Thursday, March 31, 2016

{solsc reflection} 31/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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Join us for a month of writing!

I did it.  I wrote for all thirty-one days in March.

This being my sixth year participating, it felt different than any other year.  I never stressed about the writing.  I never worried the stories wouldn't be there.  I wrote for me, to capture stories, to live in the moment. I let go of any worry about my writing.  It was quite a relaxing March challenge.

All my slices were written in real time. The true meaning of a slice of life.  A story from the day.
None of it was perfect.  Some slice were well planned, thought out, and crafted.  Others were just written and shared.

I usually like to write at night.  Reread, edit, and publish the next morning.  Usually didn't cooperate this year.  My schedule and life didn't allow myself this time or energy.  Many late night posts squeezed in and published in the last hours of the day.  But I wrote every day.

I usually spend my down time reading your slices.  Each year there are more and more and more writers joining in this journey.  It makes it difficult to keep up and read all my special slicers' writing and new slicers' stories.  Again, time did not permit me to join in and read as much as I had hoped.

However, it still mattered more than ever that you were here to read my stories. I appreciated each and every comment, adding your voice to the conversation and connecting with my story.  The community at the Two Writing Teachers amazes me.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

I believe that over the last five years, I found that I had the urge to continue writing days into April. That writing habit was formed and the writing bug bit me.  Hard.  This year is different.  This year I'm looking to put my laptop away and refocus my life on other priorities.  I need time for my family. I need time to read.  I need time to reflect.  I'll still have my notebook and I'll still capture stories.  But I need this time for me.

And I'll still have my Tuesdays.  See you back here then.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

{a surprise} 30/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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Join us for a month of writing!

Yesterday was just another day.  It happened to also be my birthday. A special kind of birthday.

I don't like big surprises.  I did not want a big surprise for my birthday. I warned my family, particularly my husband, Jon.  I. Do. Not. Want. A. Surprise. Of. Any. Kind.

I got a surprise.  And I liked it.

You see, my husband woke up early at 4:39 AM as he usually does on a Tuesday.  He got dressed and said his quick goodbye to go play racquetball. I dozed back asleep.

My alarm buzzed me awake an hour later.  I hit snooze.  No need to get up early on my birthday.

Six o'clock glowed brightly in the darkness.  I dragged myself out of bed and trudged towards the bathroom.  After getting out of the warm shower, I overheard Jon getting the girls up and dressed.  I continued to take my time until they were all ready for the day.  This was a treat -- but not the surprise.

Once we were all dressed, we headed downstairs together. That's when it happened.  I turned the corner into the kitchen and saw this:

Crepe paper decorations, black tablecloth, a big 4-0, special birthday plates, donuts with candles ...

I smiled thinking about how Jon planned this all out.  I could handle this little surprise.  It was the perfect way to start my day that was just another day that happened to be my birthday.

"My fortieth birthday," I smiled and said without an ugh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

{ugh 40} 29/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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I've been dreading this birthday for over a year now.

When I say forty, an {ugh} comes before it. Why does a number bother me so?

It's just a number.  It does not tell a story, more specifically, my story.  It's merely a number holding my time here in this world.

Yet, I let it bother me. I hide from any thoughts of it.  Honestly, I don't really want to talk about it.

I tease my girls that I want them to stay five forever -- it's just such a perfect age to enjoy.

"Mommy, we can't! We have to be six and then seven and then eight! We can't stop growing!" So I'm told by a five year old.

My {ugh} forty comment came out recently with the girls.  The noise just escaped my lips.

"Mommy, I want you to be thirty-nine forever," P. sweetly repeated in her very grownup, serious voice to delight in my wishes.

"I know! Right?!?"

But I've decided -- like all the others who turned {ugh} 40 -- that it's ...

another new beginning
another decade to enjoy life
more time to make memories
more time to exercise and eat right
time to read and write more
time to learn more
to try more, and
just be a better me that I can be!

Positive thoughts even when turning 40 {sigh}.

Advice I need to remember ... 
So, cheers!  Here's to just another birthday and 40 things that make me hApPy today!  (In no particular order, just one thought leading to another!)

1.  My God
2.  My husband
3.  My beautiful daughters
4.  My Mom and Dad
5.  My brother and sister (in-law)
6.  Family
7.  Friends
8.  Real homemade meals
9.  Peach green tea ice tea
10. Time to write
11. Time to read
12. Positive commitments
13. My happy journal
14. Manicures & pedicures
15. Massages
16. Hair therapy
17. Sharing books
18. Bike rides
19. Fresh air
20. Sunshine!
21.  Teaching
22.  Bitmoji fun
23.  Vanilla Iced coffee
24.  Lunch with a friend
25.  HGTV
26.  My new home
27.  Buying books
28.  Pinterest
29.  Twitter
30.  Photo creation apps
31.  New dangly earrings
32.  My daughters' drawings
33.  My daughters' writings
34.  My daughters wanting to read to me
35.  A compliment
36.  Did I mention chocolate?
37.  Being organized
38.  A clean home
39.  My cat CJ
40.  40 years wiser {sigh}

My previous SOLSC birthday lists ...

