Teachers Write! – Describe a Specific Place

As part of the writing prompt for today’s yesterday’s Teacher’s Write, we were encouraged to pick a place and write a description of that place. Here is my paragraph(s) written within the two minute time frame and then additional time to rewrite with more details.

The prairie grasses stand tall in the deep road ditch. They gently sway with the wind. A hidden treasure waits. Wild asparagus. “I found some, mom. Over here.” The mom rushes over while pushing away the dew-filled cattails. Her two siblings run toward her. More wild asparagus for supper.

She can almost taste the tender stalks melting against her tongue. She sighs, though, realizing that before the asparagus can be cooked, they all will have to be checked for wood ticks. She runs her hands over her arms and legs quickly just in case she can feel one trying to crawl into her skin now.The thought makes all her muscles cringe even more than usual after pulling the fresh vegatables.

The siblings get ready to cross the gravel road. First they look to the right. Dust billows in the distance of a few short miles. Is it a green tractor moving between fields or the large slow orange road plow making its daily trip to even out the gravel that gathers into ruts? Maybe it is one of the fast-moving semi trucks moving livestock or grain for the farmers. They hope it isn’t the semi truck. It kicks up so much dust. Dust that will cover the laundry hanging out to dry in the yard. dust that will hang in the air as if in slow motion as it returns to the ground.

They will wait until the dust-maker passes before attempting to cross again. Finally, One more look to the right. Grandpa is checking his mail box. The wind across the prairie muffled their high-pitch excited screams to get his attention. Instead of waving at them, he turns around, shuffles through his mail, and disappears into the grove of trees that hides his driveway and protects his homestead.

Maybe they will walk down to their grandparents later today. They know a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies waits for them.  Their dog barrels out from the slough that sits in front of their grandparents grove of trees. She is barking nonstop. Her growls mean she is mad. She never growls like that at the kids. Her coat is drenching wet. She must have gotten into another fight with a muskrat. She will probably win the battle later tonight and drag the wet carcass in front of the house.

They look to the left. They see a farmer drive his tractor across his field. They are glad it is the smell of fresh black dirt that floats through the air instead of the manure from the farmer’s livestock being spread to fertiilze the soil.

They run across the road, losing their balance here and there as they go across the uneven gravel. Laughter of the children erupts. Their arms swing. Their heads are pointed toward the sky. The wide open sky that tonight will be as black as black can be and full of endless stars and a large glowing moon. If they are lucky, they just might see the northern lights ripple through the sky.

Home. Our destination across the gravel is my childhood home.

View from my home in Minnesota:

The prompt started with writing for two minutes. Then taking a minute for each sense. I was amazed at how much I still needed/wanted to write when my two minutes were done. I actually didn’t set the timer on my phone for one minute per sense. I just started to rewrite. I know more work can be done, but for now I am pleased with my description and I think I might be able to fit it into my WIP.

Making Time for Writing – Teachers Write

This summer I have signed up for a virtual summer writing camp called “Teachers Write.”  I know – it probably sounds silly right. I mean, I am a freelance writer.  I get paid to write. I shouldn’t struggle with writing. But I do when it comes to myself.  I can be handed a writing assignment with a list of contacts, a sentence or two of what to cover and create a 1,700 word article. Yet, I can’t get my own (book) ideas to go from my head to my computer screen.

As a homeschooling mom, I don’t get my time to write for myself. If I have a writing assignment, I do what ever it takes to make the time.  If I want to write for myself, it gets pushed aside. I have been teaching my son for three years now. He just finished second grade, and I’m so proud of his progress this year.  This past year, I also taught writing classes within our homeschool co-op. It was a wonderful time teaching homeschool kids who come together for two eight-week sessions through the school year.  The best part is that my real-life friend Pamela taught an art class that coincided with the writing class for the second half of the year.  The kids created their stories through words and pictures. It was amazing!

Today is the start of camp. And the first “assignment.”

Make a writing plan for your summer and for your school year.

