food · poetry · raising boys · slice of life

Haricots Verts et Haricots Jaunes

This Is Just to Say

This is the boy who inspired tonight’s poem.

I sautéed
yellow beans
that were mixed
with green

and which
you were probably
to spit out

Forgive me
they tasted the same
so thin
and so savory

Today’s slice of life story (poem) was inspired by “This Is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams, as well as Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine and Matthew Cordell.

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.
poetry · slice of life

My First Attempt at a Golden Shovel Poem

Last spring, I witnessed several Slicers attempt Golden Shovel poems. I wanted to try but kept putting it off. The link with “Find a Headline, Write a Poem” kept getting snoozed in my inbox. But today, as I designated 45 minutes to clean out my e-mail inbox, I decided to stop snoozing and try my own Golden Shovel poem.

I perused The Washington Post‘s main page for inspiration. I clicked on a piece that said MAY THE BEST GEAR WIN, which is about the gear Olympians are sporting at the Beijing Olympics. While I later (i.e., *After* I finished toiling over my Golden Shovel poem!) realized that may the best gear win was part of the article’s subtitle, not the main title, I decided to go with it anyway. Using “Top Gear: The Winter Olympics are tests not only of athletic achievement but of design and engineering. May the best gear win.” by Dave Sheinin as inspiration, here’s my Golden Shovel poem (bookended by videos so it makes sense in context):


Ari may
Have thought he knew the
How to make coins twist and spin. BUT, years ago, I found the best
Placement on the track to make the coins dance, hit the gear,
And fall to the bottom — so children, who need care, win.
Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.
animals · poetry · slice of life

We Took Three Goats for a Walk!

I took a goat for a walk two mornings ago,

A Nigerian Dwarf by the name Bebito,

Though he wanted to munch on the greenery he saw,

When I took a goat for a walk.

I wrapped his leash around my wrist

And kept him from weeds he couldn’t resist.

But he pulled me off the path several times that day,

When I took a goat for a walk.

I watched the goats chew all they desired,

Their four-chambered stomachs filled with the greenery they required,

The cracked branches of the arboretum yielded to the pressure of their hooves,

When I took a goat for a walk.

We ambled down pathways where people wander,

Up woodchip mountains to look over yonder,

And the goats stopped to chew on everything green that they saw,

When I took a goat for a walk.

As we turned back, the three of us paused for a photo,

But Bebito, Violet, and Ivy felt obligated to mow,

They dined on flowers and grass in the meadow,

When I took a goat for a walk.

When we returned, I stood amazed,

These magical creatures left my allergies unfazed,

I pet Bebito several more times before I had departed,

When I took a goat for a walk.

This is the first poem I’ve written in over a year. I’ve never been strong with rhyme and this poem is no exception to that. However, I kept thinking of I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Allison Jay every time I thought back to our weekend saunter with the goats from the Philly Goat Project. Therefore, instead of writing prose about the goat walk Isabelle, Ari, and I took with the goats, I decided to create a poem slice mentored after I Took the Moon for a Walk. (I did my best.)

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.

motherhood · poetry · slice of life

Awaiting Our Forever Home

I wrote a post for SOL Tuesday. I was in the midst of revising and editing it when I attempted to save the post, I was met with this:

A screenshot of the post I attempted to post today.

Then I tried to publish. I could go back and fix it up after it went live. That didn’t work.

So here I am. I’m frustrated. So I’m pushing myself to write something new, as opposed to retyping.

How many more days will it be
Once the siding and shake are up?
My daughter is impatient because she is
Eager to move in so we can start the rest of our lives.

poetry · slice of life · writing

Poetry Mission, Part Deux

Last week, I declared my intent to help Isabelle like poetry. But, on Thursday night, Ari spent most of the night crying. He required soothing by his one-and-only mommy. By noon, he was diagnosed with double-ear infections. Then, on Saturday, I came down with something and have felt crummy ever since. But despite all of that, I managed to place poems in Isabelle’s snack bag every day and chat a little bit about poetry with her at night.

