Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Saturday, July 26, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

{July 2010}They remember.
 It has been four years since Nate left earth. My friend Nate was 20 when his heart stopped.

I wrote about how he inspired me as a teacher here -- the day before he died, completely oblivious to what the next 24 hours would hold.

I wrote about it raw here.

I wrote about how he impacts the way I parent here.

I wrote about how he influences me as a writer here.

I used to worry that Nate would be forgotten. As time marches and the world turns, people would forget. I worried about my kids forgetting. I worried about the community forgetting. I worried about me forgetting.

It was a ridiculous worry.Nate lived life too big to be forgotten.

Yesterday, in the pool, Hannah worked on her stroke. She bobbed up from the lap, lifted her goggles, and said, "Was that better?"

"Absolutely. How did you figure out what to change?"

Hannah wiped water from her nose. "I thought about the things Nate used to say to me. I remember his voice when I'm underwater. Sometimes it's almost like he's there whispering to me."

Then there are times when Sam changes a name to make it boyish. Jordan-rita or Dad-rina will be called throughout the house, followed by a little chuckle. If you call Sam, Samantha in return you will be rewarded with an all out laugh. Then a breath of silence. In that moment, his voice rings true, "I miss Nate-ella."

He remembers the way Nate teased him.

Stephanie points to the picture on our fridge of Nate the day before he died. It's one of those shots that is so Nate. His telltale smirk and his relaxed attitude.  It's smudged from small fingers, but I don't ever tell them hands off.  Steph says to Jay, "You would have really liked Nate. He teased us. He was always taking my doll and then I'd chase him. He liked that."

"Who was he?" Jay asked.

"Well, he started as Mom and Dad's friend, but he liked us so much he became our friend too. Nate liked me even if I threw a fit."

It's impossible to forget someone who makes you feel special. Nate was there in the most difficult years of my life. He'd show up and play in the yard with the kids. He'd park his Camaro at the bottom of our icy driveway and bound up the front yard through snow drifts. He'd open the door, calling, "I couldn't make it up the Driveway of Death." Then he'd settle into his spot on the end of the green couch and pop the recliner.

I close my computer screen.
Andy mutes the game.
Nate tells another story.
Laughter nourishes my fragile soul.

The memories cut sharp, but story is always worthy of a celebration.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

 I hope you know Christy Rush-Levine. She's an eighth grade teacher, artist, writer, reader, and incredible friend. Since some other incredible friends have been pushing me into leading a Twitter chat about teaching writers, Christy and I started dreaming. This is what happened...

I hope you'll consider joining us for the first Teach & Celebrate Writers Twitter chat on Sunday, August 3.

I'm 2 posts away from 500 on this blog. I spend too much time thinking I don't write enough. Here's the math:

500 posts in three years breaks down to 3.2 posts/week

I write enough.

In addition, for 2011-2013, I wrote nearly 3 posts/week maintaining another blog about the teaching of writers.
I also completed an entire YA manuscript.
A second YA manuscript is 90% complete.
I've played and doodled and noted ideas for a third YA story in three composition notebooks.
I've filled 4 large notebooks on my (new) writing territory of faith.
I've written articles each month for Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy.
My book about adoption and faith and celebration is stacking words into chapters.
I write enough.
But wish I wrote more.

Looking forward to your celebrations this week too. Link-up below.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five Minute Friday {Bloom}

These are my flowers.

I've never had flowers bloom like this before. You see, I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening. Death black, in fact.

This year, though, I decided there's no reason I can't grow flowers. They are living art. Karianne helped me pick out the palette. We planted together.

I've been watering ever since.

It's amazing what a little water (every day) will do for plants.

Look at them bloom!

It's easy to water them. It's easy to skip watering them too.

I think plants are a lot like people. It's easy to pour love into people. Yet, it's just as easy to ignore chances to pour love. It's easy to skip loving people.

It's amazing what a little love (every day) will do for people.

Try it and watch them bloom!

Five Minute Friday

In the summer of 2013, I came across a writing challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. For more information, check out this link to Five Minute Friday. The nitty-gritty is you write for 5 minutes on a word, then you share your post, and you comment on another. I hope you'll join too.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

I love how this community celebrated even when  I forgot the link-up post last week. This is a true sign that it's a community and I'm happy to be a part of it. 

I hope you enjoy a summer Saturday today!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.


I can't believe I totally missed today is Saturday. It's my favorite day of the week and everything! I guess having a birthday, and anniversary, and a national holiday in the same week is enough to throw anyone off.

My celebration is that I'm surrounded by a whole community of people who don't mind one single bit that I'm a little scattered. Actually, that's only a little smidgen of the celebration. The true celebration is this:

I'm able to accept this as truth.

Here's to celebration in the midst of the real life. And a piece of my real life right now...

He said, "I always want to remember what it was like to ride a jet ski for the first time. Take a picture of this!"

Please link your posts!

Summer Plans FOR ME

My friend, Franki, shared this link with me: Mom's Summer Bucket Lists. Franki and I like to joke that we are successful when we manage to put on lotion or lipstick. On the rare occasions when both occur, it is a gold star day.

