Slice #31!
I did it!
Jumped off the high dive!
Touched the bottom at the twelve foot mark!
Swam all the way across the deep end!
Wrote 31 days in a row!
Woot! Woot! Woot!

My slices this year seemed to divide into several categories.
First, and maybe most important,
were the "How We Became a Family Slices."
I started writing those
after several other posters
wrote memories of days that they had babies
and then a few folks picked up on that theme
and wrote about their gotcha days.
My oldest son is graduating this year
(At least I hope he is, please keep him in your prayers!)
And I thought it would be kind of special
to write a book of slices
to give to him
as a graduation present.
He's come so far…

There were a few other family slices
One about the kindness of a stranger
who unknowingly bought us pizza for my birthday
One about Isaiah unloading groceries
Then finally a slice about our typical day
Which is not nearly as pleasant
As what some readers
seem to think. 

Next there was the "me as a teacher" category.
I did some classroom slices.
Two about the process of saying goodbye to my students,
One "character" sketch
One about the John Henry craze that has overtaken my classroom,
One about running into a former student at the post office,
(I ran into another student from that same group at a shopping center today).
Three about my job hunt
and it's eventual end (phew!)
And my favorite, about the time one of our students who has autism
rubbed the principal's head.

Then there were a few kind of miscellaneous slices
One about lessons from cooking class
(my book club friends decided that we had had  so much fun at the last one
that we should do it again in May!)
Two of my Sunday posts had to do with church and the Sabbath
 (it was interesting that I had a really similar Sabbath post last year,
it made me wonder why that crazy busi-ness is always such a theme in my life)
and one about a peanut butter sandwich message given by my pastor
that I am still thinking about pretty much every day.
I wrote two posts about my "family of origin"
 one about my sister's wedding,
and one about how my grandmother shaped me as a reader.
And then I wrote two slices about my venture into March Poetry Madness-
one a set of really bad limericks
and one about my process of trying to write a poem
which lost in the first round!
And then there was, of course, a poem about my dogs. 

I loved slicing
as much,
or maybe more
than I did last year.
I loved reconnecting with slicers
I had "met" last March
then followed on Tuesdays
throughout the year.
I loved making new friends
from all over the world.
I loved seeing all the different formats people tried
prose, lists, poems, acrostics, limericks, plays, photo essays.
I loved, loved, loved
reading comments that people made about my writing.
And I made a super conscious effort
to comment on other people's writing.
Most days I think I did at least ten
Although I didn't really keep count.

I spent some time last night
reading last year's slices.
And I really think I was writing better-
more details, better dialogue-
last year than I am now.
I wonder why---
maybe just too much on my mind-
son issues, graduation issues, job issues.

But at least I did it.
I sliced
for 31 days
in a row!

A huge thank you to Ruth and Stacey for pulling
the Slice of Life
Writing Community together!

Earth Hour

Toronto residents are (hopefully) participating in Earth Hour tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 pm

Everyone should be turning off their lights for one hour.

To think women use to hand sew by candle light! Should I try?

hand sewing my travel blanket for my on-line course
Maybe I will make a fire and share some wine and a cheese platter with my husband instead. Not a bad way to spend an hour.

leave less of a foot print


For those of you who think my family is somewhere close to sainthood, thought I would give you a typical slice from our life. This is one from last night and this morning.

Last night, my book club went to see Hunger Games, then for a bite to eat afterwards. After a terrific evening- great movie, great conversation, lots of laughter- I got home about ten. When I walked in the door, I could hear water running. The bathroom door was shut, so I assumed one of the boys was in the bathroom. A few minutes later, Kadeem walks out of his bedroom.

"I'm going to bed. Good night," he says, in one of those, you didn't do a good job mothering me/you should have been home cooking dinner" designed to induce mommy guilt voices.

"Where's the water running?" I say.

"Toilet," says Kadeem, shutting his door with a little more intensity than I thought necessary.

I resume my running water detective work, knocking softly on the bathroom door. "Isaiah?" I say, in my most pleasant mother/detective voice.

Isaiah doesn't answer. The door is ajar so I push it open just a little. No one is in there, but the toilet is, in fact, running like crazy. I take off the lid, preparing to move from detective to plumber role. I think that the floater valve is probably just hung up.  I know how to fix those.

Unfortunately, the floater valve does not seem to be the problem. I jiggle around all the jiggle-able parts I can see, then try flushing it again. I leave for a few minutes and go downstairs, hoping I have fixed the problem.  I haven't. The water continues to run.

I review my problem solving strategies. My next option is to turn off the water and call the plumber. I find the little valve behind the toilet (after saying some very unmotherlike words about my boys' housecleaning abilities!) and turn it off. I put a sign on the toilet DO NOT USE! and go to bed.

This morning, I got up and called the plumber. Because I am such a valued customer (plumber's code for someone is always breaking something, or putting something somewhere that it should not go),  I have a special valued customer account. April (yes, I really am on a first name basis with the plumber's dispatcher) tells me someone can come out between 12 and 2). I wade into the boys' bathroom and spend an hour scrubbing. (They usually clean their own bathroom, then I do my best to ignore it, but when someone, even the plumber, is coming over, a little elbow grease is usually in order). I discover that the drain in the sink also needs some work, and call April back. She says that will be no problem.  Somewhere during that hour I take a brief intermission because Kadeem insists he needs a shower. I resist the urge to say something unpleasant and unmotherlike about the boys' bathroom cleaning skills.

