My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

March 31, 2013

Sunday Night Procrastination SOLC #31

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We had a beautiful Easter celebration with my side of the family at our house today.  The food was delicious, the company was fun and enjoyable, and we had an excellent day.

Now the dishes are nearly done (2 dishwasher runs and many sinks full of soapy water), the great room and kitchen are vacuumed.  

Now it's time for our weekly installment of ....Sunday Night Procrastination!

I do get a round of applause -  I emptied my school bag yesterday and took care of the most pressing details (read:  evaluation reflection).  Tonight I'm simply repacking my bag with lots of papers that I will deal with another day (read:  they will sit on my desk until summer vacation!).

It's 9:45 p.m. My oldest has been gone for a week on vacation with a friends' family.  She pulled out her homework at 5:00 p.m.  A mere 4.75 hours later her history vocabulary is done, but there's that one paragraph to write for English.  She's been looking though old pictures for the past 30 minutes.  (The leaf does not fall far from the tree!)

My youngest gets kudos for packing her school bag and finding her ID tonight.  She hasn't fallen into the procrastination trap tonight (there's always a first!).

We all decided that we procrastinate when it comes to the least favorite chores on the list.  The clock keeps ticking and we pretend we still have time to do things later.  Meanwhile, our brains are turning to mush from spring break.  Sure, tomorrow's April, but it feels like the first day of school!

Thanks to all the slicers who visited and commented here during the month of March!  WE DID IT!
I sincerely hope to write alongside of you most (or every!) Tuesdays.
Thanks to Ruth & Stacey for being our writing mentors!
Thanks to Michelle & Lynn for personally encouraging me to keep writing!

March 30, 2013

Saturday by the numbers SOLC #30

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Saturday by the numbers...

20 people at brunch tomorrow
2 cakes baked
21 eggs colored
1 counter covered with flour
4 loads of laundry
1 helpful yet messy daughter
1 more trip to Target for 4 missing items
41 plastic eggs retrieved from the basement
2 Easter baskets prepared, but not hidden
6 bottles of bubbles ready to be enjoyed by kids
1 bag of jelly beans opened too early
2 handfuls of jelly beans consumed
2 egg casseroles still need to be made
4 dozen pierogis wait in the freezer
10 purple toenails on 
       2 bare feet propped up on an outdoor ottoman in
            58 degree weather under
                  1 shining sun on
                       1 comfy couch... Resting until Round
2 of cooking and preparing for
20 people
Begins again

March 29, 2013

Friday SOLC #29

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Blue skies
Feelings of 
Gratitude for our beautiful earth

Cleaning yards
Scrubbing cars
Smile and wave

Laughing and talking
Preparing for a family holiday



March 28, 2013

Alli's home SOLC #28

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The text looked something like this, "Yes, PLEASE come and pick up Alli.  We will be home around 2:00p.m."

It was my dad. I think my youngest and my parents had enjoyed each other just enough, but now it was time for them to go their separate ways.

Allison gathered firewood with the lawn tractor as I got the scoop on their 5-day RV trip to Nashville.  My parents reported typical teen behavior:  earbuds, music blaring, on the phone, sleeping late.  My dad loves to keep the conversation going, but thought maybe Allison talked a bit toooooo much at times.  Sure, they had a few complaints about her attitude and lack of interest in regular meals, but they both agreed they had a good time.

At dinner tonight, Alli exclaimed that she was SO glad to be off the "senior plan."  She reported typical "senior" (60+) behavior:  waking up too early, eating at early times, asking me what I want to do, telling me to get off my phone.  Sure, she had a few complaints about their demands ("You need a coat!"), but she agreed they had a good time.

Of course, we all know that Alli's home.  A pile of her luggage, sweatshirts, blanket and pillow sit at the top of the stairs, waiting to go down to the laundry room.  She already called and invited a friend over to have "the campfire I didn't get to have in Nashville because it was either too cold or rainy."  You can hear she and her friend laughing and talking outside, even with the windows and doors closed.  (They are 14, 'nuff said!)

It's good to have Alli home!

March 27, 2013

Catching Up SOLC #27

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After finally finding all the *&^% paperwork for our taxes (Grrrr!), I jumped in the car to visit my friend, Carol.  We worked on the same floor at a marketing firm back in the early 90s.  She was in a numbers job and I was on the help desk - the perfect place for a new teacher who was afraid to set foot in the classroom.

