Author Archives: kathryndean2013

About kathryndean2013

Welcome to my blog! This has been a project in the works for a long time. I'm an English teacher who has been a stay-at-home-mom for 15 years. I always felt I should be reading and writing in order to better myself. I did lots of reading, but never seemed to find the time to write. Now back in the classroom teaching Literature and Writing, I'm discovering I thoroughly enjoy the writing process. This blog is a chance for me to write alongside my students and bring you all along on the journey to better writing.

The Princess and the Piercing Pinpoint of Light

We’ve all heard the story of the Princess and the Pea, right? A wayfaring stranger shows up at a castle in the middle of the night and claims to be a lost princess. The queen, convinced that the stranger is out to snare her handsome son, comes up with a plan to prove she truly is a princess. She must sleep on twenty mattresses with a pea placed under the bottom mattress. If the pea disrupts her sleep, then we know she is a true princess. Well, as the story goes, she slept horribly, married the prince and lived happily ever after sleeping on a Beautyrest* with no peas.

As most of you, I found the story ridiculous and thought long and hard about it as a girl. First of all, how could anyone feel a pea under twenty mattresses? Would I? Secondly, how in the world did they stack all those mattresses and how did she climb on top? And finally, most importantly, why wouldn’t she run screaming for the door when the wackos show her where she is to sleep, and her precariously stacked bed requires a ladder to get in and out of?


Well, I’m here to tell you: it’s all true! And apparently, I am a Princess. Now, I’m not talking about stacked mattresses and peas here, but about the smallest thing disrupting my sleep – The evil blue eye on the cable box.

I sleep with an eye mask, and yet the blue light pierces through the dark and creeps under the mask waking me up multiple times per night. I know this is the case because when the armoire doors are closed, shutting away the evil beast with one blue eye, I sleep soundly. When the doors are open, I sleep fitfully. I’m pretty sure my husband thinks I’m crazy. Don’t underestimate the sensitivity of a true princess.

I am not alone in this. Many experts agree that light, particularly blue light from electronics, is extremely disruptive to our sleep. Take this study from Harvard for example. The study primarily focus on screens and lightbulbs, (clearly they are unaware of the evil eye in my armoire) but I’ve seen studies claiming that even the signal an electronic devise receives can disrupt sleep. Therefore, having any sort of web or cable device in your room continually causes sleep deprivation. This is especially important in thinking about our children and their sleep habits. Teenagers are especially prone to depression and anxiety when not sleeping well.

Now that my Princess status has been verified, there are things I can do to insure proper beauty sleep. First and foremost, I will close the armoire doors without fail; I will try to avoid staring at my cellphone screen too close to bedtime; and I will remove our wireless router from the bedroom.

My Prince bringing me tea and fluffing my pillows wouldn’t hurt either. 😉

*This post was not sponsored by Beautyrest


Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,


A couple of weeks ago we took advantage of the Humane Society’s free adoption weekend. Our cat of ten years had disappeared and the kids and I were ready for a new kitty.

Horatio is irreplaceable. We rescued him as a kitten and he grew up with my kids. He embodied both fierce male independence and loving patience. He acted with many dog traits. We never kept food or litter in the house, because he always meowed at the door when he needed to go out to the garage. He hunted voraciously and often left animal parts as gifts to me. He roamed the neighborhood making friends with all of the neighbors and willingly accepting their food offerings. Horatio didn’t need a lot of love and attention, but was very sweet when he wanted to be.


RIP Horatio

Knowing we couldn’t replace him, we wanted the polar opposite: female, indoor, cuddly. I did some research and found a beautiful one-year-old black female with mesmerizing green eyes. When my daughters and I arrived at the shelter, it was a madhouse. Several people waited on a row of chairs, while others filled out paperwork outside, while still others crowded in cat rooms interacting with possible new pets. I looked at my girls and mouthed, “let’s go.”

Once outside they begged to have a chance to stay and see some of the cats. “We came all the way over here, the least we can do is look at some!”

They talked me into going back in. This time one of the volunteers asked us if they could help. I mentioned that I had seen a picture of a cat online named, Kismet. As you may know, Kismet means fate.

She had been kept upstairs all day which meant she hadn’t been available for adoption….she was waiting for us. They brought her down and introduced her to us in a private room. As soon as the girl’s met her it was obvious we weren’t leaving without her.

We are still getting used to each other and adjusting. Sometimes she spends much of the day hiding and we call her shadow; other times she cuddles and purrs on our laps, but she is our kitty and we love her. I joke that she is like “Annie” in Fifty First Dates. We have to convince her each day that we aren’t scary strangers.

We renamed her Cleopatra – Cleo for short. But I’ll never forget that it was “Kismet” that led us to her.


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

NaBloPoMo (Sounds like something Mork would say)

As you can see from the giant badge on my page, I’ve decided to join NaBloPoMo which is not some alien gibberish, but rather stands for National Blog Posting Month.

I started this blog to encourage more frequent writing practice. Twenty-eight posts in one year is certainly more writing than pre-blog, but not enough for me to consider myself a serious writer. This month I will attempt to write a post (Right now Ricky Ricardo’s “Ai yi yi” seems appropriate)  (It would also appear that today’s blog is sponsored by TVLand)

This could go wrong on so many levels. Here are just a few….

