My Bio Poem #SOL18


Writer, wife, mother, coach, reading advocate, runner, devourer of books

Extreme, passionate, sassy

Wishes to have peace and sense prevail

Dreams of Minnesota

Wants to read today under a blanket – I have 2 great books on my Kindle!

Who wonders what is next

Who fears heights…always heights. Losing what is important to me

Who is afraid of losing what is important to me

Who believes that ALL children can learn

Who loves reading and writing

Who plans to change the world!


The Sunshine Blogger Award

Image result for sunshine blogger award

I am honored to announce I have been nominated by the lovely and talented Cooking with Kids for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

It is humbling to be nominated. Thank you so much Cooking with Kids! She has an amazing blog and you should check it out by clicking on her blog title.


  • Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.


If you would also like to read about my Versatile Blogger award click here.

So here we go!

My Answers

  1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in in January of 2016 because I wanted to connect with other teacher coaches and writers. Several friends had encouraged me to start a blog because they enjoyed my writing. I started and then took a hiatus but have come back with an intent to grow as a writer and a blogger. I regularly participate in the Two Writing Teachers blog Slice of Life weekly challenge and the March challenge.

2. What is your favourite food? And your least favourite?

My favorite food is pizza. I really could eat it everyday! My husband makes really great spaghetti too!

My least favorite food is kale. I hate me some kale. It always tastes like dirt.

3. What do you do in your spare time (apart from blogging?)

I read a lot. I always have a book on me and on my phone on my Kindle app. I also run. I like to spend time with my family too. We have a lot of fun.

4. If you had a superpower what would it be?

It is a toss up between being able to fly and to read faster!

5. What is the best place you’ve ever been to and why?

Park Rapids, Minnesota

My husband and I love this place so much we want to retire there as soon as possible! It is beautiful and there is so much to do. Our family loves to be in the water too.

6. How do you relax?

Reading and running.

7. Should pineapple go on pizza?

Nope. However, spinach and lots of cheese totally belongs there!

8.What is your favourite TV programme?

I actually have several. I love Survivor and Big Brother.

9. What is your proudest achievement?

I was in a situation where everyone kept telling me to go against what my heart was telling me. I went with my heart and have not looked back since! That decision has caused a lot of people to not be in my life anymore, but that is ok.

10. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

Too cold. You can always add more layers, but there are only so many clothes you can take off!

11. You’ve won the lottery! What’s the first thing you do?

Travel to Germany for a month!

My Questions:

  1. Which opening line suits you best: Once upon a time… or It was a dark and stormy night...?
  2. What is the earliest reading memory you have?
  3. If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them? Don’t overthink – what do you think would be FUN!?
  4. What is the most treasured item you possess?
  5. Where do you write normally and where would you ideally like to write?
  6. What is a blogging tip you can share?
  7. Mountains or beach? Why?
  8. Coffee or tea?
  9. How do you recharge?
  10. What is your favorite book and why?
  11. If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would you dine with?

My Nominees:

a writer and her sentimental muse

peaks and pages

New Life Fresh You

About the Site

Plate of Peas #SOL18 #TWTBLOG



Recently I stumbled upon a short story titled Plate of Peas. Click here to read the story by Rick Beyer.

The story is about a boy who thinks he is being clever and tries to outsmart his grandma. He then paints himself into a corner.

When I read this story, the idea that to my mind is CREATIVE MANIPULATION.

I use this concept all the time with students. I will set up writing assignments so that they have ideas and intent which leads to them NOT saying to me: I don’t know what to write!

Have you ever done something that backfired? Or at least resulted in an action you weren’t expecting?

I was in a classroom last week and asked a student to stop drumming on the desk. Many of my students make this “music” almost without thinking. I laughed and told him I was going to tap on his desk each time he did it if he didn’t stop.

A few minutes later he did and another student said, “Are you going to tap his desk?” He asked the question in quite a delighted tone. So of course, being true to my word, I did.

