Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SOLC #31 A Letter to Fellow Slicers

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Dear Slicers,

We spent the last month together sharing stories, sharing lives.  It is hard to believe the month is over.  

To the new slicers, there were so many of you who joined this year, and so many I have yet to get to know.  It seemed as if time was not on my side and did not allow me to read as many slices as I would have liked.  I am sorry for that.

So many times I read slices but was not able to comment.  That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy your stories or didn't learn something from you.  I laughed with you, shared your tears, and I carry many of your stories and ideas in my heart.

I hope you continue to be a part of this community by writing on Tuesdays.  It is the Tuesday slices throughout the year where I get to know you better and where our connections are made stronger.

To my "older" slicing friends, it seems many days I have spent more time finding and reading posts from new slicers than I have reading yours.  But you know how important having that connection is and you know I will be back to read your words.

Thank you for letting me grow in your bean field during another March Challenge.  Many of you challenged me and forced me to raise the bar on my own writing.  Because of this, I will continue to write because I am a writer.  WE are writers because that is what we do.

Monday, March 30, 2015

SOLC #30 From My Patio Chair

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

This is an adaptation of posts I have seen this month. 

From my patio chair I feel...

the warm sunshine on my face
reminding me that summer will come

a slight breeze in the air
blowing my papers I need to be grading

From my patio chair I hear...

the chirping of birds
announcing that spring is here

the sound of a train
traveling through town toward its far away journey

From my patio chair I see...

early insects
reflecting the sun's rays

my dozing husband 
thinking he was just going to close his eyes

From my patio chair I enjoy...

the slow-down pace
reminding me not to take any of this for granted

Sunday, March 29, 2015

SOLC #29 Four Things I Learned from My Father

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

It is hard to believe that this month is almost over.  I look forward to warmer weather and all things which accompany it, but I will miss the daily connection of writing with my tribe.

Today I read a post from Greg Armamentos, and as usual, his words created havoc on my heart - and I don't mean that unkindly.  His words stir my emotions and ignite my thinking. His words inspired my post again today.  If you have not read "Hey Dad" then please take the time to read it and you will understand what I mean.

I had a strained relationship with my father from my childhood up until the day he died.  I wrote about it here and and here.  I know the mom and the wife that I am today is because of who my father wasn't.  Many times parents do not know their children are watching and learning from their actions and their words, but we do and I did.

 Here are four things I learned from my father:

Love equally - I have two children and I love them equally.  They both reside in the same amount of space in my heart - no more or no less than the other.  Every single day.

Love and respect the other parent - My husband and I may not always agree with the decisions we make as parents and as a couple.  But I know the best thing I can do for my children, is to love and respect their dad and to model that love every single day.

Make memories - when my children are asked about their favorite childhood memory, I not only want them to have a positive memory, I want them to have a difficult time choosing just one. Children grow up so fast and in the blink of an eye, I am facing the empty nest.  I know their time left at home is less than the time I have spent with them, but I still continue to make memories with them every single day.

Being a mom is not the same thing as being a mother - being a mom means being "there."  A mother is simply being.  A mom is there for everything...athletic and music events, wiping tears and mending hearts, fixing favorite meals on special days, tucking in and staying up waiting for them to come home, watching their favorite television shows, letting them pick the place to eat, sharing their dreams and praising their accomplishments, smiling with them and smiling because of them every single day.

I cannot change my childhood, but I am thankful for the lessons I learned about being a wife and a mom.  Life is short.  Enjoy every single day.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

SOLC #28 Celebrate Turn #9

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

My slice today is serving double duty because I am also celebrating with Ruth Ayres.

Today I will be celebrating my nephew's 8th birthday.  Cris, my youngest sister, lives in Tennessee and this is the first time they have been able to come home since Christmas. 

B. is the youngest in our family, and it is hard to believe that he is growing up so fast. Because I am a teacher, it has been fun watching him learn to read and read the world around him.  B. uses his mom's iPad and sometimes he reads her text messages.  He and his reading skills pulled a fast one on my other sister, Janis, last week.  

My two favorite boys - my son and nephew.
Last week we were on spring break, and Janis, who is also a teacher, went to Tennessee to visit them. She had been texting back and forth with my sister about the plans.  Her last message said,

"Don't tell B."

My sister gets a message back that says,

"He knows."

Hmmm...guess who that message was from!

I am off to get hugs and birthday cake.  Have a great week and may you have many celebrations along the way.

Friday, March 27, 2015

SOLC #27 I Am Defined

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Earlier this week Amanda Regan wrote a slice about answering the question, "Are you a writer?"  I am sure many of us have questioned this ourselves.  I put my words out there for others to read, but I struggle with calling myself a writer.  Greg Armamentos wrote this down in the comments:

"The action is what defines you. Nothing more." 


