Go Go Go – Pause

We are traveling at the speed of light at the Murphy house. We wake up in the morning and we go, go, go until the girls are tucked in bed at night and then we collapse on the couch with a sigh. Go, go, go and then do it all again tomorrow.

I was already in Go Mode when I entered Maddie’s bedroom this morning at 6:15 AM.

“Time to get up, Maddie Moo,” I said into the silence. “Wake up, buttercup.” I gave her a shake.

I quickly walked over to her window, snapped up the shade with a flick of my wrist, and walked back towards her bed. What a pretty sky, I thought to myself as I walked away from the window.

I stopped. Something made me stop.

I walked back towards the window. I stood looking out the window, letting the seconds tick by. It really was a pretty sky – not yet lightened by the sun with violet puffs of cloud floating soundlessly across it. I watched the puffs of cloud cross the window. I exhaled and smiled to myself.

“Alright, come on, Maddie, rise and shine,” I called out as I walked away from the window.


This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.


Homework Her Way

Katie had her first homework assignment last night. Her preschool teacher sent home a practice sheet in Katie’s backpack. They are learning to write the letter A. When I took the sheet out of the backpack, Katie was very pleased.

“I have homework,” she announced. “Like Maddie.”

She smiled proudly, and I could tell she felt like a very big girl. I settled her in at the kitchen table and gave her a sharpened pencil. She wrote her name at the top of the paper, and I snapped a quick photo to commemorate the milestone.


Katie got to work tracing the letter A and then writing some As herself. I noticed she wasn’t forming the letters the right way, so I bent down to help.

“Nooooooooooo, Mommmmmmy! I can do it! I don’t need help! I’m doing it my way! Stoooooop Mommy!”

“But, Katie, I’m – ”

“I CAN DO IT!” she screeched.

I set down the pencil and walked slowly over to the stove as Katie glared at me. I stirred the rice silently and let her finish her work… her way.


This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.






Her full name is Madeline, but we’ve always called her Maddie.

Sure, she’s had nicknames. Maddiecakes, Maddie-Moo, Mads. But she’s always been Maddie.

When we walked into her first grade room at orientation, I noticed her coat hook and her desk were labeled with Madeline. It looked so foreign, so strange. Madeline Murphy. Such a grown up name.

Maddie didn’t blink an eye at the name change. She sat proudly at her new desk – an actual desk, not like those baby tables from kindergarten. There were even textbooks inside. Textbooks! I thought Maddie hadn’t even noticed the use of her full name.

Later that night, I called to her from the kitchen. “Maddie!”

“Mom,” she said as she entered the room. “I’d like for you to call me Madeline now.”




This is my Slice of Life Story this week. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.



New Room, Old Tricks

Katie moved to a new room at her daycare. She is now in the four-year old preschool room with new routines and new teachers. Change is hard, of course, so I gave her a little extra love as I dropped her off Monday morning. I thought about her all day, wondering how she was adjusting.

I stepped through the door of her new room after work and surveyed the scene. I saw groups of kids gathered around Lincoln Logs and the kitchen area and the Play-Doh table. But where was Katie?

“Hi, Mrs. Murphy,” her teacher greeted me. “Katie had a great day, but she’s over there now,” she said gesturing to a bean bag chair in the corner of the room. I could see Katie’s braids peeking out from the sides of the book she was reading.

“Katie said her tummy hurt,” the teacher continued.

Oh I know this game, I thought to myself.

“Did you ask her to clean something up?” I questioned.

“Well, yes,” the teacher hesitated. “We were cleaning up for Centers.”

I shook my head in embarrassment.

“Katie, do you want to go watch Maddie get off the bus?” I said.

Katie leaped up out of the bean bag chair and skipped across the room. “The bus!” she exclaimed as she jumped up and down.

The teacher and I made eye contact, and she laughed.

“I see,” the teacher smiled.

New room, old tricks.

This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.

This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two  Teachers every Tuesday.

Grown-Up Like a First Grader

I took Maddie shopping for some new school clothes. For all of Maddie’s life, she has basically been wearing the same brand of clothes – affordable, durable, cotton, washable, mix & match sets from the same department store. Much to my dismay, Maddie has outgrown our beloved brand of kid clothes, so we found ourselves in the “big kid” section of a different department store on Sunday morning.

Maddie immediately spied some clothing sets hanging on a nearby rack. Each set contained a pair of pants, a shirt, and a necklace and/or scarf. The designs were not the ice cream cones and rainbows we were used to, but rather a tribal print or an elegant depiction of the Eiffel Tower with a scrolling Paris written underneath. How very chic.

We found an empty fitting room, and Maddie tried on one of the outfits. I watched in amusement as she stared at herself in the mirror, turning this way and that. She struck a pose with her hand on her hip and smiled at her reflection. Without taking her eyes off herself she asked, “Can I get this Mommy?”

“Sure,” I replied, smiling.

“Mommy?” Maddie said as we left the fitting room. “I’ve been thinking. I’m not gonna act so much like Katie anymore. I’m gonna start acting more grown up. You know. Like a first-grader.”

I squeezed her hand, and we went to pay for her new clothes.


This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.


Comforts of Home

I collapsed into our bed late last night after we returned from a weekend at the lake. I suppose it is good to be home.

I mean, the lake house is missing some of the comforts of home. The beds at the lake house are lumpy and worn. The blankets are used, mismatched sets from our pile of old stuff in the basement. The pillows are second rate. The tiny, window unit air conditioners in the bedrooms rattle and hum all night long. The water from the faucet smells like the lake, and there is that spot on the kitchen floor that buckles when you step on it.

So, I suppose it is good to be home. Here at home we have large, cozy beds with warm blankets and fluffy pillows. The air conditioner silently keeps the whole house a cool 73 degrees at all times. You can drink the water and depend on the kitchen floor not to buckle.

But here at home we don’t have the lake. Or the beach where the kids play for hours and hours. We don’t have friends and family visiting for the weekend or long boat rides along the shore of the lake to look at the houses we could never afford. We don’t have Maddie and Katie squealing with excitement at their first tube ride or my husband’s constant smile at his dream having actually come true. We don’t have dinner on the patio or paddle boat rides or ducks to feed or long days stretching out endlessly with nothing to do but swim.

It is good to be home in this big, beautiful house where we have everything we could ever need.

I guess.


This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.

(I am taking a break from Slice of Life Tuesdays for the month of July. I will be back to share more stories in August.)

Home Is

As I write this blog post, I am sitting on the front porch of a gorgeous Bed & Breakfast in Indiana. The sun has risen and cars are starting to fill the street outside. Every now and again, a cool breeze sweeps across the porch lifting the corners of the papers stacked beside me. It is the third day of this writing retreat, and my fingers fly over the keyboard releasing my words into the air. Writing. It feels like home to me.

Later today I will load my luggage into my car and make the two hour drive back to Illinois. A kiss from my husband will welcome me home, and I am sure to be greeted with hugs and tales of the adventures that took place in my absence. Thoughts of Maddie and Katie flit through my mind, fleeting as the cool breeze. Images – Maddie’s missing teeth, Katie’s wild hair, Maddie curled up on the couch with a book, Katie lost in some imaginary world with her dolls – images so familiar, so much like home for me, I don’t even have to see them to see them.

The images of my family float away on the breeze, and I glance at my computer screen. I smile, caught between these two worlds, both of which feel like home to me.


This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.