What My Iron Made Me Think About Today

The thing about ironing, like many chores in life, is you either hate it or love it. And as with many facets of life, the parallels to ironing are plenty.

Take writing for example. Just like ironing, one has to muster up the motivation to get started. Warm up the iron. Warm up your brain. Pull together the clothes that need to be de-wrinkled. Pull together the ideas that need sorted out in your head. With both, one must just get started. Neither can be done without your hands put to the task. Ironic, isn’t it?

Relationships have many parallels to ironing. How many people do you know live through the wrinkles, simply by taking time to iron them out and, as a result, have their lives feel soft and cozy again? (Of course there are times you want to take the hot iron and do the unthinkable to your significant other, but that’s when you really just need to iron away by yourself and get the thinking out. Let it be therapy. Then, unplug, cool off, and communicate about the wrinkles.)

Teaching has parallels to ironing, too. There’s the preparation. The patience. The perseverance. The accidental burns, and the many different settings. Sometimes there’s steam. Sometimes there’s a dribble that gets on your clothes– if your bladder isn’t cooperating until your next planned break. (Of course, that’s never happened to me, I’ve just heard stories.) There’s lots of focus that both require. I’ll take teaching over ironing any day, though.

Today, as I went through all my Sunday chores to prepare for the week, the ironing was one I put off until I just couldn’t any longer. As I set up the squeaky ironing board with the brown marks from when I accidentally left the iron face down for too long, I quickly found a rhythm to the madness. And maybe, just maybe, I can take those parallel thoughts into my week when some much needed perspective is called for.

I’ve got one shirt left–my iron is almost out of steam. Must be time for a nap.




Today’s Problem

I’m not proud to admit this, but today a trash can liner put me in a very sour mood. For longer than I’d like to tell you.

I know. There are way worse problems to have in the world and I’m pretty fortunate to even have a trash can, much less a liner. I know.

I get all that, and yet here I sit irritated by the newly opened box of trash bags. We must have somehow missed the label in the bottom corner: scented with Febreze® Fresh Clean.

All I can think about is how we have 34 of these odious suckers to get through before we can buy a new box without the scent.

The scent is not easy to ignore as the trash can sits not far from the dining room table which doubles as a desk here in our small little kitchen. I almost want to clean out the refrigerator. Surely there must be some overripe fruit or molding vegetables or cheese to throw away and counter the fresh clean smell. Put it to work.

Maybe I could just set the trash can outside. But that’s not convenient.

Maybe I could snap out of it and count my blessings. But that hasn’t worked thus far.

Maybe I could donate them to a thrift store and get a new box. But then I’d be bringing the smell into my car.

Maybe I could use a few to bag up some yard debris. But that would mean we’d be buddies while I’m stuffing it full. And I’d bring my bad mood outside.

Maybe I could gift them to the new neighbors next door. Welcome! Here’s an opened box of trash bags for you… but then I’d be that weird neighbor.

Come to think of it, I’m not big on scented anything. Detergents. Cheese. Perfumes. Colognes. Farts.

I need to snap out of it. I thought writing this all down would help.

It hasn’t.

The smell has gotten worse because I’m perseverating on it, so I must end here.

How can something so fresh smell so foul?












Story Time


We live and breathe them every single day. Sometimes, a good ol’ fashioned made up story can bring out the belly laughs, snorts, and downright silliness from kindergarteners.

Yesterday, I never would have imagined a story, pulled out of my sleeve, would capture such rapt attention from my students and cause them to still be talking about it today.

It had to do with a french fry named “Falama” and how he lost his best friend ketchup, A.K.A. “Kasaka.” Falama went searching everywhere for Kasaka and finally found him in the refrigerator. Of all places! Falama was so excited to find and be reunited with Kasaka that he squeezed him over and over again, harder and harder, until Kasaka ended up squirting himself all over the plate! This made Falama even more excited—and as a result, he dipped his french fry self into his friend and…ATE HIM! Of course, what’s a story without some burps….so, just when Falama was becoming saddened by the realization that he had actually ate his friend, he suddenly heard Kasaka (who was in his tummy) screaming to be rescued! He burped him out at once! And of course they lived happily ever after.

What’s fun about stories with five and six-year olds is that they can be as ridiculous as this one clearly was. BUT, the best part is that they were inspired…and with that inspiration, they are growing some ideas for stories of their own to tell their classmates.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll think of Falama and Kasaka the next time they eat some french fries.

I won’t hold my breath for the pulitzer prize with this one.

And thanks for reading.

Tiny Turbulence

today it was paper

torn to shreds

an unknown word


a cascade of emotions

crayons were handy

they broke easily

and it felt so so good to release

and throw

And throw.

next came the sobs

softly at first

world spinning



Oh what does it feel like inside?

the waves took some time to crescendo

while we waited, wondered

held our breath

and remembered compassion

Oh what does it feel like inside?