Carol and I have been friends for a long time, but we don't see each other very often.  We have similar shopping styles (wander, touch everything, only buy on sale) and we are givers - she enjoys sending notes and funny "how ya doin'" texts, I like to coordinate nights out and make lots of phone calls.

I drove the hour to her house and we had lunch.  In a matter of minutes, we had caught up on everything from family drama to favorite vacations to teenagers.  We simply talked and talked and talked.  We decided that our husbands are annoying but we love them dearly (really they are awesome - they picked us as wives!).

It's fun to spend the afternoon with a friend who doesn't live nearby or work with you - they bring fresh perspective to your life, and confirm or redirect your feelings.  It's also important to spend lots of time together in the purse department... just because it's fun!

March 26, 2013

Minutiae SOLC #26

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minutiae [mɪˈnjuːʃɪˌiː]
pl n sing -tia [-ʃɪə]
small, precise, or trifling details

I am a big picture kind of person.  I can't be relied on to make sure the day-to-day details and important information are in the right place.  I have math skills, but I am truly a right-brained individual.

Paperwork is the enemy.

My husband checked the date, and he reminded me that we need to get our taxes to the accountant.

In doing some research for my "teacher stuff", I found that I didn't renew my International Reading Association membership.  (I thought that was on auto renew!)  I can't remember when I bought my classroom bookshelves.  I always forget to keep track of classroom expenses separate from my household expenses (BOOKS FOR EVERYONE!).

Can I help a student find a great book?  Yes - I'm wired to remember book titles, authors and summaries.

Can I remember pieces I've played in orchestra?  Yes, when I hear them. Don't ask me who wrote the piece.

Today I will try not to feel guilty about what I can't find in the minutiae.  I will conquer the paperwork drawer so I can then celebrate my creativity and work on knitting, music, and reading!

March 25, 2013

Exercise SOLC #25

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Exercise.  A necessary evil when you're trying to drop a few many pounds.

Can't we find a way to make it more appealing?  I hate it.

I spent 30 minutes on the XBox this morning, coached by Bob from the Biggest Loser.  I figured he would be more caring and kind than Jillian (she's mean!).  Alas, even when Bob called out encouragement, "I know you can do this.  You need to dig deeper!" I couldn't help but scowl at his virtual reality face.

Shut up, video game guy!

I tried 8 weeks of Yogalates and discovered that I like yoga, but I abhor pilates.  I have no core and I look ridiculous.

I enjoy walking outside, but it's been cold and blustery and my shoes don't fit correctly.

I look like a sausage in my capris and sports bra.  My Nike shirt clings to every bump and roll.

Even though I feel better after it's over....  Exercise.  I hate it.  

March 24, 2013

Attitude is everything SOLC #24

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It was crazy hair day at school on Thursday.  I was excited to get to school and see all the crazy hairdos.  Lots of teachers decided to wear pigtails - it made them look like grade school girls.  Two of our male teachers chose rainbow clown wigs.

The most impressive hairstyle was this one:

Colleen is a new teacher this year, teaching kindergarten in the morning and assisting students in the afternoon.  Pretty fancy hair, right?  Creative is the word I use to describe her!  

What I admire about Colleen is her attitude.  She's trying new things in her classroom every day.  It might not work the exact way she planned, and she has her hands full with a few behaviors, but I have yet to see her get frustrated.

This makes me think about teachers' attitudes toward teaching.  We can be in our first year, our twelfth year, or our thirty-second year, and our attitude is what makes our jobs easier or more difficult.  I've really felt like I've been less than excellent in my teaching this year, but when I've exclaimed that to my coworkers, they respond that they didn't see it.  I've kept a positive face and attitude. 

I've tried to see the best in the adults I work with, but there's a few who lament, "I'm overwhelmed.  It's just too much.  I can't do it."  It's frustrating to hear this.

I wish they would say, "This is tricky.  I feel unsure of myself.  I will give you my best effort and stop complaining and work with you to complete it."

Maybe I'm dreaming, but I think our students do this every day.  They don't say it, and they may get red-faced frustrated, but they try.

Attitude is everything.  We need to remember that as adults.  I'm hoping spring break will breathe a little "can-do attitude" into my colleagues.  