There will be bad/dumb/poorly written posts.This is just a given. If I am forced to publish every day some of it will be content that would have normally ended up on the cutting room floor (ok, the drafts folder, but cutting room floor sounds better). The purpose of the exercise for me will be to develop the habit of writing every day. By the end of the month less and less should be cringeworthy. (Unless I’m burnt out, then you get what you get)

Some of you will grow tired of hearing from me and stop reading my posts. I get it. You won’t hurt my feelings if you skip over posts that don’t interest or appeal to you. To those of you who follow my blog via email: I apologize for the inundation this month.

I won’t be able to post every day. I’m not what you would call a “disciplined” person. Other than brushing my teeth, I can’t really think of anything else I do every day that is a habit of personal discipline. I look forward to the opportunity for growth….maybe.

I will run out of things to write about. This could be the cause for 1, 2, and 3. Thankfully NaBloPoMo offers helpful prompts if we feel stuck. I usually like to follow my heart or inspiration (see #3 – discipline issues) but appreciate some direction from time to time.

Well, readers, you have been forewarned. Thank you for bearing with me on my journey. babystepstowriting

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

Damsel in distress….or not?


I have had multiple opportunities lately to practice my car-jumping skills. Each time that I pop the hood and bring out the cables, well meaning gentlemen miraculously appear. Now, I assure you that I am not wearing daisy dukes, a low-cut shirt and lounging on the hood of my car. More often, I’m standing there with my teenage son who’s car is too old to have the automatic headlight shut-off.

Jumping a car is not rocket science. The cables even come color coded. Red cable goes on red battery thingie, black cable goes on black battery thingie. Oh yeah, and don’t touch the opposite cables together once they are attached to the donor car or you could be in for “quite a shock,” I’ve been told more than once.

But something strange happens when these chivalrous young men appear. I like the idea that they want to help, but more than that…I start thinking maybe I need help. I second guess myself.

“Do you need some help?” asks the kind gentleman.

Long pause as I look at the cables….”I think I know what I’m doing, but maybe you could make sure.”

“So…this one goes here, right?” (I know the red goes on the red, not sure why I’m looking for validation)

“and the black one goes here? or do I need to clip it to the car somewhere?” (One male helper “grounded” the black one on the car frame.)

“No, that should work. Now just clip them to the other car…but don’t let them touch! Start your car and you should be good to go.”

“Thank you so much. They really need a class on this somewhere!” (Not sure why I threw that in…seems like it would be a pretty short class…but maybe I would learn the name of the battery “thingie”)

“No problem. Glad to help.”

At this point both cars are running and I proceed on my merry way all the while thinking, what is wrong with me that I can’t say, “Thanks anyway, I’ve got this.” I am a problem solver by nature, the IKEA furniture assembler at our house. If I don’t know what I’m doing, give me some time and I’ll figure it out.

The truth is, I like the traditional order of things. I admire men who are willing to go out of their way to help and protect women. Not because we necessarily need it, but because it is the noble thing to do. When a man puts my needs before his, I’m not going to turn him away. So please, chivalrous gentlemen, keep stopping to help. Keep opening doors for me and looking out for me. Because someday, when I’m stranded on the side of the road and really do need help, I’ll be waiting for you.

But IKEA furniture…that’s all me. Don’t even think about touching that weird Swedish screwdriver thingie!



Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

Where I’m From

My fifteen-year-old daughter wrote this for a school assignment. I had to share with you all.

Where I’m From

By Carolyn 

I am from Piano keys and peach trees

From grass stains and gentle rains

from picking sweet berries,

and riding bikes down lanes

I am from crisp fall mornings

and snowy evenings

from the smell of Grandma’s apple pie

and wishing the days wouldn’t go by

from longing for Christmas to come

and counting the snowflakes one by one

I am from the pitter patter of rain

not wanting to return again

From long nights and lullabies

never wanting to say goodbye

I am from listening to the same song

from all of us singing along

from the rush of your first roller coaster ride

and a windy day at the beach, chasing the tide

I am from hot days and cold nights

from dressing up in witch hats and striped tights

I am from eating sweet candy,

I am from family

1 Comment

Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Poetry


Tags: ,

It’s “Go Time” for Teachers

I sit here anticipating a new school year with a stack of books beside me and a spirit full of conflicting emotions. The prospect of a new class of eager young minds excites even the most jaded teacher, but the reality of classroom management and apathetic students is what creates the jaded teacher in the first place.  

The start of the school year has always been exciting to me. As a child, I remember having all of my school supplies laid out and sorted on my desk the night before school started. A brand new notebook to fill with knowledge, inspiration, and doodles seemed almost as wonderful as any new toy. In high school and college, the new year or semester generated a clean start when I could once again strive for that 4.0. (Didn’t reach it very often, but it was the possibility that drove me.)

