“Hello?”  I answered my phone, expecting to hear my sister’s voice.

“Aunt Jennie?”  Instead it was a small voice on the other end.  “We think you sent these packages to us.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because it was Dog Man 3 and you said you would get it for me,”  my nephew replied.

“Well, you’re right.  I sent it.”

“Thank you!”

“And you sent me an Elephant book!”  his brother yelled in the background.

“Yep!  I love Elephant and Piggie!”  I responded.

I sent them each a book from Amazon without a note and without telling their mom.  But, my older nephew knew exactly who had sent it.

I love getting books in the mail!  The only thing better?  Getting this phone call after sending books in the mail!  #makingreaders

Barnes and Noble

But other times, my heart is cool.  I bob along gently like a balloon on a string.  My heart feels lazy and slow, as quiet as a snowfall.  This is when my heart is calm.

I stand in Barnes and Noble, reading these words from In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek. I stand here holding my daughter, as my son wanders the store, and I realize that this is how my heart feels right now. This is how my heart always feels when we wander here.51TVUBh6fML._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Sometimes we come to Barnes and Noble on a mission to find a specific book, sometimes in search of something new, and most often just to wander. This store is a happy place for us.

Barnes and Noble was there when Troy was little and more interested in playing with the train than finding a new book.  It was there for us when he needed the next book in the A Tale Dark and Grimm series and he couldn’t wait even a day. It was there each time he finished a book and needed something new. It was there when he finally decided he was ready to read Harry Potter. And it was there last year when he was struggling and needed a safe place. It has always brought both of us a feeling of peace when we needed it most.

I stand here reading this book, holding my daughter in my arms as my son wanders. And I am filled with gratitude for this store full of books. This safe place. The calm we can always find regardless of the storms raging within.  And I am filled with gratitude for all the memories that have occurred within these walls, surrounded by stories.






“She needed a man.”

“She needed a man.”

I had heard her “reading” behind me, but wasn’t focusing on what she was saying.  I was trying to enjoy our Flashlight Friday with some reading as well.  But that line – that line pulled me out of my book.

“She went to Africa.  She needed someone to take care of the chimpanzees.”

She continued to pace behind me, “reading” from her book.  I knew she wasn’t reading the words in the book.   Making up her own story is still her favorite reading time activity, even though she can read books that are “just right” for her.  Some days, like today, the day before Spring Break, it’s a battle we can’t fight.  We know we won’t win.  After several minutes of listening, it was clear she was “reading” about Jane Goodall.

It was taking every ounce of will power not to laugh.

“I read chimpanzee books until I was six.  Those were long years…”  she reads as if she is exhausted.

That was it.  I couldn’t contain my amusement, but tried to stay as silent as possible.  However, at this point others around us were hearing this, too.

What is she reading?” a boy at the next table asks.

“Don’t worry.  Read your book,” I reply as I pretended to read mine.

She continues on and he can’t let it go.

What is she reading?”  he asks again.

“About Jane Goodall and chimpanzees,” I tell him.


Then, the girl under my table, with a clear view of the book in question, says in a confused tone, “It’s about a dog and a dolphin?”


It’s a good thing it’s the Friday before Spring Break…

This is the same student that stars in my slices Finding a Just Right Book the Week Before Spring Break and What’s a Pole Vault?.    She is a fountain of slices!  She has been my muse this month!

Have You Ever?

<fart sound>

“Was that you or her?”  I asked my son from the front seat.

“Her,” he said with a chuckle.  He’s constantly impressed and amused with his baby sister’s flatulence.

“Wow.”  It really is shocking the volume of the sounds that can come from such a tiny human.  It reminded me of Fridays dinner at my husbands grandparents.  “You know on Friday, I had her sitting on the table that everyone else was eating at and she tooted.  They all turned and looked at us…it was really loud.  I think they wondered which one of us it was.”

“Well, yeah.  It’s like when you fart on a yoga ball!  It like…echos,”  my son said with animation.  “It’s so loud!” he continued as my husband and I laugh and shake our heads.  “It’s true!  Have you ever farted on a yoga ball?!”


I want to shake my head at the things teenage boys find entertaining. But since drafting this slice, I’ve realized that I am writing this story…so what does that say about me….


Slice of Life #28 and a Revision

“I need to show you something,” she said as she walked in holding her laptop.

Oh no. I couldn’t help but wondering what was wrong. My anxiety jumps to the worst possible conclusions in seconds.  Why would a fifth grade teacher be coming into my second grade room?  I know I came in late to the meeting this morning, but that’s not something that ever happens…

“I have to sign in again.”  I waited as she set the laptop on the tiny couch and typed in her password.  The horrible possibilities rushing through my mind. 