Despite feeling miserable all day yesterday, I went in search of amusement park poems to share with Isabelle since her teacher informed me Isabelle expressed interest in writing poems about Hersheypark. After an internet search that left me wanting for more, I went to Amy LV’s Poem Farm blog. Unfortunately, I came up empty-handed. So I emailed Amy to ask her if she knew of any amusement park poems I could use for inspiration with Isabelle. Not being an avid ride fan, Amy didn’t know of any (which explains why she hasn’t written any!). However, Amy suggested looking at Marla Frazee’s Rollercoaster, which happens to be one of Isabelle’s books since it’s poem-like. Therefore, Isabelle and I studied it together yesterday afternoon. We talked about line breaks and the many reason poets might choose to break lines. Then, we spent about a half-hour looking through various poems on Amy’s Poem Farm website before Mommy needed to lay down.

Even though I still felt awful today, I ventured into Isabelle’s classroom since the next two weeks are filled with consulting commitments and manuscript work. There’s something about being amongst children — in writing workshop — that helps me forget my misery. I find I journey far away from my ailments when I’m sitting on the floor, beside a child, talking about writing.

I conferred with one of Isabelle’s friends first since my daughter was taking awhile to settle in. Therefore, I taught her friend about line breaks and coached her through revising an existing poem by adding line breaks. Next, I went to Isabelle. I discovered she’d written a poem about a ride, Helicopters, she’d taken with Ari over the weekend. The poem read:

I went

on the


with Ari.

We went


I think there was one more line, but I don’t remember it. Whatever it was, wasn’t memorable. I asked Isabelle about why she ended the poem when she did. “I ran out of room on the paper,” she replied.

That’s when I taught her a paper trick she could use anytime so she wouldn’t feel constrained. We visited the paper center and grabbed more paper. I showed her how to tape on a piece so she could write more. Once we made that quick fix, I asked some questions about what she was trying to show. She said it was important for her reader to know that Ari was saying hi to everyone as the ride went in a circle and that she held Ari. I encouraged her — now that she had more paper — to write about those things with precision. (While I wanted to encourage her to start anew, I knew I was skating a thin line between mommy and literacy coach, so I opted to stay a little bit on the side of the mommy role.) I told her to come back to me once she had shown her reader what she was really trying to say.

Towards the end of the workshop, Isabelle found me while I was conferring with another friend. I asked her to wait — and she did. Once I was finished, I found this:

I complemented her on writing longer and reminded her she could do that any time in writing workshop. Then, I noticed what she did by writing about the important parts of the ride: Ari saying hi and holding onto him.

At the end of the workshop, I pulled Isabelle aside and gave her a charge for tomorrow. I talked to her about trying to make the reader feel they’re alongside her at Hersheypark, riding rides with her brother. I encouraged her to pay more attention to the feeling she has when she’s holding her brother on their rides rather than the describing the rides themselves.

I won’t be in next week, but I am hoping her teacher will send home Isabelle’s next attempt so I can see what kinds of poems she writes going forward.

poetry · slice of life

A Poetry Mission

Per Isabelle’s request, I came into her class for writing workshop today. She insisted I come in since “that’s what you do.” I emailed her teacher, found some mutally-convenient dates, and went to Isabelle’s writing workshop for the first time today.

Today was the first day Isabelle’s class began a poetry unit of study. While Isabelle loved rhyming board books as a child, she’s never taken to poetry. Believe me, I’ve tried many different poetry picture books — rhyming and non-rhyming! I even spent April 2015 placing poems, instead of my regular notes, in her preschool lunchbox in honor of National Poetry Month! However, the poetry bug never bit Isabelle and I had bigger fish to fry. (Enough idioms for you?)

Tomorrow’s snack bag poem is “Pinwheels” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

I noticed Isabelle seemed a bit disengaged while I worked with her and two of her friends as they recorded observations about objects during independent writing time. Despite me providing her — and her peers — with a strategy (i.e., What does the object look like, feel like, sound like?) for recording their observations, Isabelle didn’t have much to write. Her observations were surface-level descriptions about color and texture.

