Showing posts from 2018

#SOL18 Day 17 The Flower

Friday is often "Family Movie Night" in our house. We have a "smart TV" which includes Amazon right on it. Most of the time, we select a new movie to buy to add to our Amazon library of movies. We are building quite a collection. I always encourage my children to watch one of our purchases again, but they always seem to want a new movie. It's way cheaper and more convenient that actually leaving the house to go to the movie theater, and by Friday, I'm usually fine with spending the money to have some snuggly couch time with my 7 year old and 5 year old. 

Last night, Alex chose Ferdinand, a movie based on the story of the flower-loving, peaceful bull. Near the beginning of the movie, there is a part where the young Ferdinand is trying to protect a little red flower that he found. The other bulls don't understand his peaceful ways and pick on him. One bull angrily stomps on the red flower, crushing it. Right at that moment, my son's eyes filled with te…

#SOL18 Day 16 My Neighbor

My neighbor is moving. I will be so sad to see her go. When we moved into our house in 2009, her husband Al was alive and well. They welcomed us, showed us tricks about our house that they've learned from their house. When I locked myself out before we even moved in, they let me come into their kitchen and wait for the second set of keys to be brought to me. 

Norma bakes cookies for us, especially when my husband shovels her driveway in the snow. She remembers everyone's birthday with cards and little gifts for the kids. She used to sit on the front lawn with Al around sunset, watching the cars drive by and the kids play, her sipping wine while he drank a beer. 

Al passed away in 2015 and Norma is looking for a smaller place, a one floor home. She will probably be leaving by April. She's been cleaning out her house and offering us different items she finds. 

I will miss her smile and quiet kindness. I know the move will be good for her, but it's another chapter closing. …

#SOL18 Day 15 Dear Megan

As I type this, in just a few hours, my little girl turns 5. After laying with her until she fell asleep, I crept downstairs to wrap her presents. One present was the book Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter, Paris. (Such a beautiful book- a must buy for a special girl in your life.) Here is my birthday letter to my own dear girl, Megan:

Dear Megan,

When you were younger, and trying to understand the words "son" and "daughter", I told you that you were my daughter and your brother, Alex, was my son. You replied  that you were my "son-shine". And really, that is the truth- as much as you are my daughter, you are also my sunshine. Light in dark times. A warm, snuggly hug. Radiant. The center of my world. 

From the start, you've surprised me. You've been a miracle to me in every way possible. You are funny and bubbly and so quick. You use words like "duplicate" in everyday conversation. You know all the Pokemon characters becaus…

#SOL18 Day 14 Piku

It's Pi Day! 3.14. While I am not a huge lover of things mathematical, I've enjoyed celebrating Pi Day in the past with my students by writing Piku. Piku is a type of poetry that is like haiku. Instead of the lines being 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables, they are 3 syllables, 1 syllable, 4 syllables. 

Here is my Piku for today:

Dark morning
I am blogging

Report cards
across table

So much time
complete each one

Due Monday
Weekend consumed

Have you tried Piku? Happy Pi Day!

#SOL18 Day 13 Happiness


In the movie Trolls, Poppy tells the Bergens that happiness isn't something that you get externally- it comes from within. You find it inside yourself. 

Growing up, I wanted everyone to be happy. I hated when there was any discord. If my parents were arguing, I would speak to each separately to get them to see the other person's perspective or to make some concessions. 

Isn't it the ultimate irony, then, that I find myself in a situation where no matter what I do, there is a person in my life who is never happy with me. No explaining, cajoling, reasoning bends this person. 

It's a painful place to be, to have a person deeply rooted in your life, finding you to be so displeasing in every way you wish to be pleasing. 

When I was younger, I read a book called If Life is a Game, These are the Rules by Cherie Carter Scott.  The idea is that life will keep presenting you with the same lessons over and over until you learn what you are supposed to learn. So perhaps my l…

#SOL18 Day 12 The Decision

The room is pitch black. The covers are snuggly and warm. My eyes feel so heavy. Snooze has been hit twice and now it's decision time: Do I get up to workout or stay asleep?

