The Write Timing

My voyage toward publication

Mommy, sit. January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!!  2016 was a year of blessings and sadness (as most every year is), but the birth of our sweet and adorable son, Nathan, topped the list of 2016 events.  Baby Nate is a perfect addition to our family and has allowed me to shake my head when I hear others talk about what a horrible year 2016 was.  Not for me – I got sweet baby Nate!

 

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As most of the rest of the world settles on a resolution or two, I have made some of my own.  Do I want to be healthier?  Sure.  Exercise more often?  Yep.  Stay more organized?  Uh huh.  All of these are lofty (though they shouldn’t be) goals, but they are not my tip top resolution for 2017.  That one came about with a little inspiration from my daughter, Olivia.  The day after Christmas, I was flitting from room to room, unpacking gift bags (and folding the tissue paper so as to save it for next year), opening new toys, and attempting to bring a semblance of order back to our house.  Olivia was playing with her new Beauty and the Beast tea cart and had brought Mrs. Potts, Chip, and the other tea cup to our front staircase.  She was seated about two steps up, tea service spread in front of her.  She looked up as I walked into the laundry room to drop off some new baby clothes I wanted to launder before Nate wore them (yep, I’m that mom), and smiled.  “Mommy, sit.”  She pointed to the step next to her.

 

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I looked at my sweet 2 year-old and responded, mid-step.  “I will in a little bit, sweetie.  I’m just trying to get some of these things put away.”  I continued into the kitchen and grabbed something off the island.

 

Then I stopped.  What am I doing?

 

My daughter didn’t ask much.  She wasn’t for the world.  Nothing extraordinary or expensive.  She just wanted mommy to sit with her and play with her new toy from Santa.

 

So what did I do?

 

I sat.  We drank pretend tea and talked about how delicious it was.  She made me banana pie and I raved about its flavor.  We toasted and giggled and cuddled.  It was the best.  And it took absolutely nothing from me but time.

 

So the gift bags stayed packed, the tissue unfolded, the new clothes unwashed for one more day.  And it was totally worth it.

 

My most important, Olivia-inspired, New Year’s resolution: be more present.  The mess will be there (try as I may to clean it up).  The Facebook updates will still be scrolling.  But the time I spend with my children and my husband won’t always be there.  So I will commit to being more present in the moment in 2017.  Cheers!

 

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A Few Minutes November 7, 2016

Filed under: Blogs,Dreams,Family,Goals,Life Lessons,Writing — michellephillips @ 6:20 am
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Well, it would appear that I am here once again, ready to apologize for my lack of consistency in blogging.  As always, life (with two small children!) has gotten in the way and I’ve taken an unplanned hiatus.  But this weekend, I attended a retreat where one of the presenters, the amazing and awe-inspiring Donna Johnson of Arbonne fame, encouraged us to wake up “just a little bit earlier” and spend some time on ourselves in the morning.

She gave us some suggestions of things to do in these extra minutes: read, pray, meditate, have gratitude.  She didn’t say write, but I’m pretty sure it was implied.  What she also didn’t say were things like, “clean up the kitchen” or “organize the cubbies.”  Though these are things that need to be done and I certainly debated doing this morning, I sat down instead to say a prayer and to write.  Even though I can hear my son starting to wake upstairs.  Even though the bathroom needs to be swept.  Even though I haven’t made a lunch for today.  These things will get done, and  so I’m going to take a few minutes.  Some time for me.  I even made a cup of tea.

I hope today that you can take some time for yourself to pause.  Reflect.  Read.  Write.  Pray.  Be grateful.  And then do it again tomorrow.

 

Loving Them June 1, 2016

I’ve been meaning to get back to my writing.  Truly, I have.  Writing for Pregnancy and IMG_0219Newborn’s Knocked Up blog (find my posts here!) made me feel like a real live writer, and that’s a feeling I had been longing to have for a while.  You’d think I’d be more motivated to write every day.  But, you see, there is other important work I’ve been doing.

