Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Slice of Life: The Power of Talk, Tummies, and Pens

Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

"He doesn't write," the teacher said. "Just about nothing. Literally."

I asked her what she'd tried, where he seemed to get stuck, what his current piece was-- the usual questions. Her answers reflected her frustration. No, not much, not really...

I agreed to come take a look.

After the minilesson, students headed to their writing places, and V. headed to his. I watched him approach his task. He had a large binder that someone had suggested he use as a slantboard, and his pencil was dull with very little eraser left. His space was cluttered, and his writing folder was full of papers at various angles with not much writing on them. Someone had given him the special OT paper with raised lines, and he was using that. The paper had narrow lines, though, and lots of them.

I didn't go over right away. Instead I watched as he wrote and erased. Wrote and erased. The binder skidded underneath his pressure, and he had to keep pulling back into the place beneath him.

After a few minutes, I went over and pulled up a seat beside him. I'd met V. before, but I introduced myself.

"So what are you working on?" I asked. "What's going well?"

He stopped, happy to talk instead of write, and he showed me the list of about 30 foods that he could create in Minecraft. He was working on listing them into his piece. Truth: I was struggling a bit with how to generalize a lesson that he could use with other pieces of writing while telling him that he shouldn't make a section of here are all the foods!

"Readers really just hold onto about three facts a session," I said. "I'm wondering if you could take maybe one or two important ones and say more about them."

Without missing a beat, he did.

Once he practiced telling me about them, I pulled my signature move, hoping that it'd work.

"That binder seems slippery," I said. "Could I show you a way I like to write?"

We moved to the floor, and I showed him how I lie on my stomach and use a Flair pen. I offered him a choice of colors. He chose blue. And he lay on the floor.

The size of the paper worried me, as I'm not a fan of giving striving writers a full sheet of paper with lots of lines, but those raised OT lines are pricey, so I folded it in half.

"Just try to get this much done about the steak," I said. "Want to practice saying it one more time?"

He shook his head. "I want to write it," he said.

And he did.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Slice of Life: Tomorrow, Not Today

Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

When I finally found the email from Student Universe with the confirmation codes for Clare's ticket, my heart skipped a beat. Maybe two beats. Maybe even fifty beats. The date for her travel: January 20. Today's date: January 18. Our understanding: She was leaving tomorrow-- January 19. 

We had a problem.

Note: I can not use speech as a craft move in this post if I'm to keep it appropriate. Please imagine the appropriate dialogue.

Over and over, I considered the dates. Yesterday had been my husband's birthday, so today was definitely January 18. No-- I hadn't missed a day. 

Please, please tell me that we didn't have the wrong date booked for travel. 

(Please, please, also tell me that I don't have to co-exist with Clare and another day-before-leaving stress level!)

Without saying anything, I went downstairs to find the sheet of paper that had the agenda for her semester abroad. Truth: my heart was still pounding. At the top was the arrival date: January 20.

"Clare," I said, calling her into my room with the computer screen open and the piece of paper in my hand. "We have a situation."

I put the two artifacts in front of her and told her to consider today's date. I could tell from her expression that she didn't really know whether to cry or laugh. We'd had a stressful day of trying to get everything done, pack, run to the store for last minute necessities, review the contents of her room, go over communication plans, finalize her phone situation... To be completely honest, we had a late afternoon blow-up, and I was ready for her to leave.

"I'm leaving Monday," she finally said. "Not tomorrow?"

I nodded, and then we laughed. And laughed.

Sometimes, you really do receive the gift of time. Of another day. We'd have a great one.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Slice of Life: A Surprise Ending and a PSA

Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said.

I was at the Apple Store, trying to absorb the idea that since I had purchased my daughter's Airpods from Amazon last May, but the original purchase date via their serial number was a year and 17 days ago, we were 17 days past the warranty and the possibility for replacing her non-functioning Airpod without $75. (Note to self and PSA: Beware of buying things with warranties from Amazon since the timing does not work in the consumer's benefit... news to me!)

My anger might have shown a bit, but I took a deep breath, and explained the situation to another person at the store. She listened, nodded, explained again. Her suggestion was to call Apple Care from home.

From my kitchen table, I went through the maze of automated responses, and then got someone who transferred me to someone else after another wait. So for the fourth time, I explained the situation. When the Apple Care representative finally suggested a Customer Service representative, she wanted to know exactly what about the Airpod wasn't working. Since Cecily wasn't home, I asked Julia to put on the offending device and tell me what the problem was. She did, and her eyes got wide as she tried not to smile. (She had also been with me at the mall, full witness to my aggravation.)