What you found that you might be able to cut out of your schedule or cut back on to make time to write. Now that school is done for us, I should have more time to write. But having the time and taking the time are two different things.  I need to set an alarm in my phone to remind me to write each day. Or maybe I can only watch shows on  on Netflix if I write first.

When you’ll be writing each day & for how long.  I have a hard time setting a time limit for writing.  Maybe it will only be five minutes one day. Another day it may be 20 minutes. Some days I might struggle with writing. Another day the words may just flow. I just want to write. As long as I write even if it is just one sentence at a time. I have been thinking more on making an editorial calendar for my blog as well.

Where you’ll usually write. My office. My kitchen table. My outdoor patio. I’m not stuck to only writing in one place.  As long as I have a laptop or an iPad, I can write.  I can’t write with pencil/pen and paper. Well, I can. I choose not to write that way.  I should start to carry a pad of paper around with me for those times I think of things but don’t have some sort of device with me.  I will have to think on that more.

Who you told about your plans.

I guess by sharing on my blog, I’m sharing with the world. It is sort of like posting my dailymile exercise posts on facebook and twitter. Someone will see them. Someone will hold me accountable. Someone, I hope, will ask “why haven’t you posted any workouts lately?”  Is it too much to hope the same thing happens if I slack with blog postings and writing?

And now to make it all happen!

Summer (June) Goals

Yeah!  It is the start of summer for us today since Kory’s official school work is done!

I love summer. Always have. As a kid, it meant no school, plenty of time to play outdoors, eating watermelon (and having watermelon seed spitting contests with my siblings and cousins) and lots of time swimming!

As an adult and especially as a homeschooling mom, I look forward to a break over the summer. Plenty of watermelon to eat. Fresh blackberry limeade waiting to be made. Hosting cookouts (I hope!). Swimming and lounging by the pool – hopefully we will get it set up soon!

And most importatnly, three months to fully focus on me!  During the school year, I fit “me” in where I can.  In the summer, it is about “me”.  Time for me to be a bit more selfish.

Last year, I had two summer goals:  1. purge my house of baby stuff (check) 2. train for a tri (check).

This summer, I am working on my summer goals list. And no, I won’t be training for another tri this year. My Trek bike sits in my garage, and my hip and shoulder are recovering from injuries resulting from one leg being shorter than the other.

I have too many things running through my brain of what I want to do this summer. Relax. Work on flower beds. Go through pictures. Sort through bags of “stuff.” Purge my kids’ toys. Read. Write. Exercise.

I’m trying to not “overwhelm” myself on my first day “off”.  Instead, I’m going to make goals for each month.

June’s goals

– Exercise:   My husband and I are doing an exercise challenge. For each day in June, I will do the same number of push ups and chin ups. Of course, I will adapt the push up and chin up simply because my arm strength is really low. 🙂  June 1st – one of each. June 30 – 30 of each.  I also want to get back into the habit of daily walking.

– Writing:  I  signed up to be part of a virtual writing camp called “Teachers Write” hosted by Kate Messner. I’m excited to see my personal writing progress grow as well as picking up some teaching tips through this summer camp.

– Flower Beds:  I want to tackle, clean and remulch one of my smaller flower beds. While I was mowing yesterday, I noticed how overgrown it had become. I figure one flower bed at a time is better than trying to plan for the 4 flower beds I have – one which is really really really huge and overgrown but hidden by our fence.

Simple goals for June right?!!  I’ll try to post at the end of June with my progress.

What are your goals for June?

Poetry, my son, a cow and the moon

I was supposed to teach my son about poetry.  The lesson plan had the poems to use.  I glanced at them and thought they looked boring. If you are new to my blog, you may have missed an earlier blog post of mine. Basically, I don’t like poetry, much. I’m getting better at that though.

Instead of using the “boring” poems from the lesson, I decided to use my real-life friend, Maria’s poems. She has been writing some great ones this past month. I thought if I used poems by someone my son knows, he (and I) might enjoy the poetry even more.

Instead, my son surprised me. I didn’t teach from the poems in the lessons. I didn’t teach from Maria’s poems; although, we will glance at her poems later today.  My son, instead, taught me about poems.

