Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SOLS: This Christmas

Slice of Life Stories hosted

This Christmas our family enjoyed time together celebrating the joy of Jesus' birth.
     Yet this Christmas was a little different than in years past.
This Christmas was also about our two one-and-a-half year old daughters.
This Christmas we cherished the magic of Santa Claus.
      Letters written, cookies shared, reindeer food sprinkled outside.
This Christmas we continued old traditions shared from our families,
      and began new traditions that will continue for Christmases to come.
This Christmas we delighted in observing the excitement and wonder of our girls,
     memories of pure happiness and joy captured in our hearts and minds forever.

However, this Christmas there was one little surprise for me under the tree.
     This Christmas I was in awe and in absolute disbelief.

This Christmas I unwrapped a gift just for me with no expectations.
     I opened the plain brown box and inside was a book.
This Christmas I was given a gift that was no ordinary book. 
     It was of a book of my slices. A 'published' compilation of my words.
This Christmas I felt like a kid again - a reminder that I believe in
     the magic, the thoughtfulness, the excitement. 

Thank you Mom and Dad
for sharing the magic and excitement of Christmas! 


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SOLS: I am Lucky

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I won.
I am lucky.

Actually, I've thought about this a lot this weekend after winning a whopping $500 gift card to a local bookstore from Walden Pond Press on Twitter.  (That's another slice!)

I always used to say, "I'm not lucky."  But after winning such a glorious, fantastic, stupendous prize, I realized I am lucky in more ways than one.

I don't need to "win" to be lucky.

I have a wonderful husband that adores and supports me (and now is encouraging my "Twitter" use after winning).

I have beautiful, smart, and funny twin daughters who I love and adore more and more each and every day.

I have a loving family and supportive friends who I know I can always count on to be there for me to help out or just listen.

I have my health, my heart, my mind, and my spirit all in a good place.

I don't need to "win" to be lucky.

I am lucky.
I won.

"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family
all wrapped up in each other."

-Burton Hillis 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SOLS: Another New Year

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It's that time of year again.  But, how can it be?  Where do the days weeks months go?
Almost the middle of December with 2012 hiding around the corner.  It's . . .

Another new year . . .

A new year of hopes and dreams.
     A new year of making a difference.
          A new year of breathing in the joy of life.

A new year of putting myself first.
     A new year of committing to exercise.
          A new year of eating right.

A new year of learning more.
     A new year of writing more.

          A new year of reading more.

A new year of treasuring time.
     A new year of time with my husband.
          A new year of time with my daughters.
A fresh start.
     A clean slate.
          A new beginning.

It's another new year . . .

What are your new year hopes and dreams?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SOLS: Letter to a Lonely Friend

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Dearest Friend,

I just have to say it:  I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry.  It's been too long.

I haven't been there for you and I can give you a million-and-one excuses as to why . . . but do you really want to hear about it now?  I'm thinking it's too late.

I'm sure you don't want to hear about how busy I am a school: Teaching kids. Encouraging them to read.  Wanting them to L.O.V.E. reading.  Searching for books they will adore and recommend.  Solving problems.  Planning targeted interventions to meet the needs of struggling readers.  Wanting more time for the students to write and blog. Laughing and learning together every day. Enjoying each and every student.

There are so many stories to tell, but why would you want to hear about them now?

I'm also loving being a mom.  It's still crazy to say that.  Yes, I'm a mom . . . of twins.  It's the hardest job in the world, but the BEST!  I wouldn't change it for anything. The joy and laughter these little ones bring me daily is mind blowing. I can't get enough of them.  I could write about them all day, every day!  But, you wouldn't know that, would you?

I can only say this one more time.  I'm sorry.

Tomorrow is another day. A fresh start like a blank page in your book.

Thank you for your openness.
Your understanding that life can be busy.
Your willingness to listen again.

I promise to share my stories with you.

All my writing love,

My writing journal . . . waiting to hold my stories.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Reader Button!

I love stumbling upon new techy what-cha-ma-call-its. Ok.  It may not be new to the world, but it's new to me!  I hope you find it helpful as well!

I read many blogs.  Thank you to GoogleReader for sharing new posts every day! (Another great creation!)  There are probably hundreds of blogs that I've retracted from reading because the blog page itself wasn't visually pleasing to my eyes.

Too much.
Busy, busy.
Buttons all over.
Hate the font.
Small print.
Dreadful colors.

I'm sure I missed out on valuable learning and thinking because I didn't read the blog.

Guess what?  No more!

I discovered the "Reader" button in the address bar in Safari. (Click to enlarge. See purple Reader button.)

Click on the link to the blog.  Click on the "Reader" button and it's easy on the eyes!  It brings forward just the blog post, darkens the background noise, and is perfect for your reading pleasure! You can also zoom in, zoom out, email, and print!  Without all the "extras" on the page!

Go ahead! Try it out on my post. Click that "Reader" button!

Now, doesn't that just make life a little happier? :)

Side note:  I'm now noticing that my favorite little "Reader" button is not showing up on some blogs.   Thoughts?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SOLS: Comments Matter

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Yesterday, Ruth asked a very important question: What fuels writers?