 

In fact, it’s much more important work.

 

It’s the work of being a mother.

 

And I don’t just mean the washing of bottles and the changing of diapers.  Sure, all of that is part of it (especially the diapers part – I have two kids under age 2 after all!), but it’s not the real substance of motherhood.

 

I’ve been busy loving them.

 

My two little dreams come true.  I’ve been busy holding my tiny baby so close that it feels like our hearts have one beat.  Kissing his cheeks over and over; willing him to feel the immensity of my love.  Staring at his perfect face and listening to the gentle snores that sound sweeter than music.  Letting his chubby hand grasp my finger and keeping it there just to be close to him.  Still holding him an hour after he’s finished eating, just so I can watch him sleep and take in his beautiful baby smell.  I’ve been savoring these precious baby moments because I realize they are so fleeting.

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And then there’s her.  The beautiful girl who made me a mother.  His big sister, who is really still a baby herself.  But who is also wanting to be such a big girl.  I’ve been talking to her, listening, even when I don’t understand a word of it.  Playing with her babies and giving them so many kisses when she asks.  Huddling into her play tent.  Reading the same book three times in a row just because she loves it.  Embracing the moments she’s sleepy and wants to be carried upstairs, so I can steal the cuddles she used to give so freely.  Loving her up as much and as often as I can.

 

So yes, I’ve been wanting to write.  But right now, I have much more important work to do.  I’m loving my babies.

 

 

Journey to Joy – Part 2 July 31, 2015

It had been two years.  We had tried all of the things we could – from ovulation predictors to testing and medicine.  And let

me tell you – it was stressful.  The process of “trying” becomes less and less exciting the longer you are at it.  It goes from being a fun adventure (Maybe this will be the month we get pregnant!) to a job (Looks like I’m ovulating…I’ll meet you in the bedroom.).  It became a chore: the endless counting of days, the feeling that if I was ovulating we were “on duty,” and the monthly disappointment when I got my period and we knew we had failed again.

So we stopped.  We stopped actively “trying” to conceive.  We stopped counting, I stopped peeing on ovulation predictors, and we stopped going to see the fertility specialists.  I had heard countless stories from people about how once they stopped thinking about it and relaxed, they got pregnant!  So instead of focusing on making a baby, we took trips, we made home improvements, and I started taking more graduate classes.  And it was great!  It felt so nice to take a break, but that hope was always there.  The break, the relaxation that worked for so many couples?  It didn’t work for us.

We were now almost six years into our marriage; three and a half years into unsuccessfully becoming parents.  We were ready to take a big step since the break wasn’t doing the trick.

We started the adoption process.

A colleague and close friend of mine and his wife had adopted their daughter through the Nebraska Children’s Home Society.  He had nothing but the highest praise for them.  After a great deal of conversation and prayer about it, Dave and I decided to begin the adoption process.

I have nothing but the most wonderful things to say about our experience with the Children’s Home.  We started by attending an informational meeting in Lincoln about what we could expect should we decide adoption was the right route for us.  The next step was an initial interview with a case worker.  We went to two days of training where we learned about the blessings and the challenges of adoption.  Our families were invited to attend a session about how to support couples who are pursuing adoption.  We filled out our extensive questionnaire and made decisions we never thought we would have to make (Will you accept a child of a different race?  Will you accept a child who was exposed to drugs or alcohol?  Will you accept a child with a disability?).  We went through a series of interview and a home visit.  We wrote our profile letter (the most difficult letter I’ve ever had to write) that a potential birth mother would read to help her decide if we were the right parents for her child.  Finally, in April of 2013, we entered the adoption pool.  Now, it would be a waiting game.  Which mother (if any) would select us?

Throughout this entire journey, we prayed for a child.  We continued to help our friends and family welcome their own children into their families.  We watched as Facebook friend after Facebook friend announced their pregnancies (and second pregnancies!  Third!)  I attended countless baby showers, every time experiencing such a mix of emotions – the tremendous joy of seeing my friend pregnant and glowing, ready to welcome a new baby, and the absolute sorrow that I was not able to experience it for myself.