Then it became a game of how many students could get my special attention. We laughed and we moved on quickly. But, I had painted myself into a corner underestimating the appeal of special joking attention from an adult.

There is a lot to unpack from Rick Beyer’s story. The legacy of the peas is a concept that has stayed with me since I read the story. The concept of family and dinners and grandmothers. There is a routine that is established and the close relationship between the author and his grandma is clear.

The story packs quite a punch for how short it is.

My favorite line is:

“You ate them for money,” she says. “You can eat them for love.”

If you read my blog, you know that I have many memories of food and my Oma (German grandmother). This story, of course, reminds me of her.

Our motivation for our actions can be complicated.

When in your life does creative manipulation play a role?


What’s Your Job, Really? #SOL18 #TWTblog

db4de-slice-of-life_individualI read a quote this morning from Carrie Bloomston’s book The Little Spark:

Seek out people who say yes. Seek out people who give you permission, whether teachers or friends.

This quote is perfect to accompany my thoughts on home from work yesterday. Part of my job as a teacher coach is to sometimes just validate teachers – to give them permission even at a time when my permission is not necessary but desired.

As a coach I listen, I teach, I model, and I talk. A lot of my job is conversation. Deep conversations about practice, student evidence, learning, research, achievement, and books. Oh so many books!

This topic came up at a coaches’ meeting a couple of months ago. The relationship piece is imperative to coaching working. It doesn’t always feel like work – but it absolutely is part of the work. Many times I pose a question and let the teacher talk. Often they will talk themselves into their own solution. When this happens the question at the end is, “Can I do that?”

When I utter, “Yes, of course, you can!” It is always met with a smile and a thank you. Then they are on their way out the door, chocolate in hand,  dream in their heart,  and action on their brains.

My job is to make teachers better. Sometimes it is by empowering them, but not to do it for them. This idea sometimes trips me up. I want to lighten the load of the teachers but I cannot take away the teachable moment. So that is why we TALK about it.




A flash fiction challenge posed by


#7 10 Circuses


The sign read: You know the 7 wonders of the world! Behold and set your eyes to gaze upon the 10 wonders of the circus! 10 circuses – 10 circus wonders all packed into one event.


“I don’t want to go to the circus,” Jack stomped his little foot and his lip started to quiver. He waddled over to the couch, lay down and twirled his bright blonde hair with one hand and sucked his thumb on the other.


“It is 10 circuses at once! It will be fun! Something for everyone!”  Mama said.

“There are games and events and rides and animals. They have baby elephants.”

It was in the sing songy voice and drawn out verbage of baby elephants that struck Jack’s attention.


“There is even a section where you can do EVERYTHING!”


“But I am so tiny. Even my tongue is tiny.”  He smiled through his tears and thumb.

Jack didn’t like the prospect of all the people but the baby elephants intrigued him.


Mama and Jack arrived at the long stretch of tables of the kiddie area first. The tickets were red and everything else was white. Everyone associated with the circus had bright blonde tresses like Jack.


Jack had a knack for all the games. The lollipop tree game had all flavors of blow pops and tootsie roll pops stuck in a fake tree. When you pulled out the stick that was colored at the end you won. Jack had now won 10 times in a row. Mama thought it was such good luck!

Jack toddled over to the Guess Your Weight and Age booth.

“You are 4 and weigh exactly 46 pounds,” smiled the blonde red and white dressed carnie.

Mama smiled, the man was correct. Jack had been to the doctor just yesterday.

As they walked past the Freak show all the signs were old fashioned. As soon as Jack saw them he made a wide turn away from the tent. Mama didn’t force it even though that was what she wanted to see. Maybe later. She always felt a peculiar draw to the freaks.


Mama stopped Jack after winning three goldfish from tossing ping pong balls into the bowls. She predicted the fish would be dead by the weekend. Three deaths would be more than enough to explain in three days time.


Everywhere he went the carnies noticed the little 4 year old and exclaimed he was a lucky boy. It was always the exact same wording whether the workers were in earshot of one another or not.  


