Tuesday, February 24, 2015

{#sol15} 10 Tips for the Challenge

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Last Saturday morning, I didn't need to wake up early.  I wanted to go back to sleep.  But instead my brain was awake and thinking.  Creating this list.  Writing this post.  

Many of us are embarking on an adventure - the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Writing, sharing, and commenting for thirty-one days in March. Want to learn more about the SOLSC?  Check out Stacey's post {HERE} about the challenge hosted by the "Fab Six" over at the Two Writing Teachers' blog.  

I hope you find these tips for the challenge helpful whether you are a first-time slicer (cue confetti!) or a year five slicer like me.



1. Before the challenge begins ... set up all 31 blank blog posts, one for each day of the challenge and save!  I include the number day (i.e. 1/31, 2/31, 3/31, 31/31, etc.) and include the #sol15 hashtag in the title (for my "If This Then That" recipe connected to Twitter).  I also copy and paste onto each blog post the official "Slice of Life" logo.  This will save you so much time during the challenge that you can focus on just writing and commenting.


2.  Introduce yourself on day one of the challenge.  Tell us who you are and what you love.  Make connections that first day!  It's also a great day to invite a friend to join in on the writing fun!  (Chris!  Lynn?  Terje, it's 'just for a month'!  Karen, you started a blog and all?!?  Or even ask your mom to join my mom!)

3.  Do not stress about what to write about.  Our ordinary lives are filled with stories!  Keep your eyes and ears open ... and the stories will whisper to be shared.  Trust me on this one.  It's amazing how your story radar beeps all day long with slices of possibility.

4.  Throughout the day, you will notice those slices ... Carry a notebook (or your phone) with you at all times!  Jot down a couple words to remind yourself later of the possibilities.  Otherwise the stories may be lost ...

5.  Remember to share a"slice" -- a sliver, a taste, even just a nibble.  You are encouraged to write for thirty-one days (and you WILL!), but don't feel that every slice needs to be a lengthy post, novel or a final draft masterpiece!  Break longer stories into parts -- enticing readers to come back for more the next day and the next day!

6.  Shorter slices allow me (and other slicers) the opportunity to read more slices and leave more comments.  Read. Comment. Repeat. Sometimes if I see a slice is too long ... I click the back button quickly.  I usually end up feeling guilty, and I return to read and comment.  I love reading my "old favorite" year five slicers and also new slicers joining in.  I also usually try to return the favor.  When someone leaves a comment on my blog, I try and reciprocate and leave a comment on their blog, if I can find it.  I can read more slices when the slices are just that -- a slice of life!

7.  Comments matter!  Comments encourage us to keep writing.  Comments are the foundation of this writing community.  Comments connect us.  If you take the time to read a slice (with or without guilt, see #6), leave a comment ... even if it's as simple as "Thanks for sharing" or "Keep writing!"  Comments don't have to be wordy.  But write something -- especially for a fellow slicer who may not have many comments.

8.  There will be days where you may feel stuck or in a writing rut or -- Smack! Hit the writer's block.  Push through ... just write.  Just open up that laptop and write.  It is inevitable that every year I write a blog post about not knowing what to write about -- and a slice emerges and everyone can connect with that post!

9.  Play with your words.  Use a mentor text.  It could be a book that you emulate or even better, use another slicer's idea or format.  I created a "Slice of Life Story Challenge" Pinterest board to pin favorite slices and ideas to refer back to when I'm looking for some inspiration.

10.  Write a poem.  Create a list.  Try something new! Look for more writing inspiration  and journal ideas on this Pinterest page.  And if you have no idea what to do?!?  Have a solid back up plan!  I found this format  and it's my go-to when I just don't have any other ideas!


And a bonus tip ...

11.  Enjoy the process!  Reflect on the process too.  The process of writing daily is energizing and exhausting.  Yet, writing every day forms a newfound writing habit.  You will want to write more and more and more.  Enjoy.  This.  Challenge.


A BIG thank you to the Two Writing Teachers Team 
for hosting the Slice of Life Story Challenge!


HaPpy WrItiNg!

I know.  I've been there. 
 I can't wait to meet you in your stories!

Image found on etsy: Kathy R. Jeffords

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

{#sol15} Trouble


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We had no big plans for this weekend.  However, I felt like I was living in my own version of If You Hove A Mouse A Cookie story... What started out as one task led to another ...


It all started with a game of Trouble. The four of us huddled around the little white table in the playroom Saturday morning.

