The Guilts

Here’s the thing… the school year ends. I reflect. I think. I worry. I then get a severe case of the guilts. I think most of us do this… or maybe it’s just me.

Did I do enough?  And the answer is always no.

Don’t get me wrong. I work hard. I do a lot. I get all of that… however, there are still things that sit with me. Things that I wish I had done differently. Things that I wish had gone a different way. Children I wish I had reached or done more for.

In an effort to move on, I will write about them. I will let go of my ‘guilts’ right here… and then move on.

  • I wish I had connected with N. I tried. New days. New ideas. But even at the end of 180 days, I don’t really think she knew how much she mattered to me and how much I worried about her.
  • I wish I had fit in more conferring and small group work with all my kids. The days go fast, the ideas come quick, but the time just flies and I didn’t get to as many kids as much as I would have like.
  • I wish I had found a way to reach W to make him engage in our work  There were days he was there and highly engaged. Then other days were just so hard. I know it was what he carried with him, but I still wish I had taught him more.
  • I wish writing club would have written  more. We became all consumed with the newspaper and I need to rethink how I do this next year.
  • I wish I had led the KidLit Quiz group. There was just no time to pull yet another group, but it’s so valuable… and I will make it work next year.

So here’s the thing… I do know beyond all these ‘guilts’ there are A LOT of things that I am incredibly proud of. Things that went really well this year. So now here are the things that I am happy for…

  • I am happy that my new teammate is fantastic and gives me permission to stop and not take everything to the highest level there is.
  • I am happy that H (a child who pushed back on most everything) wrote me a thank you card that told me that I was her favorite teacher this year and that I made a difference in her life AND in the last week of school when I jokingly said “Oh my gosh, you do love me!” She replied with, “Of course, I do!” as if I should have known all along.
  • I am happy that GeoBee club was a huge success this year with over 30 students and I ran a Geo Bee competition that we have never done before.
  • I am happy that the writing/newspaper club had over 20 members and we engaged the WHOLE school in our newspaper!
  • I am happy that A found his place in our room and was available for so much learning after the new year.
  • I am happy that I created and taught an entire scope and sequence for grammar and vocabulary that made sense to kids (and me)!
  • I am happy that O,  a new student, wrote me the sweetest, homemade thank you card explaining how I helped her as she moved into a new school.

So while I will always think of what I could have done… I am pretty proud by what I have done as well. Here is to the summer to reflect, relax, and rejuvenate.



Slice of Life: For the Love of Banana Cream Pie


“Tommy, how are things? Fill me in on the books. Are you liking them?” I asked enthusiastically knowing he was a reluctant reader and this was definitely NOT a preferred task.

He paused. His little second grade brain trying to formulate the kindest response as he was a kid with the best manners I had EVER found in an 8 year old.

“Um… yes, it’s good. I mean, it’s ok. You know I don’t love reading, Mrs. Bruno, but for a book, this one was good,” he stammered. I smiled at his honesty. It had been a joy working with him for all of second grade and I would miss him after this week of our work together. I was thankful his mother had agreed to let me work with him for my class.

The time flew by, as it always did, and his mother joined us in the sun porch.

“Join us for lunch,” she said, “as a thank you for all your work with Tommy.”

We sat around the table reminiscing of our year in 2nd grade. My being a new teacher to the building. His being a struggling reader who had made such incredible strides.

“Let me get dessert,” Carol got up from the table, “I think you’re going to love it.” I knew I would. She was an amazing baker. She had sent treats in all year long. Her blueberry muffins- to die for. Her chocolate cookies- perfection. Her banana bread- well, I didn’t eat those, but according to Stephen, the best he had ever had.

“Banana cream pie!” she declared as she placed the beautiful pie in the center of the table.  It had been made with love and care. The slices of banana gently placed around the edge of the pie. Whipped cream over the center. A work of art really.

My heart sank.

“I know how much you love my mom’s banana bread, so I told her banana cream pie would be perfect for our lunch,” Tommy said proudly smiling up at me with his big, brown eyes.

“How incredibly kind of you.” Truth.

“It’s absolutely beautiful!” Truth.

“I can’t wait to try it!” LIE!

I pulled the plate up close to me. Picked up the small dessert fork. I dug down deep into the slice of pie. It truly was beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s beauty and deliciousness would be lost on me.

I pushed the fork into my mouth. And smiled as the bananas rolled around inside my mouth. Around and around and around. As if teasing me into submission. I swallowed them whole. I worked my way through the pie bit by bit attempting to try every trick I had ever been taught when eating something you truly disliked.

“I can’t thank you enough for lunch. It truly was so very kind of you to have me,” I said truly meaning every word.

“Here, bring the banana cream pie home with you… for later,” Carol urged as she pulled the foil and began wrapping the pie.

“I know how much you loved it,” she continued.

“Thank you so much. That is just so kind of you,” I replied, “It will be eaten before you know it!”

And that was the truth… Stephen ate the whole thing.

SOL #31: What’s Next?

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I am thankful for this month and for Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life challenge. I loved it last year and this year was just as great, if not better.