March 23, 2013

Rejuvenate & restore SOLC #23

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The girls are on spring vacation, so I'm going to try a few things while they're gone.  
  1. Eat well 
  2. Drink lots of water
  3. Exercise every day
  4. Sit in a quiet spot and just be
  5. Read, write, think, reflect
  6. Enjoy time with my husband
  7. Only start projects that I can finish (cabinet clean out, sorting papers & photos)
  8. Relax
  9. Soak up the sunshine as much as possible
Michelle put it best - absence will make the heart grow fonder.  My wish for the girls is they come back from their trips tired and smiling.  I hope to be calmer and easier to live with as well.  

I used to think that fall was my favorite season, but spring has so much hope and promise.

Maybe I'll change my mind!

March 22, 2013

Adventures for the girls SOLC #22

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My teen daughters are on two separate adventures for spring break this year.  I've taken them college towns for the past two spring breaks, but this year opportunity knocked separately for them.

The oldest is heading to Florida with her friend's family.  It was stressful to help her pack, as she will be traveling from winter to summer in two day's time.  (It's still SO cold here in Illinois!)  I'm feeling a little bummed that I won't be joining her at the Harry Potter amusement park (maybe next year!), but I'm glad she's getting a chance to get away from home and relax.

The youngest is traveling to Nashville with my parents.  When my dad retired last year, they purchased a class C motorhome.  They are experienced RVers after tackling the Rocky Mountains last year.  My daughter is looking forward to campfires, country music and some kickin' boots (whatever works in her budget).  I'm glad she has time to chill out and forget about school and the drama with some of her friends.

My husband will be working a good chunk of hours next week, so what does that lead me to do?  I'm not sure.  I'm hoping I'm not too motivated to do lots of cleaning or remodeling.  I thought about a lot of projects, but the first thing on my list is to catch up on my sleep!

Ahhh.  Spring break.  I've been waiting for you!

March 21, 2013

Packing SOLC #21

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trip to drug store


phone calls

cash station

sock folding

room cleaning


check weather


all this work.  but I'm not leaving.

(more tomorrow)

March 20, 2013

Parfaits anyone? SOLC #20

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We hosted a sweet parent/child event at school last night.  We invited students in grades 3rd-5th to come with a parent and read functional text.

We called it "Fun, Food and Following Directions."
Catchy, right?

At the start of the evening, I read aloud Chicks and Salsa and used my document camera to project a portion of the pictures on a big screen.  It was my first time reading the book, and now I know why it comes so highly recommended (Ole!).

We decided to have our students create a simple parfait.  The directions we wrote lead students to crush vanilla wafers, then layer those with vanilla pudding and whipped topping.  YUM!

There wasn't too much of a mess, and we had lots of great interactions between parents and children.  Some of the parfaits were more like blizzards, and some were total works of art.  I talked with two fifth graders about sedimentary rocks as I checked out their parfaits.

The best part of the evening came when four families were simply relaxing in the lunchroom, chatting.  We teachers continued passing out books to students and thanked other families for coming.  One mom from the chatting group jumped up and exclaimed that she felt like she was at a gathering, and they were very relaxed at school as they socialized.

My fellow teacher explained to her that being relaxed at school was exactly the reason we hold parent/child events.  We want our parents to be comfortable coming to school, and we want our students to see that we value them as part of our school community and as a part of their family.

Today we were all tired, but it was worth it!

March 19, 2013

Thanks for listening SOLC #19

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This post is dedicated to my family and friends who have listened to me ...

throw my arms up and express complete frustration

            especially today
(and a lot of other days before and after today)

This is for you, my fellow slicers, who "listen" to my ...

random posts
silly ideas
serious reflections
somewhat poems
chaotic brain dumps

             especially today
(and a lot of other days before and after today)

Thanks for listening!

March 18, 2013

Our crazy family pet SOLC #18

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No pet could replace our beloved black lab, Candy.  We had to put her down four years ago.  She was our family pet for 16 years.

Today, let's not focus on the sad story (we do miss you, Candy Lou!)... you've got to meet our current pet.

Tweety the crazy bird.

Tweety originally went home from the pet store with our neighbor, Cindy, and her family.  Their kids were in elementary school.  Tweety was a great addition, providing lots of entertainment.  A few years after Tweety arrived, they got their dog, Leia.

Now Leia thought Tweety might make a delicious snack.  Our neighbors worried about Tweety, and he had to spend lots of time in his cage, when he preferred to be out.

