Monday, March 31, 2014

Today I Love Many Things...Slice of Life 2014 - Day 31

     Today I many things.  My family, my wonderful friends, my kiddos at school, my life.  I really do love my life.  There are so many people in this world who are so unhappy...I know because I used to be one of them...but I am learning more and more each day how incredibly blessed I am.  I have trouble from time to time just like the rest of the world, and there are more days than I would like to admit when I am most definitely NOT fit for human consumption.  But I have discovered that no matter how terrible the day...there is always something or someone looking to be loved and appreciated.

     Today I am especially loving this past month's writing challenge sponsored by the good folks at Two Writing Teachers.  This is day 31 of 31 and I am proud to be able to say that I have completed this challenge for the 2nd year in a row.  I am extra proud of the many students of mine who jumped in with me this year in the Classroom Slice of Life Challenge.  We talked today about their thoughts after writing for 31 days straight.  These are a few of the comments they shared, loosely paraphrased:

"I surprised myself...I didn't think I could do it.  It sounded so hard at first."

"I looked back at what I wrote at the beginning of the month and then at what I wrote at the end of the month and there was just so much..."
{Here this precious girl just didn't know how to finish her sentence, so I stepped in.}
"So much more?"

"Yes," she said.  "More writing and more"

Another girl said, "I wrote more freely as the month went on...I didn't hold anything back once I got started."

Ahh, what a gift this challenge has been to us all.  Thanks again to my friend Cathy, for introducing me to this challenge. Her post for today is especially well written and expresses many of the same emotions I have been feeling as this challenge draws to a close.  For me, I challenged myself to write more poetry this year.  I didn't keep track very well, but I think I wrote at least 10 poems this month, some a bit accidentally.  I actually laughed out loud as I looked at comments on this post about my front door.  I had had a very hard time thinking of anything to write that day and that poem is what finally wheedled its way out of my brain.  I told The Man that was about the cruddiest thing I had written in a long time!  But it touched a soft spot in many hearts and people told me so!  Amazing that what we sometimes think is fluff, nothing, worthless...can just absolutely make someone else's day. 

We had a new student today, so we had the added opportunity to explain not only this Challenge, but this whole Today I Love thing to her.  (My students keep a T.I.L. list in their Writer's Notebooks.)  When asked to explain the T.I.L. process, one girl said pretty much what I said above...look for one thing to love or appreciate each day.  Another young man said, "It's a good habit to form."

Be still, my teacher heart.

That photo up at the top is of the flowers that I so enjoy stopping and smelling as I enter our little hometown library each spring.  I first posted that photo on Facebook on May 5, 2012.  I have been trying my very hardest to find something to love almost every single day since.  

Friends, I wish I would have started sooner, and whether I write a poem or an essay about it, or I just jot it in my notebook, or I simply sigh and breathe it in...I hope I never quit, because that young man is right.  "It's a good habit to form."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Today I Love a Walk in the Sun - Slice of Life 2014 - Day 30

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Today is Day 30 of 31.


No one 


 a word.  

I was about to despair

that we would be

"always winter and never Christmas".


we'd already had Christmas.

It's March.

it snowed.


A lot.

All day.




Today though...

something different



The sky cleared.

The road straightened out.


Something green bravely popped its head up.


I really don't want to scare it away...

Today I love a walk in the sun...


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Today I Love the Human Touch - Slice of Life 2014 - Day 29

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Today is Day 29 of 31.  As we near the end of this month long foray into technological connections, it is dawning on me more and more each day how important the human connection is as well.