In one way or another, my life has always been punctuated by the school calendar. When my children were too young for school, I was still drawn to the back-to-school sales to buy notebooks, pens, crayons, paper, binders, organizing supplies, calendars, and whatever else struck me – oh yeah – like post it notes. Everybody does this, Right? Probably not. School, learning, and teaching are in my blood. No matter how hard I try to do something else, I always end up back in the classroom. 

So, here I sit: reading, writing, planning, preparing. Knowing that when I walk through the doors on Monday and face my students for the year, there is no turning back. There will be days I feel I nailed it and the students loved learning, and days the students would love to be anywhere else but in class talking about The Iliad, and nights of prep work and grading when my kids are clamoring for attention. There will be self-doubt and discouragement when the students aren’t as excited about Shakespeare as I am, and frustration when the MLA format that I have taught every.single.time I assign a paper still seems to escape their grasp. 

But at the end of the year, when I look back on all we have learned together; when I compare a student’s writing from the first paper to the last; and when I see just a spark of appreciation for great literature ignite under my students, I know I am where I’m supposed to be, teaching what I most enjoy, and passing that down to the next generation. 

Now back to the stack of books…


1 Comment

Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunset and Silhouette


The beauty of a sunset on a quiet beach

The marvel in her eyes at the vastness of the ocean

The squeals of delight as the waves crash over her toes

This is the wonder of summer to me.



Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

Reflections on my coffee addiction…

A few weeks ago I published a post titled, “Thank You for the Coffee” an ABBA-esque tribute to my husband and his loving coffee service. 

A few days ago the unthinkable happened.

There was no coffee in the house.

My thoughtful and loving husband had forgotten to mention he used the last of it to make coffee the day before. The panic stricken thoughts that ran through my mind were jarring.

“How could he FORGET to tell me we ran out of coffee?”

“He KNOWS how much my morning DEPENDS on coffee!” 

“Calm down. It will be ok. There is chai tea. I can just make some of that.”

“Ok, it’s not as good, but once I wake up, I can run to the store and buy real coffee.”

“How am I supposed to wake up?!”

This whole scenario made me really think hard about the history and nature of my coffee addiction. (Apparently, when I think hard, I think in bullet point lists.)

  •  I used to beg sips out of my mother’s coffee as a child (or often my dad’s because he added more sugar).
  •  The first time I drank coffee out of necessity was after a late night science project in middle school.
  •  I began to drink coffee regularly in college and even had a 4-cup coffee pot in my room.
  •  Probably the last time I went without was more than seven years ago while pregnant with my 4th child. Even then, I’m sure I just gave it up the first trimester.
  •  My addiction has now reached a level of panic and caffeine withdrawal symptoms if I miss my morning coffee.
  • One cup is like trying to eat one potato chip. I drink up to three every morning and often one in the afternoon.
  • The coffee experience is as much about the morning ritual as it is about the caffeine. The caffeine keeps me from having a headache, but the ritual starts my morning with a peaceful warm cup of joy during my quiet reading time. 
  •  Coffee is a vehicle for pleasant conversations with good friends.

Does any of this alarm me or make me think I should cut back?

 Absolutely not. 

I live in the land of a Starbucks on every corner and hip, trendy coffee shops on the opposite corner. 

I will, however, be more aware of our supply in the future. A morning without coffee is no morning at all.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2014 in Humor, Memoir


Tags: ,

Summer Lovin’ – By the Sea




I don’t fancy myself much of a photographer, but something about summertime and the ocean make every picture feel like a masterpiece.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

“Thank You for the Coffee”


My husband and I have a morning ritual. Depending on our kids and work schedules, we alternate who wakes up first. This is important, because the first one up makes the coffee.* On the days he is up first and I come downstairs to a full pot of the steaming, dark, eye-opening elixir, I swear I hear angels sing. I usually text him my undying love and gratitude believing at that moment that nothing communicates love more clearly than the fact that he made me coffee.

This morning, I decided he deserved a song.

To the tune of “Thank You for the Music” by ABBA

I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore

If I have a cold, you say I even snore

But I have a secret, a wonderful thing

When I drink my coffee, my life starts to sing

I’m so happy and awake

It’s such love in a cup that you make


So I say

Thank you for the coffee, the way it’s steaming

Thanks for all the joy it’s bringing

Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty

what would life be?

Without its scent and caffeine what are we?

So I say thank you for the coffee

for making it for me.


Mother made coffee when I was still a tot

She says I would drink from her mug even if it was hot

and I’ve often wondered, If that was the start

When the comfort of coffee captured my heart

Like a Starbucks run

It can make everyday much more fun


So I say

Thank you for the coffee, the way it’s steaming

Thanks for all the joy it’s bringing

Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty

what would life be?

Without its scent and caffeine what are we?

So I say thank you for the coffee

for making it for me.


I’ve been so lucky, I am the girl with the golden hair

I wanna drink coffee anytime, anywhere

What a joy, what a life, what a break


So I say

Thank you for the coffee, the way it’s steaming

Thanks for all the joy it’s bringing

Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty

what would life be?

Without its scent and caffeine what are we?

So I say thank you for the coffee

for making it for me.



*Before any of you comment….our coffee maker does have a “brew later” option. Why we rarely use it could be a psychological study too deep for this blog.



Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: