Thursday, March 31, 2022

Write What Matters #SOL22

 My thoughts are not what I expected for today. I thought I would be spent and exhausted, and my ideas dried up. After writing and posting and commenting for thirty-one days, that easily happens.

But it didn't this time.

After spending the month looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary and mundane tasks of the day, I have my writing life back. I woke up this morning and was still looking for stories and thinking about how I could serve that up in a slice. When I realized I didn't need an idea for today, I was a little disappointed. A part of me doesn't want the month to end.

I haven't felt this in a very long time.

After listening to Tom Romano on Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher's video, I took his book, Write What Matters off the shelf and began rereading it. The first line in the book says, "Writing matters to me."

There were many days during this challenge where I was disappointed. I began to question my ability to write. Was I not interesting or engaging enough? Did I rely too much on the different forms and not enough on story? Did I publish too late? Is this life stage not what people want to read about?

I never did find the answers to these questions, and that is ok. What I did learn this month is what Romano says, "writing matters to ME." 

And that's what I needed to learn this time around. This challenge is for me. 

Thank you to those of you who took the time to read and comment on my posts this month. I truly appreciate you. And a big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating this space and this time to write what matters.

I plan to continue my writing journey thought the month of April as I dabble in poetry in several places. I hope you will join me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Just a Little Note #SOL22

Each grading period we are asked to write three positive notes home to parents. We keep a spreadsheet marking who has received a card to ensure that we reach as many kids possible. This is one of those things that I always put off until the last minute, and I don't know why. It's not that I don't like to do it, but it is just one more thing on the never-ending teacher to-do list.

Tonight as I made my weekly trip to Wal-Mart, I saw a student walking in as I was going to check out. A center aisle separated us, but I made sure that she saw me and heard me say hello. As we passed each other, I saw her run up to her dad and say, "Dad, that's..." 

I didn't hear what she said because I was in a hurry to check out and beat the rain that was coming. As I walked up to my self-checkout, I turned around, and her dad was standing behind me.

"I'm sorry, but I just wanted to thank you for the kind words you wrote about Hannah."

"You are welcome. She is a gifted writer, and I enjoy reading her writing. I just wanted you to know how talented she is and how much I enjoy having her in class. I meant every word I wrote."

We finished our conversation, and I left with a smile on my face, joy in my heart, and another reminder of the power of our words.

Please join Two Writing Teachers and the annual Slice of Life March Challenge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Lumberjack #SOL22

In our neighborhood we don't gather much with neighbors. We give the neighborly wave as we come and go down the dead-end street, but it takes a summer storm, an ambulance, or an outdoor project to round us up.

Or cutting a tree down. 

This month one neighbor had a tree taken down due to electric lines. They had a crew from a big local company that was too big for the job as many of them sat in our yard and watched. After the job was finished, we all gathered around and chatted about who was getting the firewood and complained about what a terrible job they did cleaning up the mess and the damage caused to the neighbor's house.

The following week another neighbor had a tree cut down from a different trimmer. As the second tree was coming down, my husband says, "I think we should take the persimmon trees down. Do you think I should ask him if he will do it?"

"Whatever you think."

The second day comes, and my husband says, "Do you think we should take those persimmon trees down?"

"Whatever you want to do."

The next thing I know he is out there talking to the man, and the trees are coming down.

He is a one-man show today. He has been trimming trees all his life, and he knows what he is doing. Dressed in his Carhartt bibs and lumberjack red plaid shirt and cigarette dangling from his mouth, he quickly hops in the bucket truck, zips up and begins to trim the top limbs lickety-split. 

There is a pine tree on one side and a peach tree on the other; there is no room for error. He wraps a rope around the upper section of the tree and makes a cut. That piece of wood hit the ground like a dart hitting a bullseye. Precision at its finest.

Our neighbors came out and stood with us as we watched him cut that tree and drop those pieces like he was laying a baby in its crib. Not once missing his mark.

Less than an hour later all three trees were down, and one of the neighbors said, "I know tree trimming has some science behind it, but this is a work of art."


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Monday, March 28, 2022

Book Spine Poem #SOL22

We are reaching the end of  March, a time when ideas seem to come a little less frequently and when I struggle to write a story that engages me, let alone engaging a reader.

