Letters to Gramma: You’ll Never Guess

Dear Gramma,

You’ll never guess what someone asked me for today.  Never in a million, katrillion, quadfillion years.

I was quietly checking my e-mail this morning while walking to work.  And there it was staring at me in my inbox.  A request from another teacher.

Know what she needed?  I’m in fits of giggles just thinking about it.  Seriously, you’ll never guess.

She needed to borrow a mini trampoline!  Can you believe it?  A mini trampoline of all things!  I know, I’m dying laughing, too.

In about 0.2 seconds I e-mailed her back telling her she could borrow yours mine yours.

After school she drove me home and on the drive I told her about how you used to “train” for your trips by trampolining.  Sorry to put “train” in air quotes, Gramma, but I just can’t say it with a straight face.  We were cracking up just at the thought.

When you died, that’s why I wanted your trampoline so badly in the first place.  It makes me smile every time I look at it and remember you bouncing, ahem, “training”, on it.

Wait, I’m snickering too much.  I have to stop and take a breath for a sec.

Ahhh.  Better.

After hearing the story of how I came to possess your trampoline, my colleague said she didn’t want to take the trampoline because she was afraid something might happen to it.  I told her that’s the very reason she should take it.  Something might happen to it.  Something laugh out loud hilarious might happen to it.

You see, my colleague is going to use it in a spirit assembly that involves kids wearing superhero capes and doing silly tricks and eating disgusting foods.  I told her that assembly is just the kind of thing that would’ve made you laugh.

So you should know that on Friday afternoon a bunch of middle school kids are going to be jumping and bouncing and having a ton of fun on your old trampoline.

And when I get it back I might just take a jump or two before putting it back in the closet.  Gramma, you always made me laugh.  You’re still making me laugh.

I love you like crazy,

Alicia

Ready for 30 Days of Literary Abandon

Happy Halloween Day Before NaNoWriMo!  It’s mere hours until the festivities begin and I’m all ready for 30 days of literary abandon.  Well, except for the fact that I have no idea what I’m going to write about.  Minor detail.

But I’ve taken care of the important stuff like:

  • report cards-they’re all finished printed and ready to roll for parent teacher conferences.
  • the all important writing playlist including some gems from Adele, INXS, U2, Polar Boy, Matthew Perryman Jones, Ingrid Michaleson, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, Stevie Wonder.
  • laundry, done and all tucked away
  • a freezer stocked with quick dinner options
  • the car charger for my laptop is on its way to my doorstep as I type.  We’ll be spending lots of time in the car and while Terry fills his brain with ESPN radio, I’m going to be dominating my daily word count.

NaNoWriMo: Here I Go!

NaNoWriMo is a few sacred days away.  November 1st is fast becoming one of my favorite days of the year, excitement bubbling up in my stomach with such fervor that I inevitably wake from sleep in the wee hours of the morning and can’t resist typing the first few hundred words before falling back to sleep.

Not that 50,000 words in a month isn’t daunting.  It is.  It really is.  It’s lump of nerves in my throat kind of daunting.

For the past 2 Novembers I’ve set out to write 50k words while I play at being a novelist.  Both times I’ve succeeded, or in NaNo speak, I’ve won.  I loved both of my stories, but what I love more is who I am when I’m writing 1,667 words a day.  I love being in the practice of writing.  I love how quickly I’m able to drop back into my story each day because my writing muscles are strong and limber.

Creating characters makes me happy.  Seeing where these characters take me is thrilling and often times surprising.  The first year I’ll never forget when one of my characters opened a drawer and removed a baby onesie.  And a gun.  Trust me, I was as shocked as you are.  I mean, come on, I’m the biggest anti-gun person I know.  Having never touched a gun in my life, I had no idea how to write about guns.  To the delight of my lone gun-enthusiast friend, I made him take me shooting.  For better or for worse, I can now say I’ve fired a gun.  Exactly once.

Both years have led me to research a variety of things including:

    • the history of LEGO
    • rare children’s diseases
    • handguns and penetration abilities of different bullets
    • Biblical references to angels
    • POW camps
    • the history of high heels
    • hospital procedures and policies
    • famous libraries

The first year, I dreamed a strange snapshot of a scene and my novel sprang to life from there.  Last year, discovering an unknown safe deposit box that belonged to my deceased father was the thing that birthed my idea.  It was a story just begging to be written.

So, today on October 28th, I’m waiting for my idea to peek out.  Maybe in a dream.  Or a snippet of conversation.  Or a newspaper article.  Who knows where it might appear.  I wait with anticipation, with a pattering heart eager to know where NaNoWriMo will take me this year.

A teensy part of me hopes that on November 1st, my idea will not have shown her face yet.  There’s something exciting about sitting down at the computer and beginning to type, implicitly trusting that my writerly brain will follow my furious fingers as they tap out words becoming sentences becoming a story.

NaNoWriMo, here I go!

Thankful Thursday #45

This week I’m thankful for…

  • sleeping spread eagle in bed
  • the dollar movie theater
  • walking through piles of leaves
  • hot showers
  • reading in bed
  • morning music to psych me up for work after a couple of particularly hard work days
  • my little one who read this out of his notebook: “I am a fun kid.  I love school.”  This was on the heels of a couple of days wherein he lived out the consequences for peppering the playground with a litany of profanity.  It’s proof once again that children need those boundaries.

