And the Boo Platter Continues

Back in 2015, I posted my last Boo Platter delivery to the elementary school. But this end of an era never stopped me. So today, I build another one:

I know it’s not my best work, but over the years, I’ve become more authentic and less worried about perfection.

Here’s a look at some of finest written work from years past: 

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Some New Verbs: Stultify and Promulgate

As you know, I love verbs. I love precise verbs that sound like what they mean. Two students use two new verbs in their essays that I love: stultify and promulgate.

One writes that the repetitive and restrictive practice of standardized testing in elementary school stultifies and exhausts students. Stultify means to stifle, bore, suppress, and drain of enthusiasm.

Stultify even sounds stifling. It’s an oppressive, boring kind of verb. When I speak it, it makes my mouth pinch up like I’m bored of it already.

Another student wrote that he wishes to promulgate a certain policy change in the healthcare field. Promulgate means to announce widely, to promote, to broadcast, and spread far.

Promulgate even sounds like some important thing spreading out as you make that “o” and “u” sound. It a wide, formal sound.

At the risk of stultifying you, I’ll cease promulgating my obsession with vivid verbs.

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Book Love

This morning in church, my older friend–the one who gives me books she believes I must read for my own development–hands me a gift.

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The Lemon Tree Grows

As you know, I love watching things grow from seed. On this rainy and cold Saturday morning, I see the Lemon Tree growing, and it brings a bit of spring sunshine into the room. Those little leaves that stretch upward to the light remind me that, even in the brittle autumn season, I shall still stretch and grow.

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Little By Little: Incorporating New, Healthier Foods

At times in my life, I’ve insisted my family immediately change everything about the way we eat, and it creates too much stress. People have actually protested, like the time I switched all the meat to tofu and my husband said, “If this keeps happening, I’m going to call my mama.”

And my changes never stuck. But little by little, I’ve learned to add in some healthy meals and practices that everyone loves. Nobody seems to notice my incremental changes. So, if you’re reading this as the main chef in your household, let me encourage you. If would want to try one vegetarian or vegan meal a week, nobody will stomp their feet. If you want to add in kale and broccoli sprouts to your caesar salad, nobody will start crying at the table. And nobody will care if you occasionally serve quinoa instead of rice or if you’ve sprinkled flaxseed into the soup you’re serving.

It’s always little changes that stick. Add a bowl of nuts to the selection of after school snacks, along with popcorn and sliced oranges. Make a green smoothie every once in a while. Make Tex-Mex Quinoa Bowls, loaded with veggies, for the tailgate this weekend (it’s so good that people won’t know it’s healthy.)

Remember the little changes–the avocado oil you spritz on popcorn instead of lathering it in butter, the green tea you steep in the morning instead of a second cup of coffee that’s mostly creamer, and the salmon you’re serving instead of fried chicken.

Soon, folks around your table will feel better, sleep better, and even look better. As someone who finally made my lifetime goal at Weight Watchers, I’m learning how to make healthy eating part of everyone’s day without shocking the family system.

So let the little changes begin, the ones nobody may notice but you.

 

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Asking Students What They’ve Been Thinking About

I loved the Name Game today. We went around the classroom to answer this question:

“What have you been thinking about lately?”

I talked about watching the Parenthood television series and how these characters have captured my imagination. I think about them during the day. That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Students shared the most revealing and wonderful things they’ve been considering lately ranging from how to fight racism to how to make a decision about what to do over the weekend. One student was thinking about her study abroad plans and securing a visa; another student mulled over how terrible her last paper turned out. Others were thinking things like missing their pets back home, how much they hate the rain, or how to get more sleep tonight.

Several students said they were thinking of naps. Naps. That’s it: naps. (I remember thinking the same thing as a college student).

One student said she’s been thinking all morning about why the men in her life don’t take better care of their mental health.

Asking someone what they’ve been thinking about opened up a whole world of knowledge of one another in our writing community.

I’m headed home to ask my teens and my husband what they’ve been thinking about today.

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Opening Wide Your Heart

This afternoon, I think of the curious phrase in scripture to “open wide [our] hearts” (2 Corinthians 6:12-14). I think, too, of the expression throughout Deuteronomy in particular that we are to love God “with all [our] heart.”

Open wide my heart? All of my heart?

Might I turn from a closed, half-hearted life? Might I go ahead and fling open the shutters?

Today felt like an opening-wide-my-heart kind of day. It’s a day to open my heart to the stories of students–their grieving, their fears, their issues. It’s a day to sit at the table with a cup of tea and wait, with a wide open heart, to sift through the days of my teen daughters. It’s a day to inhabit the new dreams of my husband, a day to carry the burden of a neighbor, and a day to not withhold myself from people.

I withhold myself when I’m tired or stressed out or when my tasks matter more than people. I withhold myself when I don’t perceive benefits to myself in certain interactions. If I’m fearful or suspicious, you get nothing from me. I withhold myself when I’m not honest about what I’m thinking and feeling.

But what about the other me, the one with a wide open heart who so bursts with love that what you offer me back doesn’t matter? This me stays open to insult, ridicule, and misunderstanding. It’s a risky kind of me.

I walk around the neighborhood with a wide open heart. I’ll love the dogs and the cats, the children and the elderly. I’ll love the one who calls on the phone.

I’ll open wide my heart. I’ll live a life generous in love.

And all along, I’m opening wide my heart to God. I’m giving all of me there is to give, in any way I know how.

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Coming Right Along

This year, our girls didn’t want to take the hayride out to the pumpkin patch. They’d rather grab a pumpkin near the warm building and be on with their lives. Still, I wanted the picture. In a moment, I remembered that, long before these girls came into my life, my husband and I enjoyed a life together. We’ll enjoy a life together long after they depart from our home.

So I had my daughter take a picture of him and me in the pumpkin patch.

Later, I realized how I’m no longer tracking the growth of these teens who stand nearly as tall as I with each passing season. They’ve matured already in so many ways. It feels like a new kind of autumn where family means older children who take the photo and plan the day.

What a wonderful new season! Some growth, however, I do still track; my Baby Ginkgo Tree stands sturdy and healthy. Today, I mark the beginnings of golden color. The new tree that will grow each year reminds me of the passage of time and the beauty of each changing season.

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