I mentioned to Cindy during one of our walks a few years ago that Allison (my youngest) needed something.  She had dance and hobbies, but needed an animal to care for.  We weren't ready for another dog.

BINGO!  We decided that Tweety should live at our house.  My husband was less than thrilled ("I thought I said no pets!") but he went along with a parakeet.  Low maintenance!  Now that Tweety has lived with us for almost two years, we have decided that this bird is crazy.  He definitely has a personality, and without him around, the house would be boring.

When Tweety gets a chance to be out of his cage, he enjoys:

  • eating millet and spreading the seed casings all over the room
  • flying around, landing on heads of our unsuspecting friends
  • waddling around on the floor, searching for crumbs like a dog
  • bobbing for cereal in my breakfast bowl
  • biting fingers and complaining when he doesn't want to return to his cage
  • squeaking like a dog toy when he wants to be goofy
  • nodding his head to catchy songs (he especially likes songs from Pitch Perfect)
  • sitting on the top of my laptop, cooing as I type
I don't know how old Tweety is, or how long his life expectancy is, but right now he's an interesting part of our lives.  Crazy bird!

March 17, 2013

Keeping in touch SOLC #17

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It's funny.  As a teenager, I used the phone.  A lot.  We had to get call waiting the day it was available in 1985 because my grandfather tried to call our house the night I had one of my 2 hour talk fests with a friend. Grandpa was a patient guy, but that busy signal put him over the edge.

If you needed an ear, you called me.  I would listen and talk and talk some more.  I made phone calls when I babysat, letting my cousins talk with my friends.  In high school, I got math help over the phone, and I've done some serious major matchmaking, too.

As much as I chaste my teens to "Put the phone down and get your work done!" I'm guilty of a lot of phone and screen time myself recently.

During the past two weeks I've managed to reconnect with six people I haven't talked with in months or years.  It seems like the months between Christmas and Easter become a quiet time around here.  There's no family birthdays to pull us together, and the weather makes us want to stay inside.

I've had some news to talk about, so my friends and family have been calling, or I've been reaching out via email. I've also had some friends pop up and make comments on Facebook, out of the blue.  I've asked for them to check their calendars and find time for us to catch up.

Spring reminds me that no matter how long it's been since we last talked, today is a good day to start again.  Some of us will be able to pick up where we left off.  With others, it will just be a one-time conversation, then we'll go back to our busy lives and reconnect in the future.

It's important to keep in touch with the important people in our lives.

March 16, 2013

New friends SOLC #16

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My youngest made a positive transition from junior high to the high school back in August.  She made the pom squad, had the right class placements and knew lots of people because she's a friendly, outgoing, silly kid.

Now that spring has almost sprung, poms season has finished.  She has more down time.  More time to think and text and chat.  She spent two weeks feeling down and dark.  Her grades slipped, she felt alone, she didn't know why.

We attended a meeting a school. Talked about more providing academic challenges.  Discussed changing a few things so her peer group would be mixed.  She needs positive, goal-minded people around her.

This week she's been more positive, more willing to try new activities - those usually out of her comfort zone.  She's mentioning new friends.  Girls that are in band, and involved in the community.  Girls that accept her silly, upbeat nature and don't call her weird.

I'm hoping my youngest will continue to find the right people for her circle of friends.  She is a loyal friend, but she continues to be let down and sometimes shunned by others.

I truly hope her new friendships bloom, and she will grow from her experiences.

March 15, 2013

Television stars SOLC #15

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We packed a bag.

We brought our scripts.

We breathed in and out, calming our nerves.

We shouted a cheer.

We shared information.

We smiled and laughed.

We were television stars.

Kids saw us later.

"I saw you on the broadcast!"

"You put all the stuff on at the same time!"

"You were great!!"

We were television stars!

We asked, "Did we do a good job?"

The answers were all "Yes!"

Our biggest fans are 5-11 year olds.

Nielsen doesn't track our ratings.

We were television stars,

On the broadcast

At our elementary school.

We rocked it!

(***see yesterday's post for the story behind this slice)

March 14, 2013

Looking for the sunny side SOLC #14

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We've got spirit.  Yes we do.  We've got spirit.  How 'bout you?


Michelle and I were reminded that we usually kick of Read Across America Week on the last week of school before spring break.  We combine RAA with school spirit week.  There's crazy hair day, wear spring colors day, wear silly ties, hats and clothes.  We celebrate reading, we go on our broadcast.  We become superstars in our kids' eyes.