A break. Back to the surface.

A story within earshot.

A silly story about a piece of cake, a monkey, and a box!

The best of friends.


-A smile-

Some laughter.

Oh what does it feel like inside?



Dirty Eyeglasses

Can you see through the smudges?

The sweat, the tears, the joy, the fret.

The toil of decision

after decision

after decision.

Do you see the labor of love as a little eyelash hangs on for dear life while the child reads a letter to his mommy out loud?

His classmates’ ears standing at attention

And a tear slowly rolls down his pudgy cheek

leaving a trail through dust

-gathered for days-

Der Mome,

Can I pleaz hav my dadee back? I mis him so much.

As he reads

-His heart on paper-

Another child punches the wall in the back

We feel his heart pounding and shredding

While we dodge Crayola markers flying through the air like burnt embers





The lesson must go on.

Did you know I slipped on those spectacles

Last night

At three in the morning

When all that was left in the bed was a twisted pillow

and a wondering of what would happen next?

“Our kids”

is a phrase

Thrown around and around and around


The smudges

on my spectacles

Tell a different kind of story



I Didn’t Know An Ear Could Do That!

One of my kindergarten students is the youngest of 8 children and has a heart of laughter. He is a dancer, a jokester, a singer, and above all, a pure joy. And if that weren’t enough, he has a talent that brings the oohs and awes from his in pals in kindergarten– and I”ll admit me, too.

When Isaiah (not his real name) feels like the class needs a laugh (or his teacher needs to lose his train of thought) he carefully folds the top part of his ear and neatly tucks it to fit inside the rest of his ear! And it stays! Often this gift of ear flexibility is showcased when  least expected.

Today, as I met with his mom, we had a good laugh about his ear flexibility. It seems that this boy’s ears are fodder for his siblings’ entertainment, too. “They’re always playing with his ears!” Mom reported.

At precisely 12:43 today, Isaiah saved the day with his ear antics. As the class struggled to find a solution to a problem many of our friends were having with a social issue, Isaiah reminded us that laughter can overcome. He folded his ear, stood up, and said “c’mon guys!” and proceeded to do a little dance for us all. Out of the blue.

And the problem? It flew out the window into the warm spring air– never to be seen again for the rest of the day.

And that there is a talent worth hanging on to!

Thanks, Isaiah.



Coupons Galore

Back in the early 90’s I worked various positions at our local grocer, Safeway. As I worked through college, I made my way up the ranks from courtesy clerk (read: bagger) to cashier. I took pride in the work and always tried to be the fastest cashier in the west!

Just like any job, there were days that called for extra patience–especially dealing with tough customers. I remember the stories flying around like wildfire in the break room about a customer who did this, or another customer who was rude to good ol’ Rhonda, the sweetest (and oldest) cashier on the planet.

Yesterday the memories came flooding back as I stood in line at the grocery store behind a fellow shopper with a stack of coupons. A big stack. I remember, oh so vividly, the patience it took to ring up people with a plethora of coupons. Sometimes the coupons worked with the scanner, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes people forgot to actually buy the item they had a coupon for, causing the register to decline the coupon, which in turn provoked the customer to insist they bought it! And thus began a game of cat and mouse searching through the bags for the illusive item. While this went down, my checkout line would grow and grow, and the exasperation on the faces of the people would grow tenfold. I mean once you hit the checkout lane, you’re just ready to get the hell out of there…because really, who likes standing in line? And I’d take this personally…people leaving my line because of someone and their endless coupons.

I often worked the late shift until midnight as it fit nicely with my school schedule. Usually after 10 p.m. only one cashier remained on the floor… so the adrenaline rush was high when a line started to form. One customer, I’ll call her Sally, often came late to shop to avoid the hustle and bustle and take her time finding every item on her list–and–you guessed it, she always had coupons to beat the band!  She would load up two carts at a time, wheel them up, and let the games begin! I had fun with Sally. Most likely because there usually weren’t any bosses around that late to monitor the scene. As the scanner would decline one of Sally’s coupons, my courtesy clerk and I would try to throw Sally for a loop. She’d hand us a coupon and say, “I couldn’t find this on the shelves.” And we’d reply in a funny accent, “well, that’s because it’s on aisle 74!” (there was no aisle 74) or we’d say, “oh, those corn puffs are on the bottom of the clearance shelf next to the eggs and need to be refrigerated” (pure lie). Sally never blinked an eye or paid us any attention. Why? Because her eyes were glued to the screen as she watched her total amount due diminish coupon by coupon by coupon! Imagine her excitement on DOUBLE COUPON days!

I’m not against coupons. I use them now and then. And I was definitely happy as I stood in that line yesterday and watched the cashier fly through the stack of coupons with no problem. It seems as though technology has once again saved the day.