There are so many decisions to make, all the time. When it comes to health and fitness, for me, this is the area that takes the hit- I'm tired of making decisions, so I'll grab what looks good, my comfort foods, the nearby chocolate. The regret always comes after. 

A Facebook friend has recently been shedding weight at a very fast pace. Her posts about fitting into her jeans again after only 3 weeks had me intrigued. A private message revealed she's doing a program that involves 2 meals a day as a bar or a shake. The weight is pouring off her and she's not exercising yet. The program is very expensive- $400 for the first month, then something like $250 each month you are buying shakes and bars. 

It was tempting. To not make decisions- to just have a shake or bar ready for me. To have weight just f…

#SOL18 Day 11 A Short, Sweet Haiku Slice

Birthday girl turns 5 Nails, toes, baking cupcakes too Another party!

#SOL18 Day 10- Visions of Math Centers Danced in My Head

5 am

I don't need to get up this early today. But here I am, awake, with an idea on how to better organize my classroom and put together math centers. For the last 4 years, each student in the class has been assigned a math toolkit by number. If your class number was 6, you would take the clear plastic shoebox labeled 6 and all your math tools would be in there: base ten blocks, tiles, plastic clock, etc. So I have 24 or more of these in the front of the classroom.

But here's the thing- we really don't use them. If we need a tool, it's mostly in small group and I just grab them from any bin and then try to remember where to put them back. I'm thinking it would make more sense to have the baggies of all the base ten blocks in one large bin, the baggies of all the tiles in another large bin, etc. Students can still find the tool they need when they need it (they never seem to take tools to solve problems) but it wouldn't be all individualized. This would free up al…

#SOL18 Day 9 Fri-Yay, Conference Day!

Blogging packets? Check.
Projector? Check.
Speakers? Check.
Chromebook? Check.
Various plugs? Check.
Excitement? Check, check, check!

Today I am attending the Spring LILAC Literacy Conference, sponsored by the Nassau Reading Council and the Long Island Language Arts Council. Kylene Beers is the Keynote Speaker in the morning! I will be presenting a workshop on Fostering Voice Through Blogging with my friend and Long Island Writing Project colleague, Evelyn. 

I've become more comfortable presenting mostly because I push myself to do it often. Also, because I believe so much in the notion that blogging gives students a voice, an audience, a purpose- and it's fun! I would love to help teacher see the possibilities of blogging and how it can enhance what they do. Presenting on a topic I believe in and put into practice in my classroom seems a little less scary. 

I'm looking forward to attending workshops, listening to the keynotes, talking with other educators, and being in a room wit…

#SOL18 Day 8 Letter From Hasbro

My daughter Megan turns 5 a week from today. Her birthday party theme is "My Little Pony" and the ponies have become her favorite toys lately. A couple of weeks ago, she was talking with my mom about the pony Trixie. She wanted Trixie to have a spell book. My mom suggested they write to the toy company Hasbro who makes My Little Pony. Megan dictated the letter and my mom wrote it. They mailed it, along with a picture Megan drew.

Yesterday in the mail, this arrived:
No toys or coupons with it, but still fun to get mail addressed to "Miss Megan Sokolowski" and she loved that the "management team" would consider her idea to make a spell book for Trixie. 

Before Megan has turned 5, she understand that writing is a powerful tool for expressing your opinion and trying to make changes. To be able to express your ideas well in writing is a critical tool in life.

#SOL18 Day 7- Innovation Lab

I stood in the middle of the room, taking in the scene around me. My third graders, all 24 of them, were all busy at work on their individual projects. Cutting. gluing, measuring, bending, tinkering, sketching. No one asked to go to the bathroom or get a drink. No one arguing. No one looking bored.

We were in the Innovation Lab, something new my district has tried this year. It's a large space with cool furniture- rolling chairs in neon orange and green; a separate meeting area with comfy cushion seats, couches, and a large interactive smartboard (but the new sleeker, flat they have a name?); large wooden bookshelves to house all the projects the students create; shelves filled with pipe cleaners, straws, paper towel rolls, markers, glue, crayons, felt and more. There is a glassed in area with a green screen, too. 

The Innovation Lab is run by the librarian and the enrichment teacher...and me when I'm in the room with my class. The idea is to let the kids engage in tho…

#SOL Day 6 18 4:30 am

4:30 am
Most people asleep
cozy under covers
dreams underway
silence in the house.

