Saturday, October 31, 2015

Celebrating Friendship Through The Tears

Discover. Play. Build.


Our Sandbar gang last weekend. A getaway planned before cancer struck. A getaway continued so we could share our strength with friends who need all they can get right now.

My sister, the survivor, is in white. These are her cronies, to whom I will always be indebted. They loved and took care of my sister when I couldn't be there.

You don't see them looking at these pictures, but tears have been shed lately.
Lots of tears.
Because cancer sucks.

The last year has been tough. My baby sister (God, she'll hate that) was diagnosed with colon cancer last winter. A grapefruit sized tumor was found. But rounds of chemo and radiation shrunk that tumor to nothing and surgery was successful. As she finishes her last rounds of post surgery chemo, we have lots to celebrate.  She is a survivor.

Her group of friends, the "Cronies" as they call themselves, have been amazing. They are her strength. They keep her smiling through it all. They are her other family. I love them for that.

A couple of weeks ago, our dear friend, Tom, my "other husband"  (the guy in the middle of the top picture) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He's got a tough road ahead. We all know it. But we celebrate that it was found earlier than most. That he has a gifted medical team, who are doing everything they can to beat this thing. 

Yes. Cancer sucks.
But cancer can't take away friends and family who love you. 

No matter what.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why I Write


I often tell students that I don't remember not reading.  Well, when I think about it, I don't really remember not writing either. I've always loved putting pen to paper (Flair markers, thank you. Black or Brown are my favorite colors).  And I am a paper and pen kind of person...I love my computer and I love writing blog posts and connecting online, but when I really need to write, paper and pen are my go-to supplies.

When I need to sort out emotions, I write.  I look back into some notebooks and am amazed at the feelings that explode from them. I don't always remember the catalyst behind the page, but usually I do. Because it was important enough to write about.

I write to remember and reflect.  Oh, I write the usual to-do lists. There's a certain satisfaction in drawing a line through those to-dos. But the most important remembers that I write are those things I want to go back and savor again.  Special moments. Special people. Special emotions.  They need to be saved and brought back out again in moments of despair or crisis.

I write for fun.  I love playing with words and styles. I try out poetry. I write in my dog's voice (Hence the title, Coffee With Chloe), I write with my students (how can I assign something I haven't tried myself?).

I write to share. I share my writing with students. I write in front of them and I provide mentor texts. I share my blog with others online. Not because I think I'm so wonderful, but because writing about my experiences allows me to connect with others and we create shared experiences.

I write because it's part of who I am.
I wouldn't be me.
I wouldn't know me,
if I didn't write.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Small Moments

Discover. Play. Build.


Sometimes,
when your world seems to be
crashing
in around you

when the universe 
throws so much at you that 
your JOY,
your ALOHA,
can't BALANCE things out,

you need to relish 
the small moments.

Beautiful morning mists 
hovering just above the corn


Unexpected gifts
just because they thought of you


Sharing the unshareable
with those who do not judge.


Facebook family messages
that make us laugh and smile
through tears for others.


These small moments
remind us how 
Grateful
we are for those who have
come into our life.









Thursday, October 8, 2015

No One Ever Told Me

I spent some time thinking this past Banned Book Week  how lucky I've been when it comes to books and reading...

No one ever told me I couldn't read Gone With The Wind at twelve because it was inappropriate or too old for me, or that it wasn't good literature. When I began to read it, both my mom and grandmother were excited that I was trying a book they both loved. I talked about it with both of them. Shared my thoughts, talked about Scarlett's good points, cried when Mellie died. It didn't scar me, because I have read it 25 times and get something new out of it with each read.

I grew up in a family of readers, each with their own preferences that they shared with me. Grandma read True Story magazine, Grandpa read the newspaper.

My mom and dad always had books going and a pile that was waiting to be read.

My dad loved the grand historical novels of Herman Wouck and James Michner. Those led me to Steinbeck, whom I loved. I was never assigned his books in school (well, college maybe), but when I discovered him in the library, I read everything he wrote. Still today, I love the possibilities and new worlds that big, thick books offer.