Monday, March 28, 2016

{the end} 28/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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Goodnight and The End

closing my heavy eyes
reading slices of your life
opening up my laptop
snuggled under the blanket
plopping on the couch

kisses and hugs and sleep tight tonight
girls tucked in bed and prayers
another chapter or two (or three)
pjs and bathroom and teeth
the nightly bedtime routine

dishes carefully loaded -- start
lasagna, garlic bread, and salad
homemade with lots of love
reheating my pre-birthday dinner leftovers
easy dinner plans

a full day back to school
sharing about our spring break adventures
lots of talking, chatting and writing
good morning! I missed you! So good to see you!
welcoming greetings and smiles

and the beginning of a new day, a new week
heading to the real wake up call
stretching as I stumbled out of bed
opening my heavy eyes
the alarm beeps me awake

Once upon a Monday ...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

{easter morning} 27/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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The girls woke up this morning seemingly forgetting about the visitor.  I could hear them talking, but not quite able to make out their words.  Just a lot of chatter back and forth.  But no one was bursting from the bedroom wanting to rush downstairs.

Daddy went to check on them first.  He found them excitedly trying to get dressed in their new Easter dresses.  He suggested they leave their PJs on because we had some time before church.

"And ... aren't you forgetting something else?" I paused, waiting. "Happy Easter!"

"Oh! Happy Easter! Can we go downstairs?!?" It dawned on them about that special visitor.

The girls raced down the stairs -- "Wait!  I want to get a picture!" I yelled from behind them.  And then the egg hunt was on.  They searched high and low, near and far, from room to room. Filling up their baskets with eggs. Then returned to the Easter baskets filled with candy, chocolate bunnies, and little goodies.  They opened more colorful plastic eggs finding surprises inside.

After a big breakfast and a little play time, the girls were finally able to put on those new Easter dresses.  Together, we celebrated the true meaning of Easter with church and family.  It was a great day full of family, food, and fun all for that visitor that rose from the dead for us on this day.

Sisters enjoying this Easter in their new dresses.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

{one of those writing days} 26/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join us for a month of writing!

It's one of those writing days.  

I have been writing, like you, for almost twenty-six days straight.  For most of those day, I've written with minimal problems.  As a writer, I'm taking note of moments that may become stories.  Each day I think about a story I want to capture in my words and share.  I try to weave in a little word play and craft.  Time seems to be my only and biggest struggle.
But, it's one of those writing days.

There is so much I could and should write about today.  I could write about a full day of birthday parties, roller blading fun, an amazing Easter worship service, an egg-cellent Easter egg dying party, a delicious pre-birthday dinner celebration with family, and special momentous gifts.  But I'm tired and distracted and there is not one story that wants to be shared today.

Indeed, it's one of those writing days.

I'm always humbled when another writer takes note of a little piece I've written.  The comments, your comments, mean the very most to me.  But I'm always completely honored when a slice I've written allows another writer the opportunity of inspiration to write something fresh and new.  Today I was given that gift.  I believe this is one of the highest compliments - creating an inspiring mentor text.

Still, it's one of those writing days.

I usually write before scouring the long, never-ending list of slices.  Today I decided to read a few familiar friends' slices looking for a glimpse of inspiration or spark of a story to share or a mentor text to utilize.  I also browsed my Slice Of Life Story Challenge and Writing Inspiration Pinterest Boards in search for any sort of help, assistance, guidance, or inspiration today.  Instead, this was created.

It's one of those writing days.

Friday, March 25, 2016

{a letter to a friend} 25/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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Dearest Friend,

I miss you.  It's been way too long.

I was happy when you arrived this month, but you were here for such a short time.  You felt distant to me.  I saw only a glimpse of your bright, cheery face.  Seeing you warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face.  You were like a breath of fresh air.  You whispered soft words of hope and renewal.

And just as quickly as you arrived, you were gone.  In the blink of an eye.

I was surprised at your decision to suddenly leave.  Your change in behavior was unexpected.  There was a chill in the air and your words pelted like snow. Why, I wonder, do you feel the need to tease and taunt me?  I need you here.  I need you to be by my side to feel that sense of rejuvenation.

Will you ever come back to greet me?  I do hope so, and soon.  Oh, my dearest friend, Spring....

