Women – take 2

I wrote a poem called Women on 1/8/19
Today, I tried to revise it by starting each stanza with dialogue, then character description, and end with my reflection. I also got some help from my writing club, two wonderful woman writers – Thanks!

“Can I go to the restroom?”
The quiet, middle-schooler asked
with her cat-ear headband
poking up from each side of her curly blonde hair.
A good 15 minutes late, she returns to class,
headband in place
and her gym uniform in place of her jeans.
“Must has gotten her period,” I think to myself
and I give her a reassuring nod.

“Sad news…we are losing the baby”
I read in a text from my colleague.
Just last week during lunch she told me
“It’s the size of an avocado and
can make a fist and suck its thumb.”
I tremble as I text back “How can I help?”
knowing full well I can’t.
Her news makes no sense to me.

“Congrats to a new Arrival!”
I read in the email message line
then click and I see another colleague and his wife smiling
as they hold their new bundle.
“9lbs, 21 inches long” I read in the email.
Perfect weight and size I think
and what a family photo is supposed to be.

“Is it hot in here or just me” I wonder to myself
As I remove my sweater and toss it on the chair.
Thinking about these three women
and on the miracle that allowed me
to bring my own two into the world.
I nod my head, so overwhelmed.



“Can I go to the restroom?”
The quiet, middle-schooler asked
with her cat-ear headband
poking up from each side of her curly blonde hair.
A good 15 minutes late, she returns
Headband in place and her gym uniform in place of her jeans.
I give her a reassuring nod.
Must have just gotten her period.

Another student tells me
“In May my mom’s going to have a baby!”
She’s so happy and I’m sure her mom is too.
A mom, who works three jobs now
A student who I mentor at the library on Sundays
Because she’s new to this country.
And now another on the way.

My colleague texted me
“Sad news…we are losing the baby.”
Another baby was to be due in May
Doesn’t seem fair.
Doesn’t make any sense to me.

I open my email today
“Congrats to the new arrival!”
Another colleague’s wife just gave birth
9lbs, 21 inches long.
He and his wife must be so happy.
I hope my other colleague isn’t reading email today.

I take all this in
All these women
Then reflect on the miracle allowing me
to bring my own two into the world
And remove my sweater, pushing through my hotflash.




VSRA Presentation

Yesterday, instead of teaching my 6th graders, I went to Richmond, VA and made a presentation with my friend and colleague, Tammy. Because of all the support we got, the day was a success.

Thanks to Tammy driving us the two hours down 95, we easily arrived.

Thanks to the helpful Marriot staff, the car was parked, our bags were checked and we had a few hours to grab lunch and rehearse before our 4pm showtime.

Thanks to Evi, our one friend also attending the conference, whose serendipitous encounter just 10 minutes after arriving amongst the 100s of teachers scattered around the lobby, helped calm our nerves. (At least one person was planning to come hear us!)

Thanks to the conference volunteers who registered us and helped us find where we were presenting when confusingly the “Learning Lab” wasn’t listed on the conference map.


Thanks to the tech supports. One man ensured we had the cords and dongle and a working mic and another shared the wifi password with us. (And for Tammy who tracked down these supports while we both envisioned the worst case scenario – our tech not working for a presentation called  Using Technology During Reading and Writing Workshop).

Thanks to Sarah, a conference attendee who volunteered to introduce us to our audience. She arrived early and helped pass out our handout and shared the wifi password and now is a new teacher friend. Afterwards we exchanged emails after we discovered she lives in the next town over from us back home.

Thanks to the 30 or so teachers who came to learn with us! They listened, asked questions and smiled as we both nervously shared examples of our students using padlet, google slides and kidblog in Reading and Writing Workshop all shared from    this padlet.


Finally, thanks also to our school, system who supported us by covering the cost of the conference and are family and friends, who sent text messages of encouragement.

As I sent out a tweet after the presentation, I was reminded that it was International Women’s Day. I’m thankful, as a women, I had the opportunity today to empower more women in their teaching work.

Now today, I get to spend another day here. But this time, I’ll be sitting in the audience to learn from Jen Serravillo and Smokie Daniels! And I’m wearing jeans and my VA sweatshirt (because happily, my team, the UVA Mens Basketball team won their first game yesterday in the ACC tournament – Go Hoos!).


Women’s International Day

Somehow, International Women’s Day snuck up on me. I was reminded the day before when I heard Alexandria Public Schools, the next-over district, announced they were closing on March 8th due to the large number of women taking the day off. Our district was considering following suit but didn’t in the end.

I was reminded when I opened my laptop and clicked on chrome and saw this on my homepage:

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 8.55.57 PM

I was reminded when I kept seeing women wearing red and noticed I was wearing a boring black and white outfit.

I smiled when I saw that a creative person added this to the sign at my school’s restroom:


Once home after school, I asked my daughter what we should have for dinner. “If we were to get take-out, the paper listed Women-Owned restaurants. One is in Arlington.” Perfect plan, I thought! This can be my small contribution to give a shout-out to women on International Women’s Day.

Now, Arlington Kabob  restaurant’s phone number is added to my phone contacts as I plan to return again. And the women-owner kindly gave me an extra order of lentil soup for stopping in to show my support. I’m looking forward to enjoying this at lunch today as I talk up this yummy restaurant with my co-workers and check twitter to see how many more likes I get to this tweet:

:Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 6.56.36 AM

Driving to the March


As I post today, I have in my mind that in only a week and a day, I’ll start the March Writing Challenge! My goal this year is to “work on my writing”. Last week I gathered possible lessons I might try during March and I posted them HERE on a padlet.