“Mommy, Can you listen to my story?” he asked me as I was cleaning up the kitchen between lessons.

“Sure. Tell me your story,” I said while I wiped down the counter.

And that is when he went off with a poem. Creating one line at a time.  A cow. A moon. He giggled while sharing his words with me.

“Kory,I really like that, but is it a story or a poem?”

“A poem, mommy.”

Here is Kory’s poem – as he told it to me a second time.  It is a bit different from the first original piece that he shared with me, but it is close to the original.  It’s all Kory.

The cow jumped over the moon (that is the title, mommy)

I saw a cow jump over the moon.

I hope it’s not a hound.

I hope I’m not a clown.

I wonder what I would feel like if I was a cow.

I watched the cow jump over the moon.

I bring out my bucket and I go under the moon.

And I think the cow will squirt milk into this bucket.

But instead he put rocks in my bucket.

I looked at the cow and he said moo.

I wonder how he can jump that high.

I always wonder that whenever daddy throws me in the water.

And I wonder what I would be like if I was a cow.

What would you feel like?

Here is Kory’s drawing to go with his poem. I’ll also be sharing your comments with my son.

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers

The Waiting Room

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in waiting rooms as my son has his ongoing vision therapy sessions.  I’ve always liked to people watch, but somehow this hour of sitting causes me to watch even more.  Today this is what I saw while I waited and watched news coverage on the sole television in the room.

The lady who fell asleep in the chair with all the noise.  How does she do that?  I would be afraid I would drool, talk in my sleep, or kick my leg. She reminds me of the man who slept in a chair  last week in this waiting room. How do they do it?

The mother and her two daughters.  The mom yells for the one daughter to shut up. The other daughter yells at her to turn off her iPod.  The older daughter and the mom seem to have more of a connection than the other daughter.  I wonder what their life is like at home. She barely makes eye contact with the assistant when her name is called and she mutters a hello.

The lady who was called Mrs. so-and-so.  She answers slowly and stands up.  The assistant asks, “Did I pronounce that correctly?”  “Yes,” she slowly answers.  “But it is Miss not Mrs,” she continues.   I wonder does she cringe when that happens. I thought I heard her sigh or maybe that was me sighing for her.  Does she get that alot?  Was she ever close to being a Mrs? Does she want to be a Mrs.?  Has she ever been in love?

Simply people in the waiting room. Yet they are so much more than that.

Yeah! I made it through a month of posting through the March Slice of Life Challenge.  I’m now planning on posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Feeling Lost

I really felt lost yesterday. I started into my regular online routine.  I checked Facebook and then Twitter. Usually I go straight for a Twitter search on #slice2012. It was then I remembered, the challenge is done.

Yesterday, I went to the dashboard of my blog to get ready to post my writing for the day. Wait, I thought. I don’t have a post for today. There are probably no new comments since I haven’t posted any thing, I remembered.

Instead, I tackled a mound of paperwork that piled up over the past month. Things for my husband’s business. Things for tracking medical miles. Things for tracking expenses for my son’s vision therapy. My brain almost felt thankful for not having to think about writing but handle such mundane things.

Surely the feeling of loss will pass, I thought. Yet, I woke up today and started into my regular routine. Facebook – check. Twitter – check. #slice 2012 – check. Oh wait. No new posts, I sighed.

I decided to read some slices I missed over the past few days. Then I opened my dashboard. Not to check for comments but simply to write so I would no longer feel lost.

I don’t like poetry

I don’t like poetry. I don’t get poetry. I don’t like writing poetry. I don’t like teaching poetry.

I like poetry about as much as my husband likes going to art museums.  I clearly remember a couple art museum visits with Keith. I was so embarrassed when he loudly said, “oh look that lady has rosacea,” about a painting others were admiring.  Then there was the time he mocked Grandma Moses’ paintings at a gallery in Vermont. “Hey, your grandpa paints better than Grandma Moses.” Don’t even take Keith near the “pop art” room with random sculptures.

