Pearl is 7!



And I joke a lot about what it is like living with her. Because often, living with her can be a lot. If you’ve ever seen RENT, there’s a scene with the character Maureen who is protesting by putting on a theatrical spoken word performance called Over the Moon, and by the end of the scene, she has the entire crowd “Moo-ing” like cows with her: that is Pearl.


She is a dynamic ball of energy and excitement, one whose passion revolves around doing what is right while having a blast! I have never known anyone quite like her. It is altogether exciting and exhausting being in charge of this tiny amazing human, and we are so grateful and so happy she is 7!


Pearl has accomplished a lot this year and has displayed that she really has grown into a first grader. At the start of  last year I wrote about how she would get off the bus (she loves riding it!) and sulk or run to the front door-it was one or the other. I knew it was a good or bad day based on the way she exited the bus. If she was sulking, she thought she did something terribly wrong and had to confess. If she was running, she probably did do something actually wrong and didn’t want to tell me. This is the dichotomy that is Pearl.


Now she gets off the bus and walks up to the door, unless she sees a sibling waiting for her-that is when she runs now. She always runs into their arms and it is beautiful to see. I am happy that I don’t get a full confession every day anymore-it shows that she is beginning to self monitor and understand that every mistake is not necessarily a bad thing or deserves punishment. The interesting one for awhile was: “Mom, I stuck up my middle finger but it was on accident.” I haven’t hear that one in a long time, so victory! This child tests her boundaries daily-it is something I often fear, but something I do know will help her to take the necessary risks in the future.


The risks we have observed this year are wide. She began walking to her friend’s house and coming home at the correct time without a call or a visit from an older sibling. She rode her bike around the block, and got a hoverboard for Christmas to do the same. She rode her very first rollercoaster-and then did it over and over and over again. She acted in two plays through DCER. She has been asked to join the next level at gymnastics so she is practicing aerials and kick overs rather than her routine cartwheel. She is scoring top notch on standardized tests but we all know those suck regardless, her scores were off the chains though. And she is exuding patience with Isla and Leo that we haven’t seen much in the past. She is listening and understanding that no means no, no matter who says it. She is respecting more of her space and others.


Pearl is blooming before us. We didn’t think this child could become any more fierce and bold than we have experienced thus far, but sometimes we just look at each other across the dinner table and shake our heads, smiling. We don’t know what she will become but to us, she will always be “moo-ing” on her home stage in the living room, trying to get us all to moo along with her. And we will.




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Leo is…twelve?!?!

IMG_7075Our son is 12 today, and I fail to remember all the things. No, not that his lunch is a peanut butter sandwich with Chips Ahoy cookies, apple juice, and Doritos or that he needs an extra $20 for ski club on Tuesdays, it’s about remembering the things that were important once, years ago. I don’t recall the sound of the cry he used to utter in the middle of the night when he was hungry, or the different cry for when he needed a change. I can’t remember his first word. I can’t for the life of me remember it. And while it makes me deeply sad, it also reminds me that with his growth there are also things he will fiercely hold on to and things he will also choose to let go.


And this year, he has held on to many things, but he has also let go of many. And throughout this pre-adult just past childhood age, he has handled growing with grace and wisdom that are astounding. He has let go of a few friends that were not necessarily good for him right now-and that’s hard, especially when you’ve grown up with them and grown to love and respect them. He has let go of a few unrealistic ideas that the world has presented to him as truths-things he knows now are not necessarily true for every gender and every race. He has let go of that 11 year old need to be “right” all the time, and is open to more perspectives and world views. He has let go of an impatience-one that he had with Pearl but doesn’t seem to exist anymore with Isla, and has lessened with Pearl.


I’ve written in the past that it’s tough to be “Surrounded by Sisters” but he has not let go of his sentimentality. He’s also held fast to his love for reading-one that he truly explore this year with the likes of a literacy lover as a teacher. His mind was blown at the start of the year with choice reading. Since then he has read Long Way Down, the Harry Potter Series, and is now in book three of the Hunger Games trilogy. We have also witnessed him retain his love of snowboarding. He excelled so much in a year that he is on the trick mountain! He also continued to be a good friend: helping those in need with learning how to ski, being patient with friends that don’t have a love for gaming as much as he does, and understanding that if you are attracted to someone, being friends is really important first.