Here’s the problem… last year I stopped writing a week or two after the challenge. That bummed me out.

This year…

I want to keep writing. I’m struggling with determining how to make my blog an active, living, breathing place. Or does it need to be?

I want  to keep writing, but is there an audience? Does there need to be?

I want to keep writing, but wonder what structure or format or topics I should write about?

So… these are the things I am pondering right now… I hope to make some decisions about what’s next because..

I want to keep writing.

SOL #30: A story from years ago

He was 21 and in college.  I was 17 and in high school.

He was at a series of New Year’s Eve parties with a bunch of his friends. I was at a New Year’s Eve party that was lame.

He was partying with adorable friends. I was wishing I was at the same party with his adorable friends.

He was still partying. I was with my friends arriving at the party.

He was surprised to see me. I was surprised to see him.

He had been drinking. I had not.

He handed me the car keys. I took them with reluctance.

He told me to drive home. I couldn’t.

He got into the passenger seat. I climbed into the driver’s seat.

He began to give directions. I listened intently.

He placed his hand on the stick shift. I placed BOTH hands on the steering wheel.

He prompted me to start the car. I turned the key in the ignition and hoped for the best.

He called out ‘clutch’. I pressed my foot down as hard as I could.

He shifted into first. I kept my foot on the clutch.

He yelled at me to get off the clutch. I did.

He jerked forward in his seat. I jerked forward in mine.

He shifted the car from 1st to 2nd to 3rd, 4th, and 5th. I pressed the clutch, pressed the gas, pressed the clutch, pressed the gas.

He relaxed after about ten minutes. I did not.

He shifted it into neutral. I pressed on the brake.

He climbed out of the car with a ‘thanks’ and went into our house. I sat glued to my seat unable to move.

He taught me how to drive a stick shift. I am forever grateful.

SOL #29: Reflections of a tough week

This week was hard. For many, many reasons. One reason, another reason,  and even more I didn’t write about. I’m exhausted. I haven’t left work yet. We have plans tonight and the thought of going out makes me want to cry. SO before I pack my bag with my weekend work, I decided to get my slice completed so what happened last night, doesn’t happen tonight.

So while I might dwell on the negative, I’m told that you can’t feel anxiety and gratitude at the same time… so I am going to give it a try. I need to let go of the week and move on.

  • I am grateful for the way I ended my day/week with my students by participating in an activity called ‘Mingle Mingle’ shared with me by Mel Meehan.
  • I am grateful for my ‘village’ that helped me get through an incredibly challenging day on Monday.
  • I am grateful for the many texts and ‘check ins’ from friends near and dear to my heart.
  • I am grateful for the luxury of a heating pad.
  • I am grateful for friends that are more like family.
  • I am grateful for my many colleagues that challenge me intellectually and professionally each and every day.
  • I am grateful that I have only one writing task to grade this weekend.
  • I am grateful that my plans are done for next week.
  • I am grateful for having plans to see dear friends tonight AND tomorrow night.
  • I am grateful that I have not had chronic back pain today.
  • I am grateful for ‘boyfriend styled’ jeans.
  • I am grateful for all that I have even in the darkest times. I am blessed.

SOL #28: For the challenge

It is 9:30. I was just in bed reading before bed. I sat straight up.

“I forgot to write,” I say out loud to no one in particular. My husband who is watching NCAA basketball turns to me.

“What?” he says keeping his eyes on the TV screen.

“I didn’t write today. I just realized I didn’t write today,” I murmur as I get out of bed, grab my sweatshirt, and slippers.

I head down the stairs and see the glare from the computer.

“Patrick, your time is up on Fortnite. I believe I told you that 15 minutes ago,” I say hovering over his back and the chair.

“I know mom, I’m just getting off,” he replies, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing… your time is up,” I reply gently nudging (OK… maybe pushing) him out of the chair.

I jump in the chair. OK… day 28… what to write???

This… I write this because this is what this month is all about. Writing. Daily. Not missing ONE day. Even if the writing is about forgetting.

SOL #27: Body don’t fail me now

It was a gorgeous Sunday and I decided to take Charley for a walk. I even decided to write about it here: SOL #24: Lessons from Charley. This was a great walk because it was the first since winter started because I have been hesitant to walk outside due to the snow, potholes, and various ‘muck’ on the side of the road and my ‘new knee’.

I felt great… my new knee was happy- circa: May 2018- and all was well. We got home. I sat down to watch a little NCAA basketball with my boys and all seemed right on this fabulous Sunday.


I tried to get up from the recliner to get more water. I could not get up out of the chair. I used my arms to pull myself up out of the chair and my back and right leg were in excruciating pain. Seriously? So I walked it out to see if it was just stiffness from sitting.

THREE DAYS later and I am STILL nursing my back and leg! Come on! I know I have to be more active. I know I have to do more to feel better, but this knee has thrown me for a loop… and now my back wants to join the party. No thank you. No thank you.

So… I will continue to rest, recover, and do what I need to in order to get my back and leg where it needs to be.

Enough already… I need this body to last me a few more years!