At about 11:50, the phone rings. April wants me to know that the plumber is on the way. Great. In the meantime, Isaiah comes out of his bedroom, goes into the bathroom, and slams the door.  I tap (Ok, maybe I banged a little) on the bathroom door and tell him he needs to get out of the bathroom because
A) the toilet doesn't work and B) the plumber is on his way up to the door. I tell him he should use my bathroom instead. He comes out of the bathroom and goes back into his bedroom, shutting the door with a lot more force than necessary, and saying, "I'm not an idiot," in a less than pleasant voice.

The plumber arrives at the door. "Hi, I'm Paul," he says. "You're having a problem with your hot water heater?"

"My hot water heater?"

Paul smiles and nods.

"No, I'm not having a problem with my hot water heater. I'm having a problem with my toilet and with the sink not draining."

"You're sure you're not having a problem with your hot water heater?"says Paul.

"No, my hot water heater is fine." I'm not too concerned by what seems like a mixup, because I have worked with this company for several years, and they have always done a great job.  I take him into the boys' bathroom to show him the toilet and sink.

"We usually have special drain guys," says Paul, "but I'll take a look at it."I comment that April had said that the drain would not be a problem. Paul looks at me like he's not sure I'm telling the truth, runs the water in the sink (I think to check if there really is hot water), looks at the drain, and then gets on the phone to call April.

"There's not a problem with the hot water heater," he says. "She has a problem with her toilet." Paul evidently has the phone on speaker because I can hear every word April says. "There's no problem with the hot water heater?" she says.

"No," says Paul. She says that no one is available this afternoon to do the drain, but that they can send someone tomorrow. Inwardly, I groan at one more day of my rapidly disappearing spring break being taken up waiting for a plumber, but I really need the work to be done, so I agree.

Paul rolls up his sleeves and starts to work. I stand in the doorway, waiting for his assessment of the toilet situation. "So how old are your boys?" he says conversationally.

"Sixteen and eighteen," I reply. "Do you have kids?" He does, an eight-year-old boy and a baby.

"Where does your eight-year-old go to school?" I ask.

"In the mountains. He lives up in the mountains with his mom."

This seems like it could be heading toward one of those foot-in-mouth conversations, so I change the subject. "How long have you worked for **** Plumbing Company?"

I have moved away from the bathroom and can't quite hear his answer. I move back to the door.

"I've worked for them for a year," he says, "but it's not **** Plumbing Company. I work for **** (another plumbing company)."

I am a little confused. I wonder if **** Plumbing Company, the one I use, is subcontracting work to this other company.

I must look confused, because Paul points to his shirt. "I work for *** Plumbing Company."

"But that's not the company that's supposed to be coming," I say, hoping for some clarification.

"Isn't this 2557 G Street?" says Paul.

"No," I say, "This is 2577."

"Well that explains the water heater issues," says Paul. "I'm supposed to be repairing a water heater at 2557 G Street." He picks up his materials and I escort him to the door, pointing him two doors down, to where my neighbor is evidently waiting to have her hot water heater repaired.

My plumber shows up ten minutes later, and charges me about $300 to fix the sink and toilet. He laughs when I tell him about my new friend, Paul.

I write the plumber a check and he leaves. I go to let the dogs in and discover that Isaiah has climbed out his bedroom window and  is out in the backyard. The basketball hoop has somehow made its way up onto the wooden deck. A large board on the deck is now broken in half, leaving a hole in the middle of the deck.

"How did that happen?" I ask.

"Basketball hoop," says Isaiah. I sigh wondering where the money will come from to fix that.

"And your stupid dog bit a hole in my basketball," Isaiah continues.

"Did you leave it where he could get it?" I say.

"It's a basketball. It's supposed to be by the hoop," says Isaiah.

I resist the urge to respond.

And this, my friends, is a probably more accurate slice of our life today…


Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but besides being a book-loving, poem-eating, word- hungry teacher, I'm also a huge sports lover. I grew up with a dad who had lettered in football, basketball, and baseball in high school and college. We had only girls in our family, and somebody had to become his sports-watching pal. Some of my happiest memories of my dad involve sitting in front of the television on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, cheering our favorite teams, with chip and dip, or popcorn, or occasionally shrimp, provided by my mom (who also watched a lot of sports!).

I have loved Ed DeCaria's Poetry March Madness. I've read all of the poems, and voted, and shared a lot with my fourth graders. It's been a blast to read all the beautiful/funny poems from the talented people I follow every Friday all year long.

I have also loved the OTHER March Madness- you know, the Basketball one? Is anyone else following that? It seems only appropriate, then, to highlight one of my favorite sports poets, Charles R. Smith, Jr.  Smith is a poet/photographer/sports lover. He has five books of basketball poetry, RIMSHOTS (my favorite), SHORT TAKES, HOOP KINGS, HOOP QUEENS, and TALL TALES. All of Smith's books, or at least all of them that I know, are illustrated with his gorgeous sports photographs.  His book, MY PEOPLE, won the Coretta Scott King award in 2010 and his biography of Muhammed Ali, 12 ROUNDS TO GLORY was a Coretta Scott King Honor winner in 2008.