Thankful Thursday #44

image courtesy of 123rf.com

This week I’m thankful for…

  • walks on the River Trail with friends
  • stories from my firefighter friend about Fire
  • dried mangoes
  • growing pumpkin seeds with my class
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • broccoli cheddar soup
  • books that make me laugh out loud
  • writing poetry with my little ones
  • Terry’s cologne
  • seedless grapes
  • the fact that I’m still wearing short sleeves and skirts in October

Moments from the Pumpkin Patch

Today I made my annual trek to the pumpkin patch with 26 giddy six-year-olds in tow.  Not to mention their parents and a smattering of younger siblings.  The weather was perfect, sunny without a drop of rain.  The sky was so blue, it can only be described as piercing.  We had a great day watching pig races, bouncing in the bounce house, picking pumpkins, firing corn cannons and just enjoying the pleasure of being outside together.  Here are some of the best lines from the day:

1) On the bus ride to the pumpkin patch, two little ones in the seat behind me were singing “Old MacDonald” and decided to make up a verse about pumpkins that went like this:

Little girl: “Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.  And on his farm he had a pumpkin, E-I-E-I-O.  With a…with a…what kind of noise do pumpkins make?”

Little boy: “Ummmm, BOOM BOOM?”

Little girl: “Yeah, that’s a good one.  Let’s sing it.”

Both: “With a BOOM BOOM here and a BOOM BOOM there, here a BOOM, there a BOOM, everywhere a BOOM BOOM.  Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.”

Then they high-fived their musical genius.  Boom, boom indeed.

2) Also on the bus ride over, I sat near one of my autistic little ones.  He was a little uneasy.

Little One: “I feel scared in my heart.”

Me: “What are you scared of.”

Little One: “I’ve never been to a farm before.”

Me: “Do you remember all the things we talked about seeing?”

Little One: “Yes, but I’m still scared in my heart.”

Me: “It’s okay to be nervous about something new.”

Little One: “Will you stay with me?”

Me: “The whole time.”

Little One: “Until I’m old?”

Me: “How about until you go home on the bus this afternoon?”

Little One: “Okay.  But I’ll miss you when I’m old.”

Me: “Me, too.”

I’m pretty sure I will miss this little one long before I’m old.

3) While walking by the goat house where the goats where children were using a hand crank to send a conveyor belt of food to the goats, one of my little ones was deep in thought.

Little One: “Mrs. McCauley, what are those goats doing?”

Me: “Eating the food those children are sending up to them.”

Little One: “What do you think the goats are thinking?”

Me: “I’m not sure.  What do you think they’re thinking?”

Little One: “I think they’re thinking ‘Mmmm, room service is niiice.'”

Room service is niiice, even in the form of grain shuttled up in a cup on a conveyor belt.

4) All week long we’ve been studying how pumpkins grow and my little ones were especially interested in learning that only the female pumpkin plants produce pumpkins.  I’d showed them how to look under the yellow flowers to see if the plants were male or female.  Out in the pumpkin patch I heard a little one explaining it to his dad like this:

Little One: “Dad, this one is a girl pumpkin plant.”

Dad: “Plants aren’t boys and girls.  They’re just plants.”

Little One: “Nuh-uh, Mrs. McCauley read us a book about how to tell if they’re boys or girls and this one has a baby pumpkin growing under the flower.  That means the bees visited a boy pumpkin flower and got yellow pollen on their legs and brought it over to the girl flower so she could make a baby pumpkin.  Then this baby pumpkin will grow up to be a mommy or daddy pumpkin and it will make a flower and everything will start all over again.”

Dad: “Really?”

Little One: “Really.  But the sad part is that the pumpkins die, but don’t cry because their seeds go back to live in the Earth to make new pumpkins.  So, it’s sorta like they come back to life.  It’s like a secret pumpkin super-power.”

I just love how their minds work.  And I agree, returning to life after dying is an awesome secret pumpkin super-power.

5) Back at school we parked our pumpkins on the nametags on our desks.  Also on our nametags are clear cups of pumpkin seeds that we took scooped out of a pumpkin and planted a couple of weeks ago.  The seeds are starting to send roots down and grow root hairs.  When we got back to class, a Little One put her pumpkin on her desk and squealed when she saw one of the seeds in her cup.

Little One: “Look, Mrs. McCauley, it’s taking off its seed coat.”

Me: “That’s awesome.  Can you see the seed leaves yet?”

Little One: “Yep, they’re coming out to hug the mommy pumpkin I picked.”

Me: “I bet your seed leaves will be poking out of the soil when we come back to school on Monday.”

Little One: “Should I leave the mommy pumpkin here to help them?”

Me: “No, I don’t think so because pumpkin seeds know how grow all by themselves.”

Little One: “Wow, pumpkin sprouts are really smart.”

I’m pretty lucky because I’ve got 26 of my own smart little sprouts.

Thankful Thursday #43

This week I’m thankful for…

  • Condoleezza Rice’s take on receiving opinions “I welcome your opinions, but not your uninformed opinions.”  My thoughts exactly on people who cast judgment on teachers when they themselves haven’t spent a single day in the classroom.
  • pretzel crumbles on Moosetracks ice cream
  • dinner bubbling in the Crock Pot all day Sunday while I read a stack of magazines and books
  • when a book reads quickly
  • cold chocolate milk
  • this post by Chris Brogan on time well spent
  • Apple Crumble scented Wallflowers from Bath & Body Works.  It’s the perfect Fall scent.
  • dresses and tall boots