Sunday, March 22, 2015

#SOLC15 - Spring Break

I am in awe of all those of you have consistently posted each day this month. Congratulations to all of you! 
I took a bit of a break for over a week. My husband and I were traveling for spring break to Hilton Head, South Carolina.  The posts I have written this March have been about relationships. That continues today. I have a deep love for, and relationship with, Hilton Head.

Spring break was both a literal and figurative breath of fresh air for me this year. I took some time for myself, and time with my husband, to regroup after several very difficult and emotional winter months. So, it seemed perfect to have planned a trip to Hilton Head, a place where I can always find some happiness and some inner peace.

So, what did I do that rejuvenated me?

Walking for hours on the beach
Soaking up the sun
Watching the waves lap up on shore

On our rainy day
Watching from our oceanfront view
As the waves crashed on the shore
Bringing all sorts of debris with it

Eating seafood
Fresh local shrimp
(grilled and steamed my favorite ways)
She Crab soup
Local crab cakes

Reading for hours on end
Suspense and thrillers
Heart-wrenching stories
that found me crying in my beach chair
Fun beach reads
as counterpoints

Playing golf several days
Trying out my new driver
not very successfully
but great weather
and my 6-iron keeping me happy

People watching
as I sat in my beach chair,
as I sat at the pool,
as I walked

Shopping on a rainy day
Fresh Produce:
One of my go-to stores at HH
and they sell NO fruits or vegetables
only fun clothing for warmer weather

with my husband 
the sound and feeling of it
delighting me

whenever I felt like it
and sometimes even when 
I didn't mean to fall asleep
Awaking feeling refreshed

This was my relationship with Hilton Head this past week, and I am quite grateful.

For more slices, go to Two Writing Teachers blog. Thanks so much to those lovely ladies for hosting this month-long event!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

#SOLC15 - StitchFix

My theme for SOLC this year is "relationships." Today I focus on my relationship (addiction) to StitchFix.

About a year ago, a good friend was talking about how much she loved Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping site. I filed it away as a something to look into at some point. Then I began to hear about more and more people using, and enjoying, this service. I decided it was time to give it a whirl myself.

In the beginning, Stitch Fix had me fill out an online profile about myself -- clothing sizes, color preferences, styles to which I gravitated. They even posted pictures of apparel items and had me rank my reactions to them. Then based on the profile I created, my online personal stylist gathered 5 items, including a card for different ways to wear each piece, and sent it to me.

I remember the first time the Stitch Fix box showed up on my doorstep - I was so excited. I scooped the box off the porch, tore open the box, and saw five pieces of clothing - 2 sweaters, 2 blouses, and 1 infinity scarf. I immediately tried the items on, and much to my chagrin, based on fit or style, none of the clothing items worked for me. Out of my first Stitch Fix box, I only kept the scarf.

It was hardly an auspicious start, however, when I "checked out" to pay for the items, there was an online form to share which pieces I would be keeping and which I would be returning. For each of the items, there was a text box to give specific feedback about why an item either worked or didn't work.

Those of you know me, are aware I love feedback in the classroom and how it can better shape instruction. So, I was hopeful if I made my feedback about the clothing as specific as possible, my stylist would make better styling decisions for me the next fix.

Score! After the first box, all the other boxes (which arrive monthly), have resulted in me keeping two or three of the items sent from each box. I still haven't kept all five items yet, but I remain hopeful.

My latest box arrived this past Monday. It was sunny out AND I had a Stitch Fix box on my doorstep - what a fantastic day it was shaping up to be!

So my relationship with StitchFix continues. Especially after these two blouses and one infinity scarf stayed with me on Monday. I can't wait to see what surprises are in store for me in April!

For more slices, head on over to our gracious hosts' blog, Two Writing Teachers. Thanks so much to those wonderful ladies for hosting this event each year.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

#SOLC15 - Books and Brunch

As I began to write this post, I realized that not only am I focused on relationships this month in my writing, but many times I am focused on the fabulous women whom I'm lucky to have in my life. This is another celebration of my relationship with some of those women.

Books and food - what a great combination! A little more than a year ago, some of my Central Ohio friends and I put our culinary lives into the hands of our dear friend, Stella, once a month for brunch. Stella is an amazing person for numerous reasons, but the one that kept capturing our attention was her ability to know so many great restaurants here in Columbus. She is a self-proclaimed "foodie." And she truly knows what she is talking about!

