The Write Timing

My voyage toward publication

Goals for the 2015-2016 School Year August 8, 2015

Filed under: Classroom,Goals — michellephillips @ 9:24 am
Tags: , , ,
Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

It’s about that time!  School supplies fill the aisles, my Pinterest account is dominated by lesson ideas, and I’ve ordered my first ever Erin Condren planner (I cannot WAIT for it to arrive!).  That means it is time to set some goals for my 2015-2016 school year.

I am a firm believer in setting goals and in documenting those goals.  If they aren’t written down, it is a lot easier to let yourself slack (at least it is for me!).  So, I’m posting my goals today.  In addition, I will be posting the list of goals by my desk at school and the cabinet at home.

1.) Complete lesson plans for the following week before I leave the building on Friday.

My lesson plans have to be turned in by the end of the day on Monday of each week.  Last year, my first year in second grade at a new school, I had them turned in on time (almost always) and even had them turned in by Friday during some weeks.  I noticed that my weekend was so much more relaxing if my plans had been completed and emailed before I left school on Friday.  In the interest of relaxing weekends this year, my goal is to submit my plans by Friday afternoon.

2.) Implement a Math Workshop model.

I’ve read a lot about math workshops on some of the teacher blogs I follow and in other professional reading.  I have a difficult time teaching whole group math to a mixed ability group of learners, and I think a math workshop model will help me feel like I can better serve the students I teach.  I know in the beginning of a new method of teaching, there can be a learning curve, so I hope I can adjust quickly and my students will be game to try this new model along with me!

3.) Write every week.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of the school year.  Once that bell rings on the first day of school,

many other things in my life that I enjoy get pushed to the backburner.  This year, since I am dedicating more time to submissions with the hope of finally being published, I know I need to dedicate time to my writing.

4.) Read for pleasure.

One of my favorite parts of summer is being able to read what I want to read.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading professional development books (I love the new ideas!), but there is nothing like picking out a book and reading the whole thing just for fun.  After all, that’s what I want my students to do!

5.) Stay positive.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a positive person.  I smile a lot, I’m friendly, and I always try to look on the bright side.  In the education field, that isn’t always an easy thing to do.  I can sometimes fall into the negativity trap (especially on a gray or rainy day).  This year, I will surround myself with positive people, try new things, and keep smiling.

I’m certain I’ll come up with more goals as the year progresses, but for now – this is where I’ll begin.  It’s the 2015-2016 school year.  Here we go!!!


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.


Journey to Joy – Part 1 July 16, 2015

Filed under: Dreams,Family,Goals,Starting Our Family — michellephillips @ 8:04 am
Tags: , , , ,

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about something incredibly personal and close to my heart.  What’s held me back is not being sure my words can capture these experiences.  In fact, I’m certain I can’t capture them as fully as I’d like.  However, what I know for sure is that they have to be shared.  Our journey may encourage others and give them a gift I’m sure many have left behind: hope.

My husband Dave and I met in 2003 in the most romantic of locations: the juvenile justice unit of a group home for boys age 12-18.  I know – how could we not have fallen in love against such a backdrop?  We dated for two years before getting engaged and then married in August of 2006.  We were young: 24 and 25.  We had so many goals and dreams: buying a house, traveling, finishing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and eventually – having children.

As newlyweds, we decided we would wait two years before starting our family.  Two years seemed like a decent amount of time to accomplish some of our goals and settle into married life before bringing a little one on board.  We moved into our house.  We visited Jamaica, Washington, D.C., and Italy.  Dave finished his degree and I continued taking classes toward my Master’s.

The summer of 2008 arrived – two years had passed! – and we decided we were ready to start trying.  Each month, we waited; we hoped.  Each month, we were disappointed.  The first few months weren’t bad.  We knew it often took a few months for conception to occur once couples started trying.  But as summer turned into fall and then winter, we started to get a bit discouraged.  Every month, I’d fool myself into thinking I was pregnant.  Oh – I think my sense of smell is heightened – I must be pregnant.  I’m tired today – maybe I’m pregnant!