"Allow Me to Introduce Myself"
Charles R. Smith, Jr.

They call me the show stopper
the dime dropper
the spin-move-to-the-left reverse jam poppa.
The high flier on the high wire.
The intense rim-rattin’noise amplifier.
The net-shaker
Back board breaker
Creator of the funky dunk hip-shaker
The man Sir Slam
The Legend
I Be.
Those are a few
Of the names
They call me.
To get the full effect, you really need to bounce over to Smith's website and listen to him read his poems here.  They are absolutely perfect for introducing performance to your sports lovers!

Heidi Mordhorst is hosting Poetry Friday at my juicy little universe.

Happy Spring! Happy March Madness! Happy almost National Poetry Month!

Cardmadfairys digi days - Die cuts and punches

Good morning guys!!! just got in there before dinner time lol, We had a lovely time yesterday celebrating my lovely lad kyles 3rd birthday, I organised him a lovely tea party, invited some of my great friends and thier children and mamas and grandads, he had a fabby time, here is a piccie of him blowing out his massive candle lol not that you can see the flame lol and he nearly lost his chin in his cake, thats alex my eldest in the background he is 6, i think he is mimicking blowing out the candle lol.
Im afraid im a terrible blogger and dt member again as id made my dt card for Cardmadfairy's digi days but with my hectic days recently i forgot to upload it, and also forgot to schedule a post so i must say a big sorry to my fellow dt guys and of course jenni, (((((((hugs)))))))

So anyway i shall finally get down to business and let you know about our new challenge which has gone live today!!!!

Its called
here is my card for the challenge, ive gone with greens/blacks and greys
I hope you like it lol
im going to enter this into the challenge at Crafty catz and their theme is to use a digi image, of course ive used one of jennis fab collection HERE,
hope to see you over thier joining in woth our challenge

Being Inspired

Today, I was at Branksome Hall again talking about my career and showing the girls from grade 10 my work.

Some older art students poked their heads in to see my textile work hanging in the class.

The grade 12 students are preparing their own show and I saw many of their pieces being photographed for documentation. I was inspired by their work!

"The Keys of Truth" by a grade 12 IB art student.
"This piece sets out to demonstrate how our generation
does not spend time informing ourselves on world issues
but instead focus on gossip in magazines or on line articles."
burnt newspaper, plastic computer keys, wire

work in progress by a grade 12 IB art student.
 embroidery on paper
I spoke of textile artists that inspire me and the teacher wrote their names on the board for the students to research.

The two art teachers thanked me for inspiring their students. Many have already started to think about their next project and have decided to use some of the techniques we talked about and practiced together.

Working with textile is something that brings me such joy and I was glad to share that passion with the students and spark something in them!


The first weekend, or maybe the second, I take Isaiah to Colorado Springs to meet my family. It was Mother's Day, and my family had reservations for lunch. The pictures of that day show Isaiah, a stocky little guy in a brown and gold plaid shirt and khaki pants, clutching my hand, as I introduce him to my mom,  sister Betsy and her husband, Paul, my high school aged niece and nephew- Greg and Megan, and my other sister, Nancy, and her partner, Dee.

I remember only snippets from that day. I do remember, though, helping Isaiah order from the children's menu. The menu, as I remember it, was a typical kids' menu- hamburgers, grilled cheese, and chicken nuggets. Isaiah asked for pepperoni pizza.

The waiter brought the pizza to the table. It wasn't anything fancy, a kids' pizza on a  dinner plate, with a fruit garnish. Isaiah, however, was totally enthralled. When the waiter set the pizza down in front of him, he looked at it, then looked at me.

"Is this all for me?" he asked. "I get to eat all of this?"

In fact, eating was a theme that was threaded throughout that entire first summer. There had been signs for several years that the boys were not getting enough to it. Isaiah would always go back for seconds and thirds in the school cafeteria. His second grade teacher sent him to the office more than once for hiding food in his desk. Kadeem was a skinny, wiry little guy. I did not even begin to understand the severity of their hunger.

Shortly after the boys came to live with me, I took them to dinner at their favorite restaurant, a buffet. They had never eaten in restaurants and I was trying to ease them into a few niceties of life. We ate at this particular buffet every couple of weeks because there was a wide variety of food and an ice cream machine that served as a perfect incentive for doing a good job during the meal. The buffet thing meant that the boys didn't have to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time.

This particular night, we were driving to the restaurant. Kadeem commented that he was really hungry, and I assured him that we would be eating in just a few minutes. He turned to Isaiah and said, "Do you remember how sometimes at Teresa's (previous foster mom, not her real name) we would get so hungry that we would shake?"

Isaiah said he remembered. Kadeem continued, "Do you remember your legs would just shake and shake and you would feel like you were going to fall down?"

My heart broke then, as it would many more times, for my sweet, sweet boys.

Despite my continuous reassurances, the boys seemed unable to believe that there would always be plenty to eat at our house. I have never been a great cook, and breakfast at our house was usually pretty simple-- cereal, bagels, toast, etc. Those first few months, Kadeem's choice was always microwave pancakes.

He didn't, however, eat one or two servings of pancakes. Instead, my skinny little seven-year-old would sit with his fork in one hand, knife in the other, and consume an entire box of microwave pancakes. Every. single. morning. I did not understand until much later that the boys thought that they needed to eat a lot at breakfast because there might not be food later on in the day.