My alarm goes off
and I scurry to shut it off
not to wake anyone
this is my time.

When the work 
but you can't 
keep your eyes open
at 8:30 pm,
4:30 am
becomes your friend.

Electronics hum
birds still asleep
white noise and click
clack of keyboard
as I type.

Something accomplished 
while others still snooze
not a bad way to start
a new day.

#SOL18 Day 5 I Don't Care

"I don't care," he looks at me, defiantly, his face like stone.

I want him to shower, he doesn't want to stop playing. He's played all day and hasn't showered least a few days. He is due for sure but won't budge. 

Eventually...a compromise is reached: He will shower and then get more time to play on the computer. 

But now I'm thinking about the "I don't cares"- the times I act like something can't hurt me when really it does. The times I tell myself "It doesn't matter", "I didn't want it anyway" or "It doesn't hurt me anymore." 


Why is it so hard to admit that some things are painful, even if we wish they weren't? Some experiences, some words, some losses just hurt a lot. I'm thinking I need to be more honest with myself sometimes and stop brushing off painful moments with the "I don't cares."

Not caring may seem like a shield for pain, but it's really just…

#SOL18 Day 4 This is Us

I used to have a few television shows I regularly watched. For a long time I was into reality shows like American Idol, The Bachelor, and Dancing with the Stars. Some of my other favorites included Modern Family, In the Middle, and I especially loved the makeover show What Not to Wear. Through the years, I've stopped watching TV. Last year, everyone was talking about This is Us and mid-season, I decided to watch the first few episodes on demand. I was entirely hooked and once again found a show I loved. 

This winter, I've fallen behind in watching This is Us. It's been a rough season in my own life. I missed the Superbowl episode, THE episode that everyone was talking about. I found out what happened, but only tonight had the chance to watch it myself and the episode right after. I'm still a couple behind. 

I love so many things about the show, but mostly how different threads of stories come together, how time zooms backwards and forwards and you see so much more of the…

#SOL18 Day 3 Right Behind You

"I'm right behind you," almost 5 year old Megan laughs, right on my tail, so to speak. She's wearing pink ballet pajamas that she wore to school today to celebrate the 100th Day of School (and P week too). 

Everywhere I walk, she stays right behind me, giggling, calling out, "I'm right behind you. Wherever you go, I go." 

We make a few trips around the house like this and I stop to hug her. 

At night, she tells me she loves me "To infinity and beyond." Her love is complete and restorative.

I write this now, so when she is a teenager, or maybe even a tween, and she hates me and thinks I'm all wrong and would rather be with everyone but me, I'll remember the time when she was so little, so cute, and gleefully followed me everywhere I went.

#SOL18 Day 2 Don't Look Back

Lately I've been hearing myself say some of the expressions my Grandy (grandfather) often said. "Basta Finito", "Bunk!", "Don't look back." The "Don't Look Back" was kind of his trademark- he said it so often. As a kid, I didn't really understand why you wouldn't look back and as a young adult, I thought looking back was something you should do- reflection and all that. 

Now as an older young adult (okay not young- just an adult), I see my Grandy's words as a life preserver from the guilt that comes when something happens I wish hadn't. A car I backed into (should have been looking back for that one). A playdate that resulted in disaster and a near tragedy. Too much chocolate consumed. A lesson gone awry. Mistakes made or the wrong path taken. Grandy would say, "Don't look back" and now I know why. 

Life is full of dark and light, ups and downs, joy and pain. It is the choices we make that comprise our lif…

#SOL18 Day 1: Why I'm Here

The first day of the March SOLSC feels like the first day of school! Now that I've done the challenge for a few years, it reminds me of returning to school when you've been a student there for a while- you look for the familiar faces, happy to be back together after a long break. There are always new friends to be made, so welcome to all the New Slicers among us!

My very first post in my first March SOLSC was a Where I'm From poem, inspired by George Ella Lyon. The other day, I stumbled upon Elizabeth Steinglass blog, where she had written a poem entitled "Why I'm Here" for Poetry Friday. It seemed like the perfect way to begin the challenge, so here is my own version. 

