Andre’s Christmas

Andre was a little black poodle with curly hair and a poofy tail. He lived with a family of four children named Di, Sue, Doug, and Paul and their parents in a little house. He had a red and green plaid dog bed in the girls’ bedroom. He carried all his toys into the boys’ room. He was a smart dog. He watched everything going on around the little house and tried to get in on it all.

In December, he watched the family decorating the house for Christmas. He loved it- the tall tree, the shiny ornaments, the bright lights. He wanted to help, and one day he got the perfect idea. He waited until the family was gone shopping to carry it out so he could surprise them.

He went into the smallest room of the house. He pawed at the roll of white paper until it began to unroll. He grabbed the end, carefully at first, and started out toward the living room where the tree stood. He started getting more and more excited, jumping up on the furniture and running all around the room draping the lovely white streamer everywhere.

The family came back in carrying their shopping bags. They dropped them on the floor in surprise.”Look” Paul squealed, “Andre put up his Christmas decorations!”

“Oh, no!” groaned Mom and Dad at the same time, “It’s toilet paper!”

“It’s OK, Andre,” said Diane, reaching into her shopping bag. “Look what we got for you!” She pulled out a shiny Christmas ornament. It was shaped like a dog just like Andre with a wreath around its neck. Andre’s name was engraved on it.

Doug asked, “Can I put it on the tree?” He hung it right on the front, down low where Andre could see it.

Sue said, “Just a minute!” She ran off to her bedroom and came back with Andre’s plaid dog bed and placed it under the tree by Andre’s ornament. Andre hopped right in. It looked like he was smiling.

Later that evening, the kids all brought their pillows and covers into the living room and lined them up around the tree and Andre. Everyone settled in together. Mom and Dad came in, too, and Dad plugged in the lights. Everyone laughed and talked, then drifted off to sleep with dreams of Christmas.

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Spaghetti and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I put some out of the ordinary things in the car as I got ready for school- a grocery bag with a loaf of garlic bread, a bag of salad mix, a bottle of Thousand Island dressing, Parmesan cheese, and a pound box of spaghetti, a big box with a Crock Pot filled with homemade spaghetti sauce (Mom’s recipe), and another box with two gallon-size zip-lock bags packed with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. No, we were not having a potluck at school- I was leaving right after school for my brother’s house. Last week, he had hip replacement surgery. So I was taking him his favorite comfort foods. (Except for the salad- he opted for a second helping of spaghetti instead- I should have known!)

I was glad to see with my own eyes that his recovery is going well. He introduced me to “Aunt Edna,” his walker. His sense of humor is intact. My sister-in-law has been a great nurse. She will be the patient, soon, though. She has knee replacement surgery coming up later this month. Thankfully, their grown daughters and high school son are great helpers, too.

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Celebrating a Book of Thanks

If you are looking for a mentor text for this season of Thanksgiving, find a copy of Thanks, Gracias by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra. I just got it this week, and I have been noticing little things to be thankful for and trying to think of them poetically, like this gem from the book: “For the ladybug that landed on my finger, a little red flying surprise, thanks.” If you have students who also speak Spanish, they will love that this book is bilingual. I think the short words of thanks about everyday things and happenings, family members, and nature will give writers many ideas and inspire feelings of gratitude.

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Sometimes the minutes
And the hours,
Even the days
Slip away so fast

There just doesn’t seem
To be time for all
You want to do,
For all the thoughts
You want to think

No time to reflect
On the things
You’ve been doing
The well gets empty
Though the days have
Been good

You want to write
You think about
But you don’t write
Until finally
One day…
You do

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Celebrating the Little Guys

Both of my brothers are now grandpas! Being the oldest, I remember them both as little guys. The older of the two had dark hair and such a sweet face. He once split his chin open racing his cars on the hard tile kitchen floor- I see a snapshot in my mind of him wrapped in gauze like a miniature mummy to keep him still to get stitches at the doctor’s office. I can hear his little boy voice, “Gonna find out,” as one December he did one naughty thing after another so he could see if Santa was real or not. I don’t need to look in the album to see the photo of him sitting with legs crossed at the top of the slide on the swing set in our background, grinning. The younger of the two was a cotton top- such blond hair! His crib was in my room from the time he outgrew the bassinet. When he got a little older, he would say he had a brother, a sister, a daddy, and two mommies! At ten years old when he was born, I was just the right age to be his little mommy. He was such a good little baby. I remember how he clung to his blankie, but finally let it go cold turkey when my dad “bought” it from him for a big pocketful of change. (He grew up to be an accountant!)

Now these guys’ kiddos are all grown up and there are some new little guys we all get to love and watch over as they grow up. What a celebration!


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#DWHabit… Expand

I’ve been following #DWHabit since I’ve been on Fall Break, trying to take advantage of less hectic days to make it a habit. I always do the March SOLSC, writing every day for a month, but I breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the month. Why?! Through that challenge, writing has become part of my life and changed me as a teacher and person. It should be a given among things I do every day. It hasn’t been, though… yet.

I’ve been writing in a small notebook- a small page for each day. I got a little behind this week, hoping for ANNOUNCE to be used to write about the birth of my great-nephew. It wasn’t to be.

But EXPAND is the word that came up on his birthday! How perfect! And suddenly that little notebook page is not big enough, I’m expanding to my blog today.

Is there anything that expands our hearts and proves once again that we always have more room in our hearts for love than the birth of a baby?!

My heart expanded immediately and infinitely the moment I read my brother’s (the new grandpa!) endearing text: Benjamin “butthead baby” was just born, weighing in at 8 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 22 inches. It took another text to find out the baby’s actual middle name is Lee.

My heart expanded to see a picture of that sweet boy. Expanded again when I got a picture of the family of three, with huge, happy smiles on mommy and daddy’s faces.

I can’t wait to hold this new little one. I’m sure my heart will expand even more. What a miracle!

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A Visitor


I came home from running errands, parked the car on the driveway, and walked over to the front porch. A few steps from the front door, I stopped dead still. There was a visitor at the door. He was quite small, but I could see his tongue flicking out. Funny how something so tiny could create so much fear.

I backed away and went over and sat on the glider. I sat awhile and got my nerve up. I tiptoed toward the door. Still there. Tongue still flicking. I backed up again and sat back down.

Movement caught my eye. He was slithering along the edge of the house. Then he slithered off the porch and under my big hosta at the corner of the house. By the driveway. I wonder how long it will be before I walk by that plant without thinking of my visitor?


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