Even now, after nine years of plenty of food, the boys, and especially Kadeem, get nervous if our cupboards start to look a little bare. "Don't you need to go to the store?" Kadeem will say. My boys remember, all too well, the days of not enough.

Happiness is . . .

So for my birthday, Lisa B. and I had a nice lunch at the Green Papaya in the WVC yo, where she presented me with three fancy little notebooks. And I did think to myself how much I love the blank notebook--how much I love having a pristine little pile of them on my shelf.


Because they're hopeful. They're just all HEY! YOU'RE A WRITER! AND YOU'RE GONNA FILL ME UP WITH AWESOME WRITING STUFF! Blank notebooks are the spring of paper products. I say that as I look out my office window and see the flowering pear in our backyard just starting to open.

Happy birthday kyle 3 today !!!!!!! and a dt card

Good morning to everyone, its almost the weekend!!!!!!
Firstly i want to say a mahoooooooosive
my little baby is 3 today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i cant believe it he has grown so much and so quickly and gets cheekier every day, here are 2 very recent pics of us on our garden just this week
 we were playing on the boinging (trampolene to us) on tuesday when this was taken
hope you enjoyed my kyle piccies?? we are having a party at our house tonight after school, lots of kids buffet food and cakes, and a lovely cheese and grape board for grown ups, not forgetting his mickey mouse cake,
So onto our new challenge
We have a great sketch for you over at Dutch dare,
its a really simple one so fab with CAS cards or you can jazz it up a bit, but the main sketch has to be visible.
Here is my dt card following the sketch, the pic is pants im afraid but i didnt have alot of time :-(
the image is from karens doodles whom are our sponsors.
Hope to see you over at Dutch dare.


The boys have lived with me about a month when their social worker 
(who shall remain nameless)
comes to visit.
We discuss the boys' adjustment, 
review summer plans,
and sign the monthly paperwork.
The appointment is almost over, 
when the social worker asks a question.
"So," she says conversationally, 
"Do you think they are salvageable?"

I am socked-in-the-stomach-stunned 
by her choice of words.
Salvageable is a word used to described
Overcooked casseroles, 
wrecked cars,
and ships that have sunk 
to the bottom of the ocean.
Salvageable is not a word 
that should ever be used to describe children. 

I think I manage to stammer
something to the effect ,
that of course they are salvageable.
They are children,
yes children, who have been through very hard times
and have the life bumps and bruises 
to show for it
but of course they are salvageable.
I would not be doing this
if I did not think that they were salvageable.

After thinking about it  for nine years, 
I think I might say, 

"When you talk about my children,
please feel free to use words like…
perhaps a little unpredictable.

You can use words like 
and remarkable
if you like. 

Hopefully someday you will describe my boys as

and of course, by then 
will definitely apply.

If you want to,
we can talk about a system,
Or maybe a society,
That allows children 
to suffer
As irresponsible
or reprehensible.

But please,
don’t ever ask again
if my children
or any others 
in my care

are salvageable.

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers: the 2012 Edition

Okay, guys, time to start spreading the word. WIFYR is a really good conference, so if you and anyone you know is interested in writing for kids, refer one and all to this website.

I'm teaching a beginning, beginning class. Not a lot of people have signed up yet, because you know how I am. SUCH A SCARY INSTRUCTOR. There are still spaces in a number of the sessions, so come join us.

Peace out.

I cannot believe I just said peace out.


I bring Isaiah home for the first time on a Friday night. It is pouring rain, super unusual for our very dry state. Kadeem has not gone to school that entire week, and the social workers have decided that until he goes back to school, he will not be allowed to come on weekend visits either.

Isaiah and I make a stop first at the foster care agency that is doing my training. The agency is anxious to place the boys quickly and have created a ramped up schedule of classes for me to complete.  Every night, I do a module, then meet with my social worker to discuss it  and turn it in. Tonight, Isaiah watches videos in a crowded office, while we meet. He does not interrupt once, except to ask for a bathroom, for the entire hour.

When I am done, Isaiah and I head for home. My home, an 80-year-old thousand square foot bungalow, is much smaller and much less fashionably decorated than the boys' previous foster home. Isaiah, I think, is a little disappointed in his new home.

Ramsey, my hundred pound golden retriever, and Mattie, the exuberant yellow lab who will soon assume the role of therapy dog, greet us at the door, the same way they have done every night for many years. Isaiah is a little taken aback by their size. "Don't worry, Isaiah, they are kid friendly," I assure him. He pats the dogs tentatively and they follow us happily from room to room, as I give him a tour of the house. By the time we are done, it is nine o'clock, and we are both tired. We watch a little tv, and then I tuck my son in for the night.

The next morning, Saturday, we have much to do. Isaiah came with the clothes on his back and not much more. The soles of his tennis shoes are flapping. My dear friend, Deb, has purchased underwear for that first weekend. One of Isaiah's friends has given us a bag of hand-me-down clothes. It is clear that we need to go shopping. We start at Target, where we pick out shorts, t-shirts, and a pair of khakis and a collared shirt for him to wear to meet my family the next day.

