Days of Summer

June 12, 2014 at 12:38 am | Posted in Bun, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 12 Comments
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“Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James


D is for downpour and distraction and delightful. See more D’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock


Between the Lines

March 23, 2013 at 12:38 am | Posted in Haiku Friday, Lollipop, Me | 10 Comments
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Haiku Friday: Between the Lines

26 voices
I’ve never heard echo through
tunnels in my brain. 

James loved hamburgers.
Josephine loved purple, and
Dawn mothered five girls. 

26 voices
I’ve never heard sing me to
sleep on the dark nights. 

Daniel played the drums;
Jessica was a cowgirl;
Jack loved his Giants.

26 voices
you’ll never hear whisper their
names in these pages. 

Any one of those boys and girls could have been my daughter, given slightly different geography. Perhaps that’s why the Sandy Hook massacre has weighed so heavy on me these last months. Every day since, I have sent a prayer of thanks to the stars, the gods, fate, that my daughter still comes home from kindergarten with tales of who brought chocolate pudding for lunch and what she worked on in art class. With ketchup on her sweater. With glitter in her eyebrows.

Every day, she comes home. And every day, 26 others don’t.

It’s impossible to comprehend. It wakes me up at night, and it pierces me in the heart when I’m shopping for juice boxes or fresh markers. I had to do something.

So I joined Ann Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness movement. I pledged to donate one book for every Sandy Hook victim to my daughter’s school library. I read obituaries. I cried. I re-read and cried and re-read and cried. I researched children’s books and matched titles with hobbies — Vicki loved flamingos; Grace, the beach.  I e-mailed authors, publishers, anyone, who might help with my project.

And I did it. We did it. 26 voices, 26 books. Lost, found, remembered.

How has Sandy Hook impacted you? And what acts of kindness will you pay forward?


Thank you so very much to these authors, illustrators, artists, and publishers, who donated their work to my 26 Acts of Kindness project:

Carin Bramsen
Denise Brennan-Nelson
Rob Buyea
Michele Craemer
Kelly Cunnane
Cori Doerrfeld
Brad Epstein
David Gifaldi
Jamie Harper
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Kate Kiesler
John McCutcheon
Erica Silverman
Janet Stevens
Audrey Vernick
Don Winn
Wong Herbert Yee


And the Oscar Goes To …

January 28, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Lollipop | 7 Comments
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Around this time of year, I practice my Academy Award speech in my head. You know, for when I win Best Adapted Screenplay. Which I will pen based on my future best-selling novel. Of course.

Always, always, when I practice this speech, I give thanks to the amazing English teachers I’ve been blessed with through the years. The ones who taught me to embrace my creativity — and not to be afraid of doing something differently. The ones who taught me that poetry didn’t have to rhyme. And that sentence fragments were perfectly okay. Ahem.

In third grade, I had a teacher named Ms. Matusiak. She was an ex-nun who played the ukulele and made us bookmarks with Suzy Zoo stickers. We wrote stories and plays and poems while her record player scratched out Miles Davis tunes or tracks from “Nature: Thunderstorms!”

Man, I loved her class.

When I was in college, she mailed a package to my mom that had a few things of mine that she’d saved. A Goldberg-esque inventions book. A report on West Germany. A few chapters from my “Oregon Trail” book, which I’d totally lifted from the computer game where everyone gets cholera and loses their oxen forging the river.

I was amazed that she’d saved these things and had thought to send them to my mom. For the first time — as I was nearing the end of my two decades of public education — I realized that students can touch teachers’ lives, too. That misspelled words in thick, black marker have a charm all their own. That manila paper, no matter how old, keeps the scent of the classroom it came from.

And now, with a child of my own in public school, these memories resurface nearly every day. Every morning, at 7:45 a.m. sharp, she sits in her little blue chair and creates. She cuts and pastes and sharpens crayons. She makes observations and tests hypotheses. She writes and illustrates her own stories.

Like this one:

By Lollipop

Hie. Do you want to name sum made up planits with me?
Planit Bun is qiyite. [She’s mastered irony at age 6. Planit Bun is never quiet.]
Planit flowr is a flowr.
Planit Bunny olwis ses hipite hop.
Planit Line is a line.
Planit Potchan is havig a partty.
Planit Nuthing is tinee.
Planit Qweshtin is a Qweshtin?
Thers an alein and it is …  [lift-the-flap] YOU!

Maybe it’s the wobbly letters and the sounded-out words. Or the staples and masking tape arranged just so. Or the mixed-media magic of marker and pencil and highlighter. But it does my soul good to see that Lollipop has the same creative spirit that has nourished me all my life.

I can’t wait to hear her Academy Award speech.

How have teachers shaped your creative life? Have you ever visited Planit Potchan? And how does your Oscar acceptance speech go?? 

Haiku Friday

January 7, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Family, Haiku Friday, Transylvania | 14 Comments
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Haiku Friday: The Packing List

I go over it
In my head: the things we need
For our adventure.

Mac and cheese, goldfish,
Apple juice, trains and tracks, and
Stuff for tea parties.

Markers and glue sticks.
Finger paint, lots of colors.
Scotch tape. Duct tape. Squish.

Fluffy towels and
Soft pillows. Favorite blankets.
Soap that smells like home.

Good reads. Lots of Seuss.
Margaret Wise Brown’s complete works.
And Pinkalicious.

But more than all this,
These small comforts from our life,
We’ll need each other.

We’ll need each other
To be strong, to be brave, to
Cry big when it’s tough.

We’ll need each other
To laugh at the craziness
Of strange, new places.

At the craziness
Of new sounds, new words, new foods,
And sheep crossing roads.

We’ll embrace all that’s
Different — and each other.
But the snow? We’ll see.

What comforts of home would you take with you for a year abroad? What books (and character traits) would be essential? Know of any good deals on snowsuits??

Haiku Friday

May 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Haiku Friday, Lollipop | 28 Comments
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Haiku Friday: My Fancy Nancy

She drove a blue car.
Confided in Bess and George.
Dated dreamy Ned.

Nancy Drew, of course.
She always had her flashlight,
Her wits, and her pumps.

Cape-less crime-fighter.
Stringing clues together like
Her favorite pearls.

Feminine and smart:
Not mutually exclusive.
That’s what she taught me.

Thick, bright, yellow spines
Still line my shelves. Read, reread.
Lollipop’s turn now.

What books — and heroines — shaped your childhood? Which ones do you hope to share with your children? Did you want to date Ned Nickerson, too?


Haiku Friday

(This post is also part of the inaugural “My Life in Books” meme at Spin Me Write Round.)

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