Feedback is important in the writing process.  Someone to open your eyes.  Someone to challenge your thinking.  Someone to question.  Someone to help you change and rearrange your words to let them flow.  Someone to encourage you to try something new.  Someone to help open your heart and mind to grow in the writing process.  Comments matter. 

In my busy life, I don't have the opportunity to read all the Slice of Life posts, but I do try and read as many as I can . . . especially those writers that I know and love to read each week.  As I read a Slice of Life Story, I try and connect with the author, learn a little bit more, listen a little bit deeper, understand why the writer wanted to share the slice of life.  And so, from there, I leave a comment . . . most of the time.  Comments matter. 

There are many that comment. Readers that provide such insights and provoke my thinking as a writer.  Readers that see things that I didn't intentionally try to do in my writing.  Readers that show that they care and understand and listen.  Why do we write for the world to see and read? Comments are the breath of life in blogging.  Comments matter. 

There are also many that don't comment and that's okay. I've been there before, sitting with my fingers tapping the keys wondering what to say, wondering how my words can make a difference.  Every voice matters.  We are all just little kids inside looking for reassurance. Hoping that we've written a story worth sharing.  Wishing to gain more insight and clarity in our writing.  Praying that somebody liked it!  Comments matter. 

To help fuel my fellow writers, my goal is to always leave a comment, even if it is as simple as: Thanks for sharing!  Feedback fuels writers.  To do more, to try more, to write more. Comments matter. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SOLS: To Live is to Laugh

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Over the weekend, I took my two girls to Costco.  It's one of those wholesale warehouse stores with huge carts with room for two up front - perfect for a mom with twins!  We arrived as it opened, before the Saturday crowd scurried in to fill up the aisles.  I plopped the girls in the cart and we were ready to shop.

"Uh oh," P said as she showed me half of the buckle.  Somehow we picked a cart that did not have two functioning buckles. I didn't think they would notice.

I easily forgot that they are my husband's daughters.  We must follow the rules and obey all safety procedures.  How do they know this at 18 months?

"It's okay. It's broken. I'll be right here. You'll be fine."

"Uh oh," P repeated, knowing this response wasn't good enough.

"Oh, look at the lights!" I said, doing my best to distract her.

We first browsed the Christmas trees and decorations, looking at the lights, the garland, the wrapping paper.  I was talking to M and P about the excitement of their second Christmas.

"Pri-ttee," P stated as she pointed to the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree on display. "Pri-ttee."

"Oh, so pretty," I replied with growing excitement of the season to come.

We turned down the next aisle and the girls managed to spot . . .

"Elmo!! Elmo!!" They shrieked.  It does not matter where we are, they have a serious radar for this red, furry friend.  Funny thing is they have never seen Elmo on TV. Only in the books.  But they sure do love him.  We stopped to play with the Elmo on display and the girls just giggled with joy and delight.

"Say thank you and bye-bye."  My secret little trick to keep us moving on when we need to get going. Works like a charm whenever we have to leave the swings at the park.

"Tank choo," M said waving goodbye to Elmo.

"Buh-bye. Buh-bye," P added.

We strolled down the next aisle, but saw nothing that created the same buzz of excitement as Elmo.  We cruised to the end.  Around the corner, I carefully drove the cart narrowly missing the end cap of the sock display.

From out of nowhere, in unison, the girls shouted, "HIIIII-YYYY!!!"

Now, kids go through many stages.  We had the stage of stranger anxiety, but now they love to say "hi" to anyone they see.

I heard a chuckle from an older gentleman who then looked to his wife.

This fueled my two darlings.  M flipped her head back, closed her eyes and let out a big, bellowing (albeit fake) laugh.  Another stage.  When M and P hear laughter, they join in the fun.

"Ha ha ha ha." M looked for a response.

P followed suit. "Ha ha ha."

Again, the man and woman laughed in amusement a little louder.

As do my girls.

As do I.  Shaking my head, chuckling in delight.

This little moment.  I want to hold on to.  Forever.

Thank you for this slice of life.  To laugh.  To love.  To live in this moment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SOLS: Threads of Life

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Threads of life
but pull one thread
like a string on a sweater
and watch me unravel. 
I'm incomplete.

              precious time with
              my beautiful, silly 18 month old girls,
              my adoringly sensitive husband,
              and my other full time job with
              27 students and numerous colleagues asking thoughtful questions
              searching for answers, possibilities, opportunities

              that I can create harmony in my life fulfilling all those needs,
              including my own.
               all the latest and greatest picture books my library has in stock,
               the YA that I missed out on years ago
               including "reading" audio books in the car,
               professional reading, journals, articles, books,
               Twitter, Google Reader, blogs, blogs, more blogs,
               Goodreads updates, email, and my frivolous indulgence: US Weekly 
               my love of reading with my children and my students
               to show them what lives in pictures and words.

               all that my brain can absorb
               to improve as a mom, a wife, an educator
               to be the best me
               at home and in my classroom
               making a difference every day by
               thinking, reflecting, changing, and achieving

               to be the one to make a difference.
               In your life, and your life, and your life.