We then move on to Famous Footwear. Isaiah is thrilled at the prospect of picking out brand new tennis shoes and his grin stretches from ear to ear. When I tell him he needs to pick out a second pair of shoes, one that he can wear for dress up, he is incredulous. "I never had two sets of shoes," he declares in complete disbelief.  "These are beauts…" says Isaiah, as he models the second pair. I think of the 10 or 15 pair of shoes in my closet at home.

The rest of the morning becomes, in my mind, a metaphor for what will become our life together- me trying to pretend that I can do the mom thing and the work thing equally well, that there will be no difference between the life I have known and the one I am about to assume. . I am in charge of a parent appreciation breakfast at the school the following week. There is a mile long list of things that need to be purchased, picked up, and created. We pick up thank you presents at two different Pier Ones,  tablecloths and paperware at Party City, thank you notes at Hallmark store, and groceries at King Soopers. Isaiah is a trouper the entire morning. At every stop, the car gets fuller and fuller, and he squeezes into a smaller and smaller space. Finally I ask him if he is used to running errands with his foster mom. "Yes," he says, "but usually Kadeem and me sit in the car and wait."

By the time we get through the grocery store, Isaiah is totally spent and I am beginning to realize that the busy, crazy running around life I have always known may need to change a little…

Words of Wisdom

So when I taught the Boot Camp session of WIFYR last summer, I asked the students to each share a great piece of writing advice, presented in a memorable way. One of the students, Awesome Shar, gave us each a little blank notebook with these two bits written in the front.

"Put it on paper and save it for later. You might be surprised." (Mike Birbiglia)

"A bad something is better than a good nothing." (Somebody) (Who knew what he/she was talking about)

Good advice last summer. Good advice today. I'm gonna get busy now.

Anything BUT a card

Hello everyone, hope your tuesday is looking promising??? its looking pretty nice here, must get of the lappy and get my washing on the line in a bit lol,
Anyway firstly let me apologise for the naff photograph, these were made for an order and were needed pronto so i could only photo them in the eve and just couldnt get the lighting right grrr
They are money/voucher wallets, the idea is to leave them fairly plain, and i used either ribbon or my stampin up elastic as the fasteners,
As our theme over at Creative craft challenges is
i thought these were spot on lol,
I do hope that we see plenty of you over there entering our great challenge, we are being sponsored by Some odd girl whom im sure you have heard off? and if not where ever have you been hiding lol,
Id like to enter these wallets into the following challenges;
Party time tuesdays - Anything goes
Lollipop crafts - Anything goes
One stop craft challenges - Clean and simple (these are very simple)
Cute card thursday - Anything goes


Grade 10 Art Students

The art department at the prestigious, private, girls school, Branksome Hall, in Toronto recently bought some sewing machines. I was invited to teach the grade 10 art students the versatile free-motion technique.

Branksome Hall in Toronto, BE REMARKABLE!

What a joy! The students were so interested and engaged and had a blast trying this new way of sewing! It looks easy but takes lots of control.

me in the art room

I am returning to show and speak about my textile art, do a few demos and help them with their textile art project.

Summoning forth

I took a walk with my friend Kimberly the other day, and she made a comment that I loved so much. She said she wishes she could summon back to herself all the naps and avocados she rejected as a child.

Naps and avocados. That should be the title of something. A poem. A short story. A song. SOMETHING.

Anyway. I've been wondering what things I've rejected in the past that I would now happily welcome into my life. Here are a few:

--my grandmother's offers to clean stuff
--piano lessons
--my father's parking sticker (I didn't want special privileges back in the day when I had scruples)
--wardrobe advice
--china when I got married
--same goes for silver
--same goes for crystal

Why did I reject the china, silver and crystal? Because I got married in the seventies when we registered for handmade hippie pottery instead. Dude. The seventies were so stupid.

Tell me what you would summon back into your life . . .

Cards for men Dt card

hello guys,
Its that time again at cards for men...we have a great challenge for you this week......


we are being sponsored by karens doodles whom gave us some of her fabby images to play with,
here is a bit from karen......

here is my card i hope you like it, that cheeky little fella seemed perfect for what i hads in mind,
Id like to enter this card into a few challenges
Pile it on - for a man or from a man
Cute card thursday - Anything goes
Passion for promarkers - animals (does a froggy count lol)
Hope to see you all over at cards for men....



I am at a school that is closing at the end of this school year. Actually, the primary wing closed last year, and reopened this fall as a charter school. The intermediate wing will close in May, and then reopen in August as part of the same charter school. Most of my fourth graders will attend the charter school, which is their neighborhood school, next year.

I have only been at the school one year, so it's not nearly as heart wrenching for me as it is for teachers who have been there ten or fifteen years. One of the fifth grade teachers, for example, sent her own children, who are now in their thirties to our school, then she became a paraprofessional, and then went back to school to become a teacher. She has never taught anywhere else.

Even though I have only been at the school for about eight months, I have a feeling that the next seven weeks are going to be one long goodbye. Have I mentioned that I absolutely hate goodbyes?

Last Thursday, for example, Uriel and his best friend, Juan, were talking about Barbara O'Connor. Uriel had just finished THE FANTASTIC SECRET OF OWEN JESTER. He had moved on to GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE and passed OWEN JESTER along to Juan. As we were wrapping up Readers' Workshop that day, Uriel said to me, "Are you going to get Barbara O'Connor's next book?"

I responded that I was sure I would, because she is one of my favorite authors and I have bought all of her books.

