The Difference a Half Year Makes

When my daughter Sasha visited the dentist six months ago, she had a complete melt down. As a recently turned ten year old with a bad gag reflex and high anxiety about the dentist office, it did not go well. There was crying, her actually physically swatting the dental hygienist AND dentist’s hands away from her mouth, and there was of course, sweating.  That was all me.

No part of her meltdown was to be intentionally difficult but a long standing worry of gagging and throwing up had her a complete wreck. The dentist actually told her she had to come back three days later when she was more calm to let her count her teeth. And she did. And it was okay.

When the appointment reminder e-mail arrived two weeks ago, I tried to get out of taking her.  Multiple ideas came to my head…ask her father to take her, ask my husband – her step-dad, ask my dad, ask my friend with no kids, ask a random stranger, play sick.  I really didn’t care who took her, as long as it wasn’t me.

You see, I felt like a lost and tortured soul six months ago at that appointment.  I must have failed as a mother in some way that my daughter was such a disaster.  She was in tears and I was fighting back tears.  She begged for me to make it stop and I begged her to sit in the chair so the dentist could do her job. So Sasha’s teeth didn’t rot. And fall out.

One week ago, I told her about yesterday’s appointment. I timed it just right.  One week away meant time to practice desensitizing her to the dentist’s tools.  Like I did after the dentist invited us back, I would use Q-tips to practice touching her teeth as I held her mouth open with the end of a toothbrush or anything that would resemble the feel of the mirror tugging at her cheek.

But I didn’t get the reaction I had expected.  She was excited.  She told me that she had been practicing brushing her back teeth.  She was ready.  Who was this child/tween/girl/young lady?

I was not ready.  I had been filled with dread for days. I was worried about her, worried for me.  It was stressful for both of us and I didn’t want a repeat experience.

Yesterday was the big day.  The hygienist took her back by herself.  I could see Sasha in the room, from the waiting area.  There was no screaming or crying to be heard and when I finally did catch Sasha’s eye, she mouthed the words, “I did the x-ray already” I bulged my eyes out of my head and gave her a questioning thumbs up, as if to say, “Really?!?!”  She responded with a giant smile and returned with her own double thumbs up and head nodding.

I was invited back just before Dr. Dave came in.  Sasha was beaming.  I was not sweating. It was a glorious moment.

I am reminded that sometimes the best surprises are the ones when you assume the worst and the best happens.

It was a good day.

Solving a Puzzle

My Chase stands rigid, arms by his sides, at the bottom of the driveway as if the hot sun had melted the macadam into the rubber soles of his sneakers and he cannot move.  But, alas, there is no hot sun, instead rainy-mist dreariness fills the morning sky.

I get out of the car with annoyance and walk over thinking through the last twenty minutes and wondering what has been left unsaid or unsolved.

“What’s wrong?” It comes out of my mouth with more exasperation than empathy.

His chin falls to his chest as the tears well in his eyes. He flicks his whole arm away from his body, pointing to the wet sidewalk. Worms. Everywhere.

“Come on, I’ll walk you halfway,” I say, knowing that the clock is ticking and my arrival time to school is approaching.

My oldest offers to give him a piggyback ride. I wave her off, grab his hand and we go.

I say, “It’s like a puzzle, you just have to weave around them.”

I can’t bear to let go of his hand halfway.  There are so many earthworms that he might just lose his mind.

Aside from the Mommy hairball incident in which he thought the hairball on the carpet was a spider, this kid doesn’t mind much. But this. This.

I get him to the porch and all is well with the world for the moment.  I ask Sasha to tell our neighbor about the w-o-r-m-s. I’ve got to watch what I spell ‘cause Chase figures out what I am spelling now, in his nearly six year old wisdom. Clearly, he knows what I am saying but he is silent and grateful for the assistance on this matter.

Surely, it was a long trek up past our house, the tree-line, and the townhouses at the top of the hill to catch the bus. I imagine them walking, my strong neighbor with her baby strapped to her back, her two year old in one arm and Chase flung over her shoulder and I laugh out loud. Nah, wouldn’t happen.  She would make him walk!

Maybe it is time to borrow Diary of a Worm – by Doreen Cronin – out of the library and to teach my boy about all the good things earthworms do for the planet. But then I think how I could read Diary of a Spider ‘til I’m blue in the face and you could teach me all the good things spiders do for the planet and I still would be terrified of them.

Guess I’m gonna have to teach my Chase how to tiptoe around them, to solve the worm puzzle himself.

I Stabbed Myself with a Fork Today

It was an accident.

A fumble.

At brunch.

In a fancy hotel.

The fork in question

began to fall.

I reached to grab the handle

as it spun in the air.

The prongs bit into my palm.

I held up my left hand

staring in disbelief,

staring at the double-line scratches when

blood slipped out between the two.