Holding on to childhood is something Leo has been grappling with a lot-and deep down I hope he never lets fully go. Having a childlike love of life is something I wish for him to continue to explore and see the world in all of its wonder, to not be dismayed at the challenges, but to rise up against them and have a sense of confidence that loving life and exploding each moment will take you further than wishing for adulthood. He, again, wrote a speech for Student Council and created a campaign, but once again, came in second place. He also applied for Robotics this year and did not make it, which really was a disappointment after spending a few summers at Kettering. He was, however, selected as a Buddy for a student with disabilities and recognized as a Hahn Hero. With each failure there is learning, with each honor there lies expectation. One doesn’t exist without the other.


We are so lucky to call Leo our son. He is the best brother! We are full of gratitude and love for him and his sense of wonderment. As I continue to grow forgetful, I know his growth will be a constant reminder that what once was, doesn’t last but each new stage provides beautiful beginnings of memories. If I am forgetful, I hope it continues to be the things that may not mean as much to him in the long run. And if I do forget about that ‘one time’ or one thing, I know he will always remind me with his loving actions, his strong imagination, and his courage to be adventurous. Happy birthday, Leo. May your twelfth year around the sun lead you to cherished experiences and lasting memories!

IMG_2030 (white helmet, green khaki blue coat, thumbs up quick at end of jump)

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Nov. 29, 2019


Isla Rose, also now known as the youngest prankster in the world, had officially turned three today. We are not sure where the time went, but we have loved laughing with her and watching her learn (aka plan pranks) each day.


So the prankster did not become official until the third day in a row that I found Play Doh in my shoes-and it wasn’t the same shoes, either. She legit put it in different shoes, three days in a row. I get dressed in the dark, so you can only imagine what I thought when I felt that unfamiliar squish. Each time I gathered courage to grab whatever it was deep in the dank sole of my favorite ankle boots or tennis shoes or loafers, I took a breath then laughed aloud: Play Doh again.


Another instance is the great Tootsie Roll debacle. Let me set the scene:
I was actually in the small bathroom going the bathroom (gross I know, but parents deal with this crap-literally-all the time), and Isla came in unannounced with a Tootsie Roll. She asked me to open it.

I said, “No. Wait until I am done here.”

She replied with tears-and not just a little whiny-it was those big fat elephant ones accompanied by sobbing. Wailing, A limp body to the floor. So, I broke my rule and gave in. Just this once.

“Here you go tiny, funny, scary, mini-me. Take the candy and shut the door.”

While deep inside I just wanted the peace of my own potty time. After a few minutes I hear a lot of chaos-typical with four kids. But then I hear something different: Leo is yelling. He is gagging. This is not good. He is quite a puker. So I wipe, wash, and run to my son at the other end of the house and he yells, “Stop!”

I am almost in his room and he screams, “Isla pooped on the floor!” I look at him, cowering on his bed, then look at the floor and see it: a baby turd, with what appears to be some weird gooey diahreah trail.

“Oh God. Gross,” I say as more kids begin filing into me-blocking the doorway of his room. “Yuck!” yells Pearl. “Oh God,” says Claire.

I look around at them all stacked behind me Mother Goose style, then up back at Leo on his bed. And suddenly, Isla rolls up with a bright smile on her face. I look at her. Look at Leo. Look back down on the floor.

“Isla? Is that poop?” I ask. She nods, smiling. “I’m sorry,” she says as she giggles, looking at Leo. I tell Pearl to go get me a baby wipe and send Claire for the disinfectent. Then I get down on the ground. I peer at it closely, but without any glasses or contacts on so I have to get closer. UG. Pearl arrives and hands me the wipe. I again breathe in a courage, scoop up the turd, and it’s not soft or warm, but it is hard and has a very similar texture to a Tootsie Roll. Claire arrives with cleaning product. I look at Isla, who has her hands over her mouth. But that smile is massive and it peeks out from beneath her fingers. She knows that I know. She’s laughing hard now.

So what do I do? Place the “turd” in my mouth and begin to chew. The kids go crazy, but Isla is laughing hysterically. I chew slowly, savoring their horrified looks, then show them the wrapper that I had still in my pants pocket from a few minutes prior.


