June 5, 2016

When Those We Love Need Us

The sounds of footsteps in the kitchen and heavy sighing awaken me.  I jump up knowing I am needed.  I can barely make out his outline in the darkness, but he is there standing near the counter.

“Are you thirsty?  Do you want some water?”

His only reply is a steady gaze as if I am not there and I have not spoken.

“Let me help you back to bed.”

I gently nudge and guide him back to the comforting smells of his blanket and bed.  I wait until he is lying down, but I don’t leave quite yet.  I smooth back his hair and kiss his head over and over.  “I’m here.  I love you.  You are not alone.”  I sit in the chair next to his bed, waiting for his anxious breathing to relax again.  Then I quietly slip back to my own bed, knowing I will be up again.  It may be in 20 minutes, or it may be in 2 hours.

I picture him as he was just a few years back.  He had energy, he lit up my heart with his smiles, and he slept through the night.  Isn’t it something when you think about the ways in which living creatures are similar at opposite ends of their lives?   Of course I wasn’t there when he was not sleeping through the night back in his earliest years,  but I’m here now.  And when I think through all of the sweet moments in which he has shown me he loved me, I find that this is a simple way to give back.  Even though I don’t get enough sleep most nights.

When I find him standing in the bathroom mumbling at the shower, how can I be anything but loving?  When he turns to walk into the kitchen, but misjudges the doorway and walks into the wall instead, I am there.  Sure I chuckle when I see he is not hurt, but then I hug him and rub the spot that hit first.  When we have been outside and are on our way back in, I gently guide him around the parked cars and quietly whisper, “The house is this way.  The door is over here.”

I love him.  I fell in love with him on the long ride home from the breeders.  He had been rejected by a previous family, but that didn’t deter us.  He was so scared in his new kennel that he wet the brand new pillow my son bought him.  When we freed him from that kennel, he licked our faces.  That was all it took!  Sumo was a full fledged member of our family.

For now this is what our relationship looks like.  Whatever I can do to ease his confused mind and unseeing eyes, I will do.

March 25, 2015

I Saw You Feel Sick Today …


sad, watery,

tired, and pained,

revealed the discomfort first.


heavy with ache

bowed low over your desk.


tucked inside your shirt,

seeking warmth.


hunched over,

fighting off the chill,

but instead giving in.


foggy and cluttered,

giving up the struggle

to focus.

And then,

you headed home,


a warm mattress,

 a snuggly blanket,

and a loving parent.

March 14, 2015

Bulldog Pi – Pairing My Love of Bullies and My Love of Poems!

Today is Pi Day!  Hippy yippy Pi day!  I love getting creative with the numbers in any sequence, but especially with the numbers in Pi.  I’m no longer teaching math, so I couldn’t give the time to calculating Pi, but I am teaching writing, so we celebrated that way.  We each wrote a poem, and in the same way that syllables are counted when writing Haiku, we counted words on each line to coincide with the sequence of numbers in Pi.  The first line has three words, the second has one, the third line has four words, the fourth has one, the fifth line has five words, and so on.  I wrote the digits of Pi on the board (to about 20 places).  Below is my poem.

Bulldog Pi

Large beautiful eyes,
Inquisitive, curious, always hungry,
Together they fill my heart.
Sumo is distrustful of people, but Fido loves them.
Feeding time …
Sumo chews carefully; Fido furiously swallows.
They slurp water, mouths dripping.
Time for napping …
Heads hanging off the couch.
Sumo on his side; Fido’s feet stick upwards.
I love to caress and kiss their soft heads,
then to give each a belly rub.
Pink tongues hanging out the sides of their mouths.
Are they smiling?
Definitely happy,
Sumo, Fido, me.

If you would like to read some student examples,  here is the link to today’s post on my classroom blog.  Click on any link in the comment section.  http://mbsteven.edublogs.org/2015/03/14/slice-of-life-3-1415/

Happy Pi Day!

March 14, 2015


Something inside whispers

Yes… what a good idea.
How warm it always feels
to share a finished
or sometimes just
a mostly finished
piece of writing.

But what to write?
What statement to make?
What vision to share?
What image to shape?

Don’t force it.
Listen for the voice
that’s always there,
always willing to speak.

Be ready to have
a gentle conversation
with your soul,
your heart,
your inner self.

Share the truth
of who you are,
and how you see everything,
and what life feels like to you.

Resist drawing conclusions.
There’s so much beauty in
“what is”.