Threads of life
but pull one thread
like a string on a sweater
and watch me unravel. 
I'm incomplete.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SOLS: One Reason To Read This Book

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Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One reason to read this book: It was a great "listen"! Every time I got in my car, I listened. I made trips around town longer to listen. I sat in the school parking lot an additional 15 minutes to listen to the end this morning!  I had to listen.

First of all, I love how this book was written and how Jay Asher thought of the idea -- brilliant!

An issue like suicide is never simple or easy to understand. So many unanswered questions. So many unknowns. Reaching out for help. Subtle clues that can be missed because life is too busy. Everyone has a story to tell. And Hannah told her story. Just listen to the tapes.

This week I received this email and thought it was worth sharing. A simple, yet powerful example of how delicate we all are, especially our children:

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, but do not rip it.

Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said... they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it.

That is what happens when a child bully's another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SOLS: Do You Ever Get the Feeling?

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Do you ever get the feeling
of being pulled this way and that?
t     h    i     n
in all directions?
Trying your best to please them all?
Agreeing to help out whenever you can?
Giving 110% while trying to
Balance this delicate life
of home and school?

But everyone needs you

I need me now. 
 I need me time. 
I need me back.

I need 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SOLS: Why I Write

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Why write?
Wow! Such a simple question 
with so many possible answers. 

I write for me. 
I write to capture a moment. 
I write to struggle through the process 
so that I can teach my students and 
help them find their voice.

Why do you write?  Here's what a couple of friends said:

Lucky for me!  I won this poster from the  Stenhouse Blog!

Monday, October 17, 2011

SOLS: Making Connections?

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As I sat down to read next to a second grader, I was surprised by his initial thoughts of the photograph on the cover of the book:

"This reminds me of my grandma," Brian said pointing to the crocodile head.

"Oh.  Really?  Tell me more."  I had to hear more of his thinking!  I'm thinking he's going to tell me about her dry, wrinkly skin or the yellow, gnarly teeth.

"Well, she's kinda grouchy," he stated matter-of-factly.

We are learning about making connections.  Not the type of connection that is going to help us better understand the text, but I have to give Brian credit:  He's thinking about his reading . . . and he made me smile!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SOLS: Just Do It

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It's only thirty minutes
and it gives me time

To think
To write in my head
To plan my to-do list
To be by myself.

It's only thirty minutes
and it is worth it

To get up a little early
To start the day off right
To be energized
To just breathe.

It's only thirty minutes
and I just need to do it

To relieve stress
To get my heart pumping
To feel healthier
To feel alive.

It's only thirty minutes
and it's time to exercise.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SOLS: Almost . . . a Celebration

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Last week was a celebration!  The BIG 100 blog posts!
          (Hands in the air! Wave 'em like I just don't care!)

Well, almost.
          (Arms down. Smile to a frown.)

Ok.  So, I thought I was celebrating my 100th blog post last week.  As I read the glorious congratulatory comments, my eyes drifted to the left-hand side of my blog.  A huge

2011 (95)

screamed out at me.
          (Bug eyes in total surprise!)

Apparently, I have written 100 posts, but only published 95.  I'm kinda, like, short of that 100 mark.
          (Shaking head in disappointment.)

Yep, celebrated prematurely.  Hope that's not bad luck or anything . . .

But . . . now, I've got myself wondering about those five secret posts that I wrote, but never published.
          (A Secret Slice of Life?)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SOLS: Happy 100!

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After starting this blog one cold and dreary day in February while my girls were napping, I have made it to 100 posts!  Yes, this right here, that you are now reading, that is freshly written, is absolutely, positively post number one hundred!  So, I thought I'd share some of my reflections about writing and blogging:

  • I'm a writer!  I'm not trying for book deals here . . . yet. I'm just trying to share my thinking and grow as a reader, writer, and teacher of both.
  • I enjoy writing poetry.  Not form or structured poems, just free verse.  I've written more poetry over the last couple months than I have ever written in my entire life.  I've fallen in love with poetry.
  • I loved participating in the March challenge.  Ruth challenged me to start a blog and to just start writing.  I was motivated.  I was actively searching for ideas to capture.  Currently, my writer's notebook is whispering to me, baring its' blank pages that are waiting to be scribbled upon again as frequently as I did last March.
  • I cannot even believe how much I've written.  I know my writing has slowed from week to week and I'm lucky enough to write my 'Slice of Life' for Tuesday. Hey, no excuses, but I am a mom of twin 17 month old girls and a full time teacher!  But what an accomplishment!  I just started browsing through previous posts and I'm quite amazed!  It feels pretty good.  No, it feels awesome!
  • There are so many awesome authors, writers, and teachers out there in the TWT community.  I throughly enjoy learning from you each week.  I love reading your new stories and your sagas that continue.  It's amazing the "friends" that I've never met, yet I know so much about through their writing each week.  Thank you for always being open and honest.

Thank you for sharing in this happy "100" day!

Happy 100th Birthday Cake