POP! Goes the die in the bubble. 

My hubby expressed how light and bright the playroom was with the blinds open and the sun shining. 

And then POP! Trouble.

"What? What is that? Look at that.  There's a leak in the roof! Look at the ceiling!" he exclaimed as he got up to take a closer look. 

"Finish up my turn," he said as he went upstairs to investigate in the walk-in attic above the playroom.

And then POP! Trouble.

He dragged out plastic bins of ornaments, baby girl memories, and even the wedding bin (à la pre-Pinterest days). 

"Hey, hon? Can you come up here to help me for a minute?" he called down.

And then POP! Trouble.

We all headed upstairs to see that he had moved the girls' toddler beds against one wall. The girls loved the big open space in their bedroom.  They danced and twirled as I  helped my hubby move two huge, long boxes. The boxes held the pieces to convert the girls' toddler beds into full size beds. 

"You know, these beds will be too big in the girls' room," he told me.

And then POP! Trouble.

He disappeared as I watched the girls enjoy the extra room and freedom in their shared bedroom. I decided to dig into their closet and dressers. He returned a few minutes later. 

And then POP! Trouble.

"I talked to Eric. They still have the twin beds. I'm going to go pick them up.  Is this okay?"

He went and picked up the beds.  Our dear friend Eric decided to come over to help take apart the toddler beds and assemble the big girl beds. 

Less than a couple hours later (with big thanks to Eric), after the distraction of water leak, almost emptying the walk-in attic, our girls are officially sleeping in big girl beds.  (And then this led to a hunt on Sunday for the perfect bedding too ... with lots of purple!) They are as happy as can be! 




And then POP! No trouble. 

The leak was looked at by a professional on Monday.  Probably a minor leak from all the extra snow on the roof that blew into the vent.  A little paint will fix the stain on the ceiling.




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

{sols} the next adventure

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Today is a milestone day.  It's not even the "real" day.  Or the first day.  But it's THE day that begins to make it all real before the first real day.  (Sigh.)

My twin four and a half year old daughters will be five in May -- and that magic age signals registration for ...

Kindergarten.

It's even hard for me to say it.  I make a sad pouty face.  I can only whisper the word.  Then I wonder where the years went.  Big tears fill my eyes.  I wonder how my beautiful baby girls are almost five years old and ready for ...

Kindergarten.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm super excited for the girls.  I want them to love going to school.  I want them to be excited to learn to read and write.  I want them to meet new friends.  I want them to love their teacher.  I'm just not sure that I am ready for ...

Kindergarten.

We have been casually talking about it, trying to create the excitement about going to the big school in the neighborhood.  Reminding them of the neighbor friends that will be there.  Talking about the expectations and all the exciting opportunities.

But I'm secretly agreeing with P.'s recent comments:  "Ok.  I'll turn five and eat my cake, but I'm NOT going to kindergarten," she matter-of-factly stated as she stomped her foot.

M. explained her fear about going to kindergarten: "I don't want to have to go to the principal's room," she responded, and then she grinned at me as I wondered where she even heard this.

Kindergarten.

Perhaps I am uncomfortable with being on the "other side" of the school system and participating as a parent.  This is all new to me.  I know I will learn from the new school experiences and be able to use what I learn to connect with more parents as a teacher at my school.

I'm also reminded how much trust our parents and families give us every day -- entrusting their babies, their whole worlds, their everything.  And soon it will be my turn to do the same.

Kindergarten.

I continue to worry because I have been told on many occasions, "Once they start school, the years go by faster ..."  I don't want it to go any faster.  I want to hold onto my four and a half year old girls.  I want them to stop growing older ... but when I tell them that they quickly respond, "But Mom, I can't control it."

It will be exciting and scary for us all as we head to our neighborhood school this evening for ...

Kindergarten registration.

There.  I said it.  Without a whisper or a tear.

Kindergarten.  Kindergarten.  Kindergarten.

We can do this ... 

Right?!?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

{sols} a snow story





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My girls are really into storytelling these days, especially hearing stories where they are the main characters!  Here is a story about their experience after the blizzard on Sunday.


Once upon a time ...

there were two adorable and very energetic four year olds, who always listened to their Momma.

 {Snickers.}

The two girls were twin sisters and they loved playing together.  They played with their baby dolls and took care of their stuffed animals with the vet clinic tools.  The girls enjoyed coloring, painting, and creating masterpieces of art that were on display for all to see.  They loved laughing and singing and dancing around the house.