A few hours later, I picked Isabelle up from her after-school art class. I chatted with her about writing workshop on the car ride home.

  • I asked her if she was interested in the objects in the bins. (She said she wasn’t.)
  • I asked her if she felt like she had heard enough poems to inspire her own writing. (She said she hadn’t.)
  • I asked her if she’d like me to place a poem in her snack bag every day for the next few weeks while her class studies poetry. (She initially said no, but changed her mind 10 seconds later.)

So now I’m on a mission. A poetry mission, to be exact. My goal is to share some short poems with Isabelle I think she’ll enjoy. I’m not sure if they’ll inspire her to write her own observational poems, but — if nothing else — she’ll have a poetry gift in her snack bag every day for the foreseeable future.

I will return to her classroom next Monday. I’m not sure if she’ll have evolved into a budding poet by then, but I’m on a mission to find out.

slice of life_individual
Head over to on Tuesdays for more slice of life stories.

poetry · slice of life

Wiped-off Kisses

She knows it gets me

When she wipes off my kisses.

But she still loves me!

For now, my kisses only get wiped off in private when she's feeling silly.
For now, my kisses only get wiped off in private when she’s feeling silly.

Head over to  for more slices of life.
Head over to for more slices of life.

poetry · preschool · slice of life

On the Last Day of Preschool

On the last day of preschool

I forgot to take your picture.

But it’s okay

since you swiped my phone

and took 31 selfies

when I went upstairs

to brush my teeth.


On the last day of preschool

I drove myself to Starbucks

ordered an iced white mocha

and read a professional teaching book

for over two hours.


On the last day of preschool

I exercised in the middle of the day

because my hand

and wrist

and shoulder

hurt too much

for me to sit and write.

And I don’t know when

I’ll have the chance

to do that for a LONG time.


On the last day of preschool

I ate my lunch

and devoured popcorn

for dessert

because you weren’t watching.


On the last day of preschool

I gathered your rest mat

and change of clothes

and bathing suit

and wet towel

and loaded them in the car.

And even though everything

needs to be washed

it can wait ’till tomorrow.


On the last day of preschool

I held your hand

when we ambled to the car.

I wondered if

you will hold my hand

on the next


a year from now.

Head over to  for more slices of life.
Head over to for more slices of life.


Chalkabration · poetry

The Case for Poetry All Year Long

I don’t like chalk (because it’s messy), but I adore Betsy Hubbard (because she’s artistic, brilliant, and caring) so I went outside to chalk with my daughter this afternoon.  Unlike me, Isabelle likes to use chalk!  See:


Now, on to my poetic masterpiece (or not) in honor of April’s Chalk-A-Bration.

The Case for Poetry All Year Long/Imagine a world.../Where chocolate is eaten only in February/And turkey is just consumed in November./That's horrible --/ Dreadful even!/Now imagine a world/With a daily doet of poetry./Tastier,/right? (Click on the image to enlarge.)
The Case for Poetry All Year Long/Imagine a world…/Where chocolate is eaten only in February/And turkey is just consumed in November./That’s horrible –/Dreadful even!/Now imagine a world/With a daily diet of poetry./Tastier,/right?
(Click on the image to enlarge.)

I was one of those classroom teachers who infused poetry into my classroom all year long.  I couldn’t imagine teaching without poetry all year long thanks to my first literacy coach, Pat Werner, who opened the door of poetry to me during my first year of teaching.

Betsy hosts Chalkabration on the final day of each month at
Betsy hosts Chalkabration on the final day of each month at

confidence · poetry · slice of life

Reshaping a Year

Created with 59 Paper App.

Our next year

was reshaped

in 12 short hours and

in 3 little words.
We have love

because we have each other.

We have faith

because we have a strong plan.

We have hope

because we have fought tough battles

and have won


Our next year

will be different

from the one we envisioned–

but we have


and faith

and hope.

The only other thing we need

is some chocolate

to hide in the cabinets

to perk us up

on days when

love and faith and hope

don’t feel like enough.