The last event of the day was the magician. Patrons filed into the tent with hushed tones from the thick canvas. People found seats along the wooden planks. Jack perked up and ran to the front row and sat ignoring the couple sitting next to him.  


The show began and the tricks were traditional and making Mama tired. It had been too long of a day for mundane. The rings seemed to melt into each other and back again at the magician’s insistence. Card shuffling next. Squishy balls morphing into flowers and disappearing from one hand to another. Mama almost got up to leave and reached for Jack’s shirt.


“For  my next trick, I need a volunteer from the audience!”   the great Merlin proclaimed in his performance voice.


Jack raised his hand proudly with a beaming smile unusual for the shy boy. Mama thought him too young to be picked but sat down again. His arm extended and his little bum wiggling on the hard wooden bench as old as the first circus commanded attention.


“You, young man in the red shirt! You match our colors. You are a lucky boy! Come on up.”


Mama was too stunned to stop his movement and was swept up in the illusion. Jack waddled up.


“Can you  step in this cabinet for me?”


“Am I ‘peer?”


“Yes, Jack. We are going to make you disappear!”


“Wooooooooooo!”  he squealed and clapped his hands.


He turned and waved to the audience vigorously with both hands his smile white and beaming in contrast to his red shirt.


“Are you ready?”


A nod from the little boy.


“Wave to the people Jack.”


Merlin opened the cabinet and Jack stepped in.

“One more wave Jack!

Say goodbye!”


“Bye bye!” He was waving both hands now.


Merlin carefully closed the doors of the suspended cabinet, spun it three times and waved his wand.




How trite Mama thought. Really?


With a flourish of a red cape, Merlin opened the door and Jack had indeed disappeared.


“What a lucky boy Jack is!” Merlin yelled.

Darkness filled the tent.


After 10 seconds the space was illuminated and Merlin was gone. The people started to file slowly out of the tent speaking of caramel corn, the baseball milk jug throw, elephant ears, and buttered corn.


Wait… Mama thought.

Lucky boy, red shirt….

She never had said his name…


Oh no…Jack!


A circus to the tenth power needs to be replenished with wonders…that’s not magic but something else.


A Run for the Books #SOL18 #TWTBLOG

db4de-slice-of-life_individualI wasn’t going to run today. Some internal nudge made me check the weather application at 4:45 a.m. I had already been up for over an hour and had my necessary coffee elixer. There was very little wind and the temperature was pleasant so I really had no excuse.

My footfalls were lit by the full moon and the stars. I wore a new workout shirt gifted to me by a friend at work. It smelled of morning and fabric softener. The run felt good. The air felt fresh and I was able to listen to a writing podcast I love that comes out every Friday.

Today’s planned miles is 6 so I still may run after school to get the last 2 in for the daily count. I have mileage targets for this weekend. Time only allowed for 4 miles this morning before the commute.


I recently read Cheryl Strayed’s new book Brave Enough.  One quote that resonated with me was on my mind as I ran:

Alone has always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.

I often think of running this way. As a place. Alone is much different than lonely. Something I know about myself is that I need to be alone to recharge. To replenish the well especially after the peopling and the draining day I had yesterday. The run is the action I turn to stop the thinking that swirls in my head.

There are physical places that replenish me too. Libraries and bookstores for one! Sometimes the car. Alone is part of who I am as a person.

I think that’s why I felt the need to run this morning. It’s part of a replenishing ritual that I do almost automatically. I’ve learned to listen to those internal nudges.

Where or what do you do to replenish? I always love to hear!

Day 1 #SOL18 Challenge

db4de-slice-of-life_individualYesterday while I was teaching Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Burning the New Year” in 7th grade there was lots of writing but no talking. Some teachers maybe would enjoy this format but I often like the conversation that accompanies reading and writing instruction.

The students read the poem silently first and wrote a sentence about what they thought the message was. Then I read the poem aloud and they wrote another thought. Some of them changed between the individual reading and the read aloud.

