All of Us, All Day


We went skiing this weekend.  The whole family on the mountain.  It was a fabulous weekend of sun, snow, and smiles.

Friday night, we climbed into The Beast aka the Suburban.  Hannah and Grace took their places in the captains chairs while Megan got comfy in the third row.  She’s got it made back there.  The smallest kid with the most space.  “She’s so cute back there.”  Billy always says mid road trip.

Saturday morning, early to rise, we leave Debbie and PJ’s and head North on Rte 100 to Warren.  The clock in The Beast reads 7:09.  Might be our earliest departure yet.  We arrive at the mountain at 7:36.  We get a sweet front row spot.

We gear up and head up to the lodge.  This is my least favorite part of skiing.  Lugging our gear up to the lodge.

The snow that has fallen over the past two weeks has me working through the hard part.  I’m ready to feel the fresh powder beneath my skis.  I’m ready to feel the fresh air against my face, in my lungs.  After a winter of divide and conquer weekends. I’m ready to ski with my family….all day.



Tiger Hug


Standing in the kitchen post Friday night pizza dinner.  It’s our go to on Lenten Friday night.

It’s another divide and conquer weekend.

We are all headed north to Vermont.

3/5 of us are headed to Hancock, VT where they will hang with Debbie and PJ.  Where they will rise early to be at the mountain, Sugarbush, by 8:00.  It’s become routine if your last name is Sherriff or Heindl.

2/5 of us are headed to Bellows Falls, VT where one will watch while the other joins her team in one last competition dance for the 17-18 season

“I want a tiger hug.”

“I love a good tiger hug.”

We are standing in between the stove and the island.  A tiger hug needs more space.

I scoot my feet back, she scoots her feet forward.  We have space.

I put my arms out towards her, she places her hands on my shoulders.  We bend our knees.  My feet are spread, shoulder width apart for stability and balance.  We lock eyes.

“One, two, three.”  full of anticipation, our voices are one.

She bends, she jumps, she wraps her long legs around me, and I pull her in close. Her arms encircle my neck, mine her back.  She nestles her head in my neck on my shoulder.

We laugh.

“You got so high!” I proclaim proudly.

“Yeah!  That was a good one!” she says.

We hold the tiger hug and she says…

“I don’t want to grow up so you can always pick me up.”

I add a squeeze to my hug, and say,

“I’ll always be able to pick you up.”




Sit, Listen, Write


 Our tiny back deck, that leads down to our patio, gets fabulous sun in late February and March, when the trees are still bare and the angle of the sun is higher.  There’s a piece of the house that juts out and blocks any March winds that may be blowing.  Hence, I’ve named it “the cozy spot”.  On this It was an unusually warm February day.  I pulled out my beach chair and assumed my position in “the cozy spot”. I pulled out my journal and drew the garden cart loaded with firewood.  As I drew, my sense of hearing was heightened and wrote what I heard.


Sit, Listen

Sitting in the cozy spot

Listen to the birds

chirp, peep, cheep, caw

Listen the sudden, furious flap of wings

whoosh, flap, whoosh

Listen to the neighbors windchime

ting, bling, ting-ting, twang

Listen and forget it’s still winter

Sticky Small Group Work



I’m a Literacy Specialist.  In my district, my job description includes pull-out and push-in instruction.  I believe in both.  I believe that some children, in K and 1, benefit from the quiet, small group, 2 on 1, or sometimes 1:1 instruction.  I also believe in working in partnership with classroom teachers to push in and provide small group instruction – strategy groups, guided reading.  I hope that the roles I play in the school, help grow readers and relationships.

This year I push into all four of our first classroom for Readers Workshop twice a week.  I’ve been at it since September.  I know the kids pretty well and I’d like to think they know me.  My routine, if you can call it that, is to pull a small group one day, leave the children with either a book or “work”, then check in with a conference or a running record to see how the reader made out with the “work”.

Last week, I pulled a group of readers that Amy and I thought needed some comprehension work.  With Jennifer Serravallo’s reading hierarchy in mind, and knowing they had just come out of the Unit of Study on Character, I planned to teach them that readers pay attention to what characters say.

Once the class was settled in their reading spots.  I whispered to Olivia and Thomas, “We’re going to have a group.  Can you bring a book you know well to the rug?”

We all got comfy and close.

“Olivia and Thomas.  Mrs. Howland and I were talking.  We think that you two are the kind of readers who are ready to do some deep character work with your books. Because in the kinds of books you all are reading, you really need to pay attention the characters, what they say, what they do and think about how they are feeling.”

They  leaned in.  They were  hooked!  Their faces are told me they want to know more.

Just as I was about to show them how readers pay attention to what characters say and then stop and think about how they are feeling, Owen appeared, towering over us.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Sherriff.”  He whispered politely – respecting the readers scattered about the room.

He looked right at me.

“Can I join the group?” He asked nonchalantly.  (Now this happened a few weeks ago in another class and for a split second, I wondered if Mason had told Owen that you could ask to join a group – nah)

“Sure, Owen.  You are ready to do this work as a reader, too. Go get a book from your bag that you know well.”

Thomas, Olivia and I waited for Owen.  He returned quickly and took a seat in between Olivia and Thomas.

We continued, we worked together to find things that characters say in the books and then we shared about how the character is feeling.  We did one together. Then they each did one independently with their own book.  They shared.  They seemed to be embracing this thinking work that readers do.

“I think you’ve got it.  So here’s your post it as a reminder about the work you can do as a reader.  I’ll check in with you next time I am in for Readers Workshop.”

They each took their post-its and books and went back to independent reading.  I checked in with one more reader.  Exchanged “I think that went well” look with Amy, and headed out the door to another class.

Fast forward a week, maybe more.  Honestly can’t remember thanks to three Nor’easters, which interrupted our work!

I am sitting in my room listening to Millie read The Gecko That Came to School.  It’s nice and quiet except for Millie’s voice.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone come in.  I look up, it’s Zoe and Owen.  They pause not sure if they should interrupt Millie’s reading.  She hasn’t noticed the guests, the escaped gecko has her attention.

Millie senses their presence and stops reading.

“Mrs. Howland wanted us to share this with you.”

Zoe goes first, she shares a piece of writing about her dream of becoming an Olympic skier.  She reads it with pride.

Then Owen shares.

“I did the work, Mrs. Sherriff.  I did the character work.”  I listen and look while Owen shares his deep thinking about character.  I am proud of him and his independent work.  I guess the small group work stuck.

I listen and think…a reader, a writer, and relationships, all growing.




Be Patient


The wind is still howling.  Will it ever stop?

It will stop.  There are calmer days ahead.

The trees are still bare.  When will there buds appear?

The will show themselves, soon.  Just wait.  Be patient.  Keep looking.

The snow still covers my yard.  When will it melt?

The March sun is higher, warmer, it will melt the snow which will water the ground.

The air is so cold.  When will it be warm?

Cold fronts don’t stick around forever.

The world is so brown.  When will it be green?

The green will come.  The world will awaken.