Monday, March 31, 2014

Slice of Life Day Thirty-One: Tempe Festival of the Arts

This is my last entry in the Slice of Life challenge.  I made it.  I wrote every day. So glad I did this. I now realize how much I love writing and need to write.  I am now following some amazing writers and even though they won't write every day, I will still follow them when they do write!  Thanks to everyone who put this challenge together!  I will start doing the Tuesday Slices of Life now!

When we planned our vacation, all we knew was that we wanted to spend time in the sun. We were ready for some warm weather wearing shorts and t-shirts and spending time at the pool!  So, when we got here and realized it was the weekend for the big Festival of the Arts on Mill Street, we were thrilled!
This morning early, we took our daily walk around the campus of ASU and then headed for Mill Street. There were the tents all set up and just waiting for us. We took a stroll around the closed tents and planned to come back later when they opened up at 10:00..
We came back later and spent a few hours walking through the streets. There were more than 350 fine artists and craft persons. Only original art was permitted and each of the artists are at their booth. We ate at the Food Court and listened to Porangui as he played Brazilian music. We watched the Circus School of Arizona performers at the Cameo Circle.  We stood and watched Chalk-A-Lot as the artists create original street art on 4th Street.  It was a beautiful day to take in the extraordinary festival.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Slice of Life Day Thirty: Starting Vacation

We have been planning our Spring Break trip for many months. We had our flight out of Detroit. We had our hotel in Tempe. We had our dog sitter all lined up. We were so organized!  After all the snow and cold weather, we were so ready to get to some sun and hot weather!

A few days ago, I told a friend that we were flying out of Detroit on Saturday afternoon.  She made the comment that she was, too.  I told her we were leaving at about 3:00 and she said her flight went out not long after that. Her husband was going to have to make a special trip to drive her north. It only made sense that she ride with us.

So, she came to our house, got loaded up and we took off for the airport two hours away!  The whole time we talked and laughed and talked some more as my husband drove.  Finding a parking spot was difficult because the snow piles took up so many of the parking spaces. We circled and circled the lot. Finally, a nice attendant waved us over to a spot and we hustled into it and rushed to catch the shuttle to the airport.

She was going on one airline and we were going on another. She was going to Florida and we were going to Arizona. She got off the shuttle first. As she got off, she hugged me and I said, "Let me know when you make it there."  She promised me she would.

What a perfect way to start our vacation.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twnety-Nine: Dave's Vacation

As we are getting ready to leave for Spring Break, there is someone in the house who is not very happy right now.  We walk back and forth finding things to put in the suitcase and he is looking at us with those eyes. He knows that when we get those suitcases out of the attic, it is not good news. How can we face those eyes?
Somehow he remembers the fact that we leave, but forgets the best part...Molly comes to stay.  He loves Molly and gets so excited when he sees her.  If he is lucky, she even brings her niece, Jayden. All three of them get to cuddle in the big bed at night.
He gets to play ball, lazer and tug with them. He gets fed treats for just looking hungry. He gets to go outside and run with them. However, the guilt trip he is putting on us right now, makes getting ready to leave tough.
We always tell Molly to call us as soon as she gets to the house. She sends us a picture of Dave giving Jayden doggy-kisses. We  know that he is with his best friend and will have a wonderful Spring Break, too.  It makes our vacation so much better when we know Dave is with Molly!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty-Eight: What a Wonderful World


I see trees of roses too
I see em bloom.....for me and for you
And I think to myself....what a wonderful world.

       I love this song. It gives me hope.
       Spring has to be coming!

I see skies of blue.....clouds of white
Bright blessed days......dark sacred nights
And I think to myself....what a wonderful world.

      Thinking of our trip coming in just a few days
      The warm weather and blue, sunny skies

The colors of a pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces ...of people going by
I see friends shaking hands....sayin how do you do
They're really sayin....I love you.

      Friends mean so much
     So fortunate to have all kinds
     From all over the world!

I hear babies cry.....I watch them grow
They'll learn much more....than I'll ever know
And I think to myself...what a wonderful world.

    I think of my grand children
    And as I watch them grow
    I just marvel at all they'll know.

And I think to myself.....what a wonderful world.
And I think to myself.....what a wonderful world.