Many of our friends were announcing their pregnancies.  We waited for the day we would announce ours.  But as the calendar turned to 2009 and then 2010, our discouraged feeling turned into concern.  Why wasn’t this working?  We thought we would have a baby in our arms by now.  Heck – we thought we’d have a toddler!  What was going on?  Something had to be wrong.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

I talked to my doctor.  She ran some blood work and didn’t find anything amiss.  She recommended going to see a specialist who could complete additional testing.  So we made an appointment at a local reproductive center ($$$).  We got tested.  The results: We can’t find anything wrong.  But we can try a hysterosalpingogram.  (For those who don’t know, a hysterosalpingogram is a procedure where dye is injected into the uterus and fallopian tubes to see if the tubes are open or blocked.  For those who do know about it, I’m sorry.  It probably means you’ve had one and they are hella painful.)  The results:  You have a beautiful uterus.  Okaaaaay, that’s nice to hear?  Weird, but nice.  And now, dear doctor, tell me why I haven’t been able to conceive a child in my beautiful uterus.

The doctors could not find anything wrong with my husband or me.  But they decided to treat me anyway.  Six years later, I still have a problem with that.  How can you treat symptoms without knowing the cause?  Because the fact of the matter of this: infertility is not a diagnosis.  It is a symptom.  It is a symptom that SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING ON.  But, this doctor was not of that same opinion.  So he decided I should go on Clomid.

Here’s the thing – you cant just “go on Clomid.”  Oh no.  You have to come into the office for an initial ultrasound ($$$).  Then you take your Clomid like a good girl and deal with the wonderful side effects of nausea, weight gain, etc.  Then your husband has to give you a shot to make you ovulate at the appropriate time ($$$).  Then you have to come back in for another ultrasound to see how many follicles have developed ($$$).  And it goes on and on – every time you arrive at the office, you take out your checkbook – and you are totally willing to hand over the cash if it means you’ll end up a parent.  Every time you hope and pray it’s going to work.  Something that they’re doing, something they’re trying is going to work.

But it doesn’t.

The testing, the procedures, the medication – none of it works.  There is no resolution.

There is only heartache and arms that remain empty.

Attribution at bottom of post.

Image attribution at bottom of post.

Teddy bear photo credit: <a href=”″>Flash of the Blade</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;


Leap July 6, 2015

At the beginning of every summer, I set goals: how many books I’m going to read, healthy recipes I’m going to try, and opportunities I’m going to have to get together with friends.  And at the beginning of every summer, I decide that THIS will be the summer I really focus on my writing.

And, truthfully, I have.  For the past handful of years, I dove into my writing.  I submitted query letters, entered writing contests, and attended workshops.  I blogged, edited, and tweeted.  But this summer, I’ve taken a leap and added something else to the mix.

This Claes Oldenburg sculpture on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's campus always inspires the writer in me.

This Claes Oldenburg sculpture on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus always inspires the writer in me.

A writing community.

Last week, I joined an online writing community called Becoming Writer through The Write Practice.  I didn’t know much about it, but decided that if I want my writing to actually take me places in the future, I’m going to have to be more active about it.  I need to take myself seriously as a writer – think about my writing as a profession and not a hobby.  So I took the leap and joined.  Last week, I submitted my first piece to the forum, something I will do every week for the next year.  I will admit, I was nervous.  Posting my work for other writers to see was frightening – what if they don’t like my tone?  Voice?  What if they don’t think I’m a good writer?

Five days and four feedbacks (is that a word?) later, I’m already grateful I took this leap.

My fellow writers gave me suggestions on ways to make my first paragraph stronger and flow more smoothly.  They pointed out typos (two of them) that I could easily remedy.  But more importantly, their feedback gave me something I have not felt in a while: affirmation of myself as a writer.

So today, while my mom watched my daughter, Writer Michelle stole some time to work on query letters.  And I set another goal – this time, I am posting it here so you can all hold me accountable (gulp).  I’ve been pining away for a Macbook of my very own.  I miss the Mac I had in my former school tremendously, but haven’t felt like I should spend the considerable amount of money it costs to buy one.  But here is my goal:

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

When I get published – when one of my query letters results in my first freelance writing gig – I get to buy myself a Macbook.

Until then, I will continue writing.  I will continue querying.  And I will continue dreaming in apples.


Far from Perfect June 30, 2015

Filed under: Funny Things — michellephillips @ 3:16 pm
Tags: , ,

I’m intrigued by birth order.  In college, my Honors thesis focused on how birth affected students in the classroom.  As a teacher, I like to find out which of my students have which birth order positions and see if their personalities match typical birth order characteristics.  I like talking about it in passing with friends.

