Saturday, March 25, 2017


On Thursday, my mom had knee replacement surgery. Being her main caregiver, I was with her from check-in through discharge.

It first started in the pre-op room with the prep nurse. She was going over my mom's vitals and asking about contact information.

"Is your sister here your main emergency contact?" she asked.

My mom and I looked at each other. Sister?  My mom laughed.

"No, I'm her daughter," I told the nurse.

"Oh my gosh, you're kidding!" the nurse replied, blushing.

Later after the surgery, her doctor came out to talk to me in the waiting area.

"You must be Janet's sister," he began.

I literally grunted.

"No....she's my mom," I told him with a tiny bit of aggravation in my voice.

"Oh, jeez, you both look so much alike! I'm really sorry," the doctor went on.

When we got up to her room after surgery, there were three nurses busy getting her settled. I told my mom the story of her doctor asking me if I was her sister.

"You're not?" one of the nurses asked me.

Now, this was getting ridiculous....But my mom was loving it.

At discharge on Friday, the pharmacist walked in with my mom's medications.  "Whoa...." She paused in the doorway, looking back and forth between us. "Are you twins?"

I kid you not.

My response: "Yes. Yes we are."

Monday, March 20, 2017

Puppy Playtime {SOL 3.20.17}

As I sat down to write my slice about giving my dog a haircut yesterday, my daughter walked by.

"Are you writing a post about me starting my new job today?"

I looked up from my laptop.

"No...should I?" I asked.

My daughter has taken on a second part-time job to save money for college next year. She works at a local store as a cashier, but they weren't giving her many hours. Then she heard a nearby kennel was hiring people to play with the boarded dogs for Puppy Playtime.

It is the perfect job for her. She has this amazing way of working with animals -- she brings her whole heart and energy to them and they love her back for it.

"I don't care," my daughter responded. "You could just tell them you are proud of me."

That I am.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Summer Buzz {SOL 3.19.17}

What happens when you sit down to trim your dog's bangs (yes, my dog grows bangs over the winter that flop into his eyes) and you get a little carried away and look up and it's an hour later?
Turns out there was a puppy hidden underneath all that fur! He looks so much younger and now he's ready for summer. 
We will be all set, as long as Mother Nature doesn't bring us any more snow to freeze my poor boy out.

(This is Toby. He's a Springer Spaniel and will celebrate his 14th birthday in April. Don't you just love those freckles?)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Bubble on Your Lips {SOL

Parenting teenagers is hard. Mentally hard.

Parenting a teenage girl is especially challenging sometimes when the mother and daughter are so much alike.

My daughter has caused me a bit of frustration lately. It seems that every time I tell her to do something, she has to say something back to me. Usually, this comes in the form of an excuse as to why she can't do what I've asked.

      Let me just calmly say: I've reached my saturation point with the excuses.

So I asked her the other morning, as she was spewing excuses as to why she couldn't get her clothes out of the upstairs hallway, if there was a signal word I could say that would get her attention that she was on thin ice and save me from yelling.

She thought about this for a moment.

She thought hard.

Then with a sly smile, she said, "Yes, 'bubbles'."

"Bubbles?" I asked. "Are you sure you want it to be 'bubbles'?"

"Yes, I am" she answered then giggled.


Then I remembered something I heard our 4K teacher say to her students as they were walking down the hallway.

"Put a bubble on your lips, and your hands on your hips...and do what I told you to do." (I added this last part, of course.)

My daughter stared back at me, her mouth open but no sound coming out for once.

"Mom, you are the only person I know who can say the word 'bubbles' and make it not sound happy."

Yep, point for me.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Positive Thinking Thursday {SOL 3.16.17}

We have a choice: 

We can spend our time obsessively thinking about whether or not something we really, really want will happen. (Which we have no control over, by the way.)

Or we can spend our time planning for what we will do when it does because we believe that it will.

I don't know about you, but the second option sounds like a lot more fun.

Which will you choose?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I Can Do Anything, But Not Everything {SOL 3.14.17}

I used to really dislike this quote.

I used to think...What do you mean I can't do everything? Of course, I can! How dare you try to limit me! You must not know me very well.

Being the over-achieving, obsessive perfectionist that I sometimes am, I thought -- not only could I do everything, but I would do it awesomely, darn it.

But that was then....

          Now, I get it.

Sometimes, my ambitions are bigger than my energies.

Sometimes, I overcommit, thinking there are endless hours in the day and that sleep is for the weak.

