Sunday, March 31, 2013

Camping in Yurt

A rare site, a scenic river bluff in Florida
Heading to Florida for vacay?  Planning that trip often includes a trip to Disney and the beaches.  If you have lived here long enough, you know there are secret places---brilliant pools of blue encircled by moss-covered live oaks.  I spent the last weekend of spring break in Northwest Florida. Our three day adventure including meals, gas, park visits and lodging cost less than a one day family visit to Disney would cost.
One side of the 360 degree yurt.

We stayed in a yurt at  Torreya State Park. It was gorgeous and not so primitive for people who don't like to camp. We normally bunker down on the ground in our tent, so this site was a treat. We then spring-hopped by heading to 6 of the over 500 natural springs found in Florida.  We leaped into Wakulla Springs from a 33 foot platform in to the 155 deep spring.  We went spelunking in the Florida Caverns, then plunged into the fountain of youth at Ponce De Leon Springs and took a short trip to check our Morrison Springs.  We also enjoyed a unusual site in Florida, a 73 foot waterfall at Falling Waters State Park.  
Wakulla Springs
When I came home today, I cracked up because that area, Florida's panhandle and places to eat there  were featured in The New York Times Travel section, yet the all of the places I traveled  except for one restaurant weren't secrets shared with the New Yorkers.

It was a full weekend to close spring break with brilliant swimming weather and no distractions, but the splash of the blue water and the chimes of laughter.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


We all have them.
Fear of my A1C.
Fear of losing my sight.
Fear of heights.
To name a few of mine.

I try not to let fear consume me. Sometimes you have a physiological reaction like the one I experienced on Friday when I jumped from a 33 foot platform into a 150 foot deep spring. I jumped despite my racing heart. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath surfacing, perhaps the shock of the cold 64 degree water or my fear.

Fear constricts us. I climbed the platform and jumped again. Facing fear releases you from it's grip. Name your fear. Face it. Say it aloud to someone and hold their hand to face it together. 1.2.3 Jump!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Road Trip

In 1994 I took my first serious road trip, 11,000 miles, six weeks, 28 states, a tent, a map, and a friend. I had traveled the length of the eastern coast with my family from top to bottom, but had never ventured past the Mississippi River. This trip was about what lay west.

I've not done such a lengthy trip since, but spent much of my late twenties and thirties road tripping to ultimate tournaments. Those trips were more about the drive than the destination. Once there we spent ninety percent of our time on the fields. I've been to Savannah at least twenty times for ultimate yet never stayed long enough to enjoy more than the fields at Forsyth Park and breakfast at Clary's. Ultimate memories such as the 8 hour trip to Atlanta with Nami, a Japanese exchange student whom we showered with Broadway show tunes or the 8 hour drive to Pensacola where I unknowing kicked a friend's wallet onto the interstate and someone found and returned it, are all layered in laughter.

My company on the road changed once I married. He and I would travel to tournaments. He, a new designated driver. Our most memorable trip was a week driving around the peninsula of Washington state where we marveled at mountainous terrain, lush rain forest, cliff-lined beaches, and deep blue glacier-filled lakes. After my daughter's birth, we did shorter trips to the Keys and the mountains. I am planning a summer when we do our own version of a Westward Ho, but for now I'll be content with our small trips like our one today.

We are off heading north to Torreya State Park, but we will make several stops such as hopping into Wakulla Springs, Defuniak Springs, and Ponce De Leon Springs, checking out Falling Waters, and spelunking in the Florida Caverns. We will bunk down for the night in a yurt. We don't have a schedule. As long as we have gas in our car and a few day left in our break, we will make some new road trip memories together.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spending Time at the DMV

It was inevitable. I had been avoiding doing this for as long as possible, but at a certain point you are setting yourself up for trouble.  I renew my driver's license today.  The last time I had to do this was before my daughter was born when the cop absconded with my old one which was basically a laminated piece of paper with my picture on it.  He whisked it away from me saying that I had 21 types of protection built into the new format and that was what he needed me to do, get a new license   Yes, but you can't sell my data with it, I retorted. I should have been happy that he took my license rather than giving me a speeding ticket.    I waited in a hot dark cramped office that summer to renew my license  My picture looked like a mug shot.  I had high hopes for my experience this morning.

In Orange County, you can't make an appointment.  I knew that did not bode well for my morning plus I had to drag my nine-year old with me.  We were prepared with books. I am reading Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Princess and unbeknown to me, my daughter packed The Walking Dead Compendium One for me and Compendium Two for herself.  I had all of my paperwork, passport, social security cards, and 2 different pieces of mail with my address on it.