Another time we were watching a movie at the theatre which doesn’t happen often-in fact, Isla has only gone to The Grinch last year because she is in love with him. Seriously. In love. But I took her and Pearl to a movie a few weekends ago and we were watching previews. And you know when the previews end, right before the film starts? It’s actually one of the only quiet moments in the theatre because everyone is still, in anticipation of the opening scene to start. Well, at this point, Isla screamed from the back row, “GOD DAMMIT!” I looked at Pearl. She looked at me. We both slid down into our upholstered seats, faces as red as the cushions. She yelled it again, and I covered her mouth. She began laughing hysterically, and thankfully, at that time, adorable Arctic Dogs appeared on screen.


And even more recently, Isla likes to fib. One common example is that she keeps telling everyone that she will be 4 today and not 3. And what is funny is that a lot of people buy it because she sounds so sure of herself and she speaks so clearly. This child is full of laughter and light, and we are so lucky she is in our lives! Happy birthday, Isla Rose. May the joke never be on you.


*First pic taken by Kaptured By Kassie, fall 2019

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Lordy. Lordy.


My beautiful husband is 40. And as per custom, and because he also deserves the world, I want to immerse him in precious memories and words to honor what a remarkable human he is, what an understanding father he is, and what a supportive partner he is for such a stubborn Shay-born bossy lady.

When he was born in Iowa forty years ago, it wasn’t snowing, but it was cold. So cold for so early in the month. His mom wasn’t aware of the weather outside, because on the inside, in her hospital room, the sun was shining. Paul arrived quickly-in less than a half an hour. And he was bright and beautiful. Since those early moments of his life here on Earth, he has been referred to as “Sunshine” by his mom. And I know his dad, step mom, and step dad would all agree. Maybe not when he was 16, but even now Paul’s smile and infectious banter light up a room.


When he walks in, the party begins, even if it’s a random Tuesday night. And even if you aren’t a social butterfly like me, he still is patient and works to be inclusive with all of his friends.


Speaking of friends, does this man foster irreplaceable bonds with others. I have learned more than once from him that friendship is family.


The family he has brought into our family are special-our kids have so many local “uncles” they can learn on. One for sweets, one for piggy back rides, one for cut downs, one for hugs, one for life talks. How grateful we are for the friendships Paul manages.


He goes out of his way to do anything for his friends-and this is something that our kids will value later.


Now they just wonder why the hell they have to drive to Detroit on a Wednesday night with Tikis attached to a trailer and onlookers honking, pointing crazy at the car. Or why they have to go to Lansing to help sweep up a warehouse. Or even why we have to bag up donations in separate piles for Habitat, the women’s shelter, not Goodwill, not Salvation Army, rather than throwing it all away like mom would just trash all the things.


And although his things might be not organized how one would like, his value in friendship has taught me that it is so much more to life than the things in order. Taking the time to play, to listen to music, to snuggle, to do chores together, to run errands together, to have mimosas: these are the meaningful moments that our kids will remember.


That they are learning from just as much, if not more, than I am. So in honor of his special day, here are just a few very special friendships he has forged throughout the years.


Friends that are mainstays in our holidays, road trips, and daily lives. Friends that I am lucky to love-if loving my husband wan’t enough.


Happy birthday Sunshine. Thank you for brightening our world with your rays. We love you.


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#TeachLivingPoets in Flint, MI.

I have been meaning to write this for a few years, but never made time or thought that it was necessary. But at the suggestion of Dr. Parker on Twitter, and at the impending presentation I have in a few weeks (now days lol) at MCTE, I think writing through this process may help guide other teachers who wish to do something similar with poetry. Now I am not claiming that this is revolutionary, or new, or uniquely mine, but it is something that I think I (and more so my students) have found success with in terms of poetry analysis and writing.

Like you may have, I started teaching a long time ago using the TPCAST system of analysis or the RAFT or the SWIFT method, and while those all work for a variety of learners, I think they were more foundational for me to push my students further in their writer’s notebooks. In additional to those methods of analysis, I also had a solid foundation in Kelley Gallagher’s approach and used an “Article of the Week” analysis five or six years ago until our school pretty much overdid it (and the joy of learning about current events was completely diminished by a worksheet style article in numerous classes each week) which is a blog for a later time-but that exercise got me thinking: if we can do it with articles, why not poems?

