hardcovers, then taping the flaps shut to protect the books.  At the moment, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of preparing all of these books at once!  Luckily, my students are happily involved in other stories right now, so they will be patient while the preparations get underway.

As if this wasn’t already exciting enough, mid-morning, three boxes were delivered to our classroom from a recently funded Donor’s Choose Project!  We didn’t get the chance to open these boxes as a class today; but, I hope to carve out some time tomorrow to capture the excitement as students notice sequels to beloved books, new series to discover, and nonfiction titles in comic and picture book formats.  Again, I’m feeling a little anxious about the sheer number of new books that arrived on the same day, while simultaneously doing a major book dance in appreciation for those who generously supported this project to benefit my students and those who walk through the doors after them.

While boxes of books can be intimidating, I have accepted their presence, admitted that I will not be able to read each one before passing it off into students’ hands, and allowed myself to be filled with joy at the newness that will be infused into our classroom library selection.

Happy reading, Room 14!

March

Moving together, united as one.

Aware that we have lost too many, too soon.

Rallying for change.

Caught in a sea of emotions.

Holding signs, some handmade, sharing messages of hope.

 

My husband drove our teenage high schoolers down to Washington, DC to participate in the March for Our Lives.  I have been with them in spirit throughout the day and look forward to sharing their stories when they return.  This will be an experience our children will not forget. 

Paperback Junction

This year, more than ever, books have become an obsession of mine.

Our classroom orders from the monthly book order so we can get even more books.

I participate in #titletalk to learn about new titles.

In December, I joined #bookexcursion, a dozen dazzling readers, and read and review books prior to publication.

Lately, it seems like I can’t get enough professional development from trade books.

Back in the fall, I requested that the school budget include money for building classroom libraries.

The amount was less than I hoped for, so I created a project to purchase books through Donor’s Choose, which was just completely funded this week.

Books, books, and more books.

We read them, we book talk them, we get involved in book clubs, and so much more.

It’s easy to shop for books at Amazon with one-click, low-pricing.

It’s satisfying to support the local independent bookseller.

I managed to do a little of both.

The owner of Paperback Junction emailed me today to notify me that the books had arrived and were ready for pickup.

I pulled up in front of the store, opened my trunk and Trisha brought the box out and put it in my trunk for me.

The best part – she said, “You know, Helen Hansen used to shop here.”

Helen Hansen was 100 years old when she passed earlier this year.

She is the person for whom our school was renamed.

Service with a smile and a sweet story.

Amazon can’t compete with that experience.

 

 

Flex Time

Kids, as students, come in many shapes and sizes.

Their work habits are just as unique.

Some prefer to complete work while seated at desks.

Others like to move to a separate location.

Still others choose to sit on the carpet.

Maybe lounge on a whistle cushion.

Or stand behind a desk or table.

Sometimes seating choices come as a surprise.

There was one today who put her head on her desk.

And closed her eyes.

That’s not an approved flexible seating option.

 

 

Split Second

It was about 1:00 in the afternoon, three hours earlier than she usually drove home from school.

As she approached the same left turn she completes every day, she noticed that the road looked a little different.  The flow of the moving cars was off.  Nobody was really heading east on the main drag.  There were big gaps between the cars instead of the bumper to bumper line of bright headlights as if strung together for lights on a Christmas tree.  Maybe making the turn would actually be easier today.

She slowly came to a stop and looked to her left, then to her right, before looking back to her left.  The right side had one oncoming station wagon that was close with no one behind it in sight, so she decided to wait for it to pass by, then quickly checked her left again to determine if there was enough time to pull ahead of the approaching white pickup truck.  Yes, she decided there was.

She went for it, quickly pulling out and heading east.  An angry horn sounded “HOOOOOONNNNNKKKK” and she was confused, her heart sinking to her stomach while thumping a few beats faster.  The white pickup truck was still approaching with plenty of room.  Maybe she forgot to check one more time on her right, to see if another car somehow made its way into the traveling lane?  She took a quick look in her rearview mirror to try to make sense of the piercing noise and get her bearings.  A Ford Escape was right on her tail, continuing to bark loudly, changing its tune to intermittent honking.

To the driver of Ford Escape, she’s sorry if she caused any distress and relieved that the only casualty was minor discomfort in the ear sockets from the belligerent horn making itself known.

All it took was a split second and the landscape of the eastbound lane was forever changed.  She missed her late afternoon crowd of travelers.  They always stopped for her to pull out, knowing how challenging it can be to make a left hand turn during a busy time.

Tomorrow’s a new day.  She should be back on her usual schedule.

 

 

Inspiration

Writers receive inspiration in the most random places and sometimes at the most inopportune times.  Often, stories are within eyeshot or earshot, just waiting to be noticed and written down.  There are countless ways to be inspired, from everyday life to extravagant moments.

Today, our students had a chance to be inspired by a local author’s experiences.  It was magic!

Hearing first graders at lunch today telling me about the stories they planned and wrote filled my heart with hope.

Listening to a mixed group of students from different grade levels sharing what they learned in individual sessions was empowering.

Watching the older students paired up with the younger students creating stories together was the best way to end a full day.

I can’t wait to read the stories that my students will create.  After today, I have a newfound appreciation for the exorbitant amount of drafts that an author completes to give me the pleasure of escaping to new places and meeting new people in the books that I enjoy.