Slice of Life Day Twenty-Seven: Reliving A Slice of Life

As we are coming  to an end of the challenge to write every day in March, I am beginning to look for small slices of life everywhere I go. As I was meeting a friend I worked with before retiring, I realized this too, was a slice of life I wanted to remember.
Calhoun St. Soups, Salads & Spirits
While working in the city, I often had the chance to have lunch with colleagues. We ate at a place near our office where we could slip in and have the same thing week after week. We liked that because we never had to really think about what to have that day. It usually was the same thing...and the waitress knew it.  She knew I liked diet soda. She knew my friend wanted mayo on the side. She knew we liked bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches with  no chips. It was just something easy in our busy, crazy work lives.

When I walked in the restaurant yesterday for lunch, it was completely full. I stood by the door and felt so at home. This was a place I knew...really knew. It wasn't long before a booth opened up and I was seated while waiting for my friend. The waitress came up with a smile and warm welcome.  "Do you still want a diet?" she asked. I couldn't believe it. Two years later and she remembered!  As I sat and waited, I looked around at the full tables with people chatting and catching up. I could tell some of them were there for a business lunch and were in serious conversations. Others were there laughing about something that had recently happened to them.

 After my friend got there, we ordered.  Of course I got the bacon, lettuce, tomato on whole wheat. Yes, with no chips.  Then the waitress said, "Do you want the mayo on the side?"  I laughed and said, "No, that was Mary!"  She laughed as she walked away to put in our order.

It is always good to revisit our slices of life! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty-Six:Literary Essay Revision

 Being a retired teacher brings many benefits. One of my favorite things to do is to visit in classrooms and share the writer's workshop times. I usually just listen to the focus lesson and then slide up next to a child and have a conference during their writing time. After hearing the lesson, I know the direction the teacher is going with the students and conferencing is not hard. I love having these conversations with kids!
While visiting in a fourth grade classroom, I did my usual listening and then conferencing. The students were working on literary essays. Today the focus was on being sure they had made their thinking visible and the evidence supported that thinking. My teaching points seemed to mostly revolve around how to add their thinking. They knew what they were thinking but didn't have the tools to put why that thinking was important. We came up with the idea of simply saying, "I believe that is important to the story because..." Sometimes this little bit of scaffolding gets the child through a transition.
When sharing time came, the teacher had all the students bring their drafted pieces to the sharing area and sit in a big circle with the papers in front of them. She had suggested earlier for them to highlight the thinking in one color and the evidence in another. As the children looked around the circle, they could notice all the colored parts of the papers. This made their work visible. They each also had a chance to briefly tell what smart work they had done that day.  It wasn't a reading of the whole piece, it was simply a brief statement. Many times teachers feel they need to take a lot of time in the sharing part and therefore, don't have kids share. This sharing time was very short, but very powerful.

I can't wait to get back after Spring Break and see how their pieces have been progressing!  I have the best "job" in the world!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty-five: It's a Walmart World

 Today I had a list of things to get at Wal-Mart.  I was focused. I had a mission: get things on the list and any other thing that I thought I would need before our trip.  I drove into the parking lot, checked my list, grabbed my purse and I was off!  I was walking up the parking lot with a car beside me with an older woman driving and looking for a parking spot. When I looked ahead of me, there was another woman pushing an empty card coming my way. She turned and pushed her cart to where a couple other carts the handicap area, not a spot for carts, but not in the parking spot either. Probably, some handicap person had left the others there because they couldn't get their cart to the proper area. Still, this lady just pushed it over into the near area and walked away.
Before I knew what was happening, the cart began to roll backward into the lane the moving car was in. The cart was slowly coming to a stop right in front of the car in her lane.  I immediately took off running to catch the cart so the lady could drive on.  I put the cart inside one of the carts already there, so it wouldn't roll off again. The lady in the car simply parked her car and walked in the store with me a few feet behind her.
After I gathered everything on my list-- plus a few extras-- I went to the checkout lane.  I swiped my credit card and proceeded to load the bags into my cart. As I took a full bag off, I would immediately open the one left behind.  I did this so it would help the cashier.  I finished loading, paying and headed for the parking lot and my car.
I had parked next to one of the areas designated for carts.  However, when I got there I noticed that the lane nearest my car had the carts spread out, not inside each other to make room for more.  So, after unloading my bags into the trunk, I pushed each individual cart into the one in front of it.  A nice, neat line. Then I pushed my cart in, too. 