I laid down the offending utensil,

finally feeling the sting.

Then I remembered.

So I picked up that fork

and ignored the pain.

After all,

I had a made-to-order

mushroom and cheddar omelette to eat




Killed by a Cucumber

My Nana Vi was killed by a cucumber. I don’t mean that she was literally killed by a vegetable (I know, thoughts of cucumbers used as weapons are crossing your mind at this very instant) nor do I mean to speak about my Nana’s death so lightly.

But it was, in fact, a cucumber slice that started a chain of events that ended her life.  This is how it went down, figuratively and literally.

My Nana was in her early 70s and walking in a train station. Someone – hours, minutes, or seconds before was eating their salad or snack that included cucumbers, discarded or dropped one slice and kept on going.  Now, you would have to be oblivious or completely not present to not realize a cucumber had fallen from your mouth or lunch OR you would have to be a jerk to just throw it to the ground.  Whatever circumstance led this slice to fall, and the individual involved to not pick it up once it fell, is mind blowing.  I mean, who would drop a slice of anything and keep on going?

Well, this person did. And my Nana, in her lively awesomeness, was making her way to her train, probably headed to the theater or to a museum (I mean, she was a classy lady) and she just places one foot on this slice and flies in the air in a banana-slip cartoon fall.  The fall leads to a busted leg which leads to the hospital and then surgery, sepsis, and then her untimely death a few days later.

And so you can see how I might feel as if my Nana was killed by a cucumber.

It was not really a cucumber that killed her though. It was carelessness. It was because someone just kept on going without caring about the consequences of their actions.  It was because someone was not being present in the moment.

When I walk in a public place, I do this weird floor-scan thing.  It is an unconscious part of me now. If I see something that could be slipped on, I clean it up. It is a small way for me to be present.

I think about this a lot…how people go about their lives without being present.How often do others pass something that could be slipped on, without stopping, assuming that someone else will take care of it?

I did not set out to send a message about cleaning up after others and I am not on a crusade to eliminate all death by cucumber or slippage incidents.  I just want you to think.  I want us all to think.  To take the time to think about others.  To take the time to pause and be present.  To pause so we can breathe in and breathe out.

Our lives are made up of a series of moments.  Moments, strung together. Piece by piece these moments make up an hour, a minute, a second.  These moments fly by and sometimes we go through life moment by moment without a care in the world about others.

I worry about myself when I stop caring about these fly by moments.


(If you are interested in starting your own mindfulness practice, you might check out the app: Stop, Breathe &Think.  I use it and really enjoy it! It’s free. You tap in how you’re feeling – body, mind, emotions and it spits out choices of short meditation to try. )


The Time I Asked My Almost 6 Year Old Son for a Writing Idea…

Me: What should I write about, Chase?

Him: Me.

Me: What about you?

Him: Me, on the playground!

Me: Okay!


Inspired by Kathleen Sokolowski’s piece from earlier this week! Check it out!
This is the boy.

This is the boy at the start of the monkey bars yelling, “Watch me, Mommy!” with both small hands wrapped around the first wrung, building up courage to leap with both feet.

This is the boy hanging onto my arm begging me, “Push me on the swings, Mommy!” with that pleading voice that contains both the need for my attention and a hint of laziness.

This is the boy going up the slide instead of down and I give him the ‘eye’ and he walks backwards down the slide, his eyes never leaving mine with that smile that says, “Nothing going on here.”

This is the boy, at my side again, begging me for more snacks as if he hadn’t just had more snacks, as if dinner wasn’t moments away, as if he had never, ever eaten before.

This is the boy who is still just a boy with his big blue eyes, two loose teeth, and a crack of the whip sense of humor that is just so darn funny, you can’t believe what just came out of his mouth actually just came out of his mouth.

This is the boy.

Chase 2


How to Be a Writer’s Notebook…

How to be a writer’s notebook…

Be at the ready any hour, day or night.

Travel with your person wherever they go.

Take on lists, memories, anecdotes, and quotes.

Embrace the photograph, it was chosen for a reason.

Prepare for the baring of soul and the occasional tear stain.

Be there to support your person as they live the beautiful writerly life.

And expect eraser rubbings and unfinished stories to get stuck in the gutter.

The Time I Asked my Husband for a Writing Idea

The baby has a cold.

Congestion, low-grade temperatures, chills, achiness, lots of sleepiness, and crankiness all wrapped up in one little package.

It has been since Sunday afternoon.

The baby needs a lot of attention.

Medicine, fluids, special food, extra snuggles.

Since Sunday afternoon, my world has revolved around that baby not feeling well.

The baby is staying home today.

Time to rest, and recoup.

For three whole days, since Sunday – if you can believe it, there’s been a lot of sick-baby drama.

Thank goodness because I am sick and tired of dealing with this baby.