Today I Love the Human Touch
     It was Crafty Day at our church again today.  We've decided, a few of us, to get together once every couple of months to feed our inner muses and sew or scrapbook, knit or crochet.  We explore the gifts God has given each of us and try to create something beautiful for others.  We bring a snack or two to share, we chit chat, we listen to music, we take a break from everyday obligations, and a good time is generally had by all.  
     Unfortunately for me, Ruler of the Queendom of Procrastination that I am, today my crafting consisted of crafting answers and responses to my students' papers.  One of these days I will really will get my act together and go back to working on Running Girl's scrapbook, or begin to put together that quilt for which I have purchased all of the block kits, or maybe even make some hand made cards with all of those rubber stamps I purchased a few years back.  But today I was trying to beat the grade card deadline.  Today I was a bit...well...I was whining...a lot.  I sighed.  I harumphed.  I grumbled under and over my breath.  I was basically not fit for human consumption.  
       So in this "not fit for human consumption" 
state that was being exhibited today, I happened to mention that we should consider inviting someone to come next time and do neck and back massages for us.  We all laughed about that possibility, but it wasn't 15 minutes later that dear, sweet Andrea took a break from her beautiful knitting and snuck up behind me to begin working out the knots in my sore shoulders!  Andrea is a piano player and that girl has some strong thumbs!  My head thumped down of its own accord and I was jello!  I'm telling you, the girl turned my whole day around!  
     There is a lot in my life right now that revolves around technology.  Blogging, "iPadding" (oh yes, I will make up my own words!), recording grades and lesson plans, texting, emailing, and yes....gasp!...Facebooking.  There is maybe too much in my life right now that revolves around technology.  Today I was reminded how much of a difference the human touch can make.  I've never NOT known that, but it is, at times, good to be reminded.  Andrea took a break from her priorities and put my needs ahead of her own.  
A long time ago 
I read some research 
that said we needed 
four hugs a day just to survive.  
Just to survive.  
I say, 
let's help each other 
Reach out today, friends.  
Lay a hand on a shoulder, 
pat a back, 
grasp a handshake 
with both of yours, 
give a hug when you can. 
Be the human touch. 
You just might
make someone's day.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Today I Love the ouzel - Slice of Life 2014 - Day 28

Look!  Not only is it hard to spell, it's a messy eater!
Today I Love the ouzel bird.

Not really.

I actually kind of hate it.

But in an odd way...

Well, let me start at the beginning.

Today, Spring Break or not, was the ACSI Regional Spelling Bee, and three of my students were representing our school.  A 6th grader was making his debut, and I'm sure will be back again next year.  A 7th grader also made her first trip to regionals today after neatly clearing away all of the district competition back in February.  I'm sure she'll be back again next year as well.  

6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade

But my 8th grader, Jarrod, had been there before...
and was pretty excited,
 and a bit nervous,
 about being back
 and getting one more shot at this thing
 before high school.  

The practice round went smoothly for all.  
You know you're at Regionals
 when there are no mistakes during the practice round.  
These kids mean business!

Then came the real first round and Mr. 6th Grade was 'deceived'.  
Miss 7th Grade took a wrong vowel on her pilgrimage.

And then along came Jarrod who caught an ouzel right in the face. 


But, see, here's the thing.  
Had Jarrod caught that ouzel,
and the multitude of other words he knew how to spell
once he was out...
He could have made it to the National Bee in Texas.

The National Bee!

The National Bee...
 that would have made him 


between that competition


our upcoming 8th grade class trip.

And trust me on this one, 
if you knew Jarrod, 
like I know Jarrod,
(Oh, how I wish you could all know Jarrod!)
after being his teacher for three years,
you would not want him to miss that trip,
and you would not want him to miss that Bee,
and you would not want him to have to make that choice. an odd, 
turned about, 
upside down,
inside out,
sort of way...

Today I love the ouzel bird.

Sort of.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Today I Love The Art Show - Slice of Life 2014 Day 27

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Today is Day 27 of 31...and today I am blatantly steal...umm...borrowing an idea from my friend Cathy's post from yesterday as I attempt to sum up My Ol' Man's art showing in a series of six "6 word" stories.  (Spoiler alert to my students who are reading this...we'll be trying these after break!)

