Mar 27 2018

You Need to Go to the Northern California Writers’ Retreat

You Need to Go to the Northern California Writers’ Retreat

If I’m going to leave my babies for five whole days, it had better be for an absolutely perfect reason.

…Okay, let’s get real: this mama hasn’t slept solo in years. When I discovered the Northern California Writers’ Retreat involved several consecutive evenings without diapers or nightmares or snoring, I thought, I do not even remember what that’s like and also SIGN ME UP IMMEDIATELY. My husband is always the one who gets to gallivant around the world for work, and I (desperately) wanted to know what a business trip felt like, too.

I first heard about the opportunity a couple years ago at the San Francisco Writers Conference, where I met Heather Lazare, one of the retreat’s co-founders — she’s an independent editor who’s worked at some baller places in New York, and I’ve been creepily stalking the submission guidelines ever since. The retreat is clearly gaining steam; there were more than five times the number of submissions this year than when it launched in 2016. Finally, once Baby B was weaned and fully into toddlerhood, I gave it a shot: twenty pages. Crossed fingers and toes. Continue reading

Feb 4 2018

PSA: Teachers Are Not in Charge of Choosing Snow Days

PSA: Teachers Are Not in Charge of Choosing Snow Days

Just saw a post on Facebook:

“The kids have a snow day again!!! Seriously? It’s like the teachers don’t even want them there!”

My thumb paused mid-scroll. In the distance, a record player screeched to a halt and all the revelers stopped dancing. Say what?

I think there’s been some confusion.

A post like that is hardly the first of its kind, and maybe this erroneous belief shouldn’t come as a shock. Snow days do sometimes feel shrouded in mystery and enigmatic intrigue — carried over from when we were students, watching the news with crossed fingers and toes, hoping for some surprise sledding (and an extra day to finish our homework). As a kid, spotting your school amongst the rolling list of district names feels like Christmas. Sweet freedom! Goodbye, responsibility! TURN OFF YOUR ALARMS, EVERYONE! Continue reading

Jan 18 2018

Is There Room for Triviality in a World Like This?

Is There Room for Triviality in a World Like This?

I’ve battled an epic case of writer’s block these last several months. It’s not that I don’t have ideas — I do, dozens of them, phrases strung together into haphazard lists on my phone and in the notebooks littering my house. It’s that none of them seem important enough.

Facebook and Instagram and Twitter teem with unspeakable tragedies, news of unrest, and political platitudes. Where social media was once a scrolling stream of family photos and status updates, its purpose now has been emphatically redefined: effect changeIf you’re going to speak, write, wear, or think anything, you’d better be making a statement.

This is such a vital and honorable intention.

Obviously, the method itself has flaws. People — LOTS of them, people you personally know — freely admit to blocking and unfollowing friends who post articles that don’t align with their beliefs or perspectives that make them uncomfortable. This furthers the divide, of course, since now those people are surrounding themselves with carefully curated information that will only serve to bolster their own preexisting viewpoint. Continue reading

Dec 31 2017

The Stuff You Actually Wanted to Know, 2017 Edition

The Stuff You Actually Wanted to Know, 2017 Edition

It’s that time again: the post where I smuggle you behind the scenes of my blog so you can peek at the stuff other people are Googling.

I’m always fascinated by the search terms that bring traffic to this site, and they seem to get more interesting — and more extensive — every year. In 2017, almost every single one had to do with teaching, which sort of baffles me: I’ve only published two posts (maybe three, if you count this one) that are teaching-specific. But this post from last April continues to generate the most visits by far, with somewhere between 500 and 1000 unique views each week.

Usually I share the top 10 searches, but this year I’ll show you the ones I found most captivating. Continue reading

Nov 30 2017

5 Sneaky Ways to Practice Reading with Your Preschooler

5 Sneaky Ways to Practice Reading with Your Preschooler

For the last couple years, my husband and I have managed to semi-successfully employ an age-old parenting trick: spelling covert stuff in front of the kids.

“Did you remember to pack some S-N-A-C-K-S?”

“They need to decide which T-O-Y-S they want to give away before Christmas.”

“Don’t forget, P’s friend’s mom is P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T — we’d better bring something other than wine.”

But last night, when I turned to Al and said, “Just so you know, I ordered that S-C-O-O-T-E-R for Baby B today,” my 4-year-old glanced up and gave us a look.

“He already has a scooter,” she said. “Is it broken or something?”

Well. Game over.

If you would ALSO like to sabotage your secret spelling language so that your child will forever be able to involve themselves in every conversation whether you want them to or not, I’m happy to share some sneaky ways we accidentally practice reading. They’re “sneaky” because our preschooler thinks they’re just inherently fun, and that’s the key — turn it into a game, and they’ll want to play.

Note: These activities work best when the child has some base knowledge of letter recognition (both sight and sound). Continue reading