Friday, September 30, 2011

Memories Not Blown Out

     I was kidnapped! One morning I looked out my bedroom window and two stories below I saw a car pull into the parking lot. I was excited to see my friends, Nej & Christina, get out of the car.

     But then they blindfolded me, put me into the car with them, and drove off!

     When the car finally stopped we were in a parking spot along the waterfront of downtown Seattle. They took my blindfold off ( to avoid suspicion?) and then led me onto a ferry.

     Why would my friend do this? What was their plan and where were we going? I wouldn't know all the answers until the end of the day, but I did know it was to celebrate my birthday.

     There are many parts of the day that have faded with time. The moments I remember, and treasure, most about the ferry boat ride are when all three of us where standing at the rail, wind whipping our hair and echoing through our ears. There was no way we could talk - we wouldn't hear each other, but there was no need for talk. I felt loved and special that sunny march day simply standing between my friends.

     The celebration didn't end with the ferry ride. That evening we went to Zones. It was a game place and snack bar. They had a couple of other friends meet us there. We played mini golf and I don't remember what else. Eventually we sat down at the booth to eat.

     There was a cake - complete with candles. After the singing and the blowing Christina told us of a special birthday tradition in her family. The person whose birthday is being celebrated - in this case in - is required to have each person feed them a bite of cake.

     That was a new one. I had never heard of that tradition. Have you? As you would imagine it is a bit embarrassing (is that the point?) but I made it through and it added to the specialness of the day.

     The story doesn't end there, though that birthday celebration did. Many, many months later (perhaps even a year or two) I was at Christina's house when her family was celebrating a birthday. Since I knew of the family tradition I was looking forward to being on the other side of this ritual.

     The cake came out. Singing and blowing occurred and now it was time to feed the honored guest, yet that didn't happen! Cake was served to everyone and each person commenced eating their own piece. Conversations continued, yet for me time froze. What about the family tradition? Could they have forgotten? I whispered  something to Christina and she started to snicker. Eventually an explanation was offered. Turns out it isn't a family tradition at all, but something she had made up just for my birthday!

Thank you for making me feel very special (and embarrassed and then stupid and finally cherished once more.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Can't Wait and Don't Wanna

Have you ever had the experience of simultaneously being so excited and entrance by a series of books that you want to spend every minute reading to find out what happens next and wanting to pace yourself in order to savor your infinite time with the characters? I sure have. In fact I am there right now.

It doesn't seem to happen with books of necessarily high literary content. (Though, how often are those part of a series anyway?) I tend to find myself in that place with works of fiction that have characters I have come to care for and high amounts of action. I can think of three times, over the last many years, that I have visited this place. And, in all cases one of the main characters is a female. Girl, actually. Teenager to be precise.

Now, some will take this as a confession. Remember I've already told you they aren't amazing bits of literature, but dang compelling. Living overseas. I have had an advantage. I didn't now about any of these books until the entire series was out.

(On a side note, my favorite novel, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell I stumbled across and had to wait, what seemed like FOREVER, but was probably many months for the sequel to be published in order to find out the resolution. The Sparrow is the only book that upon reading the last page I immediately flipped to the front and began reading again. And, if you are an audio reading The Sparrow is done well, but the sequel, Children of God, is not.)

So what have these series been? The summer of 2008 I was visiting my best girlfriend and her family in Wyoming. She handed me Twilight. We were headed on a camping trip and I inquired if I would want to plow through the rest of the books as well so we borrowed book two and three from the library. The fourth arrived from Amazon the morning we headed out. I hiked and played during the days and devoured the books at night. In five days I knew how it ended.

Last spring I spent a weekend with The Hunger Games trilogy. (I am sure I surfaced to spend time with my toddler, but it seemed like a weekend retreat to me.) Right now I am savoring Forever, the last of a trilogy I started in June. I read the first book, Shiver, thinking it was simply a novel. It wasn't until I turned the last page and found the 'coming soon' that I discovered there was more to the story. I tried to go buy the next one, but it wasn't available in the country. I put number two and three on hold at my home library for the summer and waited. Part way through the summer my turn came up for the second one. It was a pleasure to revisit the characters and walk the next section of their lives with them. I was still quire a ways down the hold list for the third one and contemplated purchasing it several times, but, for many reasons I didn't.

Now, back in country I decided to reward myself for all of the single parenting I had been (happily) doing to support my husband in his new job and downloaded Forever to our Kindle. I savored the idea of enjoying it over the long weekend. Now I am caught between being anxious to know what happens and wanting to devour every word and wanting to stretch out my time with it - savor the moments that will soon come to an end.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Unification = 24 hours

This was our only three day weekend of the school year. I have to actually say it to remind myself that the rest and space of three days won’t happen again until next year. It was a wonderful weekend of family time, sleep, a great book, games, giggles, poking around blogs for ideas for my classroom, a few chores, and an entire extra 24 hours to occupy.

A big shout out for Saudi National Day.

ksa flag

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peace One Day

This post is in honor of Peace One Day
and inspired by What does PEACE feel like? by Vladimir Radunsky.

Peace One Day

Peace sounds like the silent steps of huge camels in the desert.

Peace tastes like amazingly smooth, rich, dark chocolate melting in your mouth.

Peace smells like fresh cut grass.

Peace looks like people of every color, shape, and size - every language
and belief system having a picnic together
(on the grass with chocolate)

Peace feels like snuggling up on the lap of someone who loves you

Peace feels like a warm, sunny day
(not hot - warm - just right - perhaps with a breeze)
(at the picnic, on the grass with chocolate)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whisker Free Zone

Grace loves kisses. She kisses someone on the cheek to wake them up. She kisses me right on the lips, usually with a bunch of slobber. She likes being kissed too. What she doesn't like are whiskers. At the end of the day she will only kiss Daddy on the forehead - a whisker free zone.

This wasn't always the case. She became very aware of facial hair on a camping trip this summer when Daddy was growing a beard.

As twilight deepened and time for bed approached she would go around and give everyone hugs and kisses - unless they had facial hair. Daddy, Papa Jim, and Grandpa were very intentionally shunned from this ritual.

That's all it took! The next day Daddy shaved, but ever since then Grace has been very aware of whiskers and whisker free zones.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I am in a quandary and I hope some of you can help.

As I nearly select bits of writing to post I realize there is something I need to decide first. The big question? Will I share this blog with my students? So, you teacher types out there, do you share your blog with your students? How does your decision impact what you choose to post?

Thank you, in advance, for your fabulous input!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Jury's Still Out

The jury is still out.

It is day four of the new school year and I don't want to jinx the year. Am I seeing their true colors yet? When will their annoying habits begin? In a week or two or three will we run into content that baffles them?

Thus far I am very excited about the possibilities. The students are well behaved, engaged, and motivated. They are kind to each other and quick to meet or exceed expectations. Their prior knowledge is where I would hope it to be. To (mostly) steal a line "Oh the Places We Could Go!"

At the same time I am remembering that today is a full moon. I am remembering that I have three boys yet to appear. I am also remembering that there are two yet to be vouched for desks in my room.

The jury is still out.

Slice of Life

As I plan a new school year I have been particularly focused on how to improve my teaching of writing. I can't think deeply about writing without reflecting on my own writing life. The final nudge into a writing blog was given by Two Writing Teachers, in particular their Slice of Life Story Challenge. I encourage you to take the challenge as well, even if you don't post it for the world to see. Thus begins my journey of posting bits of my writing notebook on the web, a Writing eNotebook is born.