Saturday, January 11, 2014

Spreading Sunshine on a Rainy Saturday

I will admit how good the sunshine felt that Catherine Flynn of sent my way when she nominated me for some during this VERY cold Connecticut week. I always look forward to her posts, and it was reassuring, validating, motivating and even inspiring to hear that she appreciates mine. Sometimes, in this somewhat virtual world (I say somewhat because I am getting to personally know more and more of the bloggers I follow), I am not always sure that people are listening. I send a big shout-out to whoever started the Sunshine Awards. 

The specifics are:
1.  Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s).
2.  Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3.  Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger created for you.
4.  List 11 bloggers who inspire you.
5.  Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

So, eleven random facts about me...
  1. I married my childhood crush when he finally realized I was alive. (I was 25 and he was 30 when we started dating. It’s understandable that a 15 year-old would pay no attention to a 10-year old.)
  2. When I decided that three girls would be enough, I was pregnant with my fourth. I can not imagine my life without her.
  3. I weighed more when I graduated from college than when I delivered my first child. Beer and cookies add up, I guess. 
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book, but I can quote many lines from The Great Gatsby, which is a close second.
  5. I taught aerobics for several years. It was reassuring to know that adults would do, or try to do, ANYTHING I asked them to when I was teaching emotionally disturbed children and they would do almost NOTHING I asked them to do.
  6. My best friend is a dermatologist. Sometimes, she helps me be wrinkle-free.
  7. I have a managed obsession with hearts. I LOVE that game!
  8. I’ve written two novels, but I could only take a finite number of rejection notes. Someday, I’ll try again...
  9. I wish I had been a better daughter-in-law. Life was too busy, but it was too short, also.
  10. I just completed eight years on the Board of Education. I recommend serving on a BOE to anyone who is passionate about education.
  11. I stayed home for ten years because I could, went back to work because I had to, and have stayed working because I love to.

Catherine asked some easy questions, but also some really hard ones 

1.What book would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island? Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. I could study that book for favorite lines and author craft moves for many hours, stranded or not.

2. What did you learn from your mother? How to bake from scratch, check before going when a light turns green, appreciate the writers of the New York Times, compartmentalize people to find their best selves, and think optimistically.

3. Where do you find joy in your classroom or work? I do a lot of curriculum development and I find joy in watching it come to life in classrooms. I love to incorporate , coordinate, and share the different spins and strategies that some of our amazing teachers add to the learning plans that engage students and spread the word that learning is fun.

4. What’s your favorite quote? Why? “Whether you think you or you think you can’t--you’re right.” Henry Ford. I am always trying to teach my daughters the power of their belief in themselves. It’s such a simple, powerful statement. 

5. If you had a weekend (and money was no object), what would you do? Who would be with you? Does it have to be just a weekend? I’d spend it with my family on Block Island--some of my very favorite places in the world are there and it is so close.

6. What book are you reading right now? Like Catherine, I usually have a few books going at the same time. I am reading A Tale of Two Cities because my daughter is, and I don’t remember it at all. My girls keep talking about it and I feel left out of the conversation. I’m also reading How Children Succeed by Paul Tough which I highly recommend, and I just started Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

7. What’s your most favorite children’s book ever? Baby  by Patricia MacLachlan. My daughter, Larkin, is named from that book. It has inspired me to write my own books, as well as read every book that Patricia MacLachlan writes, usually several times.

8. What is your favorite young adult novel? That’s harder. I loved The Fault in Our Stars,  but I also loved Counting by Sevens and The Book Thief.

9. How do you prefer to read books, paper or electronic? I love books. 

10. Name one guilty pleasure. On-line hearts. I don’t feel guilty about chocolate, but I can waste a lot of time playing cards.

11. What motivated you to start blogging? I kept reading about how much people were learning from blogging and I wanted to try it out. Melanie Swider and I launched our blog together, and I recommend starting off with a supportive friend. We keep each other going and help each other out of ruts.

12. What is your next challenge? I thought there were just eleven questions.?.?.?  I would like to become a principal in the foreseeable future, but remain an instructional coach and leader.

Eleven Bloggers Who Inspire Me:
  1. Melanie Swider, my blogging partner on I would not blog without her
  2. Sarah Broa of She’s a busy mom so she doesn’t write as often as she used to, but when she does, it’s important.
  3. Katherine Sokolowski of I love the kindness that always seaps out of Katherine’s posts. I wish she lived closer.
  4. Tony Sinanis of When I am a principal, I hope I can be like him. He combines silliness and humor with a relentless commitment to reflection, personal growth, and opportunities for every student in his school.
  5. Jessica Johnson of The consummate lead learner. I sometimes miss her posts, but I almost always make to #educoach on twitter Wednesday nights at 10. Truly, Jessica is an inspirational leader and learner.
  6. Stacey Shubitz, along with the rest of the bloggers of She is honest, reflective, incredibly articulate, inspirational, inclusive...I could keep going. What an incredible impact she has had on writing teachers everywhere.
  7. Tara Smith, who is also one of the bloggers on, but also keeps her own blog at
  8. Carrie Gelsen of If you want a good book for any age, consult Carrie’s blog. She has amazing recommendations.
  9. Linda Baie of She is one of the most optimistic people that she inspires from miles and miles away!
  10. Kate Roberts of I’m sure that she has been given a lot of sunshine, but she deserves every last ray.
  11. Vicki Vinton of I am always happy when a new post comes across my feed from Vicki--her posts are guaranteed to make me wonder, reflect, learn, and smile.

And my eleven questions:

  1. If you were going to write a book, what would it be about?
  2. What is your most vivid memory from elementary school?
  3. What is your favorite question to ask during an interview?
  4. When you are busy--too busy--what is the first aspect of your life that suffers?
  5. What is your favorite store?
  6. If you could go anywhere on vacation, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
  7. At the end of the day, what are you most likely to say to yourself?
  8. When something goes really well at work, who are you most likely to tell and why?
  9. Same question as 8, but when something goes really badly?
  10. What is your favorite poem?
  11. Who was your favorite teacher up until college and why?
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! Spreading sunshine took a lot of thinking and deciding. Thank you again to Catherine, as it was wonderful to receive and just as much so, to pass along!


  1. Thank you, Melanie, for your kind words. The Henry Ford quote is great--so full of possiblities. Didn't know you could play hearts online, but that's a road I won't go down. I shudder to think of all that didn't get accomplished when I was on my solitaire kick! I loved reading your post and getting to know you even more. Time for another cup of coffee?

  2. I love hearing more about you, Melanie, & wow-on the BOE for 8 years. What dedication you have. In addition to your work to do that is really wonderful. I suspect you learned so much! Since we are both coaches, I have learned much from your posts, and read them, although I should take more time to comment too. Thank you for placing me in your 'sunny' list. I've been blessed to have been picked more than once and did post last week, but I appreciate your compliment very much. Hope your next week is good, and warmer!

  3. I love reading your blog and getting new ideas. My favorite book is also Baby, and I read it aloud each year to my girls' classes. I love the language, the story, and the characters. My copy of the book is loved and worn with post-its marking favorite pages and lines. Love that you chose the name Larkin for your daughter.