After some bantering back and forth with a few of us about venturing outside of our "bubbles" for our food experiences, Stella set a date and we began our monthly visits for Sunday brunch. And at each of our brunches, we always end with a sharing of what everyone is reading. The number of attendees changes from month to month, but the intent of the group - to enjoy great food at a fabulous restaurant while also reveling in each other's company and conversation never wavers.

Today was one of those lovely Sundays. The restaurant chosen was The Pearl, in the Short North section of our city. Some of us had adventurous treks as a major convention was in town, and there had been a race downtown in conjunction with the convention. Streets were closed, parking lots were full, parking meters were taken, but we were all determined.

Seven of us gathered today and we never lacked for conversation and laughter.

Upcoming spring break plans, recent conference take-aways, professional opportunities this summer, an unfortunate accident, a summer baby, food that is "life-changing", a motorcycle trip to Michigan, our jobs, our families -- these were just some of the many topics discussed.
And of course, books! I hate when I see people in a restaurant and they all have their phones out, yet that was us today for the last 15 minutes of our time together. We were sharing book titles and we each were madly using our phones to capture those titles - Shelfari, Notes, Amazon, GoodReads - these were all apps that I noticed being used.

When we left The Pearl today, there were many hugs as we said goodbye, which is another reason I adore this group. It reminds me so much of my family reunions - even though we've just spent two hours enjoying one another's company, the hug sort of caps it all off. For me, those hugs say, "I'm so glad I got to spend time with you today, and I can't wait to do this again."

The camaraderie of smart women I admire, laughter, fabulous food, and so much more are all reasons why I place such importance on my relationships with my Books and Brunch friends. They are very special women!

Thanks so much to our hosts at Two Writing Teachers blog for developing a spot for this community of writers to come together. Head on over to their blog to read even more slices of life!

Friday, March 6, 2015

#SOLC - My Nails

I continue to think about relationships for the #SOLC15. Today, I am considering my relationship with my nails.

Last week, I decided it was time to ditch all things winter, even though there were still several inches of snow on the ground. So, when I went to get my gel nail polish touch-up, I noticed this really nice dark watermelon color that was new. I was immediately drawn to how bright and happy the color was.

I did notice that it seemed to have some sparkle to it, but that just seemed to highlight the "fun-ness" of the color. The nail tech applied the color, and in the salon it looked wonderful. I paid and then walked out the door into the sunshine of a brisk winter day.  By the time I walked to my car a short distance from the salon door, that sunshine let me know that I was now channeling the middle school girl in me - that sparkle was more like glitter.

Every time I look at my new nail color, there seems to be more and more glitter embedded on my nails. Recently, I was downtown and there was a cheerleading competition at our convention center. There were many cheerleaders walking around sightseeing, rocking the glitter they wear to jazz up their team appearance - that is exactly how my nails look. Trust me when I say I am way past feeling comfortable with the middle school glitter stage.

So, I am having a relationship issue with this color - I am pretty sure we need to break up. Nothing personal. It's not you, it's me...

For more slices, check out the posts at our wonderful hosts' blog, Two Writing Teachers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#SOLC - My Book Club

I've heard many writers talk about exploring "writing territories", and I'm choosing to do that from time to time this month. I've written about my book club before, but as I think about the theme of relationships for my #SOLC, I need to explore my thinking about book club again.

Tonight was my turn to host Book Club. As I was rushing home from school to get out food and drink for the group, I couldn't help but reflect back to our beginnings.

Our group began about eight years or so ago when I sent out a letter to the staff at the school I was teaching, and asked if anyone was interested in participating in a book club. The response was a quite enthusiastic "yes" from many.

I hosted the inaugural gathering. I think back to that first group of women who gathered - we all worked in the same building; we had that common link and often talked about school issues in addition to the book.

Oh how times have changed! Many members of the group dropped out over the years - families grew and time became less available. Some of us began working at different schools in our district. At least five of our members have retired in this time span. We don't share the same school or employment anymore, but we are still going strong.

We have celebrated with each other as children graduated and got jobs. We celebrated when children got married. We rejoiced with those becoming grandparents (some of them multiple times). We provided sympathy when there was illness in a family or loss of loved ones.  We empathized when someone was having a difficult time and we laughed during joyful moments. We attended many retirement parties! :)

Tonight, only two members besides me could make it. At the beginning of our history together, that might have entailed a quick email to say book club was postponed until we could find a date when more people could attend. We are much wiser now. We understand that whether our attendance is three (such as tonight) or ten, the most important thing is to honor the date to which we committed to the best of our ability. If something else gets in the way, we understand and hope we will see our missing members the next time.

