Thursday, March 31, 2016

Day 31 SOL 16: Shifting to Poetry

"One learns by thinking and writing, and by talking about writing - but primarily through writing."      ---Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook (p. 17)


Today one door closes another one opens, as today I step from the month long Slice of Life Writing Challenge with Two Writing Teachers into a month of writing poetry for April's National Poetry Month celebration.  I'm looking forward to spending some time writing poetry.  This is my third year to join poetry bloggers in a month of writing (thanks, Mary Lee, for the nudge and inspiration).


Many moons ago I was talking about poetry with a friend and poet.  We were discussing poetry and I was lamenting that poets seemed to have a style.  I'm always trying to figure out my style.  Do I write for children or adults?  Do I write about small things or moments?  What type of poetry feels right when I sit down to put words on paper?  Without skipping a beat, my friend commented, "You're a narrative poet."  She said it so quickly that I had to pause to consider her words.  In a sense she was right.  I'm not sure I've found my place in poetry yet, but I'm going to use this month to try it out a bit.  As Mary Oliver says, "One learns...primarily by writing."

I considered a theme.  I'm looking forward to Mary Lee's writing around old photographs and Amy VanDerwater's quest to Wallow in Wonder.  There will be a myriad of other poets choosing a lens for celebration.  I can't wait to see what the month has in store for me ---- and kicking off Poetry Month on a Friday is more cause for celebration.  I did consider a theme, but I've decided I'm going to spend the month working on the craft of poetry and see where it takes me.  While I don't plan to have a theme (of course, who knows what will happen), I do plan to focus on narrative poetry and improving my craft in free verse poetry.  I've gathered my mentors:


I'm looking forward to the switch to writing poetry.  I know it will focus my attention on smaller moments, on word selection, on the rhythms of a poem, and on the significance of a line.  There's something comfortable about poetry.  On the days when I struggled to find something to write about during March's challenge, I could ease the stress by thinking about poem.  So here we go....another crazy month of writing.  Who's in??




For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It has been a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!!  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.





Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day 30 SOL 16: Lessons Learned

Yesterday I met with our Slice of Life group, a mix of first through fifth graders, for our last meeting before the challenge ends.  The students gathered around the carpet as we talked about what we've loved about the challenge.  One student shared that she has written every day for two years of the challenge.  "I'm not sure what I will do next year when I'm in the sixth grade building," she bemoaned.

"No worries," I assured her, "you just track me down.  I'll help you figure it out."

The group started to rumble as they considered the end of our challenge.  Our conversation turned to what they'd learned in their month of writing.  Several students had written every day, or nearly every day, since the challenge began.  Others had maintained some consistency in posting for the month.  Everyone had learned lessons of one kind or another.  We started a Padlet for students to share what they had learned with the group (you can view their responses here).

Like my students, and like other participants, I've learned a few things along the way myself:

  1. I'm a morning writer.  (Well, I already knew this, but it was very apparent as I don't have "morning time" during the school week.)
  2. My writing is best when I decide what I'm writing about early, and then work the piece in my head across the day.  
  3. PUBLISHING a piece of writing everyday isn't easy.
  4. I'm not comfortable pushing the publish button before I feel a piece is ready.  
  5. If I don't write down an idea when it comes to me, it can be will be lost.
  6. Taking time for a quick write when the idea comes to me makes writing my piece much easier.  Just five minutes now can be quite powerful later.
  7. Working at this pace makes it hard to keep up with my reading...and reading inspires my writing. 
  8. Having a writing community matters for so many reasons!  I'm not sure where I'd be without my student writers, my friends participating, and the Slice of Life community.
  9. There are stories everywhere.
  10. I'm happier writing poetry.  (Stay tuned tomorrow to find out more about this.)  
Sometimes I've wished this challenge was in the summer when I really had the time to devote to the writing, but honestly I think I would miss the point that if you write every day you're bound to come up with a piece or two of writing that might have the potential to become something better with a little bit of sculpting.   Thank you to the group at Two Writing Teachers and all of you that have stopped by to comment.  I couldn't have finished without you!




For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Day 29 SOL 16: Happy Birthday, Mom

"I keep going back to your blog, but I haven't seen any new posts in awhile," my mom comments nonchalantly one evening as we chat on the phone.