The Man and I had a great time tonight with My Ol' Man, my big brother, and his two sons, at the Bryn Du Mansion in Granville.  While three pieces were entered in the exhibit, he felt quite blessed to have gotten one accepted...many regulars were turned down this year.  And by evening's end, he had been given the wonderful (and profitable) news that his piece sold!  This year's show will be running through April 5, weekdays 4-8pm, Saturdays 1-7, and Sunday 1-5.

Today I love The Art Show

From "Red on Red" to "Picasso"
(zoom in close)

From The Shark to homemade crayons
(zoom in closer!)

I'm color deprived; craving "Brilliant Day"


Loved watching My Ol' Man hobnob

The boys sharing art, or technology?


My Ol' Man - quite the artiste!



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today I Love the company of a friend - Slice of Life 2014 -Day 26

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  And thanks to my friend, Cathy, who first introduced me to this challenge last year.  Cathy has been such an inspiration to me as a student, as a teacher, as a mom, as a friend.  We graduated college together, went our separate ways as young teachers, wives, mothers, and reconnected through the wonderful world of blogging a little over a year ago.  Today is Day 26 of this second writing challenge and today I enjoyed a nice break in my busy Spring Break week with my friend, Cathy.  Looking forward to more of these days in the future.

Nope, not me
Couldn't get away
and truth be told
I shouldn't
Queen of Procrastination 
strikes again
and grades are due soon
Long, dramatic, self-pitying sigh...

But today I took a break
with a friend

slicing aloud
she and I were

(literally and figuratively)

Slipped over to the farm market
Moseyed through the aisles
Dinner in our arms 
A pound of this, thin please
A half of that, a little more 

Dreams in our minds
of new recipes to try
of tried and true favorites
for family 
near and far

Signs of spring
we look
when we look

Not a beach
nor a mountainside
but a break 
in the busy week
and the company 
of a friend


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Today I Love Acrostic Poems...REALLY! Slice of Life 2014 - Day 25

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Today is Day 25 and Today I love ACROSTIC POEMS.  If you visit this wonderful link, you can try your hand at writing one of these FUN poems!  Here's my attempt today, this 25th day of the SOLSC and this 2nd day of my school's Spring Break.

Photo credit: Krista May












Today I love Acrostic Poems...and loads of other things as well...


Monday, March 24, 2014

Today I Love flying solo...sort of. Slice of Life 2014 - Day 24

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Today is Day 24 and I flew solo for the first time today.

Those who know me well, know that I absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt...ADORE going to the movies!  I've had it on my Today I Love list before, but today was different.  I don't have a fantastic memory, so I can't tell you the first movie that I ever saw on the big screen, but I do have lots of memories of all us kids being loaded up in the station wagon to go to the drive in theater.  We'd throw the sleeping bags in the back where the seats were laid down, park the car backwards, hook the speakers on a nearby window, and pajamas already donned, reach into the large paper grocery bag full of popcorn...butter already leaking through.  

I remember clearly how frightened I was when we saw "The Poseidon Adventure" - my generation's version of "The Titanic".  

I'm not sure what my dad took me to see, but I remember going along with my sisters and brother as they all waited in line to see "Jaws" while we were on a vacation in Florida of all places!  

I remember seeing "Footloose" with a friend while home on a college vacation and him telling me right in the middle of the movie that, oh by the way, one of my favorite teachers had passed away.

I remember taking our own two wee ones to see "The Lion King", "Toy Story", and all the sequels.  We made the very poor decision to see "Toy Story 3" the summer before the Man Boy would be going off to college...I cried like a baby as Andy packed up his toys, realizing that my son would soon be doing the same.

There were many many years in between times that we couldn't go to the movies...just too expensive for a growing family on a limited budget.

But even with the tears and the cost, I still love the movies.  I love everything about going to the movies...the popcorn, the candy (confession...I smuggle my own in!), the previews, the lights dimming and the music starting up...and yes, I am a credits watcher.  I love every single moment of it.  I love the temporary escape into another world.  I love the story. 

As soon as I saw the trailer some months ago for "Saving Mr. Banks" I knew I had to see this film.  I couldn't quite squeeze it into Christmas Break, so figured I'd just wait until it made it to the dollar theater, hoping Spring Break wouldn't be too late. 