I had them read the poem a third time and mark two lines that jumped out to them. I had them choose one and then use it as a springboard for a 3-minute quick write. There were 2 rules:

  1. You must keep writing the entire 3 minutes.
  2. The writing had to be connected to the line that was lifted in some way.

This class is quiet and does not share as a rule described by the regular teacher. I had looked over the shoulders of several students as a check for understanding and the students were on target.

I collected the work and then walked down the hall to my office reading the whole way.

I was amazed at the insightful writing. I was so moved by some of the thoughts of students that I went back down to the teacher and told her how proud of her kids I was.

It is a simple reminder to me that just as Susan Cain says, the loudest person is not always the one with the best ideas.

I look forward to working with this class again soon.

I also have to remember for myself today that maybe I should be more quiet and write more than talk!


The Immortalists Book Review – WOW!

Image result for the immortalists

If you do not have this book on your TBR you need to add it right now.

This book commanded my attention for just 24 hours, I flew through it like an obsessed cat with catnip.  I even read this book on the weekend that I had all my kids at the house which is unusual. I toggled back and forth from my phone and my Kindle depending on where I was. I could not stop reading this book. It kept sucking me back into its words and world.

This is the book that I will be recommending to everyone from this day forward and is my new favorite for 2018. The anticipation for this book was high for me which added to the happiness. (See my post on happiness here.) I had put this book on hold through Overdrive and kept checking the app to see how long I would have to wait. When the email notification came through I literally yelled in my bedroom from excitement! I was afraid I would be disappointed since the book has been so hyped but luckily this was not my experience. Many of the books lately I have been reading have not been as satisfying as I would have hoped when I cracked open the cover.

On Saturday morning I had gotten through the first 2 sections and then made myself go for a run. The entire time I was running I was thinking about the characters. I cannot remember the last book that impacted me this strongly.

So what makes this book so great? There is a magical quality about it. It is similar to the feeling I had when I read Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles. I am constantly thinking about the characters and what happened to them. The main idea of knowing how much time a person has left and how they choose to live their life is a topic that warrants a lot of conversation. The writing is masterful. Not only is the story and characters intriguing but it is so well written that I feel I was transported into the narrative like I was into Narnia so many years ago.

The story centers around 4 siblings. Each section of the book focuses on one of the siblings. Each of the children are told the day they will die. The rest of the book is about the individual siblings and how they live their lives and what happens when the date they were told falls upon them.

Chloe Benjamin masterfully weaves the stories together to give you information about the entire family without it feelings disjointed or choppy. The story flows and is written in a way that just makes you want to keep reading.

This book makes you think. The narrative has so many different characters and perspectives that you become a better person reading it just from the empathy you gain.

If you would like to connect with me about this book please let me know in the comments. I need to talk about this book!

What are you excited to read next in your reading life? I would love to know!

#happy reading!




Forced Tech Drought in the Forecast #SOL18


Standardized testing time is a desert for technology. There can be no devices in the room. Proctors are not allowed on their computers or their phones. No phones are even allowed in the room. Some people go into a panic attack with this news. With our culture always checking phones and apps to the point of new diseases being created for addiction it can be a problem.

I welcome the break. It is a lovely feeling. My mind is calm and it feels like stolen time. Time I am getting back from some other crazy time in my life.

The fact that I CANNOT be interrupted is a huge break in my work routine. As a teacher coach, people are constantly stopping me in the hallway or showing up at my door for “I just have a quick question” conversations. I love this part of my job, it is just how it works normally. The break is refreshing for the week.

Why? I am comfortable with pen and paper. I am comfortable with my thoughts and the silence. I can focus more – on one thing at a time. Whatever it happens to be that I am pondering. It is a gift.

With my mind so calm I give the directions calmly and deliberately so the student is able to take the test the same way – calmly and deliberately.

Knowing this I should schedule a self imposed technology break periodically. Should.