Why I'm Here 

(As a mom)
I'm here to find the missing
stuffed animal flavor of the day,
often stuffed in couch cushions
or left in plain sight.
I'm here to pour juice into sippy cups
and type in the code to the computer.
I'm here to read bedtime stories
and answer unanswerable questions

#SOL18 Look for the Learning

"Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us- and those around us- more effectively. Look for the learning." -Louisa May Alcott
When something bad happens to someone you love, life stops for a while. When it clicks back, everyone has emotions and opinions, feelings and fears. It all swirls, much like a tornado, leaving your emotional landscape ravaged. There are those I know who are angry, who throw blame, who talk about vindication and who wish misery on others. It's pain upon pain. 

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." And so, love is always the answer. Gratitude, light, kindness, love. Walking through the pain but not adding to the pain. Seeing the blessings, acknowledging that there are lessons here. 

I'm going to look for the learning. 

#SOL18 By Heart, My Heart

"There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm." -Willa Cather 

       When my son Alex was born, the cord was wrapped around his neck. Alarms sounded and doctors rushed into the room. They whisked him to another corner of the room as I asked, in confusion, "Why isn't he crying?" The nurse who assisted me during the delivery reassured me he was fine, just "stunned."  Then, they let me hold him. 
       The moment Alex was placed in my arms, and I looked into his little perfect face, it was as if I had known him all my life. This baby I had been praying for, dreaming about and worrying about for months and months was here and somehow it was like I've always known him. It was a moment like no other. 
      Because of his rough start, he had to spend a few days in the NICU, being monitored. He was a very hearty baby among many babies who were premature. The night he was born, they wheeled me into the nursery of the NICU. When I cooed, &q…

The "Cariest" #SOL18

He tells me I'm the "cariest"
because when he was hurt, 
I cared for him.
Then he tells me how 
he waited so long for me
wishing I would get there
that awful day he was hurt.

I told him I raced.
From the moment the phone rang.
Rushed to be with him.
(I didn't tell him I chanted "Please be alive,
please be alive, please be alive" 
the whole way there.)
I tell him that when I parked
A policeman told me to move my car
because an ambulance was coming.
I yelled, "But that's my son in there!"
And had to move my car.

I told him that when I parked the car
near all the snow,
piled up by the road,
I ran- and I never run.
For him, I ran.
For him, I do all the things 
I think I cannot.

The Storm #SOL18

The storm has found me.

For so long, I have sailed in relatively calm seas. A wave here or there would rock my ship a bit, but just a little. It always righted. I've sailed on, always fearful of the day the storm would come, the storm that would knock my breath away and turn my life upside down. I'd watch my fellow sailors brave storms in their lives with a mixture of guilt and gratitude. Why did I escape the pounding rain, the driving wind, the punishing waves, when others faced unimaginable storms?

So my storm came a few weeks ago with the unexpected ring of a phone. An ambulance ride. A hospital stay. Doctors appointments. Life altered. 

And my crew is still with me, and so that is the most incredible blessing. And kindness has flowed our way, with grace and prayers and presents and dinners. And beautiful cards have been sent to us and stand in our window. And cheerful balloons stand guard in our dining room. 

And I'm looking ahead to rainbows and I'm wishing that the s…

A Tale of Two Sister Months #SOL18

December wears sparkles and shimmers,
Deep red lips, sequins and crushed velvet.
She throws her head back in laughter
as she parties all month long.
Her laugh like the jingle of a bell. 
She drinks too much.
Eats too much, 
Spends too much. 
December throws caution to the wind,
lives in the moment,
celebrates everything.

December's older, more responsible sister,
is January.
January wears beige and gray, and often black.
She wakes up every morning to exercise
And counts every calorie.
Nary a donut passes by January's lips. 
January thinks carefully about the cost 
And rarely spends at all. 
Watching the numbers in her bank account 
Sighing as she pays off December's debts
She often doesn't feel very celebratory. 
But, that January- she's a do-er. 
When you resolve to be better at everything,
go see January. 

I've often thought about December and January as polar opposites. December is a time we let our hair down and relax all our rules about eating, drinking and spending in t…