We waited in line to get in number.  There were over a 100 people in the room.  The woman told us it would take about 45 minutes. I had number 346 and they were on 320.  We read.  We said hi to a school friend. We read some more.  Forty-five minutes passed.  I couldn't figure out the numbering system. There seemed to be another "ticketing system" going on with the numbers in the 100's and 800's that were moving much more rapidly than the 300's. After 2 hours, we were getting close.  We were still reading.

To my delight, a teenager interrupted me and asked what I was reading.  That made the two hours worth it.  We talked books and exchanged titles for the 20 minutes that it took for number 245 to transform to 246.  I shared titles. She told me what her plans were. She was getting her driver's license and this was her fourth visit this week.  She spent four hours waiting the day before. I considered myself lucky.

Number 346 was finally called. It took under 10 minutes to process my paperwork, but I left the office knowing that I made a difference and that I had a decent picture on my license
, but not a glamour shot.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Wicked Spoon

When I travel, I try to eat at least one memorable meal with good friends. In Chicago, it was The Girl and the Goat. In Vegas, it was The Crooked Spoon, a complete accidental find. I wanted to experience a Vegas buffet. My friends who had been to Vegas before said The Wicked Spoon was nothing like a Vegas buffet and they were right. We wandered into the Cosmpolitan thinking that it was part of the Bellagio. Don't ask me how, but it ended up turning into a fortuitous case of mistaken identity.
Bone Marrow

I don't normally eat at buffets. You end up stuffed with a bunch of food that doesn't taste great. On the my last cruise, I ate in the dining room enjoying the small portion sizes and a better quality of food. The Wicked Spoon buffet was different. I had an opportunity to try food that I would never cook, but might watch others make on TV. I avoided many items on the buffet, items that I might otherwise have access to or might count as frivolous carbs. But I indulged in the main dishes.

Braised Short Rib
That night I tried wild boar, bone marrow, and duck confit. I sampled braised short ribs. I loved the braised ribs and would eat them again. I can say, "Why yes, I've tried wild boar" but isn't that just a fancy name for a pig that lives in the woods? I can also live without bone marrow a rich and decadent dish that had such a weird mouth-feel. And I still don't like duck.

Butternut Squash &
Duck Confit Ravioli
Aside from the unusual food, what made this buffet unlike most buffets were the serving dishes. Items were served in individual tiny portions and miniature dishes. The duck confit was in a single ravioli enveloped in an creamy butternut squash sauce. The braised short ribs were served in a half-cup sized pot with a lid.

The pictures have been taking up space on my phone since November reminding me about the amazing meal and company. When I go back to Vegas to take my husband to see the Cirque show Love, we will definitely stop at the Wicked Spoon. I am now thinking about my upcoming visit to Boston. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and the meal that I most prefer to eat out.  I don't mind making breakfast, but I love to go out for breakfast. I don't like starting the day amassing a pile of dishes. I don't like pancakes or waffles. I love the savory elements of breakfast: potatoes, meat, and the key ingredient,  eggs.   I often eat breakfast for dinner. This meal I make myself at home. If you are in Orlando, here are a few places that you might check out.

My Top Five 

5. Juniors on Corrine Drive in Baldwin Park-Poached eggs on a bed of steamed spinach. *
4. Keke's in Waterford-Buffalo chicken omelet with the egg as thin as a crepe. *
3.First Watch in Maitland or UCF- Caps and Buttons aka steamed mushrooms and poached eggs on a English muffin
2. Bikes, Beans, & Bordeaux on Corrine Drive in Baldwin Park-- a dry latte and whole wheat egg sandwich with a fruit cup.  Their quiches are amazing too. *
1.  Jack & Mary's on Goldenrod & Curryford. The real deal, hash browns and homefries, made in house from real potatoes and Smucker's Jelly, as well as the perfect egg over medium.*

*Locally owned and operated

If you are ever in Savannah, I recommend Clary's.
The huevos ranchos at the MGM Grand in Vegas were divine too.

Monday, March 25, 2013

One Little Word Quarterly Check-in

In six days the first quarter of 2013 will be over. Yes, January, February, & March are the first quarter of the year.  By the end of the 2nd quarter of the year, summer will be here.  In December, I agreed to take a class with my friend Lee Ann and I have almost finished the assignment for January.  We are both doing the One Little Word Project. Her word is be.  My word is brave.