I have a headache just thinking of preparing for spirit week.  It's ONE MORE THING.  We finally finished state testing.  We're barely back into our regularly scheduled groups.

Where can I find some spirit?  some energy?  some fun?


I do have lots of chocolate in my desk, but that sticks to the hips.

It's finally sunny outside, but there's a threat of snow.

There's sunshine inside me, but it's buried under a layer of exhausted, winter-fatigued blah-ness.

Gotta find the inner sunshine soon.... I'm tired of being a grump!


March 13, 2013

Our Mountainous Decision SOLC #13

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My husband, Jeff, and I lived in Utah for a year before we had our girls and I went back into teaching.  The software company where my husband worked closed, so one of the former VPs invited him to work in Park City.

It was a huge decision to move to a new state, just the two of us.  I went to college only an hour away, and when we got married, we lived 20 minutes from our families.  This was going to be a new experience for both of us.

We sold our house and Jeff flew out after helping me pack the house.   Granny Pat, Candy the dog and I drove out to Utah, taking three days to make the trek.  The moving truck would take 5 days.

The trip was mostly uneventful.  The dog slept most of the first day in the back seat.  We found snow in Wyoming (in October!) and crazy winds.  I had visited Utah one weekend before moving there, but now this was going to be my home.

I wasn't prepared for the sight I would see when we rounded the corner on Interstate 80, winding along the Wasatch front, facing west over the city.  The day was clear. The mountains were sharp.  The city looked fresh.  What a difference from Chicago!

This was my new town.  We would be living in Salt Lake and working in Park City.  Our commute would consist of a nearly 4,000-foot ascent through the mountains on a winding interstate.  

Looking back, we made lots of new friends and had many fun experiences.  We've gone back twice with the girls to visit.  They were amazed by the rocky terrain.

Some days I miss the mountains - their firm place on the horizon.  The sheer cliffs and snow-topped peaks.  It was an adventure, living far from home, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Photo from

March 12, 2013

Late Start SOLC #12

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It's late start at the high school today.  My school starts at 9:00 a.m.


Stay up late
Remind mom it's late start
Ignore pleas to get to bed and turn off phones
History notes
Sending texts
Set alarm for 8:15
Need a wake up body shake at 8:20
No rush to get out of bed


Call "all phones off" at 10:00 - get response, "It's late start, mom!"
Remind oldest at 11:15 that she needs to go to bed - get response, "It's late start, mom!"
Fall asleep - really crash - at 11:30
Alarm beeps and screams at 6:30
Pound alarm button
Decide you need a late start, too
Roll over
7:45 wake up
Decide you can take a really quick shower
7:51 finally get up
Ready at 8:25
Hair doesn't look that bad
Arrive at school 8:50

Sometimes we all need a late start to our day.

March 11, 2013

Frank the guardian dove? SOLC #11

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There is a mourning dove.  We usually see him alone, but sometimes he is accompanied by another dove.  When we see him, we say, "Look!  It's Frank!"  We smile and feel warm inside.

I know, it's a dove.  But he has a special story.


My Grandpa Frank was a joyful man who worked hard.  He and my Grandma Shirley raised six kids on a bricklayer's salary (and lack of a salary in the winter).    Grandma Shirley was the rule maker and Grandpa Frank was the rule breaker.

I'm the oldest of eleven grandchildren.  I remember being handed Cheerios by Grandpa Frank and being told, "Go plant these in the yard.  They are doughnut seeds!"  He always told silly jokes that poked fun at his Polish heritage.  When he was younger, he was kicked out of more than one school for being a "hooligan" and he told stories about having his knuckles rapped by nuns.

In the summer of 2004 we lost Grandpa Frank to complications of a stroke and melanoma.  He died on Father's Day leaving a hole in the hearts of many.  "Be good," were the last words he told me.

Fast foward a few years.  My mom has a small window in her closet which she can look through when she looks in the bathroom mirror to dry her hair.  She started noticing a mourning dove when she thought about her dad (my grandpa, Frank).

I wonder if Dad's here to check up on us. She would wonder.  Then she would feel better about connecting the bird's visit to a challenge our family was facing.