The conversation was rich tonight: pregnancy, engagement, children moving back to Central Ohio, and a cruise were some of the topics in which we engaged. As great as the book was, it only merited about 5 minutes of our conversation. There were just too many other things to share.

One simple email a little less than a decade ago has helped me forge relationships with these women I might not otherwise have developed. I look forward to Book Club because I know it is about far more than just discussing the book; it is about sharing our lives.

And for anyone interested in what we read this time (hi #nerdybookclub friends!), it was an oldie but goodie by Nelson DeMille, The Charm School. A great spy thriller! Our next book will be The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, and the book after that will most likely be The Girl on the  Train.

For more slices, please head over to our gracious hosts' blog, Two Writing Teachers. Thanks to all of them for keeping us organized this month!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

#SOLC - March 3

I still continue to think about relationships in this slice...

The past two weeks have been PARCC assessments for my school district, and it has required "all hands on deck." So, I've had the good fortune to do these assessments with someone who has some testing modifications, and I have had a blast!!!

Yes, you read that correctly. Every day I have helped to administer an assessment to Kay (not her real name), I have ended up saying, "What a hoot and a half that was!"  And no, I'm not referring to the actual assessment. Instead, I mean my time with Kay during breaks and after she completed her work each day.

She is a student I might not have otherwise known, if we hadn't been thrown together for the PARCC.  Let me rephrase that - I knew who she was because I have the pleasure of spending time in her teacher's classroom as a literacy coach. But to really know her - it took the PARCC to make that happen.

Kay and I have developed such a fun relationship these past two weeks. She is never short of topics for conversation, and I have learned quite a bit. Things such as:

  • How her mom adds extensions into her hair by beginning with a "box" braid, and the fact that it takes multiple days to finish the entire process.
  • The best place to shop if you want to buy boots with zippers on both sides of the leg (only 1 is decorative and the other one truly works).
  • The magical draw of The Princess Diaries movies -- seems it encourages some young ladies to stay up way, way, way past their bedtime when they are in the middle of a marathon.
  • Chocolate has magical powers to help concentration so I guess it's a good thing Kay noticed the container of chocolate in my office!
  • The difficulties of having to move to 3 different cities, and how important it is to find a place where extended family resides.
  • Food - this topic could be a post all by itself.
  • The excitement of a planned shopping trip; we had much we could share together around this topic.
We always finished our assessment well before her homeroom was done, so there was much time for all of this rich conversation. I have loved our time together; we have one more test tomorrow, and I think I will have a little bit of "Kay-withdrawal" after that. The relationship that we forged was a fun one, and I will always smile when I think of out time together.

For more slices, head on over to our gracious hosts at Two Writing Teachers to read what others have written. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

#SOL challenge - Relationships - March 1

March 1 is here, and with it comes the opportunity to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. These past few months have held many personal challenges for me, so I'm not sure I will have something to say each and every day. However, after reading Ruth's post yesterday, I am inspired to try for as many days as possible.

Then today, I ready Holly's post about choosing a theme for her writing last year and then again this year. That idea spoke to me - hinging my writing around a single idea. Again, I may or may not stay true to that, but it is my starting point. I have thought about what could be a guiding theme, and decided "relationships" would be the place to begin.

So, here we go...

Recently, I have had a very tight relationship with my Kindle and Overdrive from my public library. Today, I got lost in Overdrive for over 2 hours, browsing through possible titles to borrow for an upcoming trip to the beach.

I love the different categories into which Overdrive puts its books. My favorite today was browsing the Romance section - looking at all the bodice-ripping covers made me wonder if this wasn't one of the best reasons for having a Kindle - nobody can judge you because they can see the front cover of your book. But even with that anonymity, no Romance titles were borrowed.

Because here's the deal: borrowing eBooks, unlike getting books from the library, has limits. I am allowed to borrow only 10 books at a time. It requires a battle plan to use Overdrive. I have requested several books that are on hold for me and could become available at anytime, while others have pending due dates (again, at different times). So trying to plan for what 10 books will be on my eBookshelf at any one time becomes a challenge (though who doesn't love a book challenge!) and a little bit of a math problem.

I ended up borrowing a title from a new author for me, the next two books in an espionage/undercover series about Pike Logan by Brad Taylor, and final book in The Heist series by Ally Carter.

I much prefer being in an actual library or bookstore, but on a cold, snowy day, this was the perfect relationship with books for me - browsing on Overdrive and sending books to my Kindle.

For more Slicers taking the challenge, head over to our wonderful hosts, Two Writing Teachers blog, to see what everyone has to say.