Snow Day Suspense

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy twitter, email and school app notifications dinged on my phone around 8:30  last night alerting me to Wednesday’s school closing due inclement weather. My daughter, husband, who is traveling in Miami, and even my son, at college in North Carolina, received the closure alert at the exact same time.  Instant access to the most current information is both expected and counted on by most of us these days. The internet has minimized the sense of anticipation and excitement generated when we must wait for information to transmit from person to person.

Flashback over 40 years ago: The landline phone rings in our dark house at 5 a.m., waking my mom, an elementary school teacher, from a sound sleep. Outside the lone street-light casts a golden glow on the freshly fallen snow. My mom’s colleague calls to announce that her rural school district, Lapeer, is cancelled due to dangerous driving conditions created by the overnight snowstorm.  (Whenever my mom’s school needed to disseminate important information quickly, the superintendent called four employees who in turn called four employees and so on. Phone calling trees were common and important networks of communication back when I was a kid.) I emerge into the kitchen from my bedroom, just as my mom completes her fourth and final phone call.  

She looks up at me. “Don’t worry.  I’m sure Davison Schools will be cancelled, too.”

Unlike my mom, I must wait and listen to the radio for the school cancellation announcements. Our local AM radio station reads the school closings list in alphabetical order, approximately every 15 minutes. “Atherton, Grand Blanc, Fenton….”  To my dismay, Davison, is not included in the 6:30 a.m. school closing update. My mom gives me a sympathetic hug and crawls back into bed.  She tells me to wake her 30 minutes before I leave for school.

I continue to listen to the radio station while I shower. I listen when I dress and eat my breakfast. And I listen when I brush my teeth and hair.  By the 7 a.m. broadcast, “Flushing and North Branch schools” have been added to the school closing list. Now, the winter sun is breaking over the horizon, revealing six inches of freshly fallen snow.  Disheartened that I will have to attend school on a day when seemingly all other area schools are closed, I torture myself with images of kids sledding down Hogback Hill, screaming and laughing without me. Frustration simmers. I close the cupboards a little louder and stomp around the kitchen with force until Mom appears in the kitchen and helps me make my lunch.  She suggests we listen to the school closing update one final time after I dress out for the long walk to school.

I tiptoe around the melted snow puddles in an effort to keep my socks dry; step into and lace up my black snow boots; zip my fur-lined parka, snapping the hood tightly around my neck; and jam my hands into my gloves.

“Amy, 108.5 is about to read the school closing list,” Mom announces from the kitchen.

My snowpants make a swish-swish sound as I briskly return to the kitchen, my fingers crossed for good luck.

I hear the DJ say, “We have two new school closing that have just been added to our list:  (long pause) Clio and Davison.”

“Yeah!” I shout in elation. I jump up in the air, barely able to lift myself off the ground given all of the layers I wear. The long drawn out suspense of the morning feels worth the short term frustration.

I turn and run outside to celebrate the snow.



A Teacher’s TO-DO List: Tuesday

Take attendance

Find novel

Schedule substitute


Give feedback

Teach summarizing

key details

and main idea

Congratulate achievements

Grade essays

Nominate students

Provide choices

Host author

Meet team

Meet parents

Meet deadlines

Celebrate birthdays

Write recommendation

Locate handout

Call guardians

Anchor thinking

Counsel doubt

Evaluate outcomes




and educators

Track data

Update Canvas

Record grades

Add comments

Plan lesson

Praise kindness

Create rubric

Journal thoughts

Promote books

Laminate charts

Give high-fives



Russian Fox Experiment

russian fox

When a fox crosses my path, just yards in front of where I stand, I hold my breath and stay as still as possible, hopeful its curiosity will outweigh its fear of me.  But after the fox stops and turns to face me eye-to-eye, he eventually prances off, bounding effortlessly to the far reaches a neighbor’s backyard where it is dark and free of human presence. 

The fox is shy and does not trust me.  I get it. However there is a genetics program that is in its 58th year in Russia (Siberia) where foxes are domesticated and are sold for $9.000 as pets.  These foxes are docile, playful and cute as buttons.  The story about their domestication is a fascinating one and begins with Dmitry Belyaev, a Russian geneticist, who decided to study domestication by selecting a wild animal to tame through selective breeding.

This new “breed” of foxes have floppy ears, mixed coats, and curlier tails.  In addition, they seek out human attention, wagging their tails and licking humans to show their 1) eagerness to interact and 2) affection for humans.  What is so cool about this genetics study is that the scientists and researchers were able to create a domesticated breed of foxes in just 10 years. Now 70-80% of the foxes born within the genetics study are considered “elite” or domesticated.  Now if I can just find my way to Siberia, all of my fox dreams will come true.