I know this is all so OCD.  I just want things to be "right".  Probably, no one cares but me.  I did leave the parking lot feeling pretty darn good about myself!  Doesn't take much to make me happy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty-four: Here's My List

In six days we will be flying out of Detroit heading for warmer weather!  We are excited about not having to deal with putting on two layers of clothes just to go out for a short walk.  It will be wonderful to see the sun every day! But, all this comes with the task of getting ready to travel. So, we have been making lists to be sure we don't forget something.

  1. Get a dog-sitter for DaveWe contacted Molly, our favorite sitter, a long time ago. She is anxious to move into our house and play with Dave!
  2. Check on summer clothes to see if they still fit. We did that on Friday evening so we could shop on Saturday for things we needed.
  3. Bring the suitcases down from the attic.  It has been awhile since we have traveled this year, but they are now ready to go sitting in the extra bedroom.
  4. Be sure I have a couple books to read since the flight out is four hours long.  I have my paperback and kindle all ready.
  5. Get my hair cut.  That will be done tomorrow afternoon.
  6. Check out the plans for each day.  We mostly want to spend time in the sun, but are planning one day to travel to the Grand Canyon.
  7. Bake cookies to have ready for Molly. Since she is an exceptional sitter, we do whatever we can to be sure she always comes back!
  8. Buy snacks and treats for the trip. We like to have something special in our room for when we get home each evening. Yes, they will be healthy.
  9. Pack new running shoes.  For the first time for many months we will be able to get some warm weather runs in our schedule. Can't wait!
  10. Pack my laptop and camera for great blogs! Hope to share our adventures with my friends, both old and new!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty-Three: Let's Hear it For Storytellers

 Years ago when I was teaching second graders, I had a neighbor across the hall. She was always doing something "out of the box". She encouraged me to do things differently. She shared her knowledge of the world through her travels as a storyteller. She would gather my students into her small room and with a fake campfire we would huddle around it and she would tell us tales of "She-Who-Tells-Stories". My students were spellbound as they sat there dressed in Native American garb. Thus the beginning of our friendship.
I became a writing coach and eventually left that district. That didn't stop our friendship. She would come and give special programs to a couple of the schools I then worked with as an instructional coach. Again, many students were able to gather around her and hear the wonderful stories she told.
As both of us became retired teachers, even though she still works in many areas telling stories, writing stories and even teaching at the college level, we love to stay connected. Last week, she received yet another award. I am sure this is one that will be dear to her heart because it is the 2014 Mayor's Arts and Humanities Award. What is so great about this is that she received this by doing what she loves! Congratulations, Lou Ann, you are a inspiration to so many people!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty-Two: Where Everyone Knows Your Name

 On a Friday night at about 5:00 if you walked into our neighborhood restaurant/bar, you would find us sitting in a booth.  We almost always go to this local hangout. We walk in and the hostess smiles and says, "Yes, your booth is free in the bar. Go on in and I'll bring your menus."  We take the middle booth and the waitress comes with our Diet Cokes in her hands.  I almost always get the turkey and cheese on a pretzel bun. I add minestrone soup in the winter or a salad in the summer.  We catch up with the weather or gossip with the hostess before she heads back to her station. Then we settle in for our comfortable evening!  We love the Italian Grille on a Friday night.
It's Saturday night and we just look at each other and say, "The usual?"  Off we go to the Main Street of our county seat hometown. The hostess sees us and asks where we want to sit. We tell her that we really want a booth, but if those are full we will take a table by the front windows.  Soon after we settle in we ask if Sara is working tonight. If she is, she finds us and heads over to chat. We find out what has been happening in her life and she teases us about wearing t-shirts or hoodies with the name of a city we have visited. She asks about our week and how we are doing. Again, our diets are brought to us without having to tell anyone. My usual meal here is their unwrap...a sort of flat bread pizza.  I have to have the Hawaiian with ham and pineapple, but light on the BBQ sauce. Mad Anthony's is a chain in northern Indiana and we love ours in Auburn.
Yes, one of the benefits of living in a small town is that everyone knows your name!  And what you want to eat or drink.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty-one: Technology in Third Grade

It is amazing what children are doing in the way of technology these days. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at anything they do when I watch my nineteen-month old grand daughter try to push keys on my iPad.  Her three-year old brother knows more than I do. I have to watch carefully or he will order a new game to play!

I was in a third grade classroom on Thursday. This is a room that I visit often and volunteer in their writer's workshop. They have been working on informational pieces and are in the process of publishing their work. They each have an iPad and are typing the text and adding text features.