Mom loved what we called "trashy novels", those romantic, often historical novels by authors whose names I no longer remember. I often looked up the historical facts I found in those novels, just to make sure they were true. I think I learned more history as a result of reading those books than I ever did in school.  I loved them. Today, I have my students do a mini research of a time period before we read books like Fahrenheit 451  or Night. It's important to put things in context.

Mom also loved the gothic novels of Victoria Holt. And without that introduction I would not have found Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.... a canon book for me. And the spookiness of that is I'm sure what led me to Stephen King, an author I can't get enough of (and he writes BIG books, which satisfies that passion).

And all that freedom in my own reading as a kid carried through when I began teaching. It never occurred to me to give anything but choice to my students.

When I began my classroom library, no one told me I had to have the books approved. There was no lengthy process to go through to get approval for a book. If I found value in it, in the library it went. I've been trusted as an educator, as a reader, to choose the books my students have access to.

I'm so lucky that no one ever told me what books to read and buy.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Celebrate!

Discover. Play. Build.

I think sometimes the lake pulls out all the stops at the end of the season, creating beautiful sunrises and sunsets just to remind us what we will miss when we close for the season. I'm just going to sit here awhile longer this morning sipping my coffee and enjoying the view.



I'm celebrating writing again. Inspiration seems to be finding me :)  I wrote yesterday about books I wouldn't have read if I didn't have a classroom library.  I kept trying to fit in all the books that I loved that I wouldn't have read, but there were just too many of them. I do know that they all started with Harry Potter.  I love that this year, one of my eighth graders started the series. She loves them and it's fun to watch someone experience them for the first time (and there's another celebration).

I've been sharing celebrations with students, staff and community through a new Facebook page, A Day in Room 25.  I love taking kids pictures and sharing out their work.  I'm getting a lot of "Mrs. Day, you should share that!" Or "Mrs. Day, are you going to put that on Facebook?"  I want it to be a little more interactive, but we have a good start.

I'm getting ready for NCTE.  I keep looking through the sessions and changing my mind about what I want to do. Except for one. The High School Matters session with Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher and Carol Jago is a must.  Seeing all three of these master teachers together will be worth the price of admission!

Other celebrations this morning---

  • flavored coffee and snuggly blankets
  • electric blankets (it is chilly at the lake!)
  • good books (I'm reading The Death of Bees. Strong voice in this one)
  • Chloe snuggles
  • soup
  • the crispness of a fall day
  • crunchy leaves
  • sunrise
  • students who really write
  • and read
Do you have celebrations to share?  Check out Ruth Ayre's site and share along with us!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thank goodness my classroom library isn't just for me...

This morning I read Pernille Ripp's newest blog post. You should probably read it first. And it got me thinking about all the books I wouldn't have read if my library was just for me.

If my classroom library was just for me I never would know what a muggle was and imagined a game of quidditch. I wouldn't have cried over the death of a wizard or cheered the death of another.

I wouldn't have jumped into the land of a book and and loved the  silver tongues that brought words to life.

I definitely wouldn't have raced the capall uisce up the beach on the first of November, nor tracked ley lines with the Raven Boys.

If my classroom library were just for me, there would have been no fantasy, no magical reality.







I wouldn't have played games of life and death.
I wouldn't have lived in a world with no color and loved a giver of memories.
I wouldn't have lived in the future and wondered how we could keep those things from happening.

If my classroom library were just for me dystopian novels would not be there.












I wouldn't have cried over a football coach from just down the road or someone else's crazy lab. I wouldn't have experienced a soldier's life or rode a bus with her sister.

















Because my classroom library lives for others I met Hazel and Gus, fell in love with Ryan Dean, shared a praying mantis with others, wished I could give the sun and traveled back to a very different Oz. And Auggie wouldn't have reminded me to #choosekind

Thank goodness my classroom library isn't just for me...