That’s because the baby is FORTY YEARS OLD and his name is Ryan and he is my husband.

The big baby.

Grown men with colds.  Enough said.


He can’t be mad at me for writing this. Nope. No way.

Last night…

Me: What should I write about?

Him: Write about how your husband is sick.

Me: Okay.

An Ode…

Ode to Cardio Fusion class…

Oh, how I love you and loathe you at the same time.

You make my muscles quiver and quake.

You beat me down and build me up, all at the same time.

You push me to sweat more than I have ever sweat before, so much so that the sweat seems to pool in my eyeballs, especially yesterday.

Allow me to talk about yesterday…ten pounds on each side of the bar.

Push Presses, Back Squats, Bicep Curls, and more, under my breath I swore.

Oh, you bastard of a class.

You tire my body but energize my spirit.

You exhaust my core but incite my passion.

Oh, Cardio Fusion, how I love you and loathe you at the same time.

Scary Stories and a Story of Hope

This weekend, I watched the movie Room. I had read the book months ago.  What a scary story that was and though I made it through the whole book, I could not bear to watch the whole movie.

I am a worrier and this movie just reminds me of all the horrible things that happen in this world.

You see, I watched two shows on television during my formative years that I can truly say shaped how I am as a woman and a mother and as I watched that movie, I remembered…

Rescue 911 was a show of small vignettes of children and adults falling into terrible, dangerous, life threatening situations and Unsolved Mysteries was a show of small vignettes of children and adults being involved in terrible, horrible crimes.

Two shows. The stuff of nightmares. Sometimes I don’t even know how I function with all those stupid episodes running through my head.

In another part of my weekend, I stumbled upon a Facebook post about Little Free Libraries. I spent a lot of time reading about people who set up these tiny libraries around their community and felt so inspired that I brought a couple friends into a conversation about starting some in our district.  I brainstormed the whole thing out in a Google Doc and shared it with my “committee.”

I am a wonderer and this project pushes me to think of all the possibilities.

You see, I love the idea of spreading the joy of reading around and making these little libraries available to children and adults, alike. I am inspired to make this happen.  What an honor it would be to do so.

One project. The stuff of awesomeness. Sometimes I don’t even know how we function as a society without all these amazing people running through our communities.

And can we just talk a moment about the contrasts here? My weekend. Partly filled with thoughts of this movie and all the scary things out in the world and partly filled with thoughts of this project and all the humanity and goodness out there.

Seems to me that it is just a beautiful reminder that amidst all the bad things that happen, there is LIFE and I’ve got to believe that there are more good people than not so good people.

(Especially, when it comes to voting for our next president, please let me be right on this one.)

To learn more about Little Free Libraries click here:

Why Do We Slice? For the PRIZES?

Why do we slice?

For me, last year, I was motivated by the prizes, initially.  I loved the idea of winning something at the end.  I fall back to my childhood days of being at carnivals or Chucky Cheese. Prizes are fun. No doubt about it.

But, after making it two thirds of the way through last March, I had a day when I shared my slice but did not comment on other blogs.  I wrote about it here:

I was disappointed in myself. I wanted to be able to say, at the end of March, that I completed the whole challenge. Slicing and commenting!

Here I am again. Only six days in and I have realized that I forgot to go back and comment last night. But I feel differently about it then I did last year.  Last year, I was devastated. I know, seems extreme but I was, though I put on a good face in my day 27 post.  Seriously. I was really, really devastated.

Now, here I am. Out of the running of prizes, again.  No big deal. I know what the prizes are for writing every day – increased creativity, passion, and love of writing, being part of a community of writers, sharing in the journey of the Slicers.

My plan – continue in this process. Write and comment every day.

Regardless of my non-commenting yesterday, I remember that yesterday ALSO brought other opportunities…

I got to spend the day with my local Writing Project group (PAWLP). I got to be in a room with other Slicers like Dalila Eckstein and Lynne Dorfman. I got to have face-to-face conversations with these writers and others.  THAT was awesome.

I was able to share the work I have been doing with teachers about getting them excited about writing with an amazing Voxer group I am a part of, started by TWT’s very own Kathleen Sokolowski!

I downloaded a new book to my Kindle last night called Make Writing by Angela Stockman and began reading it! (Inspired by Jill Davidson from Shelfie Talk and Michelle Haseltine’s work with her 6th graders!)

I texted my friend Becca to get her psyched about running a Writing Maker Space this summer in our district. And since she is my only friend that actually reads my slices and gets them delivered to her inbox AND retweets them sometimes, she deserves a special shout out! Love you Becca!!

See? Those are the real prizes you get from participating in the March Slice of Life.

So, if you too are motivated by prizes, just know that there is more to this. (AND you can do what I did last year…head to Amazon or your local book store on April 1st and buy yourself a brand new book or journal or some pretty pens!)