I chuckle.  Saying you haven't seen any posts in "awhile" was a huge understatement.  I knew it had been weeks since my last post.  Actually, it was quite likely, the time could be measured in months.  "You know how I am.  When life gets busy, the blog seems to be the first thing to go," I reply.

I had to smile.  My mom is probably the only person in the world that has noticed I haven't posted from my blog in awhile.  My mom constantly stops by to check out what I have been writing, and always leaves a comment.

It makes me smile.  It's one thing to be in first grade and have your work hung on the refrigerator, but it's quite another to be as old as I am and still have a mom who is rooting for your every move.

In life moms come in many packages, but I lucked out for sure.  When life gets challenging, I call Mom.  When there's exciting news, I call Mom.  Need advice about the kids?  Call Mom.  Trying to figure out how to substitute ingredients?  Call Mom.  Hoping someone will just listen?  Call Mom.  My mom has always had the keen ability to listen and say just the right thing.

Today my mom celebrates her birthday, but I am surely the one who should be celebrating.  I count my blessings every day.

Happy birthday, Mom.





For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 28 SOL 16: Getting Started

A little over a week ago the rains came down for hours and hours.  The water swelled in the backyard forming a temporary pond to fool the ducks.  The skies stayed gray and our sump pump worked and worked.  My husband headed downstairs the next morning to put salt in our water softener to find water rising just above the first step of our basement.

Since that day, we've been working through the process of getting the basement back together.  I find the task overwhelming.  Where do we begin?  Do we get a dumpster?  Do we haul out everything?  What can stay?  Thankfully, I handle most of our day to day jobs, but my husband is the king in crisis.  He's ready to dig in and get it done.  He's just waiting on the green light to toss all of the items that rest below our first floor.

To get the ball rolling all I really need to do is walk downstairs and inventory.  What can be saved?  There are so many items of memory downstairs:  photographs, books from when the kids were little, Christmas decorations, furniture that has been passed across generations.  It's impossible for me to walk down the steps without feeling the need to turn around and race back upstairs so I'm telling myself to take thirty minutes.

Thirty minutes seems to be the magic number for me to get things done.  In thirty minutes a lot can be accomplished, yet thirty minutes doesn't sound like much of a commitment.  I can do most anything for thirty minutes.  A procrastinator at heart, I work well under pressure.  However, the true reason for my procrastination I've discovered is that I have a hard time knowing where to start.  I've learned across the years to take overwhelming jobs and break the project into smaller parts to feel it is manageable.  Then the hardest part is getting started.  That's when I tell myself, "Just work on it for thirty minutes."

Thirty minutes seems to be magic.  Truthfully, once I begin a task I find that at the end of thirty minutes I'm either finished (many tasks take much less time than anticipated), close enough to being done that I want to continue, or so interested in what I am doing I can't stop.  Thirty minutes writes a Slice of Life post (right now this one has taken 17 minutes), sorts through the overwhelming mail stack, cleans a room, and weeds at least one flower bed.  By telling myself I'll commit thirty minutes to a task I get a lot more done.  The secret to those challenging tasks, it seems, is simply getting started.






For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day 27 SOL 16: Songs of Joy

Songs of Joy

Today the earth
celebrates:
birds of all colors
sing songs of joy,
buds ready to burst
rest on branches,
the sun rises
to warm the land,
the sky the bluest
of blues,
the daffodil dances,
the grass,
once brown
now the deepest of green,
abundant in
the newness of life.
Rejoice!

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016



For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 26 SOL 16: The Bookstore

What's New?
I'm a device gal.  Technology and gadgets are my thing so it doesn't really surprise people when I tell them I prefer to read on a device.  Despite what the research says, it doesn't keep me up at night.  I also question research that talks about retaining what we read if we're reading on a device.  It seems to me the secret might be knowing how to highlight, note, and actively engage in a digital text.  There are so many advantages to reading on a device:
  • It's easy to carry a collection of books with you at all times.
  • I'm ready for any reading emergency.
  • Selection.  Selection.  Selection. 
  • I have a record of the all the books I've read (very helpful when I forget a title --- which is all of the time).
  • I can adjust the font side.
  • I can refer back to lines or information read in just a few clicks on the screen.
  • How far it is to the end of the book never stresses me out (it did in a regular book).
  • There's no need to find space in my house for the book.
Yes, I know there is a con to every pro I've listed, but it works for me.  Since going digital, I've never looked back.  The ease of borrowing books from our library makes it even better.  (Thank you, Columbus Public Library!)  I read much more now than I did when a paper copy of a book was required.