Being retired for two years, this is something I never had to teach my second graders.  Since I do have an iPad, I was familiar with what they were doing. Today I conferenced with two boys that were both working on adding pictures to their piece. When Zane went to add a whale shark to his subtopic, the web address came up instead of the picture. I was able to show him how to save the picture to his file and then copy it from there. I did the same thing later with Eric. He was trying to add a picture of a liter box in his piece on kittens.

I also worked with Ann on her piece about cats. She had her subtopics listed and was trying to get the pages to line up with her table of contents. It was fun to watch her check to see if she had the right page on the subtopic. When she didn't she would scroll up or down to be sure it was on a new page and then add the page number.

For sharing time, Sage shared with the class her text feature of a glossary. She had picked words that she thought her readers might not be familiar with and gave definitions. She also went back to her text and found those words and put them in bold print! She thought her classmates might want to try that, too. Such smart writers!

It is just amazing to see what these third graders can do. They are confident and excited about sharing their knowledge with others!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Slice of Life Day Twenty: What Are You Reading?

"What are you reading?" my husband asked me the other night. I proceeded to tell him about the book I had in my hand as I made my way back to the bedroom to read.  I explained that book and then trailed off onto the other two books I was also reading.  I think I lost him after the first one!
You see for fun, I read mystery fiction. I usually have a John Grisham, David Baldacci or Michael Connelly book by my bed. My husband reads those too, so it's fun to discuss the characters and the plot. It's fun to give opinions. It's fun to ask: "Where are you in the book now?" Sometimes I can't read those at night though. Sometimes they are a little too bloody or spooky for me at that time of day! Still, I enjoy reading them.
The other book I just started is on my kindle. I can take it anywhere with me. I can fall asleep reading it, because I never lose my place. I love the Janet Evanovich stories with Stephanie Plum because they are just fun! When her new series came out, I decided I wanted to try that, too. I have just started it, so I am not sure if I even like it or to get to at least page 100 for that!
The last book is our next month Book Club book.  I just ordered it and can't wait to start it. We talked about it at book club when making our book selection. We decided a nonfiction book like this might be interesting for us. I have to have this book as a paperback because I want to take it on the plane when we go on vacation. I also want to be able to mark it up so I can refer back to it during our discussion time!

Yes, I can read three books at once. After all, don't you watch more than just one program a night on television?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Slice of Life Day Nineteen: Adult Book Club

Last night was one of my favorite times of the month. It was the night we have our monthly book club meeting. We always meet at the same restaurant and after catching up on the latest gossip, eating our favorite food, we then get down to discussing our book. Since we meet at the same restaurant every month, the manager knows all of us. He greets us and sends us back to the same booth every time. This time he even had a note on the booth letting everyone know our book club meets there.

The book we read this month was by our favorite author and friend. She lives in our town and we not only read her latest book this month, we also invited her to join us for our book club. She agreed to come and share her research and other stories with us. The book is a nonfiction about an Indiana author: Gene Stratton-Porter.  The book is Nature's Storyteller.

Our author friend is Barb Morrow and we were entertained for about an hour with all of her stories. She gave us insight into how she did much of her research. She told us stories about how the local newspapers' gossip columns gave her evidence of things she needed to prove. She told us inside stories that were not included in her book. We were spellbound as we listened to the stories.

We are so fortunate to have this awesome writer live in our town. Even more than that we are so thankful that she took the time out of her busy life to spend several hours with us. We are already planning on reading her next book as soon as it is out and inviting her back to join us for another fascinating book talk.  Thank you so much, Barb!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Slice of Life Day Eighteen: Literary Essay 4th Grade

Today I visited a fourth grade classroom where I do some volunteering in their writer's workshop. It is an amazing class with amazing students and an equally amazing teacher. Today they were working on their literary essays. Some were reviewing their thesis statements. Some were beginning to plan their evidence to support the statement. Some were revising their statements. It was a busy place!

My assignment was to work with four students who needed to revising their statements and make them clearer. That was not an easy job! I sat next to Anna first. She was doing an essay on one of the Harry Potter books. She had all of her sticky notes piled into groups according to themes she had found in the book. After a short discussion on what she had done and what she was seeing in her notes, she decided to go with Dumbledore and his importance to the story. Her thinking was taking her to why he kept reappearing in the story. She knew this was important, but how. Her final statement went like this: " I think Dumbledore is important because he gave Harry his father's cloak and taught him about Tom Riddle and how to kill Tom Riddle."  Remember, she is a fourth grader!