I was on speaker with Apple Care, so Julia mouthed something I couldn't understand.

"What?" I asked.

She grabbed a pen. It's working fine for me, she wrote.

"Hold on a minute," I said to Ryan, whose name I now knew.

I put both Airpods in my own ears. Ryan's voice came through clearly in my right ear. And also in my left ear. Should I be happy or extra annoyed at this point? And with who???

I went with happy and my OLW 2020.

"Wow," I said. (Wow is my word.)

And then I explained the situation to him, hoping he'd laugh, which he did a little, and looked forward to Cecily's arrival home.

Happy Slicing,

Monday, January 6, 2020

Slice of Life: I'm Taking a Challenge!

Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

"You won't be able to do it, Mom," Cecily said when I announced my plan at the dinner table. "You've tried in the past, and that phone is right back there with you next to your bed."

I laughed. She wasn't wrong.

"I'm using my knowledge of goal setting, though," I said. "I am saying out loud that I am leaving my phone downstairs when I go to bed. Even before I go to bed."

We all know that I've been having screen time issues since the girls introduced me to a silly game. (If you want to be hooked, load 2048 on to your phone if you haven't already. It really is addictive. Problematic, actually.) I'm giving myself another few days, and then I'm taking it off my phone unless I can get myself in check!

"What about email?" Clare asked. "Are you allowed to use your computer?"

"Yes," I said. "I do useful things on my computer, so that's allowed."

My family is betting that this won't work, and they might be right. But maybe they're wrong. And maybe they'll even join me in this break-from-my-phone challenge.

And now, I'm going to go read a book!

Happy Slicing!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

One Little Word for 2020

This will be the seventh year that I have taken on One Little Word and lived with its guidance
throughout the entire twelve months. I know that I’m not so good at resolutions. They frustrate me,
and I lose sight of them quickly. However, just one word… I can do that. Especially when the word
is one that flexes with me. Most of my words have been short, but they have multiple meanings.
I like words that can act as multiple parts of speech. The longest word, acknowledge, was my least
favorite word, and maybe that was because of its singular meaning. The other words have braided
together, and they all hold leadership seats in how I live my life. 

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. My word JOY of 2019 helped me remember this.

I love going to Quote Investigator when I want to give credit to whoever said a phrase I love. Maya Angelou receives credit from a number of sources for talking about the quality and not the quantity of breaths, but there are several other people who have coined similar phrases over the years, and I like some of those phrases even better:
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;In feelings, not in figures on a dial.We should count time by heart-throbs. He most livesWho thinks most—feels the noblest—acts the best.- Philip James Bailey in 1839

Remember that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away! Dancing can do that for you!
-Tahitian Choreographies by Vicki Corona in 1989

Throughout 2019, Joy has been a great word for me. JOY was an exception to my multiple parts of speech rule, but Beth Moore pointed out that there was something fun about thinking about JOY as a verb and over the course of 2019, I loved thinking about JOY as an action. Even when I have not felt particularly joyful (and there have been those times), I have leaned on this word to remember that people respond better when we lead from a place of happiness. Over and over, I have found this to be true. And, I have also found that when we look for joy, we frequently find it. Isn’t it so often the case that when we are looking for something, we find it? For 2020, I want to continue this kind of living, and I’m combining the idea behind the breathlessness and the word joy, so I am going with the word WOW. 

True disclaimer: I’ve been thinking about WOW as a word for a few weeks, and

I’ve even practiced using it. People respond really well when I respond to them with WOW.

It’s such a simple word, but there’s a lot of sentiment that lies within it, and we can convey a lot

of meaning, especially when we consider our intonations and delivery. There are a LOT of ways

to say WOW, and true to my pattern, it can act as different parts of speech-- We can respond with

WOW, but we can also WOW people.

Along the lines of word flexibility, WOW also interests me as a word because when I turn it upside down, guess what? It says MOM. And 2020 is the year when motherhood is sort of turned upside down for me since this is the year when the youngest of our four daughters will leave for college. Yes, we will be empty-nesters, and, at least for the time being, none of the older daughters are returning home. 2020 is also a year where there is a pattern in the numbers, and WOW echoes that. Maybe that's one more sign that's out there telling me to choose this word for the year.

And so there it is, my One Little Word for 2020: WOW. I'm looking forward to it, and I can't wait to hear what other people are choosing.