This is the time when a spine poem comes to the rescue. I love perusing my book shelves, running my fingers along the spines, and  looking for titles that capture my attention and vie for a spot in a stack.

I have written spine poems six years out of the nine years I have participated in the challenge. Two years I was so desperate for a slice, I used spine poems twice!

Here is this year's offering.

Can you see me?

beyond the bright sea,

under the broken sky,

just under the clouds,

shouting at the rain--

the simple art of flying.


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share a slice of life during the month of March.  

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Spring is in the Air #SOSMagic


I am not a lover of spring. 

I don't like the unpredictable weather. I don't like the time change. And I don't like my pale skin and pastel colors typically associated with spring.

But I do love the scents of spring. I made a list in my notebook of the scents I associate with spring and this poem is a result.

Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the air
as an April shower
passes through
leaving everything
clean and fresh.

Spring is in the air
as the farmers 
till the sleepy soil and
awaken the
underground life
from its winter's rest.

Spring is in the air
as the lilacs
open and the 
peonies welcome
their tiny houseguests.

Spring is in the air
as the first blades of grass
are meticulously cut
and wild onions
grow with exuberance.

Spring is in the air
as overnight
the world dresses
in its deep, verdant green.

Spring is in the air.
Feel it.
Breathe it.
Become intoxicated
by the scented gifts it brings.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Winning the Battle with Straw Wrappers #SOL22

Several times a week I purchase a drink at a drive-through restaurant. Lately, I have been fighting with straw wrappers. 

Our McDonald's has been using plastic wrappers instead of paper ones. I fight to tear and tear and rip and rip just to get to the straw. But it doesn't work.

I try hitting them against the console or my lap in hopes that the straw will poke through the top. But it doesn't work.

I usually end up using my teeth to tear the wrapper, which is not too smart because many times I get a piece of plastic left in my mouth, or I am driving while trying to just unwrap my darn straw. I have been losing the battle with the wrappers and have become so frustrated...

until today.

It was today that I realized about an inch and half down the straw, there is a tiny little slit -- a tiny start used to take off the top of the wrapper. Just. Like. That!

BINGO! I have conquered the wrapper!


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
share a slice of life during the month of March. #SOL22

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Two-Sentence Hallmark Movie #SOL22

Back in February, my Time to Write writing group participated in a writing challenge. We were to create a two-sentence Hallmark Christmas movie. Here are two of mine that aren't really Christmas and with a few revisions. This was so much fun!

Lily hides quietly in the romance section of the public library, looking through the tiny space between the Virgin River books when her cerulean eyes lock with his green ones. Two chapters later they find themselves within the pages of their own novella.

Twinkling and glistening, the snow falls from the sky as Chris and Sabrina walk hand in hand toward her car. As a single snowflake lands softly on her glossed lip, he draws his finger down the snow-covered window, whispers, "Look, a diamond in the snow," and hears her gasp as he places a ring on her finger--the end to a perfect night.


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Friday, March 25, 2022

Weekly Reflection #SOL22

The first time I saw the Friday reflection was in Michelle Haseltine's #100 Days of Notebooking Facebook group.  I have noticed several slices using this same format to think about and reflect on their week. This would be a good practice to start. I was reminded of this idea by Juliette, my writing friend from Ghana.

things that made me smile:

  • daffodils (that haven't bloomed in years) blooming in the landscape
  • a Monday positive message from a colleague
  • a new lesson that went better than expected
  • NCAA March Madness
  • Coach Eck (my daughter) speaking and honoring her 8th grade players and my former students
4 words to describe my week
  • chilly-rainy-dreary
  • late-night
  • colorful
  • steady
3 plans for the weekend
  • playing cards with family
  • reading What Lives in the Woods by Lindsay Currie
  • watching basketball games
2 things I learned this week
  • a student was purposely causing a computer glitch on a test
  • Penny Kittle ad Kelly Gallagher have started their videos again

1 goal for the weekend
  • limit my time spent on school work

Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Rusted Treasure #SOL22

his memories of
a nineteen-sixty-one scout--
a rusted treasure


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Right Now #SOL22

It's been a good day, but a long day. So when you need a quick slice, you go with inspiration from others. 