Employee Recommendations
No matter how digital I become, I'm pretty sure nothing will ever replace a trip to the bookstore.  Yesterday I found myself with a few hours between lunch with family and my evening class.  It seemed the bookstore was the perfect place to spend some time.  I wandered in and immediately felt at home surrounded by the books on the shelves.  As I entered I was greeted by the newest releases and the bestsellers.  Meandering the shelves, I glanced at titles, read book jackets, and took note of the recommendations of the store's employees.  

Love the way they've managed
to get so many picture books
with their covers facing out.
When I go to the bookstore I usually allow myself to purchase a book or two, and then add the rest to my Goodreads account.  I'm really just like a kid when it comes to book shopping;  put the book on an endcap or situate the book with it's cover facing out, and I'm more likely to pick it up.  Books that are facing spine out are only helpful if I'm looking for a particular author.  Thankfully the store I visited has book display down to a science.  There were books to browse at every turn.  

As a digital reader, I don't want to be part of the fall of the bookstore so I regularly make purchases from local bookstores and even the mega-giant, Barnes and Noble.  As I floated from the adult section to go peruse picture books, my attention was drawn to a young family playing in the children's area.  They were using the stage, playing with the racetrack, and talking about books.  As a teacher, I delighted in the idea that a child could find so much joy in a bookstore --- and leave with a book or two in hand.  These are the memories that make readers.  

Long live the bookstore!  No matter how much I love digital reading, I'll always enjoy spending time wandering the shelves.  



For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.



Friday, March 25, 2016

Poetry Friday & Day 25 SOL 16: Night Writer

Oh, night writer,
how I envy thee;
with your ability
to find words
as the stars
illuminate the sky.

You've spent
your day collecting:
stories,
phrases,
moments.
Wrapping them
in the pages
of your notebook
as your day settles.

      I'm a morning writing.
      Though I try,
      my words
      don't rise with the moon.
      It seems I must carry them
      into my dreams, where they
      toss,
      grow,
      multiply.

      My song plays
      as the sun rises.
      Words find their way
      to the paper
      as the world awakens:
      the chickadee chirps,
      the robin sings,
      the finch flits about,
      as I tap away
      composing stories
      onto the page.

There are days
when I try
be a writer like you,
settling into
the blackness of night,
searching for words,
only to find
emptiness.

         I'm a morning writer,
         I require the light
         to find words
         as they hide,
         to help me see
         down the path,
         to find the stories
         resting in places
         unknown.

Oh, night writer,
how I envy thee,
but I find comfort
knowing that you search
for words
on the other side
of night.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016



For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.




It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by My Juicy Little Universe where Heidi Mordhorst hosts today's parade of wondrous words.







                                                                 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 24 SOL 16: 5 Things About Today

It's late.  I'm tired.  I had class tonight and just finished getting together all the information I need to have my taxes done tomorrow.  Ugh.  Taxes.  So I'm going to end this day with a short piece....five things that were great about today.


  1. Lunch with my aunt and uncle who are visiting from South Carolina.  It's always great to catch up with them. 
  2. I had a little time between lunch and my class so I headed over to the bookstore.  
  3. Before class I spent some time at Starbucks with a cup of coffee and some poetry.  
  4. I started planning for April's poetry month events.  I've wavered between not participating, to not tying myself down to a plan, to maybe a plan would be nice.  More to come on this...
  5. Tax information is in an envelop and ready for my tax appointment.  Yep, for those of you that know me best, I'm getting my taxes done "early" this year.  


For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.






Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 23 SOL 16: We Choose

We Choose

We can invest
in worry
about safety,
about health,
about others.

We can invest 
in fear
of those with differences,
of tomorrows,
of ourselves.

We can invest
in waiting
for a moment,
for a miracle,
for something to happen.

or

We can invest
in being,
in reaching,
in changing,
in doing,
in making a difference.

The choice
is ours.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016



For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.




Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 22 SOL 16: A Trip to Mom's

Where the mountains
touch the sky.
Where the water 
shimmers of sapphire.