When I noticed what was open on her screen, I realized why she had walked over here.  She was showing me that my slice was featured on TWT today!  I knew this, but she didn’t know that.  I was so excited that one of my slices was chosen to be featured in the “Be Inspired” section of today’s post.  However, it means even more that a colleague of ten years was so excited for me. 

In the moment, I was jumping to worst case scenarios, because that’s what I always do.  Looking back, now that my nerves have settled, I realize that she was smiling and excited for me.  That’s what I missed in my original version of the slice – the happiness and excitement.  My anxiety took over and altered the reality, so I’m taking that moment back.  Luckily, it’s March and I can reflect and revise my memory of this slice of my day.

“I need to show you something,” she said as she walked in smiling and holding her laptop.

I wonder what was so exciting it caused her to take the walk down the stairs, across the hall, and then up here to the “other upstairs?”

“I have to sign in again.”  I waited as she set the laptop on the tiny couch and typed in her password.

When I noticed what was open on her screen, I realized why she had walked over here.  She was showing me that my slice was featured on TWT today!  I knew this, but she didn’t know that.  I was so excited that one of my slices was chosen to be featured in the “Be Inspired” section of today’s post.  Thanks for being excited for me, Katie!

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 12.37.27 PM

I am so grateful for the community that SOL creates and all of the teachers in my school alone that are participating.  (We went from three of us six years ago, to numbers in the teens the last two years!)






Tiny fingers

wrapped around the blue petals.

She saw her reflection

and smiled.

I watched

absorbed in the moment.

She continued to smile

at the little girl in the mirror

who smiled back.

Content and happy.

And I silently hoped

this is how it would always be.

That regardless of

the years that pass,

the things that change,

the worries that exist,

she will always see her reflection

and smile at the person

looking back at her.

Content and happy.

Finding a Just Right Book the Week Before Spring Break

“How about this book?”  she says more to herself than me.  She doesn’t really care what I think.

“That book is in Spanish,”  I tell her, for some reason thinking it will be enough for her to put it back and pick a new one.  Some of the students know how to speak Spanish, a few more how to read it.  She is not in either of those categories.

She continued looking at it, getting ready to put it in her book bag.

“You don’t know how to read Spanish, so that book isn’t just right for you.”

“Yes I do.”

“You don’t know how to read Spanish. Put the book back and pick a new one,” I repeat.

She looks up at me and smiles, “Gracias!”

I can’t. Through laughter I repeat, “Put the book back and pick a new one.”

The Papaya

“Did I tell you about the papaya?”  my son asked on the way home Sunday night.

I had only seen him for a little bit on Friday, so I hadn’t heard anything about school on Friday yet.  “No, I don’t think so.”

He took a bite of his granola bar and chewed.

I waited.

And waited.

“Are you going to tell me about it?”

He nodded as he chewed another bite of the granola bar.

I waited.

“The Papaya,”  he said and then paused.

I waited.

“Ok.  So, Friday during Lanugage Arts -”

“Wait!” I interrupted.  “Did you just say the title of your story?”

He nods and then continues telling me the story of “The Papaya.”  Yes, my son, the writer, apparently titles even his verbal stories.  It wasn’t actually titled “Papaya,”  it was another “p” word that is more of what you would expect from middle school boys.   He went on to tell me a story about middle school boys, a “papaya” drawing, and an unsuspecting teacher on the last day before spring break.  The more he tells me about middle school, the happier I am to be here in elementary school,  far away from “papayas” and middle school boys…

And so it started …

“Can you make me one?” Another student asks C, holding a piece of blank paper.

I could only see her back, but I could tell C just wanted to use her sacred ten minutes of quiet time to read her book. She had spent countless quiet times making them for the other students in the class and I could see in her body language that she was torn. She didn’t want to tell him no, but she also just wanted to read.

I took pity on her and did what I had been avoiding for weeks.

“Let C read. Come here and I will make it for you,” I told the student.

I saw disbelief in his eyes as he walked toward me. However, I also saw C’s body relax and slide back into her book.  And that made what I knew was coming (lots and lots of folding) completely worth it.

“You can make fortune tellers?!?” he and several other students nearby said in disbelief.

“Yes, I can make fortune tellers. This isn’t a new thing. I used to make them when I was your age,” I told them and they watched as I started folding.

And so it started – my week of making fortune tellers, teaching second graders to make fortune tellers, and then fixing the fortune tellers that the students didn’t fold carefully enough….


Now to find something to distract them for their obsession with fortune tellers…

This slice brought to you by the Comic Sans writer’s block trick.  How did that just work?!?!