All my warmest love,

Thursday, March 24, 2016

{a day trip} 24/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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This is not my first choice of a day trip during spring break.  But I had to go.

I wanted to leave early to be sure I gave myself enough time to get there.  I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, plus it was raining this morning.  Last night I plugged the address into my Maps app so I was ready to go.

After climbing in my car, and cranked up the heat, I pressed ‘start’ on my app.  She guided me on my journey through the rain.  The drive was easier than I expected. I guess perhaps because of spring break and just days before the Easter holiday. 

There was a crowd of people walking in from the drizzling rain. We narrowed into a single file line to be escorted through security.

“I have a laptop in my bag,” I tell the security officer as I handed him my bag, with hopes that I could write a little and read some slices. 

“Down the hall,” I was directed.  I began walking not sure of where I was going, again. I continued to walk down the long hall and slowly the people behind me drifted off into different areas.  

I was walking alone.

“Excuse me,” I said to another security officer, showing him my paperwork. “I’m not sure I’m going the right way.”

“Yep, right there is your room,” he motioned.

“Oh, I wasn’t sure because there was a mob of people when I came in and now I’m the only one,” trying to make light of my confusion.

“You’re late!  You are the last one to get in there,” he laughed.

Blushing, I responded, “Oh, it said to be here by 9 A.M.  I’m here early!”

I walked into room 111 and was greeted by a smiling woman.  There were three other people in the waiting area.  I was not late.  I handed the woman my paperwork.

“Is this all current information?  Pick a number.  What number?”

“Yes.  Is there a lucky number?”  I laughed, picked the number 2, and showed her my number.

“They are all lucky. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable,” she responded slyly, as if she had heard this joke before.

Now I sit. And wait. And write. And watch.  It’s 9:05 A.M and there are currently 15 people waiting with me.  And there is no free wi-fi.  What was I thinking?  There is no hope of getting lost in your stories and slices today while I did a lot of waiting …

9:30 A.M.  The kind lady at the front desk welcomed us again. She instructed us to sit so that we could see one of the TVs in the room to watch a ten-minute video to learn more about today’s process and hopefully it will answer any questions that we may have at this time. 

I watched the video, not really learning any new information, rather just refining my understanding of the process  Afterward, she pointed to the different areas of the waiting area, including the quiet rooms.  She reminded us to make ourselves comfortable again and if there was anything she could do to help us today, we could speak to her.  She turned on the main TV to a national talk show, and everyone turned their attention back to their phone, book, or nap.

9:45 A.M.  Now I sit. And wait. And write. And watch.

It was still drizzling outside.  Because there was no free wi-fi, I opened up Word. I guess writing a little slice would do.  I still needed to write for today.  After writing my slice up until this moment, I grabbed my big bag and changed my seating to a smaller quiet room. 

10:45 A.M.  Now I sit. And read. And write. And watch.

The rain poured down outside. I checked my email and responded to a text.  I pulled out several books that I brought with me, unsure of what I would be in the mood for: a reread of Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper to share in this story with a class that’s reading it together, a professional, uplifting read with The Teacher You Want to Be, or a little creativity inspiration with Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

11:45 A.M. Now I sit.  And write. And read. And watch.  And think about lunch.

I could hear the pitter-patter on the glass.  It was still raining.  After reading about a third of Big Magic, I felt the urge to write.  I wrote a poem of sorts.  I wrote a reflection about my upcoming birthday.  I was distracted by receiving another text or two.

12:20 P.M. Now I listen.  “And so it seems the two sides in the civil case settled without needing you.  Hang tight for a couple more minutes to be sure that you are not requested elsewhere.  Great job settling this case without even leaving the room today,” the kind woman who greeted us this morning stated.

There were a couple chuckles in my room.  And then I sat a few more minutes before being released into the rainy, cold day after I picked up my $25 check for my civic duties. I was hungry and soup on this cold, rainy day sounded good.  I plugged in the nearest Panera and spent almost half my earnings there on lunch. 

Ah, just a day in the life of a ­­­­potential juror on a day trip to the local circuit court.  Perhaps next time will be more adventurous!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

{birthday gifts} 23/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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I saw them hide the gold, sparkly bag last week. Then this morning I heard the whispers.
The girls were getting ready and dressed for the day as I was finishing up in the bathroom.

I peeked around the corner to see what they were up to. I could see them whispering to each other and deciding their next step while watching me. Moments later ...

"Mommy? We want to give you something. For your birthday," M. said.

"Oh, really? Are you sure you don't want to wait until my birthday?" I responded.

M. looked at P. 

P. looked at M.

Without a word, they agreed that now was the right time for this gift.

P. pulled the gold, sparkly bag from behind her back.

"Happy birthday, Mommy," P. shared.

"Oh, wow. Thank you! This is beautiful," I said in amazement.