Sometimes, I really, really want to do everything, but know deep down that I shouldn't.

When I started the Slice of Life challenge on March 1st, I had high hopes for myself. I planned to post every day and comment on other slices as much as I could, sneaking in comments at lunch or before making dinner.

But the truth is, no matter how much I love slicing, how much I love visiting other slices and leaving comments, I can't do it to the level I wanted to and still have time for everything else that's going on in my life right now.....

     I'm trying to start a new business.

     I'm trying to get a website up and running.

     I'm trying to migrate past blog posts to my new website.

     I'm trying to complete my course with the Institute of Children's Literature that I began in January.

     I'm trying to wrap up my career as a classroom teacher.

     I'm trying to prepare for a leave of absence to take care of my mother after her knee replacement surgery next week.

So I have realized that for the sake of my sanity, something has got to go.....

So if you don't see me slicing every day during the month of March, know that I really, really wish that I could, but I have realized that I really can't do everything.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Things {SOL 3.11.17}

Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life has invited us all to a virtual Five Favorite Things Party where we share our five favorite things and why they are special to us. You can read the details here and participate at your blog too. I've spent a few days narrowing down my choices and I'm ready to go.

My Five Favorite Things that I am bringing to this virtual party are:

I mean, look at all those COLORS! If you are a pen addict (you know who you are), then you must check out these pens. They are super smooth and dry quickly. 
I keep a few of these in my desk drawer for those days when I am experiencing a little stress and need a pick-me-up. (Like when I'm teaching fractions.)
I don't know how we are so lucky to have fresh fruit year round, but strawberries in winter are an extra awesome treat!
Tulips are my favorite spring flower. I can't wait to see them in my garden soon.
My favorite 80's movie? Say Anything! Truth is, I still love it. This movie became the soundtrack of my teenage years.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Persistent Little Plants {SOL 3.10.17}

A few weeks ago, I felt like I needed to add some new plants inside. I really like succulents so I went to the store and picked out one.

I wanted to put it in a nice pot so I came home and replanted it.

About a week later, I started noticing something strange about my new plant....
It was growing long, lanky sunflower seedlings too!

My only guess is that the potting soil I used to replant had gotten some sunflower seeds from the bird seed mixed in with it thanks, perhaps, to a little mouse hiding away food for the winter.  (The bird seed sits above the potting soil on a shelf in the garage.)

These little sunflower seedlings are persistent! I pull them out and about three days later, more are back.

Funny, but also a bit annoying.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Positive Thinking Thursday {SOL 3.09.17}

Thursdays are the day that I share some of my favorite inspirational quotes that I found from the past week. Hope you find something here that speaks to you!

Try it!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Life as a Five Paragraph Essay {SOL 3.08.17}

I enjoy listening to podcasts on my way to school. My ride is about 30 minutes, just long enough to do some serious listening.

On my way to school on Tuesday, I pulled up a podcast from Christy Wright's Business Boutique called "Recognize Your Gifts."

Christy is a podcaster and blogger who helps women start up businesses. If you read my post from Saturday, you may remember that I am leaving the classroom in June to start my own consulting and PD business, Teach Write. I love Christy's podcasts for the practical and inspirational advice she offers each week.

On the podcast I listened to on Tuesday, Christy had a guest, Annie Downs, who in talking about her gifts, said she had a revelation one day when she recognized that her life was like a five paragraph essay. {Format = thesis, detail, detail, detail, conclusion.}

Annie went on to explain that for many years, she was a teacher and thought that teaching was her thesis statement. Her identity was wrapped up in being a teacher and everything she did supported that identity. It was who she was.

But then one day, Annie felt like she needed something more. She still enjoyed teaching but wanted to teach in different ways. She recognized that being a classroom teacher was not her thesis statement, but rather one of her detail paragraphs. Being a classroom teacher was not who she was, it was what she did.

I heard this and pressed the pause button on my phone.

This is exactly the way I feel.

I love teaching. I think being a teacher is both a blessing and a calling. I absolutely love my students and watching them grow. For many years, that was all I wanted.

But for the past few years, I have felt this aching to do more. To do something different. To teach in a new way.

I know I have more detail paragraphs coming. Looking back, I have had a few already. {I'll probably exceed the three paragraph limit. Don't tell the English Comp people.}

I'm not quite sure how they all fit together to form my thesis statement, but I'm thinking really hard about that.