"Momma!  Watch me!" demanded P. as she twirled around.

As their joyous laughter filled the air, one darling girl spotted a snowflake floating back and forth slowly toward the ground.  The sparkle and beauty caught her eye.  Then there was another snowflake and another, until the sky was littered with hundreds and thousands and millions of these tiny, unique ice sculptures floating gently down, down, down.

"Look Mom!  It's snowing!" exclaimed M. pointing out the window.

The snow fell all day long blanketing everything white that we could see outside the window.  They could not contain their excitement.  All they wanted to do was ---

"Momma!  Can we PL--EASE go outside and play in the snow?!?" 

And so it went.  The two precious girls put on layer after layer to ensure they remained warm while playing in the cold, white snow.  The snow pants, the boots, the hat, the scarf, and finally the mittens.

"Let's go!  I'm starting to sweat!" announced P. as she opened the door.

We trudged outside, boots clomping on the brick pathway that was recently cleared by their Daddy.

CrUncH.  cRuNCh.  CRunCh.

The girls stepped onto the almost eighteen inches of fresh snow.  Walking high above what they know as the ground level.

Phlump.  One boot deep in the snow.

"Mom, I'm stuck!" shouted M.

Phlump.  Another boot deep in the snow.


Their weight exceeded the snow limit and they were slowly stepping into the deep, deep snow.

The two snow princesses played and played. They fell into the deep snow.  They scooped and shoveled.  Moved the snow from here to there.  No  masterpieces could be sculpted as it was at this time all soft, non-packing fluff.

But as they continued to play, their Daddy created the beginnings of a snow fort.  A hideout.  A secret getaway.  Perhaps an enchanted snow castle.  Today, it shall be perfected for the two sweet girls...



"Who always listen to their Momma!" The girls added.







Tuesday, January 27, 2015

{sols} texts to breathe


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A little over a year ago, my Mom figured out texting. She was using a not-so-smart phone and it took her a bit longer to spit out a short, simple text. (Remember ... a-a-a? Pressing a number one, two, or three times to select the right letter?)  But, she stayed with it and figured it out.  She's upgraded her phone recently, so I don't think it is as difficult to send a lengthier text these days!

I know it is not her favorite go-to form of communication with me, but some days (or weeks) that's all we have.  We had a set time every Saturday afternoon, when the girls were napping, to chat and talk and reflect on the week.  That precious time is gone as now my four and a half year old babies aren't napping so much.  And if they are, I'm napping too!

So, because my Mom knows I'll read my texts throughout the day, she has accepted this as an every day way to communicate.  I love that she recently started sharing positive words, reminders, words of wisdom, or scripture passages each morning via text.

It's the perfect way to start my day.   Her words provide me a moment to breathe.

I may not always have a chance to respond, but her words each morning mean the world to me, even when it is difficult to talk on the phone each week because of time or energy or both. She continues to  stay connected and send me positive words.

A sampling of my "Mom's Wise Words" texts ... and two of my favorites:



Wouldn't you love to be reminded that you are enough?  That you are chosen to change the world?  And that God is the author of your life -- so don't worry so much?  I'm the lucky one receiving the texts to breathe.Thanks, Mom, for your positive words.  Keep them coming because those little words in your texts mean so much more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

{sols} ouch


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I looked at the clock realizing that I needed to leave. I grabbed a bag and stuffed two books inside.  Threw my purse and bag over my shoulder.  Picked up my full water in one hand and my keys in the other.  I closed and locked the door behind me.

I walked outside surprised to see the sunshine.  A one-eyed peek to the sky and a forced smile due to the squinting.  It was so good to see the bright sunshine. I closed both eyes for a moment and and a more natural smile appeared.

 I suddenly remembered the appointment. Then my foot slipped. My arms flailed in the air.  I felt as though I was moving in slow motion. Surprisingly, I didn't drop a thing as I landed hard on my knees.  I stared at the black driveway in front of my eyes.  Then I slowly stood up.

"Owww," I whispered out loud knowing I pulled some muscles that I didn't even know I had.

I quickly looked around.  No visible neighbors witnessed my not-so-graceful slip and fall.  I quickly sat in my car, looked in the rear view mirror, still wondering if anyone just happened to be peering out their window. 

I sent a text to my husband:  "Just slipped & fell on black ice on driveway. Ouch."