Paris, who is one of the strongest readers in my class and read OWEN last fall, while I was reading HOT TO STEAL A DOG to the class, overhead the conversation, "It's the one about the pigeon, right? But it's not coming out until Fall, is it?"

"I think I read that it is coming out in October," I say.

"We won't be in fourth grade, then?" asks Juan, not quite sure of the time frame.

"No, we'll be in fifth grade," says Paris.

"In fifth grade," said Uriel. "But you won't be with us in fifth grade, right, Ms. Wilcox? You will be at the school where they speak Spanish and English. "

"That's right, Uriel," I say.

"Well then, how will we get the book? How will we get to read Barbara O'Connor's pigeon book?" says Uriel.

I have to think fast on this one. "We are a reading family," I say. "And reading families stick together. The day Barbara O'Connor's new book comes out, I will go and buy four copies. I will keep one copy to read myself. And then I will come back to visit you. I will give one copy to each of the fifth grade classrooms, so that all of us who love Barbara O'Connor will get to read her next book. You can read it and email me and tell me what you think."

The boys seem ok with this solution. They will get to read their favorite author's newest book. We will see each other. We will talk about our reading. Just like we do every day.

And me?

I'm absolutely hating all this goodbye stuff.


So I kinda started out chronologically on my story of our gotcha time, but this story is too good not to be told, and it happened six months and a million stories or slices later…

We are at Kadeem's end of year football "banquet." A football banquet, for those of you who don't know, is an end of year celebration, where coaches reflect on the season and everyone gets a trophy.  With younger kids, the banquets were usually held at a fun venue- an arcade, a bowling alley, a race track.  This particular event was held at Boondocks, which featured an outside race track, lots of video games, all with their own bells and whistles, and laser tag.

Kadeem, Isaiah, and I are waiting in line to play laser tag. One of Kadeem's teammates is standing in line in front of us. After a brief conversation with Kadeem, he turns around and looks at me, then turns back around. Soon, I can feel his eyes on me again. And again. After several turns, he finally speaks.

Teammate: So. You're Kadeem's mom?

Me: Yeah, I am.

Kadeem, Isaiah, and I have been a family for about six months and I am prepared for what is coming next. I am ready to give my speech about how families are the people who love and take care of you, that  not all families look alike, that I always wanted to be a mom, and the boys needed a mom, and that we are a family, yada, yada, yada…

Kadeem's teammate saves me the trouble. He wrinkles up his nose, then says, "Aren't you kind of old to be a mom?"

Yes, sweetie.

Yes, I am.

I am kind of old to be a mom.


Back to writing about our "gotcha month," at least for today…

The boys were at the Crisis Center for about two weeks. The social worker allowed me to pick them up every morning about 7, take them to school, then feed them dinner and take them back to the Crisis Center about 5. The Crisis Center, on the west side of town, was about 45 minutes away from school, which was on the far east side of town.

That first week, someone at the Crisis Center told the boys they had a choice about whether or not they went to school. Isaiah chose to go, Kadeem chose not to go. (Some things never change: He would still much rather stay home and play video games than go to school). These first conversations, then, involve only Isaiah.

Conversation #1, the first day I pick Isaiah up for school:

Isaiah: So we are going to come and live with you?

Me: Yes.

Isaiah: When?

Me: As soon as we can get all of the paperwork finished. There are a lot of rules about bringing kids home to live at your house.

Isaiah: But we are going to stay at your house?

Me: Yes, you are going to live with me. We are going to be a family.

Isaiah: Can I play on a football team?

Me (who is still trying to get her head around buying toothbrushes and underwear, and knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about youth football): Would you like to play on a football team?

Isaiah: Yes. E (an older brother who no longer lives with the boys) got to play on a team and he was really good. He got a trophy. Can I play on a team?

Me (wondering how in the world you set a kid up to play on a youth football team): Sure, buddy, we will find you a team.

For people who don't know my boys, and especially Isaiah, football basically defines him as a human being. He has played football every year since I adopted the boys, and was captain both his junior and senior years. This fall, he is supposed to go to Phoenix and play at a junior college, although that's still a little up in the air. The football field is the one place in the world where he is happy and confident. It is his place to shine


Conversation #2 (also that first week, maybe even the same day)

Isaiah: Will people think you are our mom?

Me (I'm pretty sure I know where is going): What do you mean?

Isaiah: Cuz we don't look like you.

Me: We will just tell them families are the people that love and take care of each other. And even if we don't look alike, we will love and take care of each other, so we are a family.

I am not sure Isaiah is totally convinced.  A little later in the conversation, I know he is not.

Isaiah: So you don't have a husband?

Me: No sweetie, I have never been married.

Isaiah: But do you have a boyfriend?

Me: No, I don't have a boyfriend.

Isaiah: Well maybe you could get a boyfriend who is black. People would think he is our dad.

Me: That would be nice, but that might not happen. Boyfriends are hard to find. Families are made in people's hearts, not in the color of their skin. We are a family because we love and take care of each other.

At some point, maybe I will write some more about the issue of race and our family, but today, well, today, I gotta go grocery shopping, or my fellas are going to start eating the cupboards!

Doppelgangers and so forth

When I lived in London as a 20 year-old student, I went into a local chemist's to pick up some photos I'd had developed, and the shop clerk (who was my same age, height and build, although she did have red hair) gasped when she saw my name and said, "That's my name, too!"