During one particular baby shower for a friend from high school, the mom-to-be received a framed print of a beautiful quote, “This is the child we have prayed for.”  When she opened it, I could feel tears stinging the back of my eyes.  We had been praying too.  For so long.  And as we jumped into the adoption pool, my daily prayer for a child changed.

“Dear Lord, please let whatever child we are supposed to parent find us however they are meant to find us.  Amen.”

Because the fact of the matter is, while I may have given up hope of ever conceiving a child, I never gave up hope of becoming a parent.  I knew that I was meant to be a mother, and I was ready to welcome a child however that child arrived.

 

Like a Tourist June 23, 2015

Filed under: Life Lessons — michellephillips @ 3:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

tigerBaby O and I have been making the most of our summer vacation.  A break from school means time off from lesson planning, grading papers, and pinning classroom projects (well, mostly).  The lack of those activities frees up time for other things like story time at the library, meeting friends for coffee/lunch/play dates, and outings.  Today, we met some friends at the zoo.

Now, if you’ve never been to the Omaha Zoo and Aquarium, I’m not quite sure what you’ve been waiting for.  You need to plan a trip this week.  If you don’t live in town, you need to 1.) plan a trip to Omaha, and 2.) go visit our zoo.  And there’s lots of great places to eat while you’re here.  You could even check out…nevermind.  Another post for another time.

As we walked through the aquarium today, I said, “I bet some of these people are here for the first time.  I wonder what they’re thinking about all of it.”  It’s difficult to image seeing the zoo for the first time as an Omahan, because you’ve most likely been there countless times.  If you’re like me, you grew up coming to the zoo – and dreading the long walk back up the hill by the giraffes – so it’s almost impossible to see it with new eyes.

But I tried.  (I squinted a little bit.) 🙂

I noticed the cleanliness of it.  I listened to the tram driver’s information as he passed us (Did you know Omaha has the largest salt water tank from Chicago to California?  I didn’t!).  I admired the lovely signage (provided by none other than my talented Uncle Rick of Dolphens Design and Sign).  And even though I always appreciate the zoo, today I appreciated it even more.

Which got me thinking.

Perhaps I need to look at other parts of my life “like a tourist.”  Notice the little things that make it special – make it different.

Like the trickle of the fountain in front of our house on a beautiful summer morning.coffee-cup-mug-spoon

The quick drive up to my parents’ house so my daughter can visit Grandma and Grandpa.

The freshly paved driveway at Church.

The smell of coffee coming from my favorite mug.

The library book I steal time to read while Baby O naps.

The little things.

Ahh.  I feel happier already.

 

International Literacy Day September 9, 2013

Today will quite possibly rank as one of the best in my teaching career.  A few weeks ago, I opened an email from one of my favorite professional organizations, the International Reading Association.  It heralded the upcoming International Literacy Day, a day to celebrate the gift of literacy and promote literacy throughout the world.  I knew immediately that I wanted my class to celebrate it, but the question was – how?

As I pondered and brainstormed, our celebration day grew from a single guest reader to a day completely filled with literacy activities!  Here’s how our day looked in Room 311:

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9:05 am – Students tumbled into the room, lugging pillows, stuffed animals, and bags full of books for our afternoon “Read In.”  One student brought me a wonderful sign to post in the room – Hooray for Literacy Day!

9:15 am – Dancing Classrooms and Music Class – Our physical activity and musical experience for the day!

11:00 am – Special guest reader, assistant principal, Mrs. Simmons came in and read The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns.  We talked as a class about literacy and how it relates to math.  The students came up with all kinds of ways we use mathematical literacy (in algebra, reading and writing story problems, interpreting graphs, etc.).

11:30 am – We discussed literacy facts and figures from around the world.  My students learned that 115 million children around the world cannot read and write.  My students wrote the figures in standard, expanded, and word forms.  We tried to imagine how many people that would be and discussed what those children would be doing instead of going to school.  We all agreed that receiving an education is a tremendous gift.

