The Quiet #sol15

I thought I didn’t have anything to write about tonight.  It’s Wednesday, and my Wednesdays are crazy.  I coach, I have professional development until 4:30, then I rush home to get my girls to dance by 5:30, at 6:30 we pick up dinner, eat, and then it’s time to tuck the girls in.  All day I thought about how I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted to write tonight.  I honestly thought I’d end up just telling you about my crazy Wednesdays in order to put something down on paper.

I thought I didn’t have anything to write about tonight, but then I put my sweet girls to bed, sat down, and suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to say.

My girls are in bed, my husband is at work tonight, and I’m finally sitting down in my quiet house with a cup of tea.  This moment right here is what replenishes me.  I love my work as a coach, but it is taxing on an introvert.  It’s taxing on my sensitive soul because I often experience the emotions of the teachers I support as deeply as if they were my own.  At the end of the day, I need the quiet.  I need to sit and just be.  I need to take a hot bath.  I need to read a book.  I need the quiet.

It’s taken me a long time to realize just how important this down time is for me.  There have been countless times that I didn’t realize that I was cranky at the end of the day because I needed my space.  There were years that went by when I didn’t take advantage of the quiet or know that I needed to ask for it.  I now recognize just how much I need this space in my day.  It’s my recharge, and without it I can easily start to feel like I’m drowning in the world around me.

There is laundry to do, a paper I need to write for class, dishes that need to be put away, and a dozen other things I should take care of before I go to sleep tonight.  But for now, I’ll sit here in the quiet and just breathe because that’s the best way to help me be me.

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Snippets #sol15

The girls have been in preschool for a couple of weeks when their teacher approaches me.  “Charlotte and Evelyn are so cute and sweet, but….ummmm…about how many words do you think they can say?”  Even though I know it’s a serious conversation, I burst out laughing.  At two and a half, both girls are chatterboxes at home.  Like their daddy, they are quiet and reserved in public, but still full of energy and wonder.  Two-year-olds who use the word “humongous” accurately likely don’t have a language delay.  They’re shy…that’s not a bad thing…right?

———-

The girls spent the afternoon at a Frozen party at their dance studio.  Snacks, games, dancing, singing, and plenty of sugar.

“Did you have a fun time at dance?” I ask.

“Yeah, mama.  But my tummy is asking for snuggles now.”

———-

“So, Charlotte and Evelyn are doing really well with all of their academics.  They know their letters, colors, numbers, and shapes.  It’s just that they are still really quiet at school.  I wish they would open up more.  I mean, I’m ok with them being quiet, but I wish they would talk more at school.  It’s really ok, though.  They’ll grow out of it.”

I sat in our parent-teacher conference wondering exactly who the teacher was trying to convince that being quiet is ok.  It’s ok with me!

———-

“My girls are pretty shy and quiet.  They’re a lot like I was when I was a kid.”

“Erin, there is no way you were ever shy!”

It’s funny that this is how people see me.  I can recall any number of times where my stomach churned and my heart thudded in my chest when I had to speak up or meet new people or just go somewhere I’d never been before.  I still self-identify as shy, quiet, introverted, sensitive.  I’ve learned how to manage our extroverted society, though, and I’ve learned to see my quiet traits as strengths.  Now…how do I help my little girls to do the same while staying true to themselves?

———-

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

 

 

Hello! #sol15

My friend Jen participates in weekly Slice of Life posts hosted by Two Writing Teachers, and I happened to read her posts yesterday and today that she is participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Color me intrigued.  I have been trying (and failing) to get back to my writing, and it keeps becoming that thing on my to-do list that just gets pushed until tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow.  Maybe a daily writing challenge is just the kick in the pants I need.  So…here I am…

Since I’m participating in the challenge and that may lead to some new friends, I thought I’d start by introducing myself.

Hello!  I’m Erin.

Let’s see…isn’t it funny how introducing yourself is hard?

I’ll start with my family.  I’ve been married to my husband, Ted, for nearly eleven years now.  ELEVEN.  We have two fantastic, goofy, sweet, amazing daughters, Charlotte and Evelyn who are four and a half.  Yep.  Twins.  It’s basically as cool as you’d imagine it to be.  We traveled a tough road to become parents, and while that isn’t the story I’m telling this month, it is a story that’s well-documented on this blog, and I’d encourage you to check it out.  In addition to Ted and the girls, I also have two furry family members, Rufus and Kaya.  They are smelly, old dogs, but I love them anyway.