No one really needs a fancy bow anyway.
Leave your poem unwrapped
give it honestly.

March 13, 2015

The Weight of Waiting

Waiting for some fabulous news,
and how I’ll feel like fireworks
on a full star night when it comes.
I want this.  I want this.  I want this.
Not knowing the method of delivery,
I keep my phone handy and
check my email hourly.
I’m looking at every face,
peering into every set of eyes
with hope.

I’ve been feeling so sure
that I did everything right this time.
And that this proud announcement
will have my name all over it.

day after day after day
I wait
and every sun that sets
takes some optimism with it.

I practice not being too dreadfully disappointed
when I know I’ll be nothing else.
“It doesn’t mean I’m not deserving”
I’m just not deserving enough.
It just isn’t my time
and it’s not meant to be.
Preparing my heart for disaster.

There’s still time,
the news could still come,
but at this point I know I’ll cry either way.



March 11, 2015

Got a Light?

Our school nurse was in today to talk with the students about cigarette smoking.  She began with a short little Youtube video that I couldn’t help but admire for its genius, yet simple message.  The first scenes were of teens and younger adults (who were unaware they were being videotaped) standing around in public places and smoking.  These are images that are quite common.  But what isn’t common comes next.  A child of about 7 or 8 walks up to one of the adults and asks for a light for his cigarette.  When he is turned down, he asks another.  Over and over we see the adults say no.  They even try to explain to the child how bad smoking is.  They say things like, “It can cause heart disease, emphysema, and lung cancer.”  “It will make you look older and not in a good way.”  “You don’t want to smoke.  It will make your breath stink.”

After a parade of video clips in which the child receives these responses from different people, we see the same child walk up and had a piece of paper to each of the smokers.  It says, “You are worried that smoking is bad for me.  Why aren’t you worried that it’s bad for you?”

The video went on to say that almost all of the smokers who were given the letter thought for a moment and then put their cigarettes out.  Absolutely all of them kept the note.

My students could see the irony in the messages the adults were giving the child.  But then I also think many children get the “do as I say, not as I do” message more often than they should.  I certainly hope the video lingers with them as it is lingering with me.

March 9, 2015

Being First in Line … Not Anymore!

Being first in line is not that important.  Believe me.  I learned that in kindergarten.

We were all gathered around the piano in Miss Eucke’s kindergarten class.  It was one of my favorite parts of the day.  The wood floor was warm from the sun that had been shining in for most of the day.  I sat “pretzel leg” facing the teacher and the black piano, singing and smiling.  But then I began wiggling.  “No, no,” I told myself.  “You can wait.  You don’t want to miss singing time, do you?”  The wiggling turned to rocking.  We sang another song.  Oh, how I loved the way the piano sounded and the way we all sounded as we sang together.  Miss Eucke had told me several times what a nice voice I had.  I simply couldn’t walk away from singing time.  The rocking continued, but nobody thought much of it.  It looked like I was just really into the music.

But then the rocking stopped.  I couldn’t hold it any longer.  A puddle grew underneath my dress.

At almost that same exact time, the teacher announced that it was time for recess.  We all jumped up and headed for the door.  After only two steps away from the piano, Miss Eucke spotted the puddle.

“Boys and girls.  Stop please.  It looks like someone should have used the restroom while we were singing.  Whoever it was who wet their pants, please come here.”

No one moved.  My heart was beating very fast.  I was so embarrassed.  I didn’t want  Miss Eucke to know I had done it.  Why hadn’t she sang just one song less?  But I didn’t really want that either because I loved that last song.  It’s the reason this happened.  Miss Eucke asked again for someone to admit it and step forward.  No one did.

“Well, boys and girls, there’s another way to find out who did this.  Everyone go to the cloak room and line up.”  I was fascinated and couldn’t imagine what she was going to do.

Now here’s where I made the biggest blunder of my young life (to that point).  I raced to the cloak room with everyone else in that innate drive that all school children seem to possess to be first in line.  And I succeeded.  Miss Eucke followed us in and announced that she was going to check one at a time to see who had wet underwear.  All she had to do was lift my dress in the back.

Well, as you can guess, my guilt was discovered right away.  Everyone else was excused to recess.  Nobody was really mad that I had done what I had done, just a bit disappointed that I made everyone else late for recess.  I don’t really remember what happened after that … whether my mom was called or what.  What I do know is that ever since that day I never rush to be first in line.