In the meantime, hearing about this five paragraph essay life theory has made me feel a little bit better about my decision to leave the classroom. I don't feel like I'm abandoning ship on my life plan, just changing it a bit.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Morning Battle {SOL 3.07.17}

I don't like working out, but I love how I feel when a workout is over.

(Kind of like writing sometimes: I don't always like writing, but I do love having written.)

Exercise and I aren't exactly the best of friends. It's one of those relationships that I know is good for me, but sometimes it pains me (literally) to be in it.

I woke up Monday morning, feeling that creeping sense of guilt that I should get up and go down to the elliptical to work out.

I wish it was that easy.

Here's the conversation I had with myself about that:

Time to get out of bed if I want to have time to work out.

I really don't want to work out today. I'd rather read Slice of Life posts. That would be more fun.

But I didn't work out yesterday.

I think my back still hurts from Saturday. I don't want to overstrain myself. Besides, aren't we supposed to take a day off between workouts for recovery?

But I bought those cute new Reeboks on Friday. I could wear those.

{Thinking, thinking.....}

OK, maybe I'll just get up and put my workout clothes on. That would at least count for something.

Yay! I did it! I'm dressed. Hey, these workout pants feel a bit loose. And these Reeboks are really cute!

OK, maybe I'll just go downstairs. If I don't feel like it, I can always come back upstairs and read.

{Congratulating myself as I am walking downstairs......}

There we go. Put those ear buds in. I think that Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull song should get me going.

Let me just pull up Pinterest on my iPad while I do this.

Well., that song went by fast. What's next? Taylor Swift telling me to "Shake It Off." I wonder if she knows the trouble I'm having today.

Pin that recipe.

Pin that quote.

Pin that writing idea.

Check email.

{Twenty minutes and six songs later.....}

Oh my gosh, time's up! I did it!

Man, it feels good to have gotten through this. What was my problem anyway? 

I know, right?! I should do this again tomorrow.

Now, let's not go getting carried away.

{I can write this conversation from memory because it is the one I have with myself every morning.}

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pretend Parenting {SOL 3.06.17}

My daughter is taking a Parenting & Families class at school.

This past weekend, she got to bring home the computerized baby to practice her parenting skills. Along with the baby came a diaper bag, special sensor diapers, a bottle, carseat, three changes of clothes, two rattles and two pair of socks. (I kid you not.)

When the baby cries, which it does according to some pre-programmed code, my daughter has to touch the special sensor bracelet her teacher strapped to her wrist to the sensor on the baby's belly. She then has to figure out if the baby wants it's bottle, diaper changed, or just to be rocked.

"Being a parent is exhausting," she announced Sunday morning. "I didn't sleep at all last night. The baby cried practically every hour. And when it wasn't crying, it was breathing really heavy. I thought I was sharing a room with Darth Vader."

Yep, sounds about right.

This morning, my daughter will take the baby back to her teacher who will it into the computer to receive a print out of how well my daughter attended to the baby. It will tell her if any feedings or diaper changes were missed, if the baby was shaken too roughly and if its neck was supported well enough.

This Parenting class is serious business.

But then again, so is parenting.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Dinner {SOL 3.05.17}

Next fall, both of my children will be students at the same university.

My son is a freshman there already and was a tad bit not excited that his little sister had decided to join him there. After all, he has already made a home away from home for himself and having his sister become a part of that wasn't in his plan.

But my daughter is very sensitive to this. She reassured him that it was a big campus and they probably wouldn't see each other.

"Except for Sunday dinners," she told him. "We have a standing date on Sunday nights to get together for dinner. It's what we do in this family."

Then I saw my son posted this on Facebook:
Yes, Sunday dinners have been a family staple forever, but I guess I didn't realize what they meant to my kids.

This surprised me, but it also made me this momma's heart happy that they will carry a piece of family tradition with them.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Being Brave: Time to Fly! {CTW/SOL 3.04.17}

I have made a life-altering, maybe completely crazy decision.

I consulted many trusted friends for guidance and input. I prayed (a lot!). I hemmed and hawed...Could I do it? Could we afford it?  Am I losing my mind? Am I brave enough? Do I know enough?

But here's the truth:

We don't know what the future will bring.

Life does not give us any guarantees.

The comfort zone is a nice place to visit, but we shouldn't live there all our lives.

We can't win if we don't take chances.

Finally, I decided it was time to have faith (my OLW), kiss my comfort zone goodbye, and take flight, trusting that I WILL land on solid ground.