In addition to parenting and devouring as many books as I can read, I do have a day job.  I currently work as an instructional coach, which is kind of a fancy way to say that I support teachers in their practice.  Prior to coaching, I taught early childhood special education for 8 years.  Education is a huge passion of mine, and what excites me daily about my job is getting to geek out having conversations on teaching and learning.

Reading is a huge passion of mine, and I spend a great deal of time with my nose buried in a book.  I also love all things Harry Potter, both book and film, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, coffee, and tea.  Oh, and colored tights.  I really love colored tights.  And sparkly nail polish.  And cheese.

That’s me in a nutshell.  I’m a little nervous about embarking on this writing endeavor this month because I’ve decided to jump in on a whim, whereas I’m normally more of a planner.  Hopefully, though, this will let me get my story out and my ideas flowing without worrying too much about things being polished.

What’s the story I want to tell this month?  Well, it’s a bit about me, a dash about my girls, and a fair amount about parenting and teaching.  I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow to find out more!

 

Scenes from a Monday

“Hey mom!  Um, my hair is feeling kind of dirty, so I think we need to take a bath.  But just a playing bath, not a washing hair bath, ok?  Does that sound good?”

I get a bath ready for my formerly bath-hating girls so they can splash around like mermaids for a bit.  I go to sit down and as soon as my butt hits the tile, “Um, mommy?  Can you go do some laundry or something?”

That’s kid-code for, “Please get out of the bathroom so we can splash like crazy and you won’t get mad.”

———-

“Oh!  Mommy!  I need to tell you a question about my birthday.  In five days it’s going to be my birthday and I’m going to be five years old so that means I’m growing up fast.  At my Strawberry Shortcake birthday it will be summer and it will be a party at our house not at dance class.  I think I’ll get green eyes for my birthday so I can be like Real Strawberry Shortcake.  And Wyatt is going to bring me a Real Pupcake and Real Custard that will make noise and move by themselves just like Rufus and Kaya.  And I think I’ll get a scooter like Strawberry Shortcake so I can drive to my cafe.  Actually, I think our house will turn into my cafe on my birthday.  Ok?  How does that sound?”

———-

The girls ask if they can watch The Little Mermaid, so I decide this is the perfect opportunity to work on a discussion post for my class.

“Mama, what are you doing on your ca-puter?”

“Homework.”

“What kind of homework?”

“I’m writing an answer to a question.”

“What question?”

“It’s a question about teaching kids who speak a different language.”

“MOM. I need you to tell me the words of the question.”

“Ummmm…what are the implications for Krashen’s hypotheses and Collier’s prism model?”

“Ok.  That sounds good.  Can you get me some fresh, cold water?”

No homework was completed during the course of this film.

———-

“Mooooooooooooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy!  We’re hungry!  We’re starving! Can we have chicken and couscous for dinner?”

I make dinner exactly as requested and set it on the table.

“So, how many bites do I have to take?”

———-

It’s time for our nightly dance party! Listening to our favorite song, “Blank Space”* by Taylor Swift, Charlotte announces that she now knows all the words.

“It’ll leave you breakfast! Or with a nasty car.”

“Gotta love all these blubbers, they’ll tell you I’m the same.”

“Boys only want love if it’s your turn.”

*Both girls think this song is about a baby called Blank Space Baby.  They frequently ask to write her name.

———-

The girls are in bed.  I should be using this time to work on that discussion post, but instead here I am writing about and missing those crazy, goofy, sweet ladies.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MERMAIDS IN MY BED!”

Write Something

One of my goals for this year is to rebuild my writing habit.  Writing has fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years, at least in terms of this blog.  I still write papers for classes and write at work, but I haven’t been writing for myself lately.  Writing is not only something I love to do, but it’s my most powerful reflection tool.  It’s still early in the year, and I already feel like I’m struggling to write.  It’s not that I don’t have ideas — I have plenty of ideas — but it’s more that I’ve developed this mindset that every post needs to be polished and meaningful.  So I get stuck because I don’t always have the energy to write something amazing, and I’m out of practice so it’s tricky to get started.

I just need to write something.  Anything.

Just like reading begets reading, writing begets writing.  I need to get back in the habit, practice, and put my words out there.  Even if they aren’t my best words.  The more I write, the better I’ll get.

So, tonight, that’s what I’m doing.  I’m just writing something.  I am quite literally writing about how I need to write more.

