Day 22: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge


Wish You Were Here!

I wish I could have attended the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Saturday Reunion today. I loved reading about the highlights on all the blog posts — another amazing Saturday in New York City! Diane Ravitch was a keynote speaker! This amazing event drew the usual crowd of teachers from around the country! The weather wasn’t too shabby! Smiles to all of you. Thank you for sharing.

I read that some fellow Slicers got to meet each other for the first time in person! How wonderful! Finally getting the chance to truly become personal friends AND share in the learning — the opportunity of a lifetime. I look forward to the next time I will walk with a thousand other people along Broadway, crossing over at 120th ST to Riverside Church, arriving at least 45 minutes early to get a good seat (now there’s a challenge!), and enjoying a fun-filled day of thinking and sharing time with the experts in the field of education.

As for today’s events at home, I have to admit it was a productive, busy, yet relaxing day. The dryer got fixed — yay! I can do laundry! (Note the sarcastic tone.) We did our taxes — yay! (No, really! We needed that done.) My daughter and I went to the mall and brought home dinner — yay! (No, really! It was nice to get out.)  And for tonight’s main event, I watched “Pretty Woman” on TV — yay! (I enjoy viewing my favorite classic movies again and again.)

Bonus! It’s only Saturday and most of my chores are done now; I can enjoy the entire day tomorrow, too!  “Wish You Were Here” — not just a line from a postcard.





Day 21: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge


Appreciate the Little Things…

James Caan (actor: Elf, Las Vegas, Hawaii Five-O, etc.) said, “It is that, but really, it’s about how we don’t recognize the little things in life, or appreciate the little things in life like belonging. A sense of belonging is a big thing today.”

I am so appreciative tonight that I belong to the SOLSC group of writers, teachers, and bloggers who have supported and encouraged me this month! What a fabulous group of people! I just read on my dashboard that I have over 30 followers of my blog, That’s just amazing to me because these followers are people I don’t know personally. I feel honored that they have read my posts and felt inclined to “follow” my future . A sense of belonging is truly needed in our current world situation. If you cannot belong to someone or something, you cannot “be.”

Students look to school for belonging: kids want to belong to a sport, or a club, or even a classroom community, to help them on life’s journey through childhood and adolescence. Teachers and coaches work really hard to show the students, “We want you here!” I always make sure I tell my students, “Welcome back!” when they return from an absence. We need them there, and they need us.

I appreciate belonging to a family (immediate and extended), a school, and a group of friends I’ve known forever. I appreciate my colleagues from different venues: Homestead High School, Ball State University, Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Indiana Partnership for Young Writers, the SBCSC “curriculum gals,” NEA, IRA, ASCD, and NCTE…Wow! If I list all the groups I belong to, I won’t meet my deadline tonight! I am grateful to belong to so much! I appreciate every one of you, every day. Even if I don’t say it.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” — Robert Brault

Day 20: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge


Brownie, Age 6…Or is that “sick?”

The photographer asked how old I was. I said, “Six.” No smile. The silly man tried to confirm: “Aw, you’re sick?” I giggled, “No, I’m SIX!” Smile. Shoot. Print!

Day 19: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Is It Friday Yet?

I feel like I am in 1700s Massachusetts — the Battle of Bunker Hill/Breed’s Hill. I’ve climbed, ready to attack; I’m a “Minuteman” — ready to work in a moment’s notice. Monday and Tuesday flew by. I kept up, crossing each task off of my to-do list, and I got done with everything! Then Wednesday arrived.

Wednesdays are true “hump” days around here. Hump. Slump! Oh, my goodness! Today is trudging along like a camel in the desert! Slowly stomping along, I am moving forward. I’m writing this piece during my lunchtime, because I think once I get home I’m going to pass out on the couch. Grinding, winding, minding my business, just to get over the hump.

The rest of the week should go fast. I am hopeful that Friday will bring about smooth sailing, lasting through the rest of the spring. I am ready to get over the humps (Wednesday AND winter’s weather hump). I’m ready to blossom in spring, and into 2014 Indiana! The Revolution is over, right?

Day 18: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Burgers and Fries

Can you smell the grease? Whenever my mom would be out-of-town or working in the evenings, she would leave my dad in charge of us. We loved it when she was gone; not that we loved that she was gone, but we loved it when dad took charge of the kitchen. Homemade burgers and french fries! My dad made the best hamburgers — better than any restaurant could offer.

This “How I Met Your Mother” video (from You Tube) is the best description ever for a hamburger. But I didn’t eat the burger in New York. I ate that burger in my kitchen, in Indiana, when I was a child and my dad was the cook.

And the fries? Lots of salt and ketchup. Not good for you, but delicious. Thanks, dad!

Day 17: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A Limerick

There once was a girl they called Jen.

Her kids went to school out at Penn.

After driving one day,

she managed to play

twelve “Words With Friends” games, and won ten!


Another disclaimer: No, I do not play “Words With Friends” while driving. Thank you for your concern. LOL



Day 16: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Miss Madilyn is my granddaughter. Eighteen months old going on 16, using her own language with a few “Nos” and “Yes’s” thrown in there to help you to remember she’s a human baby.