I held the beautiful gold bag in my hands feeling like the most special Mom in the world. I didn't care what was inside. I just loved that they thought of me and wanted to surprise me, even if a week early. I'm proud that at almost six years of age, they are thinking of others!

"Open it, Mommy!" M. shouted impatiently.

"Okay. Okay."  I sat down on the carpet beside them.  I loosened the string on the bag, and slowly opened it.  M. jumped in and took out a package of beautiful sparkly earrings and P. took out the amazing gold and pearl necklace.  I spotted two single dollar bills at the bottom of the bag near a seashell.

"Mommy.  I picked this out for you.  It's earrings!  Look at all the colors!" M. exclaimed.

"And Mommy, I picked out this necklace for you.  You can wear it two different ways.  See? And look, I like it because the ball looks like a disco ball," P. informed me.  

"And Mommy, look at this beautiful shell.  We saved it from Nana's just for you.  There wasn't another one like it."

"And Mommy.  Grandpa gave us each a dollar last night.  We decided to give them both to you."

My eyes teared up.  I was in awe at the thoughtfulness of this little, yet so big, gift.  The beautiful sparkly earrings were really just stickers.  The gold necklace will stand out in my collection of silver. But I love it all.

"Oh my.  Everything is just beautiful!  But how? ... Where? ... When did you get all this?" 

"We've been saving our PAWS tickets at school. We tried to go to the school store, but we couldn't because kids were testing in the library.  So, Mrs. L. let us shop in her toy box." M. explained.

And so, for my {ugh} almost 40th birthday, I was given the most beautiful gifts from the hearts of my most beautiful daughters.

I wore that beautiful gold and pearl necklace with pride.  And the girls wore the small sparkly stickers as earrings.  But most importantly, we all wore our beautiful, happy smiles.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

{i could write} 22/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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Monday was our first day of spring break ...

I could write about my alarm beep-beep-beeping me up earlier than I wanted on day one of my break thanks to my hubby setting an appointment for work to be completed at our house.

I could write about how thankful I am for my parents to be here and that they are so willing to watch the girls so that I can get away without feeling any guilt.

I could write about a quicker-than-expected round trip to an allergist appointment and then sneaking away to the library, where I sat and wrote a slice in my notebook before heading inside to browse in quiet by myself. We have a library adventure planned for Wednesday, so this trip was just for me.

I could write about how excitedly bonkers my girls were today.  A little extra excitement and a little extra louder than usual.  And lots more giggles!  Spring break? Grandma and Grandpa?

I could write about our shopping experience with the girls.  It used to be so easy -- as in, I would shop for adorable clothes that I liked and they would wear them.  Now they have an opinion of what they like and what they definitely don't like.   

I could write about opinions AND attitude make shopping more challenging ... and I see a future of shopping disagreements.  "Noooo-wah."

I could write about receiving an email on our credit card that exceeded the amount we have for the notification setting -- a $2,464.98 purchase to be exact. After calling my husband, I quickly called the credit card company.

I could write about  the frustration of credit card fraud ...

I could write about the fabulous anniversary dinner that I (kinda) helped my parents create ... they are the ones that belong in the kitchen.  Dinner was delicious.

I could write about the wonderful bedtime story that we shared.  As I was reading aloud "Any Questions?" by Marie-Louise Gay, I was thinking about all the uses of this mentor text in the classroom. Here's a question:  Have you read this book?  If not, go now! More here!

I could write about  the beautiful glowing full moon in the night sky that explained life today.

I could write about this slice format ... a little from Dana and a little from Leigh Anne.

Monday, March 21, 2016

{anniversary celebration} 21/31 #sol16

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
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"Mommy, what's an anniversary?" M. asked this morning.

She remembered the big word Grandpa told her.  He reminded the girls yesterday that it was Grandma and Grandpa's 46th wedding anniversary today.

"An anniversary is like a birthday -- except you celebrate another special moment.  Grandma and Grandpa are celebrating their wedding anniversary. They got married 46 years ago.  Can you believe it?" I explained.

"Wow. That's a long time," P responded.

And that's the way it should be.  I'm so thankful that both my parents and my husband's parents are able to show us and our girls the meaning of one marriage for one lifetime.

One marriage full of love, trust, happy moments, give and take, talking, disagreements, heartbreaking moments, more talking, frustrations, mad moments, forgiveness, and more love.

Marriage is a jumbled mess of emotions on a roller coaster ride -- add children to the mix of family and it all multiplies and intensifies!

But would Grandma and Grandpa change it for anything?  Nope.  Not one thing.

"Today we celebrate their love for each other -- 46 years of it!"  I told M.

"That's a celebration!  Will we get cake?" M. wondered.