One of the things I value most about this blog is that it’s always been my place to tell my story.  This has been my space to share about and process all that has gone on in my life.  I miss taking the time to share my story and to connect with all of you.  I’m working to get back to that place.  Writing this now, it occurs to me that I never shared something with you.  A couple of months back, the team I work with spent a morning together sharing TED-style talks.  I poured my heart and soul into developing my talk which was about the importance of telling your story.  Creating that talk is what sparked my desire to write again.  It reminded me what a powerful tool storytelling is and that I needed to get back to it.  Anyhow.  I figured, I would go ahead and share my talk with you now.  It’s long and it’s not the highest quality video, but I’d love your feedback if you do take the time to watch.

How do you keep up your writing habit?  What does sharing your story do for you?

Spark

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I would like 2015 to bring for me, and about how I want to approach this new year. I always set reading goals (100 books this year), but otherwise resolutions really aren’t my thing.  They just don’t work for me.  This year, I decided to try the “one little word” approach to the upcoming year.  Rather than a list of specific goals or resolutions, my one little word is meant to be a guide for me this year as I work towards my goals and reflect on the world around me.  After careful consideration, the world I’ve chosen is…

SPARK

I chose Spark because it fits so well with my personal and profession goals as well as the person I want to be.  It just takes one tiny spark to start a fire, to elicit change.  I want 2015 to shine with the sparks I put out into the world.  This year I hope to…

  • Spark curiosity and wonder in my girls.
  • Spark new friendships.
  • Spark new reading interests.
  • Spark (rekindle) my joy in writing.
  • Spark inquisitiveness and reflection in those I coach.
  • Sparkle by letting my true self always shine through (and by wearing sparkly nail polish).
  • Spark conversations that lead to change.

Do you have a word for 2015?  What do you hope to spark this year?

August 2014 Reads

In August, I read 11 books and I’m now at 78 for the year.  With work starting back up again and taking graduate classes, my reading has slowed down, but I’m still hoping to finish 100 books this year!  Here’s what I read in August…

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray — 2 Stars. I was wooed by the cover of this book at the library, but it was just ok. I don’t think I’ll be reading the next installment.  There are definitely better teenage witchy magic books out there.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers — 4 Stars. This started a little slow for me, and I wasn’t sure I was all that interested. It didn’t take long for me to really become invested in the story, though.  Assassin nuns?  How can you go wrong?  I just picked up the next book in the series from the library, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater — 4 Stars. My goodness, I love the way this woman tells a story.  Another book in the Realm of Faerie.  I liked this better than Lament.

The Naming by Alison Croggon — 3 Stars. I’m actually a little undecided as to how I feel about this book.  I liked it, but it didn’t wow me.  Still, for being as long as it is and the constant walking in the woods plot, I am interested in the story and what happens next.  I really do hope there is less walking in the woods in the next installment, though.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys — 4 Stars.  Loved the setting.  Loved the characters.  Josie is an interesting and unique female protagonist.  She lives in a bookstore and is the daughter of a prostitute.  This was an engaging young adult mystery.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson — 4 Stars.  This is one of those cases where I would never have picked up the book if I didn’t already like the author.  The cover is just stupid and in no ways conveys anything about the book.  Anyhow.  This was a sweet, fun, sentimental travel adventure about finding yourself.  Ignore the stupid cover.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin — 3 Stars.  This was creepy, weird, paranormal young adult read.  Creepy in a good way.  Only three stars because I wish the story had been more developed.  Perhaps the next book will have more answers for me.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Calahan — 4 Stars.  This was a fascinating medical memoir.  Like an episode of House, except real.  Extremely interesting non-fiction read.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach — 5 Stars.  This is one of those Great American Novels.  So, so good. I loved the characters and felt like I knew them personally. Don’t be fooled by the baseball premise. This book is about baseball in the way that baseball is about life.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin — 5 Stars.  I checked this out from the library, but I’m going to need to own a copy of this book.  This is going straight to the top of my recommended reads. I can’t even tell you how much I loved this lovely little book. I wanted to take up residence in it. It was over far too soon. If you are a book lover, you will love this book. This book is about a bookstore, books, book selling, and life. Loved every page.

A More Beautiful Questions: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger — 4 Stars.  This book is about exactly what the title says: the ways that asking questions can help us solve problems.  It took me over a month to read this book because it constantly caused me to stop and reflect.

That’s it for my August reads!  Stay tuned for an exciting bookish announcement later this week!

 

July 2014 Reads

July ended up being my most readingest month yet with 15 books!  Currently, I’ve finished 66 books this year.  At the rate I’ve been going, I decided that my reading goal needed to be a little more challenging, so I’m pushing myself to finish 100 books by the end of 2014.  Wish me luck!