(I think she speaks “minion” — learned it from watching the yellow overall-ed creatures from Despicable Me, which are her favorite things.)

What a gal! Funny? No. Hilarious? Most of the time. Cutie pie love bug? Every day!

Example of the day: “Maddy, clean up your toys.”

“K. (Singing) Pick up, pick up, pick up. There.” Immediately throws everything back out on the floor again. Walking around, playing with each toy, talking to each doll.

“Maddy, clean up your toys.”

“No. (Pointing at the floor, then at me, then around the room) Be bacca, babas, me nos a GG, Grandma!”

I don’t know what she said, exactly, but I’m pretty sure it meant that she was not done playing and that I should not bother her with cleaning chores. Ha!

Maddy031614 Maddytoysdolls031614

Day 15: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Ode to My Car 

(A Parody using “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Honda, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth, breadth, and height the snow can reach.

My songs I sing, when feeling out of sight, the notes out of tune, but it’s all right.

I love thee to the level of every day’s need, while driving to store and school and beach.

I love thee freely, as I don’t pay by month.

I love thee purely, as others turn from praise; not sorry you are old, and dirty, and grey.

I love thee with the passion to put to use, the air conditioner, the cup holders for juice.

I love thee, that I can share, my tears, my joys, traveling anywhere.

Smiles, tears, all of my life; and if I choose,

I love thee better when you’re in cruise.


I’m feeling funky tonight! I wanted to mix parody, odes, and classic pieces. Everything has been so serious lately, that I just wanted to try something new. I have gone over poetry lessons and readings from the past, and I thought, “Just Do It.” This has been a great night for adventures in writing! Sometimes girls just wanna’ have fun.

Have a great weekend!

Day 14: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge


Happy Birthday!

My sister’s birthday is today. Since I won’t see her tonight, I’ll send her virtual blog greetings!

As the older sister (and wiser, LOL!), I should be the person to take care of family situations, but I’m not good at that. She is the one who always comes through to help everyone, to cook for everyone, and to throw the best parties in the family! I guess she’ll throw her own birthday party, and I will attend. Sis came through for everyone when my grandmother passed away, and just a few weeks ago again when my dad passed. She was there at the hospital, she was there to make the phone calls, and she was there to be a strong presence even in a time of sorrow. My sister is amazing!

I’m not much of a cook. Sure, I can stir ingredients and pop chicken into the crock pot, but my sister is one of those special made-with-love cooks. Her chicken and noodles are delicious! And her chocolate nachos with strawberries on top are to die for! Whenever there is a family function, she is the one to cook up a storm. My mom even complains that she prepares way too much — on Christmas Eve we eat her cheese-and-olive trays and sneak petite cookies — no one is ever hungry for the ham.

Speaking of eating too much, any party my sister throws is a blast. She invites everyone, and there is always an activity paired with loads of food. Summer days are for pool parties, with grilled hamburgers, chips, and homemade cheese dip, along with vegetables, fruit bowls, and chocolate chip cookies. Winter holidays include turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, peas, corn casserole, and other yummy treats to munch on while watching sports or movies.

My sister is the best in the world! Yes, I’m biased, but it IS her birthday. Happy Birthday!

Day 13: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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In our Language Arts cross-grade level meeting this afternoon, we discussed the week’s standardized testing experience. One comment that stuck with me was this:  students who read a lot seemed to do well on the writing part of the test. I thought, “Yes, that simple idea makes so much sense.” One strategy that we want to keep in mind for next year’s curriculum is to use more mentor texts in the classroom. Immerse the students in different types of model texts, teaching them what we want them to understand using authentic means, and they will have a better opportunity to merge what they learn into their own writing.

I’ve used mentor texts for years. Each workshop or class I attend, I bring back ideas, check book list suggestions, and stock my shelves (at home and at school!) with reading that will model what I want the students to do when they write. My minilessons always spiral throughout the year: “Remember when we learned to use alliteration? Hey, look! Here’s another author who knows that trick!” (I make sure I identify my students as authors — they are!) Using mentor texts is a research-based, best-practice strategy for guiding students to write future best-sellers. Mentor authors help children build confidence. Mentors show children how the experts use the tools, tricks, and knowledge available to them when they write. Mentor writers are life-long readers and researchers themselves, the roles that we want children to take as they work through their writing.

Who hasn’t been inspired at one point or another by a painting, sculpture, musical score, or book? You know you have. You say to yourself, “I can do that.” Mentor texts inspire children to write like the experts. They can do that, too!

Disclaimer: This blogger does NOT using reading texts merely to teach reading or writing standards in the classroom. People should read for many reasons, not the least of which is to ENJOY reading!  Please do not tear apart mentor texts until students do not recognize them for what they truly are — wonderful reading material. My daughter and I once talked about author’s purpose. She said, “Authors don’t sit around and write to teach you about imagery (or making predictions, or identifying character traits, or anything else!). They just write, and you buy the book because you want to read it.

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