What I Love About Vacation

I can’t say this was the best vacation I’ve ever had.  After all, the weather was not great (OK, we had one warm day!), my dad ended up in the hospital (He’s recovering now.), we didn’t go away (We used up our travel budget going to Florida in February.), and I ended up with a horrid cold.  But still, there is something special about vacations.

Some of the things I love about vacations:

-Getting up and going to bed whenever I choose.

-Having time during a weekday to babysit for my grandchildren.

-Going out for lunch.

-Taking long walks and not worrying about how long they take.

-Not packing my lunch!

-Calling friends I haven’t seen for a while and just chatting about nothing, or everything.

-Completing some home projects and planning for others.

-More time for reading

-More time for writing

So even with some bumps this week, I enjoyed my vacation!

Now I’m looking forward to summer!






Seconds feel like days.

Minutes like months.

The hum of the television is at times comforting, at times unsettling.

Phones ring.

Families talk in whispers.

People pace aimlessly around the room.

Waiting for the doctor.

Waiting for good news.

Waiting to hear, “Your dad’s going to be just fine.”


There are so many moments.  Every day.  Every week.  Every year.  Throughout our lives.  Moments.  Many escape without anyone even noticing. Some of my own moments slip right by me (and they’re my moments).  But some moments are special.  Last night was one of those moments.

On the surface, it was rather ordinary.  Just dinner and a movie with my daughter after work.  Of course that is somewhat special in itself.  Morgan’s job takes her out of the country for months at a time, and when she is “home” she has her own apartment and her own very full life in New York City.  So just being home with us is a special moment.  But there was something about the evening that was super special.  The conversation flowed freely, the air around us was relaxed and easy, the food was great, the movie was quite good, we laughed, we cried, we just were – mother and daughter, together.

I am savoring this moment.  Trying to keep it close for a very long time.

A Thank You Note

Dear Two Writing Teachers,

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate, once again, in the March Slice of Life March Writing Challenge.  At first I wasn’t really sure I was going to be able to accept your invitation. It’s not that I didn’t want to join you for this party, it’s just that I’m busy. I have work, my family, my dog, my friends, and taking care of the house.  I have to wash my car, do the laundry, clean up the yard for spring. I have to…… Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? Without your invitation, TWT, I fill myself with excuses for why I don’t have time in my day to write.  So, I accepted your invitation, and I’m so glad I did.

I wrote.  I posted something to TWT every day for 31 days.  It wasn’t great writing. A lot of it wasn’t even good.  But I experimented. I tried some poetry, some opinion writing, some writing about social justice, some slices were about my work as a Literacy Coach, a few posts about spring (or the lack of it), some observations, thoughts about family, and about life.  

I wrote with a community of writers.  More colleagues at work joined the TWT community this year, so we were able to talk about our writing – about how hard it could be, and how incredibly satisfying it could feel. We laughed together, struggled together, a few of us even wrote together! We read each other’s writing and commented and got ideas and grew as writers together. We made powerful connections with our classrooms and our student writers.  

I had the incredible support of the TWT writing community.  I so enjoyed reading other posts and commenting on them. I gained so many new insights, about people and about writing.  I know people now in ways I never knew them before. The comments on my blog kept me coming back. Some comments were encouraging. Some bloggers reacted in ways that I had hoped they might.  Others reacted in ways that surprised me and led me back to look at my writing in new ways.

I’m sad that this party is ending (although looking forward to a short writing vacation).  You have fed my need and desire to write. I plan to continue writing and participating in the weekly SOL as I’ve been doing for more than a year now.  I’m also hoping to spread my writing wings in some other directions this year.

Thank you for the invitation, TWT.

With love and gratitude,

A writer


The G4 Summit

“I just read an article about a woman who ate Chinese food, went home, thought she was having stomach pains from the spicey food, went to the hospital, and delivered a baby!”

“I sure hope that doesn’t happen to us tonight!”

“Morgan, I can’t wait until you see my new car.  You’re going to love it. You can take it for a drive this weekend if you want.”

“I’d love that! So fun!”

“I saw a Japanese film this week.  It was written in the 50’s. It was long, but it was really interesting. Have you seen anything you’ve liked recently?”

“Dad and I have been watching The Assassination of Gianni Versacci.  It’s so disturbing. I have a hard time watching some of it, but I feel like I need to keep watching to see how he became the person he became.  I know you’ve both watched it. Is it worth sticking with?”

Here we are.  Sitting around the table at Mission Chinese.  The four of us. Together. Again.