I am a writer - because I write.
I am a reader - because I read.
I am a teacher - because I teach.
I am a liver - because I live.

(Ok, that one doesn't work very well.  Let me keep trying.)

I dream - therefore I am a dreamer.
I love - therefore I am a lover.
I believe - therefore I am a believer.

Because I learn - I am a learner.
Because I lead - I am a leader.
Because I do - I am a doer.

I am who I am
Because I do what I do
Therefore I am defined.

Thank you Greg and Amanda for being the inspiration behind this post.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SOLC #26 April Awaking

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

I needed a quick slice today.  This has been playing around in my mind, so here is a spring haiku.

dormant December
beneath winter's blanket lies
April awaking

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SOLC #25 My Elopement Day

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Yesterday I wrote ten things you probably don't know about me.  Many people are surprised to hear that I eloped.  So, here is my elopement day story.

We had been dating for four years, and in April of 1990, I moved back to Indiana after living away.  It was time to get married.

But we didn't tell anyone...just yet.

First, my sister.

The night of our wedding, Friday, July 27, 1990, we invite my sister to come out and eat pizza with us.  

As we are sitting there, I say, "Well, we have something to tell you."  

"Ok, what is it?"

"We are getting married."

"That is great!  Congratulations!  So have you set a date?"

"Tonight at 7:30.  You have two hours to go home and get ready."

My wedding dress.
Next, his parents.

We walk in their house after the wedding,
obviously dressed up.  
He in a suit and tie and I in my dress.  
His mom says, "Hi.  Where have you two been all dressed up on a Friday night?"

"We went to a wedding."

"Oh who got married?"

Dave looks at her kind of funny and says, "We did."

She starts crying because she has seven kids, 
and he is the only one that she doesn't see get married.  (It sure was a good thing she liked me.)

Finally, my mom.

My mom lived in Tennessee at the time.  I had told her that I was coming down to visit that weekend, so she was expecting me.  We walk in and she is on the phone.  

She says, "Well my daughter and her boyfriend just walked in.  I better go."

Now, my mom knew I didn't like the word "boyfriend."  We were older and to me that word seemed like a "young" word, so I never called him that.

So, I say, "Mom you are going to have to quit calling him my boyfriend.  You know I don't like that."

"Well, what do you want me to call him?"

"How about my husband?"

...and that is the day I eloped.

We were married in the Catholic church by our priest, but only my sister, his brother and sister-in-law and his 3 month old nephew were there.

People often ask me if I regret not having a big wedding.  My answer is absolutely not. My only regret is that I have no pictures.  The film in the 45mm camera I borrowed was put in wrong, and none of them turned out.

This July we will celebrate 25 years of us.

simple people
simple ceremony
simple bands
simple love

...simply forever

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SOLC #24 10Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  

Early this month and on the same day, Marcie and Michelle Haseltine both created a slice listing 10 things about them that we probably didn't know.  I decided to use this idea for my slice today.  Creating this list also gave me ideas for future slices.  So, here are 

10 things you probably don't know about me!  
  1. I eloped almost 25 years ago.   (tomorrow's slice)
  2. I married the brother of one my EJD's or high school friends.
  3. I could have been an extra in the state finals scene in the movie Hoosiers while I was a student at Butler University.  One of my biggest regrets.
  4. I have two dimples.
  5. I went back to school at 40 to become a second-career teacher.
  6. I live 7 miles from the Blue Flash, a small homemade roller coaster, which is in the book All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. (future slice)
  7. I have a fear of water because I almost drowned in a lake when I was a child.  (future slice)
  8. I am an Alpha Phi.
  9. My mother-in-law and I were both 4th grade teachers at the same school, but not at the same time.  (future slice)
  10. I have eight family members who are either currently teachers or retired teachers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

SOLC #23 A Lesson from Babe Ruth

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

This week my students will begin a unit on perseverance.  They will read a biography of their own choosing and write a literary essay on how this person persevered.  To prepare for the unit, I have been immersing myself in picture book biographies.  I have read several and written essays to use as mentor texts.  

One of the books I read was Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares.  I knew a little bit about Babe, such as his nicknames, The Sultan of Swat and The Colossus.  I also knew he played for the New York Yankees, and he held the home run record for a long time. But I did learn something.  

Babe Ruth was a troublemaker as a child.  His parents finally reached a point where they said enough is enough.  As a result, they sent him to the Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reform school.  It was there where he and 800 other boys, were introduced to the game of baseball.  It was there where he met a teacher, Brother Matthias.  Together these two things changed his life and sent him down a path I am sure he never thought was possible.  

This one teacher found something this troublemaker did well, and spent countless hours nurturing this gift and helping him to become a legend.  