Today I had my mind made up.  Before I started my busy week of catching up, I would go see this movie!  I called this friend and that one and the answer was the same everywhere I turned.  

"No, sorry...busy!"  

"Nope, no can do...have to take the kids to the ____."  (fill in the blank with appointment of your choice.)  We all do it...schedule every imaginable appointment known to man kind in these five precious days.

The Man had to work of course, and he'd already said he didn't really want to go to this particular film.  My Ol' Man had already seen it.  My Running Girl is off running around at college.  The Man Boy has his own college classes and work today. was my day to fly solo...for the first time ever.  

Oh, how glad I am that I did!  It was a bit awkward at first...I was so afraid people would look at me funny...going to a movie all by myself, but there were actually a few other folks there by themselves as well.  My friend Jaci says she goes to the movies alone, and My Ol' Man does it all the time. I had to walk it through in my head first to figure out that I had to get the ticket, then visit the women's, THEN go buy the popcorn, then go find the seat.  And once I got to the seat, there was no one to hold my popcorn while I got settled!  

But once the lights dimmed and the music started, all was right with my world.   

I munched.  

I sipped.   

I laughed.  

I cried.  

I loved it.  

Would this be my preferred method of movie watching?  Maybe not for every new film that comes out,

Today I love flying solo. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Today I Love Normal - Slice of Life 2014 - Day 23

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Today is Day 23 of 31.  Just a normal day.




That's what I've been feeling all day today.  Just meh.  I've posted a few times this week about a coworker friend whose husband died very unexpectedly a week ago tomorrow.  All week I've been trying as hard as I can to wrap my head around how this sweet young mom of two teeny boys is supposed to regain any sense of "normal".  


It's been just long enough since my own world has been rocked in any major way for me to forget...that is until I really think about it, as I have been all week...that you don't regain normal in 5 easy steps.  It will be a long process that will cycle and circle around and back on itself many times over before she finds some type of normal that will be all new to her.  Her old normal will not return. Her mornings will be a ripping off of the scab that formed overnight. I am trying to break away from my "meh", quit whining, and celebrate my own normal and the tiny normal things there are to be appreciated here on the prairie.


Yesterday I was thrilled to get a package in the mail.  Today I was thrilled to be able to prepare TWO packages to go out in the mail tomorrow.   

We did some excavating today and discovered a shoe rack in our closet!  I went so far as to give places of honor to the sandals, while not quite putting the snow boots away, as that would jinx us all for sure!  


There was a chicken and noodle casserole for dinner.  The Man declared it "rib shtickin!"  (Translation:  He liked it!)  There will be leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  He will go to work and I will go work in my classroom and we will come home and there will still be chicken casserole in our fridge.

There are dirty dishes in our dishwasher waiting for me to add soap, push buttons, and close the door.  We will fall asleep to the swishing and whooshing sounds and when we wake up there will magically be clean plates and cups for us.  

There are clean sheets on my bed and flannel and fleece quilts to warm me up.  There are clean jammies folded and waiting on me.  I will cuddle under the layers and read my book for a bit before it hits me in the nose as I fall asleep.



Simple things, the stuff of normal.  


Things not to be missed.  


Today I love normal...and pray it will come quickly to my friend.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Today I Love reading aloud...and getting a package in the mail! Slice of Life 2014 Day 22

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Today is Day 22 and even though my Spring Break is just getting started, today I have reason to be very excited about going back to school already!



Think back, friends...

waaaaay back...

to a time when someone pulled you up on their lap, 

cuddled you in, 

and opened the cover of a book with you.  

Can you see that book?  

Can you feel those arms?  

Can you hear that voice 

whispering in your ear 

as you and that someone 

travel to a distant land 

and experience some wonderful journey together?  

I have memories of My Ol' Man 

tucking me in at night 

and telling me stories about Paul Bunyon and Babe his Blue Ox, 

singing me songs about the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapese, 

and reading the Sunday funnies with me 

all stretched out on the living room braided rug.  