I’ve been longing for this day for the past three months.  Morgan has been away, working in Italy. Mackensie is busy with her job, her side business, and her friends.  Tim and I are busy with work and friends. I just don’t feel fully whole when we are apart. It’s like I’m missing some major body parts.  Don’t get me wrong. We manage fine as a “family of independent adults,” but there is something magical that takes places when the four Griffins gather.  

We have this shared history that no one else in the world has.  

We know each other.  

We accept each other.

We celebrate each other.

We care for each other.  

We annoy each other.  

We disagree with each other.  

We are interested in each other.

We enjoy each other.

We fundamentally and unconditionally love each other.

We are a family.


The G4 Summit has reconvened.  


A Time for Some Joy


In a post earlier this week, I explored my thinking in response to the following quote:

“It is true that education is serious and important, but we have lost the curiosity and excitement of learning and discovery.”  (Kirtman and Fullan)

Today I had an experience in a classroom that returned me to this quote, and caused  me to revise it a bit. (I hope the authors are OK with my revision!)

I was modeling a lesson on how to listen well to an audio version of a text.  I started the lesson by playing the song “This is Me” from the recent movie, The Greatest Showman.  After listening once, I asked the children a few questions (“What might this song really be about? How are you picturing the person singing this song?  How might she be feeling?”). The point of the lesson was to show students how important it is to listen, and then re-listen (maybe even multiple times), to a text in order to understand it at a deeper level.  

Then we switched to an audio book for some practice.  I warned the kids that the voice on the audio was going to present an additional challenge to their listening skills because it was quite robotic.  They seemed ready to take on the challenge, so I hit play. That’s when it started. One person started to giggle, covered his mouth, and tried to look away.  Then I noticed the girl next to him. Her shoulders were bouncing up and down as she tried to contain herself. Then another, and another, until it was clearly time to stop the audio and regroup.  The teacher and I were quite serious.

The teacher:  “OK, that’s enough.  It’s not that funny. Let’s get focused.”

Me:  “I know the voice is strange, but giggling is not going to help your ability to listen.”

I hit play. The kids seemed OK at first, but then it started again.  This time the giggling began in a different corner of the rug. I noticed the sweatshirt being pulled over the mouth to hide the giggles.  One person, then another, and another. I paused again. This time I tried something different.

Me:  “If you feel like you are going to giggle, just go ahead and quiety move back to your seat so that you are not disturbing other kids who are trying to listen.”

I hit play.  Half the class got up to go back to their seats.

That got me wanting to giggle.

Yes, this was an important lesson. I wouldn’t be teaching it if I didn’t think it was important.  And yes, education is serious and they do need these skills (The listening skills along with the skills needed to get yourself back on track after a giggling fit.), but the moment was funny.  The teacher and I asked the students if we should just forget about today and go for a “redo” on another day. They assured us that they were ready to get themselves into a serious frame of mind and listen.  We carried on with the lesson and they did a great job.

Sometimes it’s important to just laugh and enjoy the moment.

The revised quote –

“It is true that education is serious and important, but it’s essential to capture the curiosity, excitement, and joyfulness of learning and discovery.”



The On Demand Thing is Not for Me!

I’m no good at the On Demand thing.

Once I was asked by my daughter’s boss (in front of a group of people) to tell a funny story about my daughter.

I froze.

It’s not that I don’t have a billion funny stories about Morgan.  It’s just that I couldn’t think of the perfect one for that moment and that audience. (To be honest, I had trouble thinking of anything at all in that situation, much to my daughter’s disappointment.)

Once I was asked (in front of a camera) what I think is most important in life.

I froze.

I have lots of ideas and opinions about what is important and meaningful in life, but to choose just one, and quickly, and on camera?  No way.

Today I was asked to come up with an innovative idea that would have a positive impact on student learning.

I froze.

Innovative?  I’m not sure I even have the capacity to think of something new and purely innovative. The word is intimidating. I certainly can’t come up with something quickly, on the spot.  It feels so….. big. Other people in the group seem to have all sorts of ideas.  But are they really “innovative,” or are these just old ideas in new clothing? Have these people been working on these ideas for a long time, or did they really just think of them on the spot?  Did they read about them somewhere, or are they really able to just pull innovation out of their hats? What does it actually mean to have an “innovative” idea?

I heard a quote today that went something like this:  Action leads to inspiration.  Inspiration does not usually lead to action.  Is that my problem?  Am I trying to “be inspired” without doing something first?  If I do something, will that inspire me to be “innovative?”

I was hoping that sitting down to write might be the answer to my feeling of desperation and hopelessness.  I hoped that writing would be the action that led to inspiration that led to innovation, but alas….

I’m frozen.