12:20 – Recess and Lunch (Literacy loves sustenance.)

1:00 – Reading class!!!
Read In – Students camped out around the classroom with pillows, blankets, and books galore!  They munched on read-and-feed snacks, played literary element charades, and read some more!

Passing It On – Students were paired and went into a primary classroom (K-3) to talk about literacy and then read a picture book aloud.  The students were SO excited to share what they knew about literacy with the youngest students in our school.  They came back to the classroom chattering with stories to tell and grins from ear to ear.

Writing Prompt – Students responded to one or both of the following prompts: Because I am literate, I can… AND Literacy allows me to invent my future by…

3:00 – Science Literacy and Experiments

Throughout the day and evening, I was able to tweet from my classroom account all of the wonderful activities we were doing to promote literacy throughout our building and our community.  The cherry on top was a retweet this evening by the International Reading Foundation.  It was a quote from a student who is not my most confident reader, but who fully embraced World Literacy Day.  I can hardly WAIT to tell him about it tomorrow!

“Because I am literate, I can be the smartest me I can be.”

 

If Disney Ran the World… July 23, 2013

Last week, my family and I were in beautiful Central California.  We started our trip in Santa Barbara, then traveled up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Luis Obispo (where my Grandma and Grandpa Mimick were married at the Mission in the 40s!), Monterey, Napa Valley, and ended in San Francisco.

The weather was beautiful; we traded in the heat and humidity of Omaha for the crisp high 60s to mid 70s of coastal California.  We had a marvelous time sipping wine, catching up with California friends and family, getting to know my sister’s fiancé (and his chocolate addiction) even better, and gazing out into the Pacific.

However.

As often happens when you’re in a new place (or at least when I am), there are a few things that make you stop and think.  Why, oh why, do they do that?  What would possess someone to organize something like this?  And, being the avid (AKA obsessive) Disney World fan that I am, while waiting in line for a public restroom that had 6 stalls for a very large portion of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fran, I started thinking: What if Disney ran the world?

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(Cue foggy edges…)

1.) The world would be clean.  Even the restrooms.  Especially the restrooms.  Not a dirty napkin, discarded Starbucks cup, or empty pop can would be seen.  When a pizza crust or scrap of paper fell to the ground, a festively dressed man or woman would swoop in to whisk it out of the way.

2.) The world would be organized.  You would be able to grab a colorful map that could not only direct you how to get from place to place, but a times guide that would tell you when events were happening that couldn’t be missed.  When the need arose to wait in line for something, you would have fun activities to complete while you waited and themed decorations to keep you busy.

3.) The world would be colorful.  Decorated with poinsettias around Christmas, hoards of blooming colors in the spring, bright pinks and yellows in the summer, and deep reds and oranges in the fall.  And it wouldn’t only be decorated with flowers, but with buildings, street signs, and benches that are vivid.  Not a flake of paint or faded hue would exist.

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4.) The world would be welcoming.  Every face you’d see would be smiling, every attitude positive.  Hands would always wave in welcome and the childlike grins present on each face would be contagious.  Every person would belong and you would be able to sense that feeling of belonging all around you.

5.) The world would remember the importance of family.  Disney World is all about family togetherness.  A world run by Disney would see families having meals together, playing games, talking to one another, and planning what they would do next as a family.

6.) The world would be respectful.  Everyone would be treated like a prince or princess.  Each person, especially children, would know he or she is a one-of-a-kind, very important person.

7.) The world would be responsible.  And full of cast members.  We would not be only considered citizens, we would be active participants in the world!  We would be the ones responsible for keeping our world running in a Disney-esque fashion.  All of us would work together to make our world the place it should be.  No one would sit and expect to be catered to and wait on by the cast members; everyone would have a role to play and be a cast member themselves.

8.) The world would be magical.  With fireworks every night for good measure.

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