We were delighted with ourselves about this, so we had a nice cheery chat about our lives, which further delighted us because she thought it was cool that a girl named Ann Edwards came from America, and I thought it was awesome that a girl named Ann Edwards came from Ireland. We said good-bye and never saw each other again.

But I think about her sometimes. Did she go back to Ireland? Stay in London? Did she marry? Have children? Get an education? Did she ever wonder if Ann Edwards from America was still alive and possibly having the life she would have had if she were Ann Edwards from America?

Now and then I wonder about the other lives I might have had. Do you? I even envision those other lives running like parallel shadows to my real life here and now, and sometimes I wish I'd get a postcard to update me on the everything that happened instead.


I saw some wonderful textiles from Diane Shink's collection. I was at her home in Montreal last month and we spent about 3 hours just looking through her stuff. Honestly, I could have stayed longer.

She had boxes of pin cushions and tins of buttons.

She had antique quilt blocks everywhere.

A star in a circle is something you don't find often.

Lovely Art Deco fabric.

Victorian morning fabric (grey ones) and blue-striped denim in the centre.

More Art Deco fabric
She had a cedar box full of wool quilts. (The bar quilt came from there)

She has a collection of almost 900 aprons! Plus a book about them.

This apron came from Germany.
 I particularly loved the mending on this one.

Everything in her collection had a story. I learned so much from her! A la prochaine, Diane.


Like many of you, I have so loved reading the March madness poems at Think, Kid, Think this week. Many of my favorites, like one by Laura Salas and two by Mary Lee (our host for today's Poetry Friday roundup) had to do with the coming of spring. These poems reminded me of another one of my favorite poems, "Daffodils," by Ralph Fletcher. Ralph's poem first appeared in his book, ORDINARY THINGS: POEMS FROM A WALK IN EARLY SPRING. I was really surprised to discover that this book was published in 1997,  I would have said it was about five years old. I guess then, that it's an oldie but a goodie, but it's definitely worth adding to any poetry collection for kids.


They put on
a little show
simply by being
so yellow.

Their stems
darkly green
against the
faded brown barn.

Ralph Fletcher
from Ordinary Things: Poems from a Walk in Early Spring


Yesterday, as the culminating activity for a unit on ecosystems,  the entire fourth grade went to the Museum of Nature and Science. I teach in an urban area and many of my kids had never been to the museum before. We had an absolutely wonderful day exploring ecosystems, experimenting with the hands-on activities in the Solar System exhibit, picnicking in the park, and riding escalators. 

As a teacher in an urban setting, these trips are always kind of bittersweet. I love, love, love taking them places and exposing them to experiences they have never had. At the same time, I'm always sad that the experiences so many kids take for granted are such a treat for my babies… Here are a series of vignettes from our day…

"At the museum"

As the docent manipulates
the model of the solar system,
Alex whispers a question,
"Why do you think
Jupiter is so hot
When it's farther from the sun than Earth?"
I actually am not even sure
That Jupiter really is hotter than Earth.
"I'm gonna ask him," whispers Alex.
When the presentation is over
he approaches the elderly gentleman.
Balding gray head and gel-spiked black
Bend over the model.
A few minutes later,
my junior scientist returns.
"it's because of the internal pressure,"
he says knowingly.

Sweet shy M,
drags me across the room
"Look, Miss Wilcox,
Feel this.
This is what a deer's antlers feel like."
Holds up deer ears.
"Look, Miss Wilcox,
Try these.
This is what it sounds like to be a deer."
Rubs my fingers
across a deer's summer coat.
Then the winter one. "Feel this.
Miss Wilcox, can you feel it?
This one is thicker. It's for winter."

I lose Maria
in the Arctic exhibit
I find her 
kneeling in front of 
a polar bear exhibit
completely engrossed
in copying facts 
 onto index cards.
"I need these for
my ecosystem powerpoint,"
she says, 
when I ask her what she is doing

At the snake and lizard exhibit.
My kids marvel over
a red spitting cobra,
an enormous python,
a bumpy skinned iguana
We see sixty kinds of snakes and lizards
 wait in a long line for gecko bracelets. 
Assemble a snake skeleton.
Stand in front of a green screen
to have our pictures taken
wrestling a cobra.

Finally, Darius leads the way as we mount the stairs,
To the third floor atrium
An all glass wall
Panoramic view of the lake at City Park.
Collected intake of breath,
"I never knew 
there was anything 
this beautiful,"
says Alijah-na.
We stand there a long time
maybe 15 minutes
before I must break the spell
and herd my students
back onto the bus
to their reality. 


Using the Prima Printery Collection Kit from
Scrap Sanity
very yum. :-)
Whenever I see this photo it reminds me why I scrap these old photos.
DH and his cousin were looking at it trying to work out who each of the children were.
I knew who they were because DH's mother had already told me.
But I couldn't believe that these two men didn't know who was who.
And it got me thinking....if THEY didn't know who they were, and they know, or have known, them, what chance do my children and their children have?
Without names, it would just be another old photo with no story.
Which is why I feel the need to atleast put names on my vintage layouts, I might not know their story, but I atleast try to document their names.  

Thanks for stopping by.

Coming home

So I was born in Salt Lake. I lived in Salt Lake until I was six. I visited Salt Lake regularly until I was in the fifth grade because my maternal grandparents lived in our old Salt Lake house. I moved back to Salt Lake when I was 26. And yet I have always thought of Provo as home.

It's because I was a bike-riding, barefoot-running, foothill-hiking, high dive-diving, slumber party-sleeping, ghost story-telling, MAD Magazine-reading, Sears Christmas catalog-loving, cookie dough-eating, cartwheel-turning kid there. Later, of course, I was a book-reading, downtown-visiting, boy-loving, car-cruising teenager. And all the time I was flanked by mountains and lake and river and fields and peach orchards.

I had a good childhood.

Anyway. Yesterday, I had to spend some time in downtown Provo, and when I looked around I really saw for the first time how all my landmarks--the library, the tabernacle, my old high school, the campus, the department stores like Penney's and Clark's and Firmage's, El Azteca--have all changed or disappeared completely. Completely. Same with the old houses I used to love--Algie Ballif's home on University where Gigi and I used to watch the parade has been replaced with apartments. The river bottoms where Ken used to ride his dirt bike to get away from the cops is filled with shops and mansions now. NuSkin looms over Center Street like the Evil Empire (nothing personal, NuSkin! It's just that your building looks like it's into world domination.) Except for a few places (Heindselman's knit shop), my old downtown is gone.

Later, as I headed north around the point of the Mountain and entered the Salt Lake Valley, I thought to myself, "I'm home now. After all these years."


Hello Friends,  we have been so blessed to have to fulfill so many cake orders, that we have not had an opportunity  to post new photos to share the amazing cakes we have recently made.  We have tried to keep up with our Facebook page, so if you are on FB, please visit us and say hi!  You will be able to see many our our recent works of art!  We will be posting here pretty soon!  Have an abundantly blessed day!  XOXO

Here is the link to our Facebook page:


As weird as it sounds, I do not truly remember the exact moment I made the conscious decision to bring the boys home.  I just remember that sometime over the course of that Easter weekend, I knew, in the deepest part of my being, that the boys were supposed to come home with me. That I was supposed to become their mother. That we were supposed to become a family.

The boys were taken to the Crisis Center, a kind of holding tank, for kids in the foster care system.  That weekend, I talked to my boss and dear friend, Deb, who also does foster care (who is the closest person to Mother Teresa/sainthood that I know).  I told her I was thinking about bringing the boys home. She didn't say I should, or I shouldn't. She just said, "Well you know I will be there if you decide to do it."

I talked to my mom. She was, to put it mildly, a little surprised. You are thinking about adopting? Two boys? Two African American boys? From the foster care system? "Well, you know I will be here if you decide to do it."

I talked to a circle of my closest friends, the women who now refer to themselves as "the Book Club Aunties." More surprises. But again, "Well you know we will be here if you decide to do it."

By that Monday, I had decided. If the boys were available, I was going to do it. On Monday morning, I called the social worker  to find out whether the boys had been returned to their previous foster home. They hadn't. What was going to happen to them? Uncertain. Parental rights had been terminated. They would go to another foster home, but they were having trouble finding a dual placement. They were considering splitting the boys up and placing them separately.  I got a huge lump in my throat. Every single snapshot I could bring to mind involved both boys. Not one. They were always, and I mean always, together. All they had was each other.

"I'll take them," I said to the social worker. "They can come home with me.  Both of them. Together."

Because I had occasionally taken care of Deb's foster son, I was licensed as a respite home. That meant the boys could immediately come home for weekends. Before we could make it a permanent deal, I needed some additional training-- Foster Care 101, First Aid/CPR. I needed a home visit. And I needed to fill out a daunting, inch-thick stack of paperwork, which involved using a million other pieces of paper- everything from tax returns to my college transcripts, to my dogs' licensing papers. That alone shook this disorganizational goddess to the core of her very being.

I called Human Services on Monday. On Tuesday evening, the first of several home visits occurred. The social worker, a single mom with two kids of her own, grilled me mercilessly, for almost two hours . Where I had grown up? What was my nuclear family like? Had I ever been married?  Had my parents ever hit me? Was I in a serious relationship? How did I feel about corporal punishment? Could I support the boys financially? What would I do if the boys got sick and had to stay home from school?  Where would the boys sleep? Were my dogs friendly? Had they ever bitten anyone? Was I really serious about taking the boys permanently? Did I understand the commitment involved?  Many of the questions had to do with race-- how was I, a single white woman, prepared to raise two African American boys? By the time the social worker left, I was exhausted. But aside from needing to drain the hot tub in the backyard (foster homes are not allowed to have trampolines or hot tubs) and put up a hand rail on the stairs to the unfinished basement,  I had been approved.

I set to draining the hot tub and dissembling my study.  I lived in a relatively small two bedroom, one bathroom bungalow. The tiny second bedroom had always been my study/tv room. Now it needed to become a bedroom for the boys. Over the course of that week, friends helped me move the furniture out of the study. The television and bookcase went into an already full living room. The sleeper couch went to the garage. My sister and her partner went with me to buy a set of l-shaped bunk beds and dressers. I bought two navy and red plaid comforters, thick and warm. New towels for the bathroom. Friends gave me books and legos and balls and puzzles.

Within five days, the bedroom was ready. It was time for my boys to come home…