The power of that shared moment, 

to instill a life long love for... 


and language 

and voice 

and rhyme 

and legend 

and rhythm 

and metaphor 




My students all know that my very very very favorite time of the day (and I hope theirs) is when we are sharing a story together that I am reading aloud to them.  I have the wonderful privilege of teaching three different Reading and Language Arts classes, so I get to go on three different journeys each day.  Currently I am enjoying:



Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin with 6th grade,

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate with 7th grade,

and Wonder by R. J. Palacio with 8th grade. 


But! Oooh! Oooooooh! I am so excited! Today I got a package in the mail!  I just finished reading Sahara Special (oh please, oh please, click that link because it is just so much fun to read the interview with Ms. Codell!) by Esme Raji Codell (who has her own fascinating blog) to my 6th graders a week or so ago and couldn't seem to get my hands on a copy of the sequel book, Vive La Paris, but thanks to the helpful staff at Half Price Books, I was able to order my very own keep it forever copy for $2.99 which came from just next door Indiana and today it showed up even sooner than I expected and did I mention that I am excited?  (Pardon my run on sentences...when I get excited, I run on!)

I can't wait to be able to push every other thing aside for a precious few moments each day and escape to a new set of characters who will soon be friends, and a new set of problems that aren't ours, but will eventually feel like ours.

I can't wait to go back to Chicago and be a student in Miss Pointy's 5th grade class again, but this time through the eyes of Sahara's friend, Paris, who is the only girl among four brothers.

I can't wait to practice up on my Jewish grandmother accent so I can read Paris' piano teacher, Mrs. Rosen with style; "Your hair looks like Minnie Mouse.  It's cute.  Is that the latest style, that and wearing your pants like they are going to fall down, the whole world should see your pupik?  Excuse me, I am old-fashioned. So why are you here, again?  Remind me.  You are selling Girl Scout cookies?"

I can't wait for the hush to fall over the room when I simply pick up the book.

I can't wait to see the looks on my students' faces and hear their voices complain when I say, "Aaaand that's where we'll stop for today."

Today I absolutely love reading aloud...and getting a package in the mail!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Today I love Rap? Well...Today I Do! Slice of Life 2014 - Day 21

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Today is Day 21 of 31 for this challenge, but it's somewhere around 640something since I started this Today I Love business.  While I never know what will present itself during the day to be loved, I sure never ever ever thought I'd be saying I love Rap music! 

Got a text from my Running Girl today
"Go listen to the song 
I'm Alright by Jake Miller
I know it's not really your style,
but listen to the lyrics!"

I hesitated.  Rap really isn't my style.
I pondered.  Rap really really isn't my style.
I wondered.  She knows rap really really really isn't my style.
But something in her text gave me pause.
She had a reason for sending this my way.
I googled.

So should you.

And now I've been humming all evening long...

"I got life, I got love
I got faith and that's enough
We feel sorrow, we feel pain
But there's sunshine after rain
So I'm alright (you'll be fine, take it one day at a time)
So I'm alright (said you'll be fine, take it one day at a time)"

It's been an 
The sudden 
news of the
death of a co-worker's husband.
The end of the grading period.
Endless errands and tasks.
A break in the middle, 
but right back at it the next day.
The world still spinning
even when we wish 
we hope
we pray
it would stop for a bit
or at least slow down
long enough 
for us to 
catch our breath

But Jake is right...

I'm alright.
(You'll be fine, take it one day at a time)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Today I Love being SCATTER BRAINED! Slice of Life 2014 - Day 20

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Today is Day 20 and it has been one scattered day! 


When I was a 6th grader, I asked my teacher if I could sit next to one particular, very cute, very tall, and very new to our school, young man.  