On the day we moved my brother and his family back to Illinois under less than ideal circumstances, a single mourning dove sat on the wire right above their driveway.  "There's Frank!" my mom exclaimed.  She then explained how she connected seeing a mourning dove to her dad.

It's been awhile since I've seen Frank.  We have medical concerns and general stress in my family, so when I went outside to get the Sunday papers, I was pleasantly surprised to see Frank sitting on our roof.

It's funny to think that a bird can make you feel a little better about things.
Whatever works, right?

Frank came for a visit.

March 10, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Saga SOLC #10

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In high school, my friend Christel and I called ourselves the Keebler Elves.  We could whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies that were fluffy, chewy and delicious.  Nothing fancy -- we just followed the Nestle Toll House recipe on the bag of chocolate chips.

In high school I worked at Mrs. Fields Cookies.  I could only drop the cookie dough on to the cookie sheets when someone older than 18 mixed the dough (out of secret recipe bags).  I excelled at shaping the nicest chocolate chip cookies that weighed nearly a ton.

I married my husband in 1990 and my cookie baking skills were intact.  We learned that he was the head chef and I was in charge of baking.  My repertoire included chocolate crinkles, banana bread, sugar cookies,  pumpkin pies and chocolate mousse.  Our kitchen times were fun and relaxing.

The girls were born in 1996 and 1998.  Not much time for baking then, but a plate of chocolate chip cookies could still be found in the container on the counter every now and then.

When the girls turned 4 and 2, I gave them aprons and kitchen tools on Christmas Eve.  Our yearly tradition of baking for the neighbors began.

Two years after my Granny Pat passed away, we were missing the taste of her chrusciki (fried dough).  I figured out how to make this fluffy, golden fried dough just like she did.  That's the year my chocolate cookies started coming out flat, greasy and half-baked.

What happened?  We don't know!  My oldest can actually remember when the cookies went "bad."  Sure, they tasted great, but their consistency was less than desirable.

I tried different recipes.  I tried adding more flour.  I changed the settings on our convection oven.
Nothing worked.

Last night I decided to try again.  I took my time.  I followed each measurement and step precisely.  I completely creamed the butter and sugar - longer than I ever have.  When the cookies came out, they weren't half baked.  They weren't too flat.  They could be fluffier, but I have to start somewhere!

Success - even a little - is sweet!

March 9, 2013

Saturdays SOLC #9

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I approach each Saturday with a little trepidation. It's a different-feeling day than Sunday.

Sundays are for staying in pajamas until noon, reading every page of two newspapers, making a big breakfast for my family, and avoiding my school bag until late in the day.

Saturdays feel like another working day for me.  I start the day with a quick inventory of the refrigerator.  Do I need to shop?  My mind empties on to a piece of notebook paper, creating a lengthy to-do list of chores and errands I haven't been able to accomplish during the week(s).

Guilt and confusion creeps into my mind... shouldn't I dust the china cabinet?  We really need to clean the windows in the family room.  It's supposed to rain, so I should check the downspouts.

Saturdays are not the best day with someone with prioritizing issues (like me!).  Most Saturdays I get LOTS done (stay out of my way - I might knock you over with a laundry basket), but some Saturdays I spend spinning.  Unable to decide what needs my attention first.

I'm happy to say that I've crossed 3 items off my to-do list already, and it's only 10:00 a.m.!  Maybe today will be different.  Maybe today I'll let myself do one thing at a time before I'll move to the next task.  Maybe today I'll give myself a chance to wander through the bookstore, take a few more minutes on the computer, forget that we lose an hour tonight (!), and have another cup of coffee.

I'll just pretend it's Sunday!

March 8, 2013

My 100th Post!!! SOLC #8

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WOW!  I couldn't believe the number when I saw it... my 100th post on this blog!  I never thought I could write 1, 5 or 10 posts (let alone the SOL Challenge of 2012) but here I am - slicing and writing and sharing my opinions.

Today, on my sunny half birthday, I present a gratitude list!  Here's to another 100+ slices!

I'm thankful for

  • friends who inspire me to be myself
  • students who remind me to teach thoughtfully and to the best of my abilities
  • social media sites to keep me connected to a huge, knowledgeable professional development network
  • books, libraries, bookstores and book-loving people to talk with about my reading
  • funny ideas that make me laugh and wise quotations that make me think
  • my health (let's pretend I'm not exhausted from a long week!)
  • chocolate (!)
  • blue skies and sunshine - no matter what the season
  • my blog readers and fellow slicers
  • Friday ('nuff said)
I'm most thankful for my family.  They are patient, understanding, kind and my favorite people on the planet.