Getting the “Led” Out

Finding my father an appropriate birthday card to go with the his gift is a challenging task, especially knowing the perfectly phrased sentiment matters to him.  My dad is a writer after all.

This year was no different.  I gave up my search for the perfect birthday greeting after just three stores and, instead, signed personal wishes with a Sharpie pen right on the wrapping paper.

Tonight was my father’s birthday party, and, par for the course, he hosted his own celebratory gathering, making the dinner and providing the entertainment.  

Growing up, my father broke many of the traditional male gender roles, especially when you consider I grew up in the seventies; he purchased our groceries, made our meals, and, shared child rearing equally with my mom.  My father has never followed traditional father or grandfather roles, less to make a point, and more because he believes in living an authentic life, “Do what you love.”

Here is what I mean:

Yesterday my sister sent me a video from their backyard.  It shows my niece screaming down the inaugural run of their new backyard roller coaster built by my eighth grade nephew and my dad. Yes, an actually rollercoaster!  My nephew loves designing runs; he is the future Rube Goldburg, so when my nephew announced he wanted to design a roller coaster down their sloping backyard, my dad was all in, even buying my nephew a circular saw for his birthday, a “believe the box” present.

Tonight, once we finished dinner and the dishes had been cleared, my dad left to go grab his guitar.  He had been practicing a couple of new cover songs and wanted to perform them for us. This was our gift to him, he said.  He took a seat near the oval dinner table where we gathered, placed the guitar strap over his shoulder, and began to strum away. The first song, “Lola” by the Kinks was followed by Led Zeppelin’s “Street Corner Girl.”  We sang with him and cheered at the end. And then I thought to myself, this is how all birthday parties should end, with two slightly inappropriate songs sung by your dad. I’m sure there are others out there who have parents who get the Led out, too, but considering my parents are well into their seventies, and still getting the Led out is pretty darn cool.  They have it going on; they continue to live a true authentic life, one that is filled with passion and love.

Nodding Off




The ache of exhaustion

creeps into my body

like a thick San Francisco

marine layer.



throbs behind my eyes

and radiates down my core.

My thighs are heavy

and my calves are tight,

even the tops of my feet tingle.


My eyes burn

and my lids demand

they be lowered.


I imagine

the stars and moon

on a warm, summer


The Ultimate Sport

We are an ultimate Frisbee family.

If you have never seen ultimate Frisbee played, it is a 7 v. 7 field sport played on a narrower football field in which the objective is to catch the disc in the opponent’s end zone, much like in football.  The disc is advanced up the field through a series of throw-catch completions, and play is continuous like hockey, so if a disc is downed or goes out of bounds, the defensive team is immediately on offense. The pace is fast and play is intense.  Currently, my son plays for a college club team, my daughter plays on her high school ultimate team, and my husband is commissioner of our youth program. I lend my support wherever and whenever it is needed.


If you know ultimate, you are already aware of the spirit of the game which is built into the laws that govern the sport, stressing sportsmanship, fair play and respect. Ultimate Frisbee is a self-officiated sport where players make their own calls and any disputes are respectfully worked out on the field between the two players involved. Spirit of the game is what makes the ultimate Frisbee community so attractive and creates such dedication among the players.   

anders photo

The ultimate Frisbee community is inclusive and welcoming.  This weekend, our youth league in Arlington, VA is hosting a large high school ultimate Frisbee tournament with 44  teams traveling from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Traditionally, many of our local families host entire teams in their homes to help the traveling teams defer the cost of lodging.  Currently, I am waiting on a girls’ team from Princeton, New Jersey to arrive at my house. Sixteen high school girls will stay with us over the next two days. My husband and I will make them breakfast in the mornings, before they head off for their first games, and then we will head out to watch and cheer on many teams, including our daughter’s high school team.

Our family is an ultimate Frisbee family and we are way better for it.


(This is a photo of my daughter on the ground and my son leaning over her after their mixed-gender D.C. team won the national championship against San Francisco)

Fun fact: Ultimate Frisbee will most likely be a showcase sport in the 2024 and ‘28 Summer Olympics.  The coolest aspect of this possibility is that the Olympic ultimate team will most likely be a mixed gender team.  How cool will it be to see a high level team made up of both male and female athletes competing together as one team.

March is Madness

IMG_0990March is madness.

I am madness

as I race like a tornado,

spinning, ripping and tearing

through the otherwise tranquil morning.


I am a garish blur

revolving like a vintage toy top

unaware that pre-dawn shadows

faded into filtered morning light.


I missed

the wood thrush

and his flute-like



I missed

the doe with her fawn

ears twitching

grazing near the creek


I missed the red fox

scaling the side wooden fence,

graceful and agile.


Not pup, though.

She settles onto

the sisal doormat,

nose pointed to the sky.

Careful not to miss

a single