Where spring 
comes earlier.
Where flowers 
color the earth.

Where brown 
has long since gone.
Where everywhere
the world is green.  

Where games 
are required.
Where winning
is not.

Where dessert
comes first. 
Where laughter
reigns.

Where no matter
how old you think you might you be,
you will cared for,
and reminded 
there's no better place
than a trip to mom's. 

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016




For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.




Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 21 SOL 16: A Child's Eye

A Child's Eye

The young family
walks down the city street
glancing inside windows.
Mom in front
Dad in back.
Two children tucked
in the middle.

It isn't long until
they near an ice-cream shop.
The family pauses
as if to decide.
Going in?
Staying out?

Adults talk together.
Children wait.

Suddenly
the young girl shouts,
"Look at the sky."
Her mom
stops her conversation,
glances up.

The girl points,
"White flowers floating."

The street
stands still.
The adults,
walking distractedly
down the sidewalk,
stop,
noticing what they hadn't
noticed before.

Dogwood petals
fall like snow
toward the city sidewalk.
A moment
that might have
gone unnoticed
without the watchful eyes
of a young child.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016




For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.





Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day 20 SOL 16: Our Own Kind of Luck

Tonight my mom and I went down to play some BINGO with the Lion's Club.  The activity center near her residence houses the event every few weeks.  We walked in to the center, purchased a few cards, and played several games of BINGO.  I didn't win.  I'm not as lucky as my grandma used to be, but the time playing with my mom reminded me of some great times by my grandma's side.  

There wasn't anything better than spending time with my grandma.  My grandma was the mother of three boys, so being the first grandchild AND a girl gave me quite a bit of privilege.  Not only did I have automatic points with my grandma, but when I was nine they built apartments behind my house.  My parents probably saw a problem with the open field being replaced by multiunit housing, but I saw opportunity.

When the apartments started to be built, I picked up the rotary phone and called Grandma to let her know the place she should live was right behind my house.  It wasn't long until we were unloading my grandparent's belongings into those very apartments.  From that moment on, my life was perfect.  If I needed anything I just walked to Grandma's.  Need a snack?  See Grandma.  Want to play games?  See Grandma.  Need a break from the parents?  See Grandma.

My grandma was cool.  She drove a yellow Firebird.  She wore the most glamorous of outfits.  She listened to the best music, and somehow she knew all of the popular stars.  My grandma and I spent countless days and nights together.  We played rummy, watched television, and worked on her quilts. Each night we'd sit on the couch, she'd sew and I'd thread needles.  When I'd get bored, I'd try on all of her shoes or play in her jewelry.

I spent many nights with my grandma who could stay up late and sleep well into the morning.  One of my favorite nights was Monday nights.  On Monday nights, my grandma played BINGO.  This was always one of my highlights.  At first, on the nights I didn't have school on Tuesday, I was able to go up to the Legion Hall with her as she played BINGO.  I was too young to play, but she'd buy me a Coke.  I'd watch her cards with her, and keep her company.  It wasn't long until I was able to join her on school nights too.  Yes, it was a little late, but as long as I didn't complain about being tired the next day everyone seemed to play along.

My grandma was as lucky as anyone I knew.  It seemed uncommon for her not to win on a BINGO night.  She'd place her cards in front of her, and get down to business.  Numbers would be called, and she always seemed to have them.  People around her sighed and groaned, but Grandma just seemed to smile and wait.  At that time they played on cards with a sliding cover, using a few paper cards for special games.  People purchased rip-offs for extra fun. (I thought they were called rip-offs because people tore off small doors to see if they won a prize, but I'm guessing they were called that because everyone was just wasting their money.  LOL)  Grandma never played rip-offs as she was already winning just playing BINGO.

My grandma had her luck, and I had my mine.  Grandma was winning at BINGO, but I was winning at life.  What fun to be side by side with her through most of my childhood.



For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.






Saturday, March 19, 2016

Day 20 SOL 16: The Promise of Spring


As we followed
the winding road south,
we crossed 
the line to spring
much earlier 
than usual.
The brown turning green.
The white dogwood blooms
dotting the meandering road.
The redbud
accenting the world 
in shades of sunset pink.
Signs of hope.
The promise of
days to come.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015





For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.