So, what did I read this month?

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi — 4 Stars.  This is the final book in the Shatter Me trilogy, and I think it might have been my favorite of the three.  Juliette annoyed me as a character throughout much of the trilogy, but I felt like she started to come into her own in this book.

The One by Kiera Cass — 4 Stars.  This is the final book in The Selection trilogy.  This trilogy is so The Bachelor meets dystopia, but I found it to be a lot of fun.  Full of teenaged drama, so be prepared for that!

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell — 4 Stars.  This was a fast, intriguing read that left me with more questions than answers.  It ends quite abruptly, so if you like neat endings, this book is not for you.  A haunting tale about a woman who lost her life to a mental institution.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell — 5 Stars.  I found follow Rainbow Rowell to the ends of the earth.  I love her books so much.  Reading about Georgie and Neal’s relationship left me feeling very emotional and raw at times.  Plus, there was the added bonus of a magic phone.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins — 5 Stars. Jenny recommend this to me, and I just loved it.  I couldn’t put it down.  Such a sweet young adult romance.

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins — 4 Stars.  I loved the Hex Hall series by Hawkins, so I was excited to discover this at the library.  It definitely didn’t disappoint!  Another great supernatural read from Rachel Hawkins!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson — 5 Stars.  London, Jack the Ripper, boarding school, and ghosts?  Yes, please!  I devoured this.

Forest Born by Shannon Hale — 3 Stars.  Shannon Hale is a great storyteller, and while I enjoyed this fourth installment in the Books of Bayern, it just didn’t grab me the way the others did.  I had a hard time with Rin as the main character.  I just couldn’t connect with her.

The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation by Elena Aguilar — 5 Stars.  If you work as a teacher leader or coach in any capacity, I cannot say enough good things about this book.  I will definitely return to it again and again.  Such a valuable resource.

Conversion by Katherine Howe — 4 Stars.  Something is happening to the girls of St. Joan’s.  Witchcraft?  This was an intelligently spooky read.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson — 4 Stars.  After The Name of the Star, I couldn’t wait to get my hand on the second book in the Shades of London series.  Another awesome read.  And now I want to move to London and hunt ghosts.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness — 4 Stars.  It just dawned on me that I finished a lot of trilogies this month.  This final installment in the All Souls trilogy jumps right in where the last book left off.  This was a solid end to a thoroughly enjoyable vampire/witch romance.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink — 5 Stars.  I know people probably aren’t as geeked out about psychology and learning as I am, but this was fantastic.  Such a fascinating look at what motivates us and how work and school get it all wrong.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart — 4 Stars.  I loved the voice in this book.  Such a great female lead, too.  I read it in a day.

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater — 3 Stars.  Maggie Stiefvater is a remarkable storyteller.  While this wasn’t my favorite of hers (The Scorpio Races.  Go read it.  NOW.), I really did enjoy it and plan to grab the next book from the library ASAP.

Well, there you have them — my large pile of read books for July.  What have you been reading this summer?  What should I check out next?

March-June 2014 Reads

Remember when I said I would post monthly about what I’ve been reading? Oops. I am determined to get back on track because I love sharing books. Since I’m a few months behind, I’m just going to list titles and link them to my Goodreads reviews, with the occasional comment on a few of my favorites.

March 2014 —

April 2014 —

May 2014 —

June 2014 —

So, that’s what I’ve been reading over the past few months.  What have you read lately that you’ve loved?  I always need more books to add to my neverending to-read list!

Ode to Diapers

Dear Diapers,

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kind of miss you. I know I complained about your mess, your smell, and having to haul you everywhere. I whined about washing you and longed for the days when I would never have to hose poop off you again.

I didn’t know how good I had it.

You made it so that I didn’t have to drop everything I was doing for a potty break.

With you, I didn’t have to run across Target to make it to the bathroom.

I didn’t have to stop eating mid-bite to take a kid to the bathroom. And then take the second one as soon as I sat down again.

When you were in my life, I didn’t have to squeeze into a public bathroom stall with two kids, squat on the floor to keep them from falling in, or hold them up to the sink to wash hands.

I didn’t have to deal with a kid freaking out about automatic flushers or loud hand dryers.

Most importantly, I didn’t have to worry about little hands opening the stall door every single time I dared to use the toilet myself.

All of this to say, I’m sorry I was so hard on you. I hope your next family appreciates your hard work,

With fondness,
Erin