And all that mattered was finding the right poems, right? I thought I had a pretty good grasp on spoken word poetry from watching Slam Nation countless times and watching Saul Williams perform in Detroit and then years later at U of M-Flint, but what else could I use for my students to grasp? Somehow, maybe through friends at #CleartheAir or #DisruptTexts or #THEBOOKCHAT, I found #TeachLivingPoets on Twitter and everything fell into place. I am beyond grateful for the work of Melissa Smith and the #TeachLivingPoets crew. They reminded me that living poets were more than just slam poets. Poets still publish books, Carrie. Duh. I began to learn everything I did not know about the world of poetry once I began researching this group and their mission. As I grew into this community of online educators, I also grew a process of writing that seemed powerful, inspiring, and relevant to the political climate and moreso, issues my BIPOC students were facing every day.

At first the writing process was hard. For all of us. Students were not well versed in analysis, even as seniors, so I had to scale back a little bit, but also switch up the how we attempted the process every week. I thought I could lecture about it and show them my work every so often, but that was not the case-I needed to write alongside them. Usually the schedule follows: M-Step 1 & 2 most often whole class or small group, T-revisit/clarify any step 1 & 2 questions/comments then work on Step 3, W-Step 4 brainstorm which calls for a revisit of notes in Step 1, Th-Brainstorm for Step 5, F-work on Step 5. While this may not fit your particular schedule, it is flexible based on if you meet for blocks or if you assign homework. I do neither. I also start every day with choice reading, so once the flow is felt by the majority of the students, I always add another layer of work (class book, book club book, essay, etc). This usually occurs after MP 1 when students are able to balance the reading and weekly writing expectations.

So here are the steps:

1. Annotate the poem: consider the Kelley Gallagher questions from Readicide-What is being said? What is not being said? Who is saying it? Why does it matter? But also look to Tricia Ebarvia and ask, Whose voices are being centered? Whose voices are left out? Consider mini-lessons with devices and how they help create meaning in the poem.

2. Write a one sentence summary on the poem (bottom right corner). If someone has never read the poem, how could you quickly tell them what it is about?

3. Respond in a ½ page to the poem (all opinion-evidence optional) Did you like the poem? Why or why not? Did you connect with the poem? Explain. Was it a window, mirror, or slider (Dr. Bishop).

4. Analysis of the poem: ½ page minimum (evidence and citations necessary) Using your annotations from Step 1, think critically about the moves the author is making. Write that analysis practice.

5. Remix the poem (I used to call this Imitation, then it became an After Poem, but my students dubbed it a remix last year so this is what I call it now) What inspires you with the poem: content or structure? Now practice writing a poem in your own way.

There are a few things that never change though:

-we read the poem aloud and watch the video if there is one, multiple times (and I am well aware of NOT reading it aloud as a WW as it can be offensive when written by a BIPOC author so that is why audio and video are integral)

-we always complete 5 steps (which was not the case right from the start-early on I allowed Ss choose 3 of the 5 steps, but then it did not show the growth I knew they had inside them)

-we share our best work after the semester (or half-way through) which can be a spoken word event, a hallway gallery walk, or a classroom walk (also can be anonymous if author chooses)

-we revise and discuss further based on what the Ss need from me as a guide (not an expert at all since the poems are also new to me)

-we have bailed on poems before, but not too many times (we just scrap it and write)

-I read and study the poem ahead of time but don’t do the steps prior to class (I do it alongside students which helps two fold: prove that poetry is subjective based on the experiences we bring to the reading, and how vulnerable teaching and learning can be)

-sharing can be really personal so often we share lines or ideas of how to remix but not necessarily entire poems (if we share whole group it is in a gallery walk form w/some choosing to be anonymous)

Here is a list of poems that have been successful in my classroom:

“To the Notebook Kid” by Eve Williams

“Call and Response” by Kyle Dargan

“For Trayvon Martin” by Reuben Jackson

“Complainers” by Rudy Fransisco

“Touchscreen” by Marshall Davis Jones

“This Has Always Been our Active Shooter Drill” by Jason Reynolds

“10 yr old Shot Three Times but She’s Fine” by Patricia Smith

Hir” by  Alysia Harris & Aysha El Shamayleh

For the Dogs Who Barked at me on the Sidewalks in Connecticut” by Hanif Abdurraqib

We Should Make a Documentary About Spades” by Terrance Hayes

American Arithmetic” by Natalie Diaz

Anxiety: A Ghost Story” by Brenna Twohy

Hair” by Elizabeth Acevedo

Ode to Cheese Fries” by Jose Olivarez

If they Should Come for Us” by Fatimah Asghar

There are Birds Here” by Jamaal May

There is a Lake here” After Jamaal May by Clint Smith

“American History” by Michael Harper

Ode to the Only Black Kid in Class” by Clint Smith 

Death Poem” by Alysia Harris

A Small Needful Fact” by Ross Gay 

african american ii” from the Salt Collection by Nayirah Waheed

Ohm” by Saul Williams

Don’t You Wonder Sometimes” by Tracy K. Smith

My First Memory” by Nikki Giovanni

Flounder” by Natasha Trethewey*

Dinosaurs in the Hood” by Danez Smith

In Praise of My Manicure” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Microaggression Bingo” Fatimah Asghar

Good Bones” by Maggie Smith

Overall I am proud of our efforts with #TeachLivingPoets and our weekly writing. I have attached a few samples (with consent) so you can get a sense of the student work that is also happening.


A Tribute to “ If They Should Come for Us” by Fatimah Asghar By B. G.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen            If we are all united under one 

When they come for us                                  Flag then why do we not act like it

Should I run, should I hide or should              We watch each other differentiate

I stand in front of them ready                           And isolate ourselves rather than

To face whatever will come my                         Love and embrace

Way I am from a city where                               I am from a city where hate and death 

You dont want them to come for us                        Is well and alive everyday

Where if they come for you                                             But so is peace and love and the 

Lifes are in jeopardy both yours and your assailant                       And the demand for it to thrive 

Even if they aren’t assaulting you, where                                 Yes I am from the city where no 

If they come for you, you may lose                                          One wants to live because the

Everything but your life                                                     Water is tainted and there are murders

However your dignity will be tainted                                  All around but there is also a beauty

Like the water in Flint, and your struggles                      A beauty most people can’t see 

Will mean nothing to those unaffected                                 Because they are looking with their 

I wonder what will happen if they come for us                   Eyes and not their soul I am

Should we run, should we hide                                       From a city with hope and resilience

Or should we speak for those who 

Have no voice

If we unite we can make things right

How about we all band together

To make a change

Whether you’re white black

Mexican muslim asian

It doesn’t matter we are all people


If They Should Come for Us

                                                                     After Fatimah Asghar     By J.H. 

These are my ancestors & I find 

them chained together at the bottom of the ocean floor.

my ancestors my ancestors 

Broken physically, mentally, and emotionally 

Brought to a foreign land then

auctioned off to then be known as someone’s

“Property” and left with nothing but utter humiliation

and loneliness.

I claim you..

 To the women that are sexually assaulted,

Molested, raped, and left to care for children that will soon be 

Made to live in the same conditions as their mother. 

I claim you too.. 

To Egyptian man that went up the river and 

 fell in love with the African American woman

I want to say thank you for creating a new shade of brown. 

dear black sister, I claim you! 

Better yet I applaud you for crawling so that I can walk

For displaying such selflessness and bravery. 

I want to thank you too, for spreading our bloodline 

In places like Spain, Ireland, and even France

For helping create so many beautiful brown women 

And men through the world. 

To the biracial children of America

That don’t know about how significant 

Their ancestors sacrifices were 

I claim you too 

Because even though you may not like 

Watermelon or the color of your skin is 

Too light to be considered black 

When I see you, I see me too. 

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All the Good we Leave Behind.

I was cleaning out my friend’s classroom when I got the text from my husband last year: Anthony Bourdain died.

My heart fell. Then looked to blame like so many do when death visits. I knew it had to be Russia. It had to be the Russians. Anthony always walked a fine line every time he went there-and they had killed one of the guys he routinely met with prior to this news. “It can’t be suicide, it can’t be,” I thought, receiving the next text from my dear partner, PQ: He died by suicide.