Right now I am...

waiting to soak in the tub.
thinking how glad I am that I stayed late and finished up planning for Friday.
loving that it was jeans and flannel shirt day at school.
hoping that I can get eight hours of sleep tonight because there are no basketball games to watch.
anticipating watching basketball games tomorrow night.
knowing that I will be tired again on Friday morning.
regretting that it has been days since I have written in my notebook.
wanting the rain to stop and the sun to reappear.
wishing you beautiful signs of spring.

Thank you Terje for this idea today!


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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Diary of a Plant #SOL22

Dear Diary,

It is hard to believe that I am fifteen years old. That's pretty old for a plant, especially in the conditions where I live. Kids poking with me pencils, putting staples in my dirt, pulling on my leaves, and asking, "Is this plant real?" 

Of course I am real!

I have been with her since the beginning - her first year as a teacher. I have sat on three different desks but always in the same left-hand corner. The familiarity of the space is comforting and safe. I have grown and grown over the years. So much that regular trims have been a part of my existence. Too much growth and I start to droop over the sides. 

Gravity and old age tend to do that, you know.

One spring in my second home, she left me for a week and forgot to water me. My leaves started to turn brown, and I was all dried up. I really didn't think I was going to make it.

But she always comes back. I guess this is what humans call loyalty. I like loyalty. 

Two years ago she took me home. I heard something about her not being able to go back to school, and she didn't have anywhere else to take me. I didn't really like that. I was left in a room with not enough light. As much I don't like kids pulling on me, I sure did miss those little stinkers.

I later learned that they closed the school for the remainder of the school year. 

Recently, I began to lose my leaves again. I'm not really sure what was happening. There was so much space in our classroom because everything was spread out, and I couldn't see the kids because something was covering their smiles. I felt so alone and wanted to give up. Maybe I was tired. I don't know.

One day, she trimmed me back until I had almost nothing left, added some more dirt, and continued to water me. I really didn't know what was going on, but I trusted her. 

Then something happened inside of me. Hiding down deep in the dirt I found an inner strength. I began growing, and I felt hope for the first time in a long time. 

I have some new leaves showing off their finest green, just like the kids showing off their smiles now. I have learned that sometimes we go through hard times. Times we have no control over. 

But when we have someone in our lives who loves us unconditionally, believes in us, and is loyal, we find a strength that we didn't know we had.  

I think I am going to make it. I am lucky to still be sitting here in my yellow dress on the corner of her desk just waiting for someone to ask, 

"Hey, is that plant real?"


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Monday, March 21, 2022

A Tattered Flag #SOL22


political division in the United States

our country at war

disputes over illegal immigrants and border control



a federal identification card

enforced sanctions against states who don't follow the federal government's orders

interrupted food supplies

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Sounds like something we might read or hear about in our news today, doesn't it? But this is all part of the plot in the book Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy. The book was written in 2014, and little did he know when he wrote it just how real it would be. 

While reading this book, it was quite unnerving just how similar things are in our country today. It made me wonder what could happen.

Trent Reedy has become one of my favorite authors. Although this book is too mature for my 6th graders, it won't stop me from recommending it to others. The passage below is one that stuck with me.

"...this country is like its flag. When troubles hit the country like the weather on that flag, people got different ideas about how to fix that trouble. They start arguing about it. Folks getting madder and madder at one another, pulling apart in different directions, until, like that flag, there are little threadbare spots, small tears. Finally, something comes along that's too much, and those little worn spots rip open, leaving the flag, like this country, in tatters."

How can we mend the tears in the tattered flag, a tattered country?


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Sunday, March 20, 2022

A Slice in GIFs #SOL22

As the hours and minutes count down and my mind turns to thinking about returning to school after a lovely week of spring break, a colleague sends a text message to our group of teachers.

"Is everyone super excited about tomorrow?"

Here is our answer in GIFs.


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Saturday, March 19, 2022

Laundry Day #SOL22

I'm struggling to write today.

Maybe it is because of the gloomy weather on this Saturday morning after a string of gloriously warm, sunny days.

Maybe it is because my spring break is over and thoughts of returning to school and approaching the starting line of the last nine-week dash are near.

Maybe it is because of the heartbreaking news of war and death of innocent people is bearing down heavily.

Maybe it is because I am comparing myself to other slicers. Enough said.

When I began this challenge I vowed to keep my posts light and uplifting. Completing this challenge was my way of finding those stories and ordinary moments that need to be captured. To once again, find the joy of writing.

I still want that. 

I still need that.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

So, today is laundry day - both literally and figuratively. 

My post is written and will hopefully wash away those gloomy thoughts and rinse off this writing slump that I have found myself in. 

As I fold and stack words this week, I hope to breathe in that sweet fragrance of having written.

Now, to finish that literal laundry.



Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Friday, March 18, 2022

Magnolias #SOL22

Being part of a community benefits a writing life. When I first began blogging, it was the community of writers that kept me writing. I have met so many amazing people through the act of writing stories and sharing words.

I belong to a group of writers called Teach Write. Each month we have a writing challenge to exercise our writing muscles. Sometimes it is a new poetry form and other times it is just a topic that centers our writing. Once a month we gather online to write and share, similar to a poetry slam. This is my favorite part - to hear the writing read aloud.

This month we are writing a Fib poem, which is a poem written in syllable count according to the Fibonacci sequence:  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

Last night we gathered, wrote, and shared, and today I offer you a bit of spring.





against a

cerulean sky,

heralding Miss Spring’s arrival.


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Thursday, March 17, 2022

I'm Lucky Because...#SOL22

In honor of St. Patrick's Day I have created a list of 17 reasons (in no particular order) why I am lucky!

I'm lucky because...

  1. my country is not at war.
  2. I have water, food, and shelter.
  3. I am not afraid to go to sleep at night.
  4. I have people who love me.
  5. I have been married 32 years.
  6. I have children whose jobs include working with children.
  7. I have a job I love.
  8. I have colleagues who make going to work everyday a joy.
  9. I have administrators who support and respect me.
  10. I never run out of books.
  11. my husband enjoys baking cookies.
  12. my sisters love the beach as much as I do.
  13. my mother still remembers who I am.
  14. I get to see my new great-nephew this Friday.
  15. I am on spring break.
  16. the temperatures have hit the 70s this week.
  17. I have a slice written.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Where is your bliss station? #SOL22

Do you ever bookmark something or save a passage from a book thinking you will return to it?

During the March challenge, I will save links from other slicers in a draft post. Sometimes it is a new form or structure for a slice. Sometimes it is a topic that I want to explore and write more about. But many times, I forget what I save.

As I was going through my drafts searching for ideas, I came across a post I had saved about a bliss station from Austin Kleon back in 2016. 

Kleon states:

"You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen."

I have had multiple bliss stations in my life although I never new such a thing existed! When my children were babies, my bliss station was my bathtub. When I was a young stay-at-home mom, it wasn't creativity that I was craving; rather it was sanity. For that short amount of time, my husband was on "parent duty" and I was not to be disturbed. It might not have been a creativity incubator, but it was certainly momentary bliss.

My bliss stations have changed throughout the years, and even now, I think I have several bliss stations. One would be my classroom. I am usually the first to arrive in my wing at school. I like the quietness and the time to move my thoughts toward teaching for the day. I have also thought this time would be a great opportunity to stack habits, (see this post and this one) and use this time to create in my notebook. 

When my son moved out, I took over his bedroom, and this has become my office. It is also my collaging area where I have all of my supplies. In this bliss station I can tear and cut and glue paper in my notebook - a true place of creative incubation.

My last bliss station would be the time of night when I am the only one up. Sitting in the recliner with a fire in the fireplace, the silence of slumber keeps me company, and it is when I do most of my composing on my computer. It may be a blog post, a Choice Literacy article, a poem for a monthly challenge, or even unit plans. But it is my time for creating.

Wherever my bliss stations are, to paraphrase Austin Kleon, it is a time and space to disconnect with the world so that I can connect with myself. 

Have you thought about your own bliss stations? I would love to hear about your place of creative incubation.

Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Beginning and Ending My Day #SOL22


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
share a slice of life during the month of March. 

I began my day...
  • with a breakfast date with my husband at Old Thyme Diner, a quaint spot downtown that thankfully, survived the pandemic. 
  • posting my slice.
  • cleaning the house.
  • cutting out words from magazines to use for my poetry project in April.

I ended my day...
  • watching my husband play with his new "toy" - a 1961 Scout.
  • eating cherry pie to celebrate Pi Day!
  • reading in my clean living room.
  • reading and commenting on posts.
  • a sunset walk.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Dandelion Suns #SOSMagic

I am always looking for books that inspire writing. One of the many I have on my shelf is Handling the Truth, On the Writing Memoir by Beth Kephart. As you can see from my picture, I have many pages marked with writing ideas.

In the chapter called "The Color of Life" Kephart asks, "What is the color of life?" Pondering this question and Ruth's prompt on naming my light, turning toward it and writing about how it makes my life beautiful, 

I didn't have to look very far.

Dandelion suns drawn in the corner of the page give a false sense of hope, a hope that everyone has a rectangular house with a door in the center with a circle knob, two four-paned windows, and a red chimney spiraling a trail of smoke. But most people don't know that image is a fallacy that children draw to make them feel normal, to feel like they belong, and to feel loved.

I drew those pictures, and that was far from my reality. It wasn't until many years later that I found my light in the corner, my dandelion sun. 

His name was Dave. 

My family was broken, as was my picture. But God knew what I needed before I did. 

Dandelion suns have a way of making me smile. They reflect the love in my children's eyes; they weave themselves  through the memories of the tough times as well as the good ones; and they light the way for my tomorrows.

Dave is the light in my corner, 

my dandelion sun, 

the color of my life.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

She's still got it! #SOL22

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

If you have ever watched a person shoot free throws, you will see a rhythm. Some players may bounce once, twice, or even three times. Some may spin this ball or line up their middle finger to the inflation hole. Whatever the routine, players typically follow it every time they shoot to create muscle memory.

Megan cutting down the net
as an assistant coach.
Spin, three bounces, pause, and shoot. That's the rhythm I heard for many years from my daughter. 

Fifteen years ago she entered the Elks Hoop Shoot as an eighth grader. She won the local and district contests and went on to the state round of competition. Preparing for the state hoop shoot, she shot a TON of free throws. She would shoot with a teacher during her lunch period at school, after basketball practice with her coach, and all times in-between with her dad in our driveway or local gym.

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

The week before she went to state, she shot 98 out of 100 free throws, and my husband thought, "She just might have a shot at winning this." She could shoot the lights out from the free throw line.

We arrived at state, and she became a "State Champion" free throw shooter.

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

Megan continued to play high school basketball and began coaching along with teaching third graders after she graduated from college. I am sure as a coach she has shot around with players, played in some scrimmages, and played a part of the "scout team", but I can't say she has shot free throws like her player days.

Until Saturday.

Yesterday, her dad asked me, "Did you hear what she did today?"

"No, what?"

"She shot free throws after her workout. Guess how many she made? Ninety-seven out of a hundred." 

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

Spin, thump, thump, thump...swish.

At the age of 30, the girl's still got it!"


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
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Sunday, March 13, 2022

Quotes and Collages #SOL22

A few years ago, my friend Michelle Haseltine began a Facebook group called the #100DaysofNotebooking. Because I wanted to create a more consistent habit of writing in my notebook, I joined many others in this challenge. 

I am a notebook starter-stopper. I start one notebook, but for whatever reason (excuse) I would never finish it. Then I would start another one, and the cycle would run on repeat. 

That was until I joined this group. For the first time ever, I filled an entire notebook. It took me much longer than 100 days, but I did it.

Filling this first notebook was a great accomplishment, but I also found myself with this feeling of "not good enough." I loved the beautiful pages with artwork and doodles and sketchnoting that people shared. 

I wanted beautiful pages, but I knew I could never draw or create like that.

I came across journal pages using collage from kathrynzbrzenzy on Instagram. But could I tear and paste and create beautiful pages through collaging? 

I began searching and found other paper craft people to follow on YouTube and Instagram, and a collage monster was born. 

I now have a collection of stamps, ink pads, blenders, pads of  paper, washi tape, stickers, digital ephemera, and containers full of torn, scrap paper. 

My journals are now filled with collages and writing.

One of my favorite notebooks is my quote collector. It is a a small notebook with a quote on one side and a collage on the other. 

Creating collages has filled a void I didn't know I had. Ripping and gluing paper is pure joy. Searching for and finding ephemera in antique stores is exhilarating.

Creativity comes in many forms. And yes, even in torn paper.

I would love to add your favorite quote to my collection. Check out yesterday's post with an invitation to a "writing retreat" where you must bring and share a quote!


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
share a slice of life during the month of March.