I also talked to David who was doing an essay on A Dog's Life by Ann Martin. He, too, had piles of sticky notes. These were things he had seen in the story line. He finally decided to go with the angle of dogs needing shelter to survive and how the dog in the story, Meat, went to many places to find shelter. We made a list of the places he went and where he stayed when he was there. From that information he was going to write his thesis statement. I left him to work on that.

At the end of the writing time, the students did a Museum Walk. They all sat in a circle and put their plans in front of them on the floor, they stood up and walked inside that circle. They checked out the plans of their classmates. When they all got back they answered the questions: What did you notice? and What did you learn that you could try?

Once again I leave that classroom amazed at what ten year old students can accomplish! As I was leaving, one boy asked me, "Are you going to have a great day?"  My answer: "Whenever I come to your room and work with all of you, I have a great day!"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Slice of Life Day Seventeen: March Madness

This is day 17 in the challenge to blog every day in March. For more blogs or to join the fun of writing, check out

I have lived in Indiana most of my life--except for four years in Ohio and one year in Michigan. I blame that fact for the reason I am a lover of March Madness. Yes, I do realize there are NO teams in the NCAA tourney from Indiana. That doesn't stop me.

All last week I have been watching the stats. I have been listening to sports shows and their opinions. I even downloaded the March Madness app for my iPad. I watched the count down for the big show giving the brackets.

At 6:00, we had the channel turned to CBS. We listened to see who the top seeds were. We watched to see how many Big10 teams made it in. We were surprised at some and disappointed by a few.

When it was all over, I studied the teams and made my picks. I know there is no way to really have insight into what will happen. I also know my heart goes before my brain. But, its so much fun selecting teams.

As I picked my top four teams, I had to admit I am a dreamer. But, hey, you never know!

My four top teams?
  • Florida
  • Michigan State
  • Wisconsin
  • Michigan
What do you think?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slice of Life Day Sixteen: Happy Sixteenth

On Saturday night, we had a special Slice of Life. It was time to celebrate the 16th birthday of one of our grandsons.  This is becoming a tradition for each of our twelve grandchildren. When they turn 16, they pick a place for us to take them out to eat. Then we go wherever they want to shop for their birthday present.

For Lane's special night, he choose to go to Applebee's. We went to pick him up at 4:30 and headed south. He even got to drive Grandpa's car. Since he doesn't get his license until next September (he has a permit), this was special for him.

After our great meal, Lane then drove us to the mall. There he went to one of his favorite stores.  It didn't take him long to find what he wanted. He picked out a fun pair of shoes. We then headed back to the car as we walk through the mall. He then drove us back to his house.

What a fun night with our #2 grandson!  Happy Birthday, Lane!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Slice of LIfe Day Fifteen: It is March, After All!

It is the middle of March and the weather is doing just what it always does when it is March in Indiana. There are piles of snow everywhere, but they are getting smaller. The sun is shining, but the winds are gusting up to 35-40 mph. It seems like at 54 degrees you could take a walk without your heavy coat. But, no, it is Indiana and that means it is still cold.

I have been longing for days warm enough to go out for a run.  I dream of dry roads without spots of ice hiding under snow. I can plan on runs that allow me to wear running shoes and not heavy boots when I take to the road.

Today it came a little bit closer. The doorbell rang and I opened the door to find no one there. However, there beside the door was a large package. I grabbed it and brought it inside.  I didn't open it though. I wanted to wait for my husband to come home to share in the experience.

When he saw the package, he grabbed it and put it on the kitchen counter.  He got out the scissors and cut the package open. He hurried to open one of the two boxes. We couldn't wait to see what was inside.

There they were. Better than we could have hoped for. Perfect colors. Since they were closing this line of shoe, I was able to order two pair. Now, I just need to have the weather clear up so I can start training in style! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Slice of Life Day Fourteen: Then and Now

As I look at our backyard, I can't help but think about what summer will bring. In my mind I imagine what it looked like last August. The difference is almost to much to think could be possible. So, I found pictures of then and one that was similar taken now.

In the front of our house the snow stacked up in the walk way to the house. Again, trying to remember what our yard looked like without mountains of snow is almost impossible to do.

The thing I dream of the most is the pool and what it is going to be like to have that view from our living room windows.  Like grandson Graham said, "Is the pool under there?"

A picture is worth a thousand words!