Friday, March 18, 2016

Poetry Friday & Day 18 SOL 16: Bird Games

In the evening
the blackbirds gather
in gaggles
across tree tops:
whistling from white pine,
calling from maple,
trilling from tulip tree.

The blackbirds'
early spring songs
contrast the silence
of weeks ago,
when the trees waited
for their return.

During the day
they go unnoticed,
as the sun begins to set
they come out 
to play bird games,
soaring in pairs
against the cerulean sky.  

As evening wanes,
the crescendo continues
in chattered chorus,
birds dart 
from here to there,
flitting from tree to tree,
as if trying to keep 
treetop numbers equal.

As birds begin to blend
with night sky,
they sing their last refrain,
play their last games,
dance their last dance,
the coda closes the day
as the blackbird vanishes
into their nests
for the night.  

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016




For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.




It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Life on the Deckle Edge as Robyn Hood Black hosts today's parade of wondrous words.















Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 17 SOL 16: The Real March Madness

It's March Madness.  Despite my current fascination with fantasy sports, I'm really not much of a March Madness fan.  Short of watching a few Buckeye basketball games, I really don't watch much college basketball.

Though I've hardly watched a game, I decided to join our family's bracket challenge hosted by my nephew.  I tell the family I add a little extra challenge as to get beat by someone like me would surely be worse than losing.  They don't seem as worried as I think they should be.  

It's March Madness so my husband is kicked back in his chair flipping between at least four different channels.  DirectTV has helped him by creating a composite channel that combines several games on one screen.  After all the years we've been married, I've come to expect the world to come to a stop for basketball during this month.  How did we do this before the DVR?  

While the rest of the world thinks the madness in March is basketball, those of us working to write every day know what the real madness is.  We know that the real madness is trying to think about something to write each and every day.  We know the real madness is working the bracket of blogs to get everywhere to leave a comment.  We know the real victory will be making it to the end of the month with 31 posts.  

We can do it.



For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 16 SOL 16: A Flood of Memories

Realizing my husband had left a few lights on in the basement, I took a deep breath and headed downstairs.   The light was coming from the far side of the basement so I had to walk through the scattered boxes and ruined remnants of our lives to turn them off.  As I stepped on the carpet with my bare feet, water squished under my toes.  The carpet had become a sponge still holding onto some of the water that had flooded our basement since Monday.

Since first hearing the news, I'd tried to avoid the basement.  Most of my life, I have found pretending something isn't happening can make it a little less painful for a bit.  Knowing I'd eventually have to take myself down there and start filling a dumpster with unsalvageable pieces, I thought I'd take a wait to worry approach.  I was already heartbroken about the waterlogged hope chest that once belonged to my grandmother.  Years ago it stored letters from her first husband, my grandfather, sent to her while he was at sea during World War II.  I'd thought about the hope chest, but I was refusing to think of all of the other small stories that might rest below our first floor.

Walking across the carpet, I tried not to look around too much.  I tried to ignore the still drying dollhouse, the storage boxes turned on their sides, and the smell of stale water that filled the air.  I walked carefully, trying not to notice too much around me.  It wasn't long until ignoring became impossible as, to my right, I noticed a photo album.  I bent down to look at it closely.  It was thick and filled with pages now saturated with water.  Picking it up, water poured from its pages.  I took a deep breath and flipped the thick book open to find the wedding album my grandpa and grandma had made with pictures from my wedding shower, our wedding day, and other related celebrations.  Looking away, my eyes fixed upon the old slide projector my grandfather had used to show slides when we were kids.  A reel still stuck in its side as if it had been stopped mid-show.  I forced my glance back to the photo book.  Memories flooded my mind.

I wanted to turn around and go back, but I couldn't leave the light on all night.  Knowing there wasn't much I could do to change our current situation, I stood the book up in hopes some of the water would drain and some photos would be salvageable.  The memory of my grandparents, the sweetness of those days long ago, and the disaster that surrounded me, weighed heavy on my heart as I searched for the strength to move toward the light.  My feet returned to the squishy carpet, my eyes fixed straight toward the floor in hopes of avoiding discovering the other items damaged from the water.  Finally, I made it to the light switch.  Quickly I pushed the switch, and the room went dark silencing the stories that surrounded me.  I walked back up the stairs and closed the door behind me, for now returning to pretending that nothing had happened.



For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.





Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 15 SOL 16: Questions, Let's Ask Questions

via Khaydock
WikiMedia Commons
Today I was talking with my friend, Julie, about an upcoming iBook project we will soon be tackling.  Julie has worked with iBooks before, but this is all new to me.  As we talked I began asking questions.  How will be do this collaboratively?  What will we need others to contribute?  Will we use a template?  Can we add to the book later?  Does everyone have to send their books to Apple before they become iBooks?  The questions were rolling out faster than Julie could even listen to them.  Finally, she looked at me and said, "Do you know this is Question Week?"

What?!?!  There's a question week.  I just love questions.  It appears question week has been organized by Warren Berger, the author of A More Beautiful Question.  I had to stop by the blog to check it out.  Sure enough, there are all kinds of links and activities suggested for question week.  Did you know you might tackle any problem with these three questions?  Did you realize that asking eight questions might lead you to your passion?  Who knew?  Right. 

Realizing that a week had been dedicated to questions, made me ask more questions.  What other little celebrations in life have I been missing?  It turns out that National Chocolate Day will be celebrated on October 28th, National Coffee Day is September 29th, and July 30th is National Cheesecake Day.  Yes, please!!  

If you're feeling exhausted, no worries.  Apparently March 18th is World Sleep Day.  I think we'll need it after trying to survive another time change.  I don't know about you, but I stay up way too late, struggle to get out of bed, and then find I need a nap in the afternoon.  Of course, the nap makes it hard to go to sleep...and the cycle continues.  I'll get it fixed on March 18th.  

March has St. Patrick's Day, but are there other holidays I may be missing?  Well, it turns out March is full of unusual holidays we can celebrate.  I was sad when I realized I missed National Nametag Day on the 10th.  That would have been such fun to celebrate!  On the 12th I could have celebrated National Fanny Pack Day.  Where is my fanny pack anyway?  It's been nearly a decade since I last saw it.  I did not celebrate National Moth-er Day yesterday.  True confessions:  I am terrified of moths.  Strange, I know.  Everyone needs to know tomorrow is No Selfie Day --- practice some self-control, friends.  I'm really excited to wrap up the month on the 26th with Make Up Your Own Holiday Day.  Nice!  What holiday will I make up?  Oh, the possibilities.  (stop by Mental Floss for 18 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in March.)

Did you know it was National Question Week?  Are you wondering how people everywhere are celebrating?  I'm thinking during this week we are not required to have answers, just lots of questions.  So dig deep into your inner nerd and start asking questions.  Why not?


For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 14 SOL 16: Superheroes

We all have heroes; the people in our lives that save the day when we need it most.  Sometimes these people seem like more than heroes, these seem like superheroes.  They're always there at just the right moment.  Like Spiderman, they seem to have a sense to know where danger lurks.  Like Superman, they might have super strength.  Some people possess genius intellect and indomitable will like Batman.

Today was one of the days that I was thankful for the superheroes in my life.

After leaving a reading ambassador meeting, I checked my phone to find this message:  "Call me when  you get a chance."  My husband never asks me to call him so I knew it probably wasn't good.

"How's your day been?" he asked when I called.

"Busy, but great," I replied.

"That's good," he said, "because I have some bad news.  The basement flooded today."

"What?!  That's not good," I countered, obviously not coming close to the severity of the situation.  "Have you called West Jefferson Plumbing?"

"Not yet," he said as I looked at my watch.

"Call them quick.  They should be closing soon," I suggested.

Packing up my school stuff quickly, I raced out the door and headed home thinking about all the work that was ahead for us.  When I pulled into our street I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw the West Jefferson Plumbing truck in our driveway.  Water was spouting into the yard from a hose placed carefully out the basement window.

Hesitantly grabbing the door to go inside, I wasn't surprised to find everything under control.   The new sump pump was being installed and we were at least on our way to fixing our first problem.  It wasn't long until I heard heavy footsteps coming up the stairs and was even more relieved to see Noah come up the steps.  Noah has saved the day before in our house.  When you live in the country in a house that is over thirty years old, things happen.

We live in a small town so you learn to appreciate small town businesses.  Such is the case with West Jefferson Plumbing.  Like Spiderman, they know where danger lurks.  It seems water wasn't our only problem.  Our softener was floating and our water heater has the potential to be have a coil out from the water.  Like Superman, they have the strength to get hard work done.  Most importantly, like Batman, they have the intellect and indomitable will to figure out the toughest of situations.