All it took was one person who believed in him, a teacher.

Isn't that what we, as teachers, are called to do?  To find those strengths in our students and help them to shine?  To find those troublemakers and give them hope, to give them a dream, to show them someone cares?  To build those relationships and create learning environments where these students can thrive and turn the impossible into the possible?

Today, I will look at some of my students and wonder, "Have your parents or anyone else in your life given up on you?" 

 "Could you become a 'Babe Ruth'?"

Sunday, March 22, 2015

SOLC #22 The Plumber

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

My husband was a banker for 30 years.  He is not a plumber.  For the sake of my marriage, I should probably just stop right here, but I wouldn't have much of a slice.

We have had a s-l-o-w leak from our tub for quite awhile.  It drips down in the basement, but because it dripped a minimal amount water, we just left it alone.

Today I noticed that it had become much worse.  I hesitantly mentioned it to my husband.  Remember, he is not a plumber.  He attempts to do small plumbing jobs which many times turns into a big ordeal.  When he attempts these, the kids and I cringe, shut our eyes, hold our breath, and sometimes we even run.

Being a smart person, I left to go to school for awhile and left him to play plumber.  I came home to this:

everything out of the closet and strewn in all corners of the bathroom,

a rather large hole in the drywall,

and an empty spot where the shower head used to be.

All is well though.  We have a shower with a crooked shower head that works and no leak.  And now he is off to tackle the upstairs bathroom.

Maybe he could be a plumber?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

SOLC #21 Celebrate Turn #8

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  

My slice today is serving double duty because I am also celebrating with Ruth Ayres.

I celebrate becoming a teacher.

It seems that I have written a lot about my daughter this month, but a lot has been going on in her life.  The latest - she passed her special education test.  One step closer to becoming a teacher.  Only three more tests to go!  (I forgot this is a celebration post!)

I celebrate being a teacher.

Thursday I gave a presentation to a group of student teachers.  I spent several days creating and changing slides and then changing them again.  I made several pages of notes because there were certain things I wanted to make sure I said.  Because I prefer presenters who speak from the slides and not notes, I wanted my presentation to be conversational.   I wanted to just "talk" with them:  teacher to soon-to-be teachers. Once I showed my first couple of slides, the conversations began and the passion just poured from me.  

Because I spoke about a topic that is dear to my heart, I learned I didn't even need my notes.  
On the way out, one of the girls said, "I told Megan (my daughter who is also in the class) that you did a great job because I didn't zone out once."  I suppose coming from a college student, that is a compliment.

I celebrate learning from a teacher.

Prior to my presentation, another teacher from a county school presented writing strategies.  I took with me several writing strategies to try in my own classroom.  I have always said we learn the most from other teachers.

Have a wonderful week and may you find many things to celebrate!

Friday, March 20, 2015

SOLC #20 Happy Birthdays

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Several slicers have written about birthdays - children's, spouse's, parent's, friend's, and their own.   Now that I am 51, I look at birthdays a little bit differently.  Reading these slices has made me think about how each year the perspective on birthdays change along with things we look forward to - or not.

Happy Birthday

potty training
sleeping in big beds

Themed parties


Slumber parties
pizza parties
pool parties



black balloons

gray hairs

retirement parties

being thankful for another day
of life

Thursday, March 19, 2015

SOLC #19 What Standardized Testing Doesn't Measure

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  

Many slices have been written about standardized testing during this challenge.  I am sure I do not have anything new to add.  But this one is personal. This one comes from a mother's heart, not a teacher's.  

Let me introduce you to a student.  She took six standardized tests from 3rd through 8th grades.  She passed them all, but scored a Pass+ only one time.

In high school she took a standardized test in order to graduate.  She passed, but again, just average scores. She also took the SAT twice. Her scores were not high enough to qualify for several of the "big" scholarships.

What do these scores tell you about this student?  Maybe she is about average?

Let me tell you a little more about this student that you won't see when looking at her standardized test score.

In middle school, she had a 3.9 GPA.  That would be two A-s in three years.  In high school, she had a 4.0, which included dual credit classes and AP classes, and she was valedictorian of her class.  In college she had a 3.9.  That would be a total of four A-'s in 11 years of school.  The test didn't measure that.

She was a two sport athlete and was honored with many mental attitude and character awards.  The test didn't measure that.

She received a DAR citizenship award in 8th grade and as a senior, which was voted on by her peers and her teachers.  The test didn't measure that.

She is a hard worker who has an impeccable work ethic.  The test didn't measure that.

She had a goal, and she worked her tail off day in and day out to reach it. I was there when she stayed up late into the night studying for a test, or a writing paper, or finishing a project until it was perfect.  The test didn't measure that.

You see, this student is my daughter.

And she is going to be a teacher.  

She will be a passionate teacher who cares about her students.  She will be a teacher who will continue to reflect and to grow.  She will be a teacher who will put in extra time to make her lessons and learning environment perfect.  She will also be a coach who will teach her players life lessons on and off the court.

And once again, she will be faced with a test that doesn't measure that.

And did I mention this was my daughter?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SOLC #18 Hello There, Again

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

This is another one of those days where slicing was not on my must-do list.  I worked most of the day on a presentation that I am giving Thursday to a group of student teachers.  So, I am going back to a slice I used last year.  

i am a 6th grade ELA teacher, a mom to two young adults, a wife
i keep way too many emails on my computer
i wish i could motivate all of my students to become readers (the topic of my presentation)
i love to read heart fiction or any book that makes me cry
i dance ~ NOT
i sing only when people can't hear me
i think moving to the middle school was one of the best decisions I have made this year
i really must work on exercising more
i need to clean my house
i should go to the doctor and get a shot for my heel pain
i can complete this challenge!
i like to write poetry, but I am not very good at it
i make a good euchre partner
i always watch The Voice on Monday and Tuesday nights

It is nice to have another go-to post from last year.  If you get stuck in the last few days of the challenge, feel free to use this idea.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SOLC #17 The Rumor

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

It did not take long
To spread through town
Rumors do that you know

One person starts
and the next thing you know

People were talking
People were texting
People were tweeting
People were Facebooking

Was it true?
Could it really be?

That Walmart got 500 new carts!

It doesn't take much to get a small town excited!

Monday, March 16, 2015

SOLC #16 Today

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  

Last year during the challenge when I had a loss of words or was pressed for time, I relied on others in this community for inspiration.  Michelle at Literacy Learning Zone uses this format as a go-to.  Today I not only share this format, I also use it as my slice.

today ~ taking it easy and enjoying some time to get caught up
want to be ~ reading any book in my TBR stack
blessings ~ both my children will be graduating in less than two months
thinking ~ I need to do more commenting now that I have a "slow-it-down" week
planning ~ a presentation, Motivating Readers, for student teachers and which biographies to use for my unit on perseverance
writing ~  an essay on perseverance to use as a mentor text for my 6th graders and of course slices
loving ~ the 70 degree weather on my first day of spring break and the slower pace of my next five days
grateful ~ my husband has saved all his life for a rainy day because rainy days do come

and today (again) ~ catching and celebrating little moments 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SOLC #15 First Weekend of Spring Break

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

As I sit here waiting for the sun to mark a period on my first weekend of spring break, I am taking advantage of the warm temperatures and spending a few minutes outside on my back porch.  I have spent most of the weekend inside a gym watching a basketball tournament.  As much as I love watching my niece and students play and my daughter and sister coach, I have missed out on a beautiful afternoon.

I am contemplating my to-do list for my week, identifying which items belong in the must-do, want-to-do, and should-do list.  There are plenty for each one, and I know my week will run out long before my list.

Tonight, I add this to my want-to-do list.  I have two boxes of books I want to read before I hand them over to my students.  This is just a short stack that I pulled out for this slice.  

My slice is written, and now I have time to finish watching this beautiful sunset.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

SOLC #14 Celebrate Turn #7

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  

My slice today is serving double duty because I am also celebrating with Ruth Ayres.

Today I am celebrating simple celebrations from last week.

First round of testing complete
Warmer weather
Pizza with my sister
Spring break
New books
Pre-parent/teacher conference milkshakes
And aides who go and get them!
Cleared off desk
Movie day post test celebration
Colleagues who make me laugh

I hope you have a great week and find many simple things to celebrate along the way.

Friday, March 13, 2015

SOLC #13 Edama-what?

The Slice of Life March Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Today at lunch I tried something new to eat.  I am not very adventurous when it comes to new foods, and ctually I could be called a picky eater.

A colleague brought edamame.  I had seen this word before but I can honestly say I really had no idea what it was nor had I ever eaten it.  I watched her suck something out of what looked like pea pods.  When I asked what it was she told me, edamame. Well, I had no idea how to pronounce this food either.  But I tried it, and it wasn't too bad.

I learned that it was actually soy beans, a legume.  After googling it, I have learned much about this new food.  

Edamame is packed with fiber.  It has 9 grams which is equivalent to 4 pieces of whole wheat toast or 4 cups of steamed broccoli.  It has almost as much protein as it does carbohydrates.  Soy has many health benefits which include reducing cholesterol and protects against heart disease and osteoporosis.  

Eating edamame takes a lot of work because you don't eat the pods.  You place the pods in your mouth and squeeze or bite the beans out.  I can't say that edamame will become a regular food at my dinner table, but I am glad that I was adventurous today and tried something new.