I began to weep, openly in front of my co-workers and a student who was helping us clean. Initially they thought I was crying because we were cleaning out our friend’s classroom…our friend who was dying…our friend who was too young to die…like Tony. But unlike Tony, cancer was slowly destroying her eyesight, her insides, and her memory. We had decided to clean out her classroom as a gift to the family, and well, because after visiting her in Ann Arbor, we knew she would never teach again. It was a labor of love. It was a gift to our dear packrat friend’s family, and to our co-worker friends who were all still teaching their classes (our seniors had graduated days prior).

And all at once, something inside me just broke. Tony was my hero (and still is). Judy, our friend, was my hero (and still is). How do you lose two heroes in the span of weeks and continue? The sweet student who was helping us clean said, “It will be ok, Mattern,” and I couldn’t force myself to tell her that no, it wouldn’t.

IMG_9175 2

Things would never be the same: I would never hear Judy call her students, folx, years ahead of the political correctness that can often continue to hold up patriarchal standards (“you guys”) and dismiss other genders entirely. I would never hear her in the hallway demanding a student that they “shape up or ship out.” I would never hear her students re-enacting Macbeth from a hilarious, modern approach. I would never hear her rummaging through papers upon papers trying to find that one example she needed to show us. I would never watch her in action, leading a Socratic Discussion or as she liked to call them years ago, a Fishbowl. Standing in the classroom next door to mine, where Judy had taught for 21 years and has hired me 14 years prior, it all fell apart.

I’ve never had an emotional connection to a celebrity like Tony-and never understood why people cried so hard at celebrity deaths until Tony’s. It must have stemmed from the memories I feel like I shared with him, and the lessons I feel like he taught me. I began watching his shows early on, right after Claire, my eldest, was born fourteen years ago. I love to travel, and eat, so his first show for me seemed fitting: NO Reservations. The more I watched, the more I researched. He also had a show called the Cook’s Tour that ran a few years earlier. And he wrote the narration! And I am a writer. So I began reading his books. All of it made sense…until, on one day in June, it didn’t.

IMG_9176 2

With that one text, I realized this loss was only preparing me for losing Judy. So when I heard that The Loft was doing an Anthony Bourdain mural, I knew I needed to write about him again-but also Judy. She was the epitome of teacher. She did not take no for an answer, pushed students to read and re-read tough texts, and offered after school help on college essays and applications. She graded everything, thoroughly, and commented with insightful questions. She made students do the senior scrapbook so they can look back on it years later. She never allowed students to take the easy way out. She loved them, and they her. Earlier this school year I asked my seniors to fill out a notecard with their CA contact person: who is your adult here at CA? One guy still wrote, Mrs. Hillis, on his. She was a legend to CA students and staff. And while I look at the mural, daily, and see one legend looking down over us, I am also remembering Judy and her “small but mighty” nature. Both gave us so much good.

IMG_9177 3

Thank you Krystal, Rodney, & Jesi-and to all my people that “know me, know me” and reached out sharing mural updates (Reynolds). I have attached a day by day snapshot for the mural. One is Rodney’s pic (I missed a day due to sickness). Every day I see this I am also lucky enough to see & Mrs. Judy Hillis and her lasting impact on this world.

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Curated by Carrie

1AE7BF21-5E87-46F5-A766-E33C34AD58FFIf you’re familiar with me, you know I’m an avid reader. Within the last ten years, I’ve made literacy my focal point in the classroom, as well as outside of school within the community. Now I would like to help you.

Every summer I get requests from friends and family for book recommendations. This summer I decided I would offer a more dynamic service: a collection Curated by Carrie.

For $50 you will receive a collection of at least three books along with a few surprises. This curated experience is available after taking a brief interest survey. Think of it as a stylist would his or her clothing, but with the added features of A). Local shopping: you may receive a book from a local author who I already have an established partnership within our community. This also might mean your surprise gift-thematically connected to your book choices-will also be locally sourced and B). I will strive to be eco friendly with your books (gently used if possible-Amazon will only be used as a last resort), packaging material, and gifts. Handwritten notes from me will also be written on scrap paper as opposed to newly purchased stationary.

Any proceeds will be used for two things: to continue cultivating my classroom library without having to beg donors every three months and to help my daughter, Claire, mitigate costs associated for ballet instruction at the Flint School of Performing Arts.

This would be the perfect time to give yourself the gift of reading or share your love of reading as a present with someone who you know has everything. Reading is the only gift that continues to give. I will curate a collection for any age.

Once you contact me via email and send your $50 through Venmo @Carrie-Mattern, I will share the survey link with you and you can expect your shipment within 2 weeks. Shipping is included unless international. I’ll contact you again when your curated collection is shipped. I’ll reach out in the future to see if you were satisfied. If you are, please share with friends and family. If all this technology seems to be too much, just call me to order and we will go from there. 

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your continued, valued support. I look forward to curating a collection for you or someone you love. #curatedbycarrie    


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When She was Little.

When she was little, she would never wear jeans.


When she was little, she let me curl her hair.


When she was little, being on stage terrified her.

IMG_6692                                                                         Photo Courtesy of Morgan Hubert Photography

When she was little, she did not like the sand.

IMG_7297 (1)

When she was little, she was scared of Harry Potter.


When she was little, she wanted to drive the train.


When she was little, her dance studio was the bay window in the front room.


When she was little, Emerson lived in Ohio.


When she was little, she fit neatly tucked inside Cassie’s lap.


When she was little, she would only perform at home.


When she was little, she didn’t have an Instagram brand.

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When she was little, she hated clothes shopping.


When she was little, her brother annoyed her more than anything.


When she was little, we had fun, but not this much fun.


Claire has always wanted to be grown up and never a little girl. And we have constantly tried to let her be little, even with all the responsibility that being an older sister requires. And as much as we selfishly want Claire to stay little, we have been so grateful to watch her bloom into a young woman that is as beautiful on the inside as she has become on the outside. She is passionate about dance, family, travel, mashed potatoes, and her pizza rolls. She has unwavering devotion to her siblings, and always puts the needs of others first. She wants to become a psychologist and live in Maine. We can’t wait to see what year 14 brings! Happy birthday dear Claire. We love you so.


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Pearl Girl.


There is an old saying about girls and sugar and spice and while it is pretty stereotypical, it’s also pretty true of our Pearl girl. She is one minute sugar and the next spice-spice so hot it leaves a little heat in your throat for the rest of the day. 


Despite this life of extremes that Pearl offers us, we are the luckiest family and embrace her fully. We are so in love with this future unicorn princess fairy. 


Pearl began this year switching schools and although she left some awesome friends and amazing teachers behind at St. Paul’s, she has been met with open arms at Teddy Thomson Elementary. 


We found out that this is her teacher’s last year teaching so that has also proved to create a special bond between the two. Pearl has been really sick this winter and her teacher misses her every time she’s not in class. It probably helps that her teacher is a Pearl Jam groupie, too! 


Pearl also is able to ride the bus every day which she absolutely loves. She’s made quick friends with everyone on the bus including Mr. Mike, their driver. 


But, for the first few months of school she would get off smiling then see me and solemnly hang her head. “What’s wrong baby?” I’d ask. I was met with quiet. Then shrugged shoulders. Finally a whisper: “Mom. I stuck my middle finger up at school, but no one noticed,  so I think I’m ok.” Some days it was at recess while other times it was even on the bus. Sometimes it was even in the library. This lasted a few months and every single day I heard about her middle finger adventures. Then I imagine she learned that there are things you just get away with in life sometimes. But it’s still best to always tell your mom. 


Pearl began gymnastics this year too. Her instructor what shocked it was her first year-they even asked her to join the dance team! The best part was watching her peek over at me when she completed something new-just to make sure I was watching. I’ll always be watching.


This year, as her birthday falls on a week of vacation, Pearl was able to experience a trip of a lifetime to Disney with the help of family and friends.


She met and curtsied Belle, played a lot in Dumbo’s big top tent, rode a few rides, and saw a fireworks show that left her speechless. That last one might blow your mind if you know Pearl. She literally still had her hand on her mouth when she awoke-the morning after the fireworks! 


While Pearl brings us a mix of sugar and spicy drama, we would be remiss if we didn’t share with you how much she loves her family, her Carla, her Sue, and her Boo. 



And while her sugar and spice are a beautiful combination, this year we have sensed an awareness of others that she has about her-a special intuitiveness and empathy that resonates deep within her heart. 


When they say Disney is magical, I can’t help but imagine Pearl there someday performing as Cinderella, Elsa, or the next warrior princess ready to take on anything that stands in her way. Happy 6th birthday Pearl Girl.



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Our Blueberry Boy is 11!

There is a song/speech that is pretty important in our family. It’s called “Wear Sunscreen.” It was a graduation speech in the 90s and has been the soundtrack of many Sunday mornings at our house to the annoyance of some, not all, family members. One of the lines is a lifted Eleanor Roosevelt quote that says something like, “Do one thing, every day, that scares you.” This, my friends, seems to be Leo’s motto. In his tenth year on this Earth, he has shown us that you must tackle fear head on because some really cool things occur.

Fear 1: Public Speaking

Early on in the school year, each class had to vote in a class representative for Student Council. This meant that you could change things you were unhappy with at school-and although Leo loves school, he despises the unfairness and inconsistencies in life like recess time and how games are supposed to alternate days, but sometimes they just don’t. So, he set out to become his Class Rep. He prepared a speech, made a sign with a BA slogan: “Be a Hero, Vote for Leo,” practiced his speech, and gave it his best shot. I thought for sure we, I mean he had it in the bag, and as his campaign manager I did everything possible to run a fair deal, but when one of his opponents talked about his newborn baby sister in his speech-and showed her sweet little picture in class-I knew we had been beat by a pathos maneuver. Next year, though, next year, we are appealing to all the emotions!

Fear 2: Singing a Solo

Leo also tried out for four solos this year in Boys Chorus. His teacher asked if anyone wanted to and Leo’s hand shot up first. He sang a few lines from an Oliver Twist Irish piece, a little Journey, Micheal Jackson, and Sweet Home Alabama. While he did not earn a solo spot, Paul and I received a full concert performance tonight with movements. I cannot wait to watch him this week in the actual show! He is courageous and confident-two qualities that we are so excited to see developing more this year.

Fear 3: Conquering the Mt.

Leo also decided to join the ski club this year even though he had never gone skiing or snowboarding before. What’s more interesting is that he decided to get the snowboarding lessons-where Paul or I could not help him. And while my family didn’t grow up as ski bums, we did spend some time at Mt. Holly on skis, but Paul had never done either before. It became a learning adventure for all of us! After two lessons, Leo was able to get on the ski lift and carve down his favorite run of the season: Grant’s Run. It was a sight to see!
Fear 4: Giving a Valentine

After receiving a wood burning set from Grandma and Grandpa Mattern for Christmas, Leo decided he was going to make his special friend a homemade Valentine. He worked diligently trying to create a heart with the hot wooden pen. I only helped a little. He then decided it needed color so using a red sharpie, he outlined the drawing and words. I am not sure if his friend will always remember it, but I know he will.

Fear 5: Losing a Loved One


In Leo’s ten years here, he had never known a time without Sue, our beloved dog. What he really feared was losing her for the past few years and her time finally had come. He arrived home from school in November with Claire and there was blood and poop all over the house. They texted us and then they cleaned it up together and said their goodbyes. When we got home they told her goodbye again, and we took her to the vet. Now, every morning, Leo eats breakfast with the cat, Boo-his new best friend.

Fear 6: Being the Only Brother

While this one always seems whiny and annoying, I can only imagine how tough it is on his sensitive side. Every day Leo patiently does his best to get along with all of his sisters and all of their very strong-yet unique- personalities. He tends to gravitate toward Pearl who either wants to play with him or fight him. Isla is his snuggle bunny-when he can get ahold of her. Claire is his soul sister-his adviser in all things Hahn Intermediate school, and soon, the dreadful middle school. Leo loves them to beyond and while it is a challenge, it is one that we are so grateful to watch grow.
Year 10 has been an adventurous one filled with learning, laughter, and some tears. We cannot wait to see what 11 will bring-while we are sure blueberries and sisters are in the picture, we always wonder what fears Leo will be conquering next.

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