It is a good thing there isn’t a museum of poetry. I would end up rolling my eyes too much. I would probably sigh and say, “Huh, I don’t get that.”  Maybe I would walk quickly through the halls full of poetic words and not give them a second glance. I would probably even make some wise crack about the poem.

Yet this slice of life challenge is a bit like a museum with its own wing of poetry.  I wasn’t looking for it. I would just click on slices. Oh, a poem, I would think.  Since I was already there, I figured I should at least read the poem.  And guess what? I appreciated the poems. I got them. I enjoyed them.

Then I would write a slice, post it and people would comment with “nice poem” or “beautiful poetry.”

What, a poem. I wrote a poem?” I skeptically wondered.

I would pull back up my own slice and glance over it quickly.  Yes, it was a poem. I wrote a poem. I actually wrote a couple of them.  Me, who can’t stand poetry. Who has only started to read more poems because of this challenge. I actually wrote and understood my own poem.

I might just like poetry a bit more than I thought.

But I’m still not taking Keith to an art museum again!

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

What to write about today?

What to write about today?

I could finish the draft I started about the songs on my workout mix. That will take too much work. I’ll have to listen to the songs and highlight which lyrics inspire me to lift harder or walk faster. Although I can easily say that Legs by ZZ Top is my favorite song to listen to while doing squats, Romanian Deadlifts or  running.

I could start the draft on what I have learned through this challenge. How I have become more confident in my informal writing.  I shake my head as I remember a former client who once told me I wrote too formally. Did I mention he is a former client! In my defense, I do a lot of formal writing, but he seemed to neglect the different types and purposes for writing!

I could write about my morning routine.  How I curl up on the couch with a blanket after kissing my husband and watching him walk to his car for his commute to work. How I sit in the dark with my iPad checking slices and local news websites, scrolling through twitter and facebook, and logging my son into his online school. All while balancing a cup of coffee between the couch cushions and listening to the local news and weather.  Yes – I don’t know why I check the websites while I’m watching the news too!

I could write about how I need to work on creating my superhero, villain and comic book pages to share with my homeschool co-op class next week at our final class. After all, it is important to show the students that I struggled, too, with creating what seems so simple. It is all in my head at this point. How many times do I tell the kids, “You have great ideas in your brain. We just need to get them on the paper now.”  I tell that to myself now.

I could write about how the novelty of vision therapy is wearing off after one month.  My son is still all smiles when we go, but there is a slower pace in his steps. Oh and then I could compare it to the novelty wearing off on working out, eating right, watching how I spend money. Yet we continue forward while seeing the small slow progress of better reading, less weight, feeling better and having more money.

I could write about how baseball season is starting for our family. Is it bad that I am secretly cheering when I see rain in the forecast? I could mention the parallels I see between my sons growing up in athletics versus how I grew up traveling on motorcycles. How I could expand on this “sports mom” life I never expected, or how I see sports families in my childhood a bit differently now. Now, I will just leave it that I secretly cheer for rain.

I could write about how I panicked when I expected my husband and son to be home any minute. Instead, I heard sirens all around, and my husband wasn’t answering my phone calls. And he wondered why I called him eight times in a ten-minute window. If only he would have answered his phone and put my mind to ease.

But I don’t write about any of those.

Well, actually, I did just write about all of those.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

Hitting the Send Button

I thought I had it under control.

I thought I knew how to make sure it wouldn’t become an issue.

But now I sit and know it isn’t true.

I stare at a finished article.  One part of my brain says, “Get your email ready, attach the file and hit send.”

The other part says,  “Read it one more time. What if you missed something?  What if you could change one more word? What if you could move a sentence or a paragraph? What if you could make it better?”

I just need one, two, maybe five minutes max, I tell myself.  It’s not quite ready. Just one more time. I promise only one more time to read it.

Instead, I shake my head, close my eyes, breathe, put my head in my hands and slowly pull my fingers through my hair.

Yes, my greatest strength is truly my greatest weakness.

I am still a perfectionist.

I take another deep breath, sit up straight, stretch my arms in front of me and stare at the article.

It will have to be ready.  I write my email, attach the file and hit send.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.