The bad news is, we have a lot more work ahead.  The good news is, West Jefferson Plumbing will help us get the first part of this job done.


For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 13 SOL 16: Days with Dad

"The kids are all here and we're ordering pizza," I texted my dad.  "You're welcome to join us."

It wasn't long until my dad replied, "I'm in for the night.  I don't feel well so I'm going to stay here.  Thanks."

"What?" the kids chimed together.  "Grandpa never says no," they said, "you should go over and check on him."  It was a little unusual.  First of all, my daughter was home from college for the start of her spring break.  She hadn't been home for several weeks.  My son was also at the house.  His schedule is usually so busy we rarely see him.

If anybody else would have declined, we wouldn't have thought much of it, but my dad rarely misses any fun.  He's always the first to say, "Yes, let's do it."  He loves adventure and is all ready to go along with the crowd.

When we were kids, my dad worked second shifts.  That meant he left for work around three and returned after midnight.  During the school year, it seemed my brothers and I didn't see much of him.  In the summer,  however, the best nights were the ones we managed to stay awake long enough for his return home.  Sometimes we were able to talk him into a late night drive into White Castle or perhaps some putt-putt in the dark.

Things haven't changed much.  Now my dad is one of the first people my kids call when they're ready for adventure.  He can be found driving all the way to my daughter's school to attend a sporting game or go out to dinner.  It's not unusual for him to pile all of the grandchildren into a car and head to a hockey game. If the kids are having a group of friends over, they always call Grandpa to see if he'll hang out too.

Even now, years later, hanging out with Dad is something I love.  Whether it's a coffee run, a trip across state lines, or a random drive, hanging out with Dad is always fun.  Dad has always managed to keep life in perspective, and just a few hours with him usually helps me get mine back too.

Today my dad is celebrating his birthday.  In true Dad style he's on vacation with my son.  They're hanging out in the mountains for a few days.  It seems birthdays can't slow him down.

For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.



Saturday, March 12, 2016

Day 12 SOL 12: Opting Out

Sometimes you hear or see something that takes you back to a memory long since forgotten.  That very thing happened today as I listened to Chris Lehman at Literacy Connection.  Chris was trying to show us how to compare texts through a similar lens.  He had decided to use text that had some political undertone.  He explained this to us and then added, "You are welcome to opt out."  Reminding us that students too should have the option to opt out of controversial or uncomfortable topics.

As an eighth grader, I would have appreciated the opportunity to opt out.  Growing up my mom kept us sheltered from violence.  We didn't watch violence on television.  My brother didn't own toy guns. We were taught to solve problems with words, not fists.  I always joke that my first PG movie was Starwars...and that I was twelve.  I was a bit sheltered in comparison to many of my peers, but I always felt better off for it.  Of course, as a result I had very little tolerance for unkind behaviors and violence.

In eighth grade my teacher decided we should watch The Lottery.  First let me say, that I had much respect for my teacher.  He was amazing.  He made learning fun and interesting.  He got the quirkiness of our age group, and worked to make learning interesting.  There was no taking it easy in his classroom either.  He held high expectations of each us, and we worked to achieve in his classroom.  When he decided we were watching The Lottery, I knew I had a problem.

The Lottery was about a woman who was stoned by her community.  To be honest, I remember nothing about his purpose or teaching point in showing this movie.  I only remember that as the community moved toward choosing the person who would be stoned my heart was heavy.  I couldn't tolerate that people could be so cruel and wanted to leave the room, but I was thirteen and powerless.    When the stoning began I really wanted to run.  I would have given anything to leave the room.  At that time, advocating for yourself really wasn't an option, or at least I didn't feel it was an option for me.

Chris's story today took me back to that moment.  It was a reminder that students should have some say in opting out.  Students should have some control in the texts they read and the media they are asked to view.  I'm sure my teacher had no idea how much I wanted to run that day.  Maybe he should have asked us.


For the month of March I will be participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  It will be a busy month of writing, commenting, and learning with this community.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.


My One Little Word for 2018

You know I loved my word for 2017.  I'm a little sad to let it go .  STRETCH will certainly be missed. Here are my past words: ST...