Yesterday, I reread my past 3 years of Challenge writing and I gathered some pieces I think I could revise and added those links to another padlet HERE. Doing this reminded of a report card comment I made recently to one of my 3rd graders – He drafts quickly but doesn’t always want to return to revise for clearer writing structure. Through small group instruction, I will guide him to spend more time in the revision stage of writing during the third quarter. 

Now, I realize that I write quickly and don’t spend much time returning to revise. Yet, I’m often told that revision is the place to spend most of a writer’s time. So here is a draft of a story I wrote and read at my writing club meeting last week (3 ladies and I meet monthly. We write and then read it aloud and receive feedback!) and the feedback I received. The feedback made me realize that this was just a draft and revision is needed! I plan to add this link to the padlet I created yesterday!


Our car, already filled with 3 adults, pulled up to the curb at 8:10am on a Saturday and 3 more adults approached it. “Brian, thanks for driving us,” one voice called out. In they piled, joining me or rather squishing me in the back seat. Brian’s oldest sister sat in the front and now his youngest sister joined me in the back along with two college-age girls. “This is Rebecca, my college-roommate’s daughter, and her friend, Emma. They drove 11 hours yesterday from Kentucky,” sister-in-law Patti rambled on as the car headed into town onto 66. The map app currently showing only “green roads” so I convinced my husband to awake on a Saturday morning and be our driver so we could avoid the metro crowds.

As we headed over the 14th Street bridge, her know-it-all voice began. “Just take the 6th Street exit and drop us by the street so and so’s church. We can walk from there” I could tell Brian was patiently listening / ignoring his backseat sister. He said nothing and kept driving. He passed her suggested destination as his goal was to get us as close as possible. A few blocks more and he pulled right up beside the Capitol to let us all out of the car. I glanced at my watch – 8:31am. It only took us 21 minutes to get here!

So glad we had a driver, even if it meant being packed into the back seat like sardines. So glad I decided to come, even if it meant spending the day with Brian’s sister and her know-it-all attitude.

Looking around, I noticed many more groups of women. Some in pink hats. Some with clever-handmade signs. Some older, some younger. All headed to the National Mall, for the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C.


Suggestion from my writing group  – Keep going and continue to play with the tight and freeing feeling.





Women’s March 1.21.17

My original plan was just to house my sister-in-law and cousin, both coming to D.C. from out of town for the March. Then it seemed that I should tag along to be their tour guide. Yet, I had no idea I was joining such a huge global event on Saturday.

My take-aways:
1. I admit that I don’t pay much attention to not having rights that men in the USA have related to employment. The voices at the rally reminded me that women in this country are paid less than men and are not given equal access to jobs and not given adequate time off when they have a baby. Their voices made me realize I should push for equal pay for women.

2. I admit that I take for granted that I have always had health care due the middle class privilege I was born into. I admit that I don’t give much thought to those who don’t. Yet Planned Parenthood does and is a safe place for women to go to receive health care. Maybe I should join and support Planned Parenthood.

3. I admit that I don’t read enough about issues related to clean water and air and I take for granted that I can get a glass of water whenever I want. Maybe I should read more about this problem and support organizations that work to ensure clean water and air.

4. I feel I will remember this day – January 21, 2017 – and the rally speeches and the fact that it was just one of many enormous crowds gathered in cities around the globe which I realized once back home while watching the evening news. How powerful that so many marched all over the globe for women’s issues.

5. Finally, I pledge to add to my routine (my 2017 OLW) to contact my elected officials. I just wrote both VA Senators and told them to vote NO for DeVos for Education Secretary. I plan to continue to write them and my Congressman on issues each week. As the rally speakers stated, they work for me and need to hear my opinions! I also will keep reading about issues and plan to add my voice to the causes that affect all women, not just me.

I do believe, we are stronger together! The March literally showed me what this looks like!


To learn more about the Women’s March, click here.

Girls on the Run – First time

First, let me explain that I am not a runner. I grew up swimming year-round. I was okay when I ran the shuttle for the Presidential Fitness Award but hated the day we had to run the mile. I hated that feeling I always got of a cramp in my side and not being able to catch my breath because I would start out too fast.

This Fall there was a 5k race at my new school and I thought, why not. I should be supportive and run. It’s just a 5K. Little did I know that the race course was all up and down hills. As I climbed each hill, I just looked down, walked and kept telling myself, “One foot. Now the other foot.” As I climbed, I remembered the scene in A Long Walk to Water where the one character would tell the boy walking, “Just to that tree.” Then once there, “Just to that tree.” So I kept telling myself, “Just walk to the top and then run down the hill.” So after many walks up and runs down hills and many runners passing me, I did finish!!

Weeks ago I read that coaches were needed for the Spring Girls on the Run at my school. I thought, why not? It is Spring and I can walk and run. And hopefully the end of the season’s run will be on a course with less hills! And I get to be outside, moving and supporting girls!!

Our group met today for the first time. Lucky for us, it was gorgeous out, 60+ degrees! The hour went by quickly as we bonded over a game that got us to learn names. Then the other coach and I took turns running/walking on the half-mile loop around our school.

It is a good feeling to be outside and moving. I still don’t think I’ll ever call myself a running. But who know? I never before called myself a writer and this is my 526th blog post!