My teacher told me no.  She said she didn't want me to rub off on my new classmate.  She told me that I came into her class scatter brained and she'd be d***ed if I was going to leave that way. To her credit, I was the one who still didn't know what 8 x 7 was (56, by the way...right?) and I was the one who may or may not have been a bit on the impulsive side.  And yes, had my parents pushed for me to be tested, I most definitely would have been declared ADHD!  But scatter brained?  A bad influence? A bit harsh I do believe!

Well....umm....Mrs. H, where ever you are these days...guess what?


A few years have passed since then and now I am the one teaching Middle definition I MUST be scatter brained!  I don't do anything for any longer than 50 minutes at a time and that's a stretch.  

I teach three different Language Arts classes, one Math (that one right there would make that woman shriek in hysterical laughter!), and one History, and right now a twice a week (be still my heart) Creative Writing class.-->



Today my 8th graders were all wearing mustaches by the end of the day...but that's another whole long story.

This evening I left work,

Drove to pick up our taxes (yay refunds!),

Came home and cooked dinner (three pots on top of the stove and garlic bread in the oven all at the same time!),

Ate and cleaned up said dinner,

Danced a dance or two with The Man (used to be a family rule to dance after dinner and we are trying to reinstate it.),

Sat down to balance the checkbook,

Called friend to help with the balance of the checkbook,

Called another friend to book a Tastefully Simple show,

Paid bills after balancing checkbook,

And am just now at 11:15 sitting down to (be still my heart once again) write my slice and declare my love for being scatter brained!  

You know what?  

It works for me! 

And hey look!

There's a squirrel!  


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Today I Love giving concert advice! Slice of Life 2014 - Day 20

Thanks to the good people at Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Today is Day 19, but I am writing about Day 18!  The Man bought me concert tickets for Christmas and last night was THE night!  I am no concert expert, but I had fun putting this list together.  

I actually debated not going.  A friend and co-worker lost her husband the night before and I was still reeling from that crushing news.  The more I thought about it though, the more I thought I didn't want to miss a second of any special time I could spend with my own dear Man, who took this spectacular photo!  Enjoy and feel free to add your own hints to the list!

 Top Ten Things to Remember When Attending a Concert

10. Do your research.  Know at least a few songs and lyrics so you can sing along with the rest of the crowd.

9.  Order tickets on the aisle and near the back of the floor level.  You can stand whenever you want to and not block anyone's view and you don't have to climb out over anyone else...however, you will BE climbed over...a LOT.  Sigh.

8. Plan to take the next day off of will want to sleep in!

7.   Get to the concert venue early (downtown Columbus, Ohio, in this case) so you can stroll around, see the sights, and eat at a local establishment.  This is no time for Tim Horton's!  Look around the restaurant and try figuring out who else is attending the same concert as you.

6.  Bring money for the T-shirts!  They are the softest cotton ever and they are expensive...and they are cut small.  Order the Extra Large!

5.  As soon as you arrive, scope out the restrooms...if needed, there will still be time to run down the street to some place cleaner! If you are attending a concert at The Palace in Columbus, this is not a worry.  And if you are attending a Crosby, Stills, and Nash concert like The Man and I did, AND you are a woman, you will be oh so very pleased to know that the line to the women's will be SHORTER than the line to the men's!  We were definitely on the younger edge of this crowd!

4.  Be nice to the good folks who are helping you find your seat.  Even though they do get to see the concert for free, most of them are volunteers, and they have to stand the entire time.

3.  Make conversation with the people sitting near you.  It just may be that one of them can tell you which one is Crosby, which one is Stills, and which one is Nash! 

2.  Once the concert starts, stay in your seat, unless you are simply standing to applaud and/or dance.  (See #9 above) Make sure you do a good share of people watching!  A good time was had by all at our concert and a much much much better time had by some, if you get my drift!  I do not drink or smoke, but I had a lot of fun watching those who do!

And the Number ONE thing to remember when attending a concert is....

1.  LOVE every minute!(Did you think that word WASN'T going to show up?)
             Sing! (See #10 above!)   

                  Dance! (See #2 above...give others something to watch!) 

                         Life is short, friends!  Live it well!