At the end of this school year, I am leaving the classroom to start my own local educational consulting business focused on writing instruction!
I don't know what all of this means yet. I am still working out the details.

I do know that I want to help other teachers grow in confidence, skill, and in resources focused on teaching writing.  But there may be more. I am trusting that I will be led where I need to be. All good things will be revealed in time, right?

For now, I will focus on being brave, having faith, and trusting that even better things are on their way.

For this, I celebrate.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Nice to Meet You! {SOL 3.03.17}

The SOLSC is an opportunity to meet so many new friends. I'd thought I'd take a moment and introduce myself and share a few things about me. Since there are 29 days left to this challenge, I will share 29 things. (Thank you to Lisa Keeler for the post idea!)
  1. I am currently a 5th grade teacher, although that will change next year as I begin a new adventure that I will write more about on Saturday. 
  2. I am a Teacher Consultant with the UW-Milwaukee Writing Project. I love to help other teachers teach writing.
  3. I am also currently a student working on the Writing for Children program with the Institute of Children's Literature. It is my dream to publish a book some day.
  4. I have two kids -- a college freshman and high school senior.  They are my proudest accomplishment.
  5. I have been married to my husband for 22 years. We met while working a summer job together at Six Flags.
  6. I have two dogs -- an old Springer Spaniel named Toby and a younger Puggle named Rosie.
  7. I am always reading too many books at once. I try to finish one before beginning another, but can't stop myself.
  8. I am addicted to buying washi tape.
  9. My bullet journal is my lifesaver! (It also is a place to display my many washi tapes.)
  10.  I am a positive thinker and love to share inspirational quotes on Thursdays with #positivethinkingthursday.
  11. I am an adjunct professor and teach classroom management to new teachers.
  12. I love to garden and last year grew so many cantaloupes I harvested 16 in one day alone!
  13. I nap every day.
  14. I wake up at 4:30 every morning. (Hence, #13 above.)
  15. My favorite pens are Papermate Ink Joy Gel 0.7. I can thank my friend Michelle Haseltine for bringing these wonderful writing tools into my life. 
  16. My favorite snack is almonds.
  17. I love the color turquoise.
  18. I am speaking at three conferences this summer about our schoolwide writing project called The Cartonera Project. I hope to expand this project into other schools around the country.
  19. I collect notebooks for journaling, but probably have more than I will ever use.
  20. The All-Write Conference in Indiana is by far my most favorite conference to attend. The speakers there are great and it's where I meet up with many of my blogging friends in real life. 
  21. I live in Wisconsin.
  22. This is my 4th year participating in the Slice of Life March Challenge.
  23. My favorite place to write is on my front porch.
  24. I love to bird watch. I was so excited when I spied the first robins and red-winged blackbirds of the spring earlier this week!
  25. Breakfast is my favorite meal.
  26. My favorite read aloud novel is Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. 
  27. Jeff Goins is my favorite professional writing blogger.
  28. My first blog was called Mrs. Laffin's Laughings.
  29. I have taught for 9 years at the same school.
I'm looking forward to getting to know you this month too! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Positive Thinking Thursday {SOL 3.02.17}

Thursdays are the days I reserve for sharing some positive thinking far and wide. Join me if you'd like!
This has become my mantra lately. It reminds me that being scared is okay, but I can't let it stop me from doing something. Too often fear does this. It tries to tell us that we can't do something or we're not talented enough or knowledgeable enough. That we are imposters.

That's a bunch of phony baloney.

This Slice of Life writing challenge may be a bit like this for some of us.

Are you afraid that you will have nothing to say?

Do you feel like you shouldn't call yourself a writer?

Are you nervous to put your words out there for others to read?

Do you wonder how you will ever write every day for the next 31 days?

Well, I'm here to remind you...You CAN do it! You ARE a writer! The world needs your words and ideas.

So rise up and put fear in its place. Do those things you think you cannot do.

You've got this, friend!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spring! {SOL 3.01.17}

Ahhhh....the much-needed, much-anticipated turning of the calendar page from February to March.

The official start to meteorological spring.

Goodbye, winter!

Just this week, I've spied several Red Winged Blackbirds, a Sandhill Crane, and two Robins. (Isn't it amazing that birds know just when to fly back north?)
Look hard...Do you see it?

I was out on my deck last night and I listened in to the chatter of birds, excited to see each other again after a winter away and catching up on much-missed bird gossip, I suppose.

It felt good on my ears.

It felt good in my soul.

I'm ready for spring.