Woo hoo! It's my 100th post!

March 7, 2013

Embracing their differences SOLC #7

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Two Writing Teachers
I've been doing a lot of observing this week.

We're in a testing routine which places me in a classroom environment, not my usual resource settings.

When you're walking around the room, there's lots of time to think and notice.

I've noticed all the different cultures present at our school.

I've noticed the perfectionists, the lost lambs and the determined.

I've noticed the students who gain confidence and those students who suddenly lose confidence.

I've heard the sighs, the gasps, the breathy "yes" cheer, and the "oh no"s.

I've heard the wiggling, the tapping, the papers falling to the floor.

I understand that it takes a variety of students to make a classroom, and a variety of classrooms to make a school.

I'm thankful for the great amount of read aloud time I'm getting in a fourth grade classroom.  So many ideas from many children of different home lives, income levels, learning styles and personalities.

We are different.  
We are here at school for a shared purpose.  
We all aren't in the same place in our learning, but 
we're all in this together.

March 6, 2013

A helpful winter tool SOLC #6

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Two Writing Teachers
It's a handy little tool
Much smaller than the rest
It helps you in the winter
It really is the best

What is this handy tool
That helps with all the snow?
It's my baby snowblower
And man, can that thing throw!

It's powered by electricity
There's not a cord around
Long enough to reach the end
Of the driveway...that I've found

When the neighbors see me,
They smirk and they laugh
To see me out there with this tiny tool
and the big drifts that I attack

Oh baby snowblower you are little,
But you really help me out
Better than a shovel or a plow
Without you, I would pout!

Happy snow day recovery to my midwest friends... may the snow fall not as deep in the east today!

March 5, 2013

Messy kitchen = happy family SOLC #5

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When we remodeled our house, I knew the kitchen wasn't for me.  I'm the now-and-then baker and throw-together-pasta-for-dinner cook.  My husband, Jeff, is the true chef of the family.

For the past few years, Jeff  has traveled extensively for work.  My daughters have gotten used to nearly-edible dinners and take out opportunities.  I usually get a text at dinner time..."We were thinking of grabbing dinner at  Potbelly's... is that okay?"  I never say no.

For the past two months, my husband has worked locally.  The vast amount of meat in our freezer has been defrosted proactively and turned into some beautiful dinners with incredible side dishes...

Baked chicken (brined before baking)
Beef Bourguignon
Spaghetti with a rich meat sauce
Roasted vegetables
Garlic mashed potatoes

Needless to say, I have a lot of clean up after dinner, but it's worth it!  Our beautiful kitchen deserves to be used, and I don't mind scrubbing dishes and the stove top.

Our stomachs are full of food prepared with love.  Dinner has become a less stressful part of the day for me and the head chef.  The girls are staying home for dinner more often, and we've had more time to talk and laugh as a family.

I wonder what's for dinner tonight!

March 4, 2013

Lindsey SOLC #4

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at Two Writing Teachers

Lindsey likes to ask about my blog.  "Did you write about me today?"  I chuckle and remember that the world does revolve all around 16-year-olds, right?!  "Maybe next time," I always reply.

Last year Lindsey had to wait until the final days of the SOL Challenge to get a few mentions in my slices (Daughter,  Car Conversations).  This year, she makes #4 on the challenge list of slices.

Lindsey is my oldest and a born leader.  I remember explaining to her -- at the ripe age of 3 -- the idea of "free will."  She always insisted that her younger sister should play whatever she wanted to play.  I remember trying to coach Lindsey that her younger sister could choose a different activity.  That never went over well.  Let's be honest, the girl likes to be in charge.

Lindsey is steadfast and loyal to her friends, teams and organizations.  She helps her friends when they need it and always manages to have fun.  Her teachers have always enjoyed her sarcastic, yet completely appropriate, sense of humor, since elementary school.  Lindsey has played every women's sport (except volleyball) and her coaches always rely on her to follow directions, know the plays, and support her teammates.