Any idea what birth order position I hold?

Yep.  Oldest.

The perfectionist.  The pleaser.  The rule follower.

Check.  Check.  Aaaaaaaaaand CHECK.

I like things to be “just so.”  My closet (organized by style and color).  My lesson plans (objectives in bold; left aligned).  My diaper bag  (tissue/Boogie Wipe/pacifier pocket should not be confused with diaper/wipe/changing pad pocket).

I don’t like to disappoint people.  If I just went to the store to get my groceries for the week, and my sister asks if I want to go to the Farmer’s Market, I will probably say yes even though I already have everything I could possibly need.

And rules?  Don’t even get me started.

But let me tell you about how far from perfect this oldest child is in one lovely example.

A few weeks ago, my cousins and I decided to get together for a play date.  We each have a child under the age of two and got together so the kids could play (and realistically, so the four of us could talk to other adults).  I was going to pick up something to bring, but the morning of our play date, thought – Hey!  I have an apple cake mix.  I can just whip that up really quickly.    And you know what?  I had apples.  I had time while Baby O napped.  So I did it!  I brought freshly baked apple bars to our play date.  They were delicious.  Everyone enjoyed them, including my darling daughter who ate one crumb by crumb.

Now you’re probably thinking – Michelle!  That sounds pretty perfect (except for the part where you gave your daughter sugar – shame on you!).  But that’s not where the story ends, my friends.

Oh no.

Because my delicious apple bars were not gone when I left my cousin’s house.  I still had about 1/3 a batch left.  But guess how perfect this was?  I was meeting up with some friends that same night to watch The Bachelorette.  So I sliced some apple bars, arranged them on a cute little platter, covered them with foil, and headed out to watch Kaitlyn make out with hoards of men (but it’s okay guys, she has to know if they have chemistry).

My husband and I left at the same time.  I grabbed the bars, dropped some cans in the recycling bin, tossed the diaper bag in the backseat, and nestled Baby O in her car seat.  Daddy followed us out of the neighborhood.  As we merged onto Dodge Street, I noticed a silver bird head straight for my husband’s car and just nearly miss!

What was that?!  I thought.  What a strange phenomenon.  It’s not every day you see silver wings take flight.


I felt the seat next to me for the apple bars.  The 6 apple bars that would have been the perfect complement to Chris Harrison.

But why would they have been next to me, when they looked so nice on the shoulder of the road?



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

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.


Busy June 9, 2015

Filed under: Family — michellephillips @ 10:01 am
Tags: , ,

It’s been just under a year since my previous blog post.  It’s always difficult knowing quite what to say when I return to The Write Timing after a long absence.  I always have a myriad of excuses ready.  But it always centers around one main thing; that luxury so many of us don’t have: time.

And I thought I was busy before.

I thought looking for houses, moving into a new one, changing jobs, packing a classroom, etc. etc. etc. kept me busy.


Now I’m a mother.

Now I know what “busy” is all about.


It’s figuring out the exact time to set the alarm in order to maximize sleep and look presentable before the baby wakes up.

It’s microwaving a bowl of oatmeal, grabbing a spoon, and just nearly sitting down when I hear cries from upstairs.

It’s folding laundry just a hair quicker than my darling daughter can take the clothes back out of the basket.

It’s scrambling to grab the most minute items from the floor because she will inevitably find every one.

It’s lugging the vacuum cleaner upstairs only to have it sit for a week until I can “find time” to actually plug it in.

It’s washing bottles, pump parts, baby food jars, and the cutest little spoons you’ve ever seen.  Constantly.

And now she’s crawling.  And teething.  Yeesh.

But it’s also the best kind of busy.

The kind where I sit and stroke her hair, not caring at all that the table is dusty.

The kind where the minutes are spent giving flurries of kisses.

The kind where we figure out the perfect combination of song, toy, and distraction to keep her still long enough to actually change her diaper before she rolls away with a bare bottom.

The kind where every clap, wave, and bubble is celebrated.

The kind where we support each other, work together, and – even through frustration and sometimes exhaustion – are so full of wonder and awe that she’s actually ours.

The kind where every look, every hug, every giggle, every moment is so utterly full of love that sometimes I’m not sure my heart can handle it.

Yep.  I’m busy.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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