Playground Uprising

What is your story?
November 2, 2007, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Higher education, stay at home mom, working mother, writing


As writers we ask our world each day: What is the story here?

So when Mac says he is “really sorry about what just happened to the bathroom wall,” my first thought is “damn,  he has arrived at the age where he will remember and probably repeat the string of obscenities I am about to try on” and my second thought is “hmmmmm … what is the story here?” Well the story that day is that according to reliable male sources … sometimes when you put off mundane tasks, like going to the bathroom, in favor of more important endeavors, like launching matchbox cars down spiral staircases, that you relinquish the privilege of taking the time to actually aim at that large thing in the bathroom us girls call a toilet. Last night the story was that I was so overwhelmed with guilt after sending my youngest to school, after staying at home with him the day before, only to arrive and find him sitting sadly in his teacher’s lap just feeling like poo. So we huddled and we scuddled and we all went to bed early and that story is still open ….because I wonder if there is a better way or another calling where as I can do more for my family while still developing as a professional and providing that financial support. And that story is the one I am thinking about today. What is your story gentle reader? It has been a while since we have talked.


Your Story …
October 26, 2007, 7:27 pm
Filed under: creative writing, Education, writing

Creative Writing

In the coming weeks one of my classes is going to wade – and then sink right down into the world of creative writing in the elem. school classroom.  In anticipation of this event, I have been combing through my books and various websites for refreshing ideas. Below I share a couple of my favs with you  …. And I would love for you to respond with a couple of your own. Until then …

  • Bodystorming:  a student lies down on a large piece of butcher paper and a partner traces a leg, an arm, or the whole darn body … the student then reflects on her traced body part and recalls words, sounds, and any conclusive memories … which she then records in the outlined form (idea taken from a presentation by the Virginia Writing Project).
  • Sausage poems: Poems for vegetarians and carnivores alike. A string of words with matching endings and beginnings. Choose either letters or sounds for the word boundary matches (it gets confusing if both are allowed)”
    Example: Good dogs shouldn’t tell lies”  (taken directly from:
  • Basket poem:  (check out:
  • Message in a bottle: (taken from Houghton Mifflin series) Have children think about a part of the world they are studying in Social Studies and then create a story about their adventure, set  in a specified time period and accompanied by a map of the area. Upon completion – creations are placed in plastic bottles and set afloat in the water table.
  • Seven days of daring deeds: seven groups write one story about an unfolding adventure over seven days. (see:
  • Pass it on: students sit in a circle with a clipboard, paper, and pen in hand. A story starter is given: “It is Halloween night ….” The students write for three minutes and then pass their story to the person on their right … the receiver continues the previous writer’s storyline until it is time to pass again.
  • Interior / Exterior Boxes: You will love this =
  • Given the situation:  Give students a variety of situations and ask them to respond in a paragraph or less. For example: You just got an offer to teach at a school in Japan ….

Welcome Writers
September 5, 2007, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Life, writing

door.jpgWelcome writers…

I am glad that you are here. I am glad that your presence has reminded me of the importance of daily practice. Of getting it down, now matter its level of simplicity, so that I and we are lurched into a world where we look – more closely –at our everyday.

In my looking I find myself craving the peculiar and unpredictable – hoping that just maybe Mac will say that one thing – inappropriate at its core – that I can trap in my memory and then share with you. And with the hoping – that delightful expecting – I have come to appreciate that which might make others frown (simply watch accusatory relatives) and get lost in the process of now.

By the way – did I mention …..hmmmmm … will save for tomorrow.

Until then …blessings.

This I Believe
June 13, 2007, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Belief, Depression, Education, Family, writing



This I Believe …

Yesterday my class examined personal writing, in particular the Personal Essay. NPR’s series “This I Believe” served as the focus for our craft study. If you have not heard this weekly segment aired on NPR, and especially if you have, I encourage you to explore the site:

There you will find brave men and women telling, through voice recordings and written text, stories that will change who you might become. Some are famous, some live next door, some say things that make you think, “this man is talking to me,” and others document experiences you can’t imagine owning.

Andy Blowers’ personal essay on Depression, “The Person I’m Suppose to Be,” served as our model. He wrote, “At 16, my first episode hit me hard enough to think I’d literally gone to hell. Now, at 35, when I start dreaming of haunted houses and worrying uncontrollably about the future, I know another episode is looming. I’ve got a week’s notice, maybe two. And then it’s as if I’m drifting off to exile inside myself with only a shell remaining.” I selected this piece because it spoke to my experiences and personal essays at their core are intimate. (Andy’s story:

Following our investigation, the students had twenty-minutes to write their own “This I Believe” personal essay. In response to Andy’s belief, “I believe pain tells us something critical about ourselves and life: that developing strength and empathy and bravery is more essential than our personal comfort. And when I think of it like that, I’m more willing to accept suffering on its terms,” I wrote:

This I Believe …

I believe that madness is hard to define, easy to slip into, and often undistinguishable from daily reality. I know this because my mother is mad. In other words, she is mad at herself, and her situation, and the perceived predicament that has put her here, with her anger, her anxiety, her mania, and her psychosis. And it is this expression of madness that makes me know that she needs help that I cannot provide and have difficulty accepting because I don’t know when she is angry, and when she is mad, and when the darkness pervades so as to completely dismiss her from my reality, therefore, giving her a pass on the unkind word, or inappropriate stance, or threatening move forward. But it is the undistinguishability of this madness that makes me believe that though the presence or absence and origin are important to her doctors and psychotherapists and case workers they are increasingly less important to me, that meaning and understanding reached a 33 year plateau in books, and conference calls, and appointments, and now lies solely in listening, whether it be to sanity or departure, and praying for more peaceful tomorrows.

Now a request for hopeful response:

Students …. if you are bored enough to actually check out my site today I would love for you to post your own “This I Believe” essay. You have important things to share.

For the world at large: I too invite you to tell me what “you believe.”

Happy Trails…
April 12, 2007, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Family, parenting, writing


It looks like I am going to break bad from my five-day-a-week blog devotional. My goal was to write for 12 consecutive weeks for a total of 60 posts about my life as a mom and disturbed citizen on maternity leave. But as do all festivities, this one is drawing to a close as I pack up the yoga pants in favor of Kakis and head back to work with my 100 favorite 20-something-year-olds. Though don’t despair or celebrate quite yet because in mid-may I will take back up the charge as my first summer school class begins and I initiate an online dialogue with new students and perhaps resume my conversations with some of you. Between now and then I will check in from time to time as I wrap up my days as a stay-at-home mom and work through the panic attacks I imagine are lurking just over my distorted horizon, ready to pounce at the reality of leaving my plump partners and ponying up 95. So until then … happy trails.