When asked what she likes best about her big sister, Allison stated:
"She's funny and a sweet sister.  She knows what is right.  I know if I have a problem, she will help me solve it.  I also love her long hair that has no split ends!"
Lindsey's passions include golf, lacrosse, and marching band.  (Of course she picked the coolest instrument, the sousaphone!) She's got lots of school spirit, so she's looking for a Big Ten college that fits her academic, campus and social goals.  A career in law or business (or a mix) is in her future.

I'll never forget the day Lindsey arrived.  She was due on my birthday, September 8th, but that wasn't going to work for her.  In the early hours of August 31st, I thought I had terrible stomach cramps from dinner.  Later that morning I made my way to a doctor's appointment.  We were supposed to attend a family reunion at my parents' house in the afternoon.   Instead of the party, I got to go to the hospital!

I'm exceptionally proud of the great kid she's become.  I know she feels like her dad and I have big expectations for her, but we know that she's capable of doing anything she sets her mind to.

Love ya, Linds!

March 3, 2013

Trust SOLC #3

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Two Writing Teachers

I'm not feeling a lot of it today.

Two teen daughters.  One with decent grades and a tendency to procrastinate (inherited from me!).
One with falling grades and roller coaster attitude.

I want to trust that they will do their homework, study for tests and keep a positive attitude without me having to ask, sitting on top of them, or micromanaging.

I have two choices - trust or become one of those parents.
 I've read all about them.

Helicopter parents.
Hovering.  Fixing.  Solving.

I have to teach my daughters to find the way that works best for them to take care of their home and school responsibilities in a timely and responsible manner.  My husband reminds me they need to learn from their mistakes.  We learned.  We turned out to be pretty responsible people.

Do I worry more about how I am perceived as a parent if my children struggle?  Is it a big reflection on me - especially because I'm a teacher?

There's a fine line between enabling and empowering.

I'm walking on a parenting tightrope that's made entirely of


March 2, 2013

Date Night? SOLC #2

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at Two Writing Teachers

Last night my youngest daughter went snow tubing with friends.  My oldest daughter volunteered at the elementary school's fun fair.  This left my husband and I with a few free hours.

We started at the local family-run Mexican restaurant.  We enjoyed some tasty food and a mango margarita.  Yum!  Then we decided to go grocery shopping.

Romantic, right? 

There's a new chain of stores in our area that's a neat combination of fresh market/bakery/butcher shop and regular grocery.  It's a 20 minute ride from our usual store, but I think it's worth the trip.  My husband hasn't gone with me before, even though he's the head chef and foodie at our house.

I really thought the trip would be a dud.  Jeff hasn't been feeling his best, and I really considered going by myself.

As it turned out, we had an enjoyable hour in the store.  It wasn't very crowded and we were able to stroll down each aisle and really take everything in.  We challenged each other to find the cheapest item when brand didn't matter.  We discussed our youngest daughter's need for seafood (she should live in Maine!).  We made fun of the prickly okra (how do you cook that?) and admired the beautiful purple eggplants.

Maybe date night at your place looks a little different, but on this particular Friday night in our corner of the world, nothing beat a relaxing trip to the market!

March 1, 2013

How I started to Slice - SOLC #1

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Two years ago, I thought my friend and colleague Michelle was C.R.A.Z.Y.  She had convinced me into writing a blog in 2010.  Now it was January 2011.  She was talking all about her new group of online friends.

She called them "The Slicers."

"Yeah.  Uh-huh.  That sounds nice," I said.

Then she talked about how she was becoming such a better writer and thinker.  She gushed about her new writing community.

"Writing community?" I thought.  "Oh - I can't be part of that.  I'm a big talker, but I'm no writer!"

Fast forward to last year, March 2012.  Michelle encourages Lynn at school to try slicing.  Lynn has started a blog and writes pretty often.

I ask Lynn if she's going to slice.  She's not feeling confident about writing every day, but she decides to join.

I'm still not convinced that I can do it.  Where will I find the time?

I visited Ruth & Stacey's website.  I clicked around. I stalked other slicers in February.

I jumped in with both feet.  I was nervous.  I was unsure of my ability to write something that would make sense.  I worried that no one would read or comment.

What happened after 31 straight days of writing?
I found a community where everyone is valued.  I made connections.  I found my voice.

I'm excited for all the first-time slicers... get ready for a month you won't forget!

We're so glad you're here!

P.S.  Thanks, Michelle and Lynn for your ability to listen, hold me accountable, and your friendship!! XOXO
P.P.S. Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for giving us a place to become a community of writers!