As for Sally? I’m sure she’s still a late night shopper getting all the deals!

Real World Problems, Kindergarten Style!

The time is ticking away on spring break…and Monday morning will be here sooner than I’d like for it to be! I’m sure once I’m back in the classroom with all those smiles, I’ll feel full again.

As I prepare for the upcoming week, I’ve been reflecting on my students’ writing and as promised in this post, I’m going to share here with you some of the problems my kindergarteners see in their world.  Hang on tight!

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“I want more time on the phone.” 

Mad props to Julians’s revision skills here. Using strikethroughs like a true writer! Gotta love how the phone just might be too big for his hands. He could easily set it nicely in his lap, though!


“You see a paper on the floor, you pick it up.”

Rosy has the right idea for our world. She thinks there is too much litter in places there shouldn’t be. If only we could all be this happy picking up trash!


“You have to get the beach trash because [the] beach [will be] dirty.

Seojin here is almost being swallowed by that wave because he was intent on picking up the trash on the beach. Dirty humans.

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“When I was in the shower I saw a spider…I picked her up with a napkin [and] put her in the trash.”

Well this is Marwan, the little shyster who challenged, and beat me, in a race outside! I mean, what else is one to do with a spider you find in the shower? Ew. Good thinking, there, buddy!

Through the eyes of five and six year olds! It’s a starting point…and we’ll continue to push our thinking this week.




I’ll Pass on the Passwords, Please.

Here’s a story. A true story that is happening more often than I’d like to admit.

Maybe you can relate…

I receive notice in my email box reminding me that such and such amount is due on this, that or another bill by such and such a date which is right around the corner. Maybe it is for water, electric or phone…they all blur together when it’s not something you really want to pay, but something you need to pay. Wants vs. needs, people. Simple kindergarten lesson! No one in this house likes to be thirsty, cold, or lonely…so, the inevitable next step is to log on and pay the bill. Easy. Right? Simple kindergarten lesson, again.

And once the website to pay is found, (of course that’s easy!), the next step is to enter a username.


And then a password.

And then the self-talk begins….

I know the password. I got this. Keith, you can remember it. 

Wait, is this the one I told myself I’d surely not forget if I started said password with a capital letter? Yes! I’m so clever. Here goes.

Z29#……fuckety-fuck!.….01……yes that’s it!






-Invalid username or password-

Well, which is it? Why can’t you just tell me which one it is? Why is this a game?

Self talk begins again. Ok. That’s got to be the right username, I never change that. It’s the password, for sure.

Z29#home01darknight…oh yeah, I remember there’s a ‘2’ at the end of darknight…

Z29#home01darknight…2 !!!!

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate…Keith you aren’t losing it like you think you are!

Deep Breath


-Invalid username or password-

Ok, I’ll reset the password and remember it next month. I’ll use that app everyone recommends or just flippin’ write it down in that one little notebook. Where is that notebook? I’ll find it later. Just pay the bill and you’ll remember it next month.

-Next month comes-

-Invalid username or password-













Kibble In The Night

Murphy is a Maltese-Poodle mix, a Maltipoo. He came into our lives about twelve years ago and has the absolute best personality.

He’s grumpy. He’s hyper. He’s snuggly.

Murphy is also very food motivated. He basically has food issues…much like someone else that lives in the house! He likes to play with his kibble in extremely odd, yet hilarious ways.

Murphy has rules about his food. If he could write, he most likely would post his regulations right next to his dog bowl. He would demand compliance and growl if a human or other dog failed to meet these minimum requirements:

  1. I eat when you sit down on the couch. I will not eat if you are not sitting on the couch watching me.
  2. If my bowl has just a bit of food left, I will stare at you and follow you around until you get up and fill my bowl. I may bark at you to make my point understood.
  3. If I take a piece of kibble out of my bowl and leave it in another part of the house, you may not touch it. I will watch your every move if you should dare try to go near the kibble I have saved for later.
  4. If you have been extra kind to me, I will put on a show for you with my food. This entails you watching me-of course-while I toss a piece of food up in the air, catch it, drop it, and do it all over again.
  5. See rule number three again.

Last night, Murphy tired himself out with his food antics. Exhausted, he fell asleep on the couch after carefully leaving precisely six pieces of  kibble near his water bowl. When I awoke in the middle of the night to get a drink of water for myself, Murphy opened one eye from his comfy lair. Before I could even think about passing his water bowl on my way to the sink, he jumped down to guard his six nuggets of goodness. He watched my every move.

I shrugged as I wearily made my way back to the bedroom. “I’m not going to eat your food, boy,” I sleepily muttered. And with that, he jumped back up on the couch and undoubtedly returned to his dog dreams. Kibble dreams, I bet!