The article made me realize that although I helped my kids write three things they want to make sure happen this summer, I kind of slid through without a list of my own. I say kind of, because I did make a list. Looking at it now, I realize it wasn't a list for me. It was a list for them.

I'm not a big subscriber to the do-all-kinds-of-things-for-yourself movement. I think it's important to take care of yourself, but that self-care can happen in small (and effective) doses -- like lotion and lipstick.

At the same time, I'm not a big subscriber to wear-yourself-ragged-because-you-only-take-care-of-others-and-never-yourself mentality. It's important to take care of others. We all have someone in our lives who drains energy -- every single one of us knows what this is like. We are better at caring for others when we care for ourselves too (in small and effective doses).

Currently, I'm more on the ragged and tattered side of things. This is why the idea of a Summer Bucket List resonates with me. I'm claiming today as my first official day of summer and extending the season to September 5. Typically, I start to enter "autumn" when school starts. Not this year. I'm keeping summer in my heart for the next two months.

Following the inspiration from Franki...
The top three items on my Summer Bucket List* FOR ME are:

  1. {Move} Somehow with ball games and friends over and needing this and getting that, I've lost my regular and expected movement each day. I believe in movement being a lifestyle, not a regiment, and so with this item, it can be a run (and will be some days), but a walk with a friend or a bike ride or a family game of football in the yard all count. The point is I move every day. I stretch in the morning, I move during the day, and I crunch or lift or balance at night.
  2. {Write} My writing life has become a mess. This once disciplined 1000 words/day girl has become a tangled mess of a writer. It is time to reclaim the space with one hour/day in order to find my footing with an evolved process and an expanded territory of topic, audience, and purpose.
  3. {Preserve} When I consider what I will miss most if I don't do it this summer, preservation came to mind. I want to preserve summer through photos, scrapbook pages, and canning. I wish I could say something like, each week I'll spend three hours preserving photos, stories, or food, but I don't work this way. Rather, by the end of the summer, I'll have uploaded and printed photos for the first half of 2014, bought an album for Jay and have some scrapbook pages inside it, and replace the shelves of empty canning jars with full ones.
*Lotion and lipstick will remain indicators of gold star days!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

15 Lessons from Being Married

Today marks fifteen years Andy and I have been married. I think fifteen is significant enough to make a list of lessons learned. Here is a list, in no particular order.

  1. Prayer is essential.
  2. Although you might want to be right, if it gets in the way of being kind, it's not worth it. Kind is always better.
  3. Forever only works without contingencies.Forever must always remain the only option.
  4. Knowing someone loves you as much as you love them is true love. The thing is, sometimes I'm hard to love and he loves me more than I love him. And sometimes he's hard to love and there are times when I'm loving more. This is ultimate true love.
  5. Forgiveness is easier when the other person couples an apology with an action.
  6. Small things matter -- the waiting cup of tea; the full tank of gas; the bowl of red raspberries.
  7. Don't ever be mad at the same time. As long as one person is rational, almost all fights can be avoided. If we are both angry, we avoid one another. He takes a shower and I cook something in the kitchen. Then we are safe.
  8. Hugs are often the solution. If not, there's a good chance laughter is.
  9. The more I learn to love Jesus, the more I can love Andy.
  10. Grace is a necessity. And it's not a one time deal. Grace -- moment by moment -- is a game changer.
  11. I've learned to tell the difference between Pink Floyd and Pearl Jam (most of the time). It's okay, you can shake your head. Andy does too.
  12. I've become quite adept at wiping up water spots -- I learned within the first week how water spots are his pet-peeve. I've been wiping them ever since. About the same time he learned I can't stand it when the toothpaste is squeezed in the middle. He's kept a separate tube ever since. (And if, by chance, he uses mine, he probably forgot to squeeze from the bottom. I've learned to just fix it without the drama.)
  13. I've learned to never-not-ever serve a vegetarian meal with the phrase, "This will taste just like meat. You won't even know the difference." He's learned to appreciate some meatless dishes.
  14. We've learned the thing we like to do most together is to make someone's day. We love Random Acts of Kindness. They've become our favorite kind of date.
  15. I asked Andy if he's learned anything. Lots of his lessons were the same as mine, but one stood out as solely his: If you want to golf with your friends make sure the kitchen is clean. If you want to watch a game with your friends, plan to get the kids in bed early.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.
Jordan is officially adopted! This takes the cake when it comes to celebrations. 

Any other week, I'd also celebrate...
  1. Getting spoiled at the Choice Literacy Writing Retreat. I can't even put words to what it is like to have time and space to write, while being surrounded by other writers who just understand the process and the work and field of education.
  2. I'm turning 37. In all of the excitement I think only my parental units remembered!
  3. Hannah's 4-H project -- an adorable dress for her doll -- is complete. Hannah says she's never going to sew another stitch in her life. We'll see.
  4. Ball tourneys start today. This is bittersweet. We love baseball and softball, but will also love reclaiming our afternoons and evenings.
  5. I love the way Sam always finds fun. Here are two shots from Friday that capture his playfulness. Someone promise me he won't outgrow this.

"Let's take a selfie while we wait, Mom."
"I love it when you spray me with shivery cold hose water! Do it again!"