And he immediately texted me back: "Omg are you ok? Did you hit your head? Do you remember hitting your head?"

I laughed out loud at his extreme worst case scenario response knowing that I didn't hit my head.  I wanted to call my husband and tease him about not remembering him, but after he answered, I just started laughing again loving how much he worries about me.

"I'm okay.  Just some skinned knees. Ouch."

As I continued on with my day, my body reminded me of my fall.  And all I could do was laugh.  


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

{sols} time to breathe


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Last week I shared my one little word for this year. My one little world that I will focus on all year. My one little word that will guide me this year. Just one little word ... instead of all those silly resolutions. My one little word for this year is ...

breathe

How thankful I was that I was already able to practice this one little word. School was cancelled last week due to the extreme cold for not one, not two, but rather three whole days. Daycare was paid for already for the week, so my girls went to "school" as we call it. (I had some mommy guilt.)

I returned home after dropping the girls off, and then I was able to

breathe

Without interruption. Without a "Mommy!! Come here!" Without a sound ... Until my phone rang with a wondering hubby, "Whatcha doing now? I thought you could ..."

"Hmm...that's a good idea. I'll add it to my list. We'll see ..." I replied. Click.

breathe

Time all to myself. Time to spend it the way I wanted to. Time to do the to do list or choose not to. Time I haven't had to myself since before the girls were born. What a beautiful gift of time to just

breathe

I organized and sorted and cleaned and dumped and filed and labeled.

breathe

I went to breakfast with a friend and talked and laughed and cried and enjoyed every minute.

breathe

I relaxed and put my feet up and snuggled under a blanket and read and closed my eyes and napped.

breathe

I focused on my breathing and inhaled and exhaled and inhaled and exhaled and focused on me.

Focusing on my breathing centered me to my core. I was more relaxed. I had more patience. I felt balanced.  I felt good.  And the mommy guilt was erased.

again, just breathe

{Go on now. Take a deep breath in. Just breathe. Right now.  In this moment. Feels good, right?}

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

{sols} just breathe


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I decided to take some time off from blogging over the last couple weeks.  I needed a break.  I was not feeling worthy of sharing words.  I just needed to breathe.  Live life.  Enjoy the moments of now.

Even though I knew that I was missing out on holiday celebrations, slices and stories, and one little word selections.

But I just can't keep up with it all.  And I am okay with that too.  I have "let it go ..."

My one little word was right there, waiting for me.  I never really thought too much about it.  But it's the reminder that I need in all aspects of my life these days ...

Breathe ...  in the word of God, knowing He is in total control.

Breathe ...  during moments of stress and chaos and busyness of life.

Breathe ...  to close my mouth, open my ears, and listen more.

Breathe ...  to find a more balanced life.

Breathe ... during exercise to help create a heathy body.

Breathe ... when I'm hungry to slow my cravings.

Breathe ... while I'm eating to enjoy each nourishing bite.

Breathe ... deeply at the end of a long day and capture a few memories in my journal.

Breathe ... to enjoy this life right now.

I'm optimistic about this year.  We have quite a few milestones coming and reminding myself to breathe will be essential to enjoying the moments.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

{sols} tick tock


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I'm still trying to figure it out.  {Tick. Tock.}

I know there is no magic schedule or formula.

But, how do you do it all?  Balance everything in life?  {Tick. Tock.}

I'm just trying to be the best mom and wife and teacher ...

Time for home and school.
Time for reading.
Time for writing.
Time to just be in the moment.
Time for you.  And you.  And you.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for just me.
Time for reading the Bible.
Time for exercise.
Time for blog reading.
Time for Twitter, Pinterest, You-Name-It.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for planning.
Time for PD growing.
Time for fun.
Time for slowing down.
Time for to-do lists.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for cleaning.
Time for organizing.
Time for laundry.
Time for grocery shopping.
Time for just-for-fun shopping.
{Tick. Tock.}

Time for browsing.
Time for talking.
Time for sleeping.
Time for enjoying the company of friends.
Time for praying.
{Tick. Tock.}

I understand there is always some give and take.  There is always time for this and not for that.  Priorities are made, and they change day to day.  And do you ever notice that everything takes way longer than you think?!?

Always time to forget.  Little time to remember.  Time for time.

Sometimes I wish there was a magic formula and schedule.

Then I wouldn't have to take time to try and figure it out.

{Tick. Tock.}


Image from Pinterest