In January, I chose my word and outlined twelve intentions. I still have to work on a vision board for February and in March I am working on my actions.  I still need to finish my vision board, but finished my cover page during my art day with Lee Ann today. I work on it a little at a time.  Surrounded by deadlines and days framed by bells I have tapped into my slacker side as a form of rebellion during my spring break. I like working at a leisurely pace yet the day still seemed to fly by.     That's just one way I am spending the week this spring break.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Slice 24

Confession! I hate doing my taxes and I don't even do them. My mom does. I could do them myself.  I worked in my family's tax business starting in 3rd grade. I made ten cents an hour filing.  I answered phones, made appointments and eventually did taxes myself.  In college I would go home for spring break and help out in the family business. It was a great way to make money while everyone was out spending it on the beach.

The real reason I hate getting ready to have someone else do my taxes is the weather.  While most people may be snowed in today, we are not. Spring is gorgeous in Florida and it is my favorite time of year. The sun is shining and the weather is amazing, somewhere between 65-75 degrees.  It is our growing season. We have fresh tomatoes, strawberries and citrus.  Most of the produce that I purchase right now is locally grown. By the end of May it will be too hot and our tomatoes and strawberries will be imported from the North.  

I have a radical idea about spring in Florida.  We should have spring off rather than summer when it is too hot to go outside.  Then students might relish the icy indoors that summer brings to Florida.  In order to get to the point of today which is to get organized to do my taxes, I won't even think about the weather.  I will try not to look outside while I gather the paperwork to get my taxes done. There is not a moment more to waste.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Green Thumb

Our 1st tomato! After 2 years of trying, we harvested our 1st tomato. I don't have a green thumb, but my daughter does. Her nasturtium seedlings are popping up too. I know spring is here because I have former pots of dirt sprouting green and my orchid has several blooms as well. I don't mean to kill plants, but I often forget to water them. Although I have fancied green garden dreams inspired by reading books such as Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I know that is a dream out of reach for now. I will enjoy the tiny tomatoes that my daughter loves and that will sustain us.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Slice 22: No Name Calling

When I went to the elementary school on Thursday is I discovered that there is name-calling in third grade extended-day, not a pandemic, but still hurtful.  

When I named my daughter Hope after Hope Yancey in Joan Bauer's book Hope was Here, I intentionally thought of all the rhymes that you could attach to it, dope, rope, mope, etc.  Last night Hope shared that some third graders were calling her Hope PePee, a variation of her last name, Fefee.  My automatic reaction was to laugh. I don't. Really I thought?  I hadn't thought to rhyme her last name with anything.  In hindsight, maybe I should have bequeathed her my last name since there is nothing that rhymes well with it.

My husband immediately jumped in and said kids did that to him when he was little too. I do remember being called "snaggle tooth" because I had vampire teeth before braces.  (My canines had too little room to move in). At work today, my friends recounted the names that they had been called at school.  I won't share them here, but they remembered.  Words do hurt and they linger.

It is best to arm her in the ways of the world by talking about it with her and her teacher as well as giving her a lens to look through at it from an arms-length by reading Spinelli's Loser together.  Name-calling is one layer of bullying and I can't change her name now only help her figure out how to handle it.

How do you handle name-calling and bullying in your classroom or with your children?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2 Elementary Observations

I spent part of my day at my daughter's elementary school for her field day.  This is the 3rd time this year that I have spent at her school.  It is the most time that I have spent with her at school in all of her years of schooling.  I have spent almost twenty years in high school, but few days in elementary and only 14 days in a middle school. Based on my limited time spent there, I have two observations that I'd like to share.

1.  All of the 3rd-5th graders seemed to somehow be hooked into social media or perhaps You Tube.  There was a DJ playing music at field day today and all of the students started to pony when Gangnam Style played and started to jiggle around when Harlem Shake  hit the air.  The first popular music I clearly remember listening to was from Barbara Streisand's and Kenny Gibb's duet album, Guilty. I had a record player and this was one of my first two albums.  They responded to the music just like the high school students did.  I wonder what this means for them as learners.

2.  When I went in January as the book fairy, every single student raised their hand when I asked if they loved reading.  Everyone was jumping out of their seats to answer to the questions that I posed.  No one was afraid to respond. There was so much joy in the room about books and learning.  It was a stark contrast to the sophomores that I worked with over the past week.  Only four students regularly and routinely wanted to respond to the questions that I posed. I built in strategies such as Find Your Match to build the energy in the room which worked, but how can we sustain that learning excitement?  Are their adrenal glands burnt out by the time they get to high school?

I am happy that my daughter still finds joy in my participation in her school life because in high school that is not always the case.  My next date with her is in May for their school-wide writer's celebration in which she shares her first published book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Break To-Do

1. Read
2. Workout
3. Slice
4. Hang out with my daughter
5. Pick strawberries
6. Camp in a yurt
7. Spring hop
8. Move at a slower pace
9. Play trivia
10. Work just a little

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inspired by a Mentor Text

As I shared in an earlier post this month, modeling matters, not just with your children, but with your writers in your classroom.  This message was most powerfully reinforced by Kelly Gallagher's model when he sat down and composed while we (teachers) composed using Leonard Pitt's essay Sometime's the Earth is Cruel, our mentor text. He co-presented early that morning with Penny Kittle and Jeff Anderson.  Three great reasons to get up super early that Sunday in 2011 as they are all easily on my top-ten list of secondary ELA super-heroes.  

I've always written with my students, but Gallagher's work and Jeff Anderson's work helped me refine the practice of getting students to read like writers.  Reading like writers requires close reading.  This slice is not about all of that.  Here is a draft of a piece of writing that I fleshed out with my students as we started this journey. Rick Reilly's Why I Love My Job is the mentor text that I used with my students.  It is an non-threatening starting place for struggling writers.  This mentor text inspired the following:

When I was thirty-seven and just found out about my disease, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), someone told me that it only mattered to me since I was a diabetic and no one else cared.  Halfway through my fifth year of life after diagnosis (LAD) I know that person is wrong and this is why.

Diabetes is real.  There is an obesity epidemic in this country and the number of diabetics are skyrocketing. You only need to Google the topic and you will find daily headlines.  Just because you are skinny today doesn't mean that you are immune.  Diabetes has many hidden symptoms and can manifest in your lifetime at any point.  Not just because you are heavy and out of shape!

Diabetes has no gray areas.  There are rules that you must follow to live well by.  You have to monitor your carbohydrate intake or else.  You have to monitor your blood sugar or else. You have to take your medicine or else. You have to exercise or else. Or else you can lose a limb, lose a kidney, lose your eyesight, and ultimately your life.  You can't play with this disease. There are no breaks. There are no timeouts.

Diabetes is life-altering.  Each decision begets consequences, physical and real.  When you don't treat a low, you could die.  You feel woozy and your words slur. Too many affect your brain function.  When you are high, there are long-term consequences related to your organs and eyes. Diabetes alters your relationships.  My daughter, a potential first responder at age 4, kept waiting for me to pass out.  She knew what to do and just was waiting for an opportunity to practice.  Glad that opportunity hasn't occurred, but it altered our relationship.

Diabetes is consuming. It is an additional responsibly.  Managing it is fiscally-consuming. Managing it is time consuming.  Managing it is not life-consuming.  You worry about co-pays. You worry about your A1C. You worry about health insurance.  You worry about why your numbers aren't coming down.  You do, however, learn to keep the worry from becoming consuming.

So here's to you, person who said diabetes only matters to me. I am sad to say that diabetes is an international issue.  And everyone should care since it is a disease that may too affect someone close to you.

Note: This is a second draft and I have full intention of revisiting and making it better.

Feel free to add a Diabetes Is....Statement in my comments!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday!  In honor of her birthday, I am slicing about her influence on my life, not the part that makes me crazy, but the part that makes me proud.

The value of education was always a constant in my house.  My parents sacrificed raising a family together so that my mom could go to college when I was 10, a college in a city that was 3 hours away from our home. She took my four-year old sister and my eight-year old brother and I stayed with my dad. We would visit on weekends and stayed with her during the summer.

Both my parents didn't earn a college degree until after they had kids.  My mom started going to back to college after my sister was born by starting at a community college. She eventually earned a scholarship to go to Florida State. Her goal was to earn her bachelor's degree in home economics and become a teacher. My mom and dad even graduated on the same day. I can't remember too clearly whose we skipped, but I think it was hers. We would eventually go to her master's degree graduation ceremony.

My mom never ended up teaching other people's kids. My dad's quadruple by-pass warranted a shift in her career before it even started.  She began doing taxes and accounting with him in the business he started as a third job while in the Navy.

As a mom of one now, I realize how hard that must have been going to school and raising a family. Her example although unconventional and crazy at times makes me proud.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Is there a little Irish in your Life?

Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day today? Is a little bit of you from Ireland? I am and I always thought a little bit more was until I started interviewing my dad's siblings. My dad died when I was 21 and he left behind 2 older sisters, an older brother, and a younger sister.  They have all since died except for my Aunt Josephine, the youngest.

We were raised proud of our Irish heritage."  My last name is Scanlon and my mother's maiden name is Mckenna. What could be more Irish than that?  When my mother's side of the family came over from Ireland, they actually shipwrecked in Nova Scotia and then ended up in Rhode Island. That is a story for another day. Pretty much I get most of my Irish from that side.  But there is a secret side that I didn't learn about until my twenties, a family secret on my dad's side.

I always thought it a little strange that my grandmother on my father's side married a Polish butcher when she remarried after my Irish grandfather died. I never met either grandfather on my dad's side and I barely remember meeting my grandmother who died when I was five.

I started interviewing my aunts after my dad died. I learned that my grandmother was Slovenia.  She was cast out after marrying my grandfather who was Irish and 20 years her senior.  My dad's father forbade my grandmother from teaching their children Slovenian customs and the language. He died when my dad was three and right after my dad's youngest sister, Josephine or Jo had just been born.

Jo went to live with her Slovenian grandmother, my great-grandmother, and just visited her siblings and mom on weekends. My grandmother had to get job so raising a newborn along with 4 other children was too much to handle  In fact, my Aunt Betty described themselves as the original latch-key children.  Jo grew up in my great-grandmother's Slovenia household and didn't learn to speak English for a long time.  She describes herself as one of the original English language learners. She stayed with her grandmother until she was 8.  In second grade she was becoming so troublesome that my great-grandmother sent her home were she assimilated into the raucous Irish household.

It all makes sense.  I would often come home to my dad making a weird cabbage, tomato, and bacon stew that always smelled better than it tasted.  His favorite food was halukies, a Slovenian version of cabbage rolls made with sauerkraut rather than tomatoes.  I do love this food. I love cabbage. I love sauerkraut  All of my siblings do. We would make halukies once a year for my dad's birthday, it is a dish that requires many hands.
It isn't being Irish that made me slice about this today, St. Patrick's Day; it's the cabbage that both the Irish and Slovenian cultures share.

Here is a poem that I wrote awhile ago in her honor.

Grandma Had

Cabbage, a house
A grave to remember him by,
a silenced tongue,
4 Irish kids and
a Slovenian one;
a May-December romance,
by her mother disowned.
2 holes in her heart and
childhood's land too far to roam.
Latch-kids, a fallen ladder,
a brother, Joe, a job,
a family to raise alone;
curly soft gray fluffy hair;
And finally a home of her own.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

More than Half-way There!

If you have posted every day, including today you are a little more than halfway through the Slice of Life Challenge! Congrats!  You will be able to finish.  Last year at this point I wasn't so sure I would be able to. Today I write with the confidence that I can complete the challenge and so can you!

Last year I embarked on slicing with my friend Lee Ann and my husband.  He didn't quite make it, but she and I did.  It inspired me to try out a mini-challenge with my students. It inspired my daughter to create a blog.  It inspired me to write more on my blog.  It inspired me to invite my graduate students to try out the challenge. Little did I know it inspired a colleague\friend to participate in the SOLC too.  All of their blogs are featured in the sidebar on the left.

When I finish the challenge at the end of this month, I will have equaled the number of posts that I wrote last year, 47.  Last year it took me 12 months to do so, this year 3 months.  In the next few days, I will celebrate my 100th post.  That will be a red-letter day for me.  I created this blog in 2011 and only wrote one post that year.

After participating in the SOLC challenge, doing one with my students, being introduced to Pecha Kucha and IGNITE, as well as using a NING space with my students for three years, I added a digital writing project as a component to the graduate course I teach.  All those experiences taught me that if I wasn't modeling the use of digital writing in my work with my future teachers, they wouldn't have the safety-net they needed of doing so when they embarked on digital writing with their future students. Five of the nine chose to   take the month-long challenge, two are doing weekly slices for 10 weeks, one is using Edmodo with her students, and the other is learning how to do a Pecha Kucha.

Their participation means that I have commenting on their blogs as well as a minimum of  three other participants of the challenge. I admit I haven't visited the classroom blogs, but want\need to do so.  I admit that my commitment to commenting has left my writing somewhat less polished than usual.  I used to write then comment. Now I comment and then write to be sure I get it done for that day.

Luckily, I had 25 drafts saved.  They were in various stages of development, a line, a photo, a complete blog.  These drafts tell me that there were 25 days in 2012 that I meant to write on my blog.  Fortunately, these drafts have helped me immensely during the challenging days during the SOLC.  So far I have not had the 11:50 pm post like I had once last year.  I have been able to complete posts in a more timely manner each day, late afternoon to bedtime.  I admit, I am in awe of those of you who have already posted by the time I get to my computer at 5:30 am. Maybe one day I will be be able to do that.

What I do know for sure is that regardless of making my match on March 31, 2013,  I will have many more posts in 2013.  Thank you Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres for making the time and space in your lives to inspiring others to take the challenge.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fortunately Friday

Today's slice is an homage to Remy Charlip's book Fortunately.

Fortunately it is Friday.
Unfortunately I have papers to grade.
Fortunately I have two days to do it.
Unfortunately I have a full weekend.
Fortunately I don't have to get up early on Saturday.
Unfortunately I will still wake up early anyway.
Fortunately I will use my time wisely.
Unfortunately I still won't grade those papers.
Fortunately they will keep until Sunday.
Unfortunately I have to meet with my co-workers on Saturday.
Fortunately I will be at chocolate-making party with them.
Unfortunately I am a Type 1 diabetic.
Fortunately I can have a small piece.
Unfortunately I will have to give away the rest to my friends.
Fortunately I will make people happy.
Unfortunately I will still have to grade.
Fortunately Sunday will still be left.
Unfortunately I will be too tired to do so.
Fortunately I won't be too tired to watch The Walking Dead.
Unfortunately I will still have to get those papers done.
Fortunately I will get it done before midnight.
Unfortunately I get up at 5.
Fortunately I have a full week planned.
Unfortunately it will fly by fast.
Fortunately it is a four-day week.
Unfortunately grades are due.
Fortunately I graded those papers on Sunday.
Unfortunately the gradebook system will be slow.
Fortunately I know the secret trick.
Unfortunately so does everyone else.
Fortunately it will be Friday again and spring break too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday or my December DSMA Blog Post in March

The power of community defines my diabetic year 2012 and for that I am thankful this Thursday.   This post was something I wrote in December for the DSMA blog carnival and never finished. At this point, I don't remember why, but during SOLC it's best not to let words go to waste.

My diabetic support community grew from none to one on January 6, 2012 to be exact, I started working with a PA at my endocrinologist's practice to work on tightening up my glucose controls.  At first I met with him every six weeks, finally tapering off this September to every three months. At every meeting, I learned something new. At our initial meeting, he discovered that my pump was set wrong, correcting a three-year mistake. As a T1 and a tri-athlete, he brought change to my life like no one else could. At each visit, he spent 90 minutes talking with me and empowering me to make decisions about my treatment.

He taught me that treating a chronic disease is listening to yourself. The world moves swiftly often distracting one from the most important components of self-care. Most people have the luxury of not listening. Others don't.  He taught me small bits such as telling loved one's it is not okay to ask me what my blood sugar is at every meal (Note to readers: even from a place of love, it feels like policing) to helping me navigate the harder bits such as helping me face the fact that it's not right to work so much.  His questions made me reconsider my work of teaching and take action to change it.  As he helped me negotiate the non-stop demands of managing this disease, he literally helped me reshape my life. He was the first person to coach me with an understanding of the challenges of this disease since he had not only a professional interest, but a personal interest as well.  His work mattered to not only his patient, but himself.

Later in June, I started becoming literally reshaped by my work in my new-found exercise community, Camp Gladiator. Joining Camp Gladiator (CG) was another step in my treatment.  It  has not only has helped me physically transform, but brought me to a greater uplifting community. Most contenders don't know about my disease, but we bond over our common desire to get stronger physically "for a reason." We high five each other, push each other, but most importantly laugh with each other. Led by our trainer Doug Reeder and his assistants Alex Van Le and Chris "Chyeah" Gardner, time literally races by in our shared quest to build core strength, stamina, and speed.  It literally took me 6 weeks to physically master a burpee.  By November, I was doing spontaneous burpees at Caesar's Palace and the Bellagio, just for the fun of it.  The CG community though keeps me going, not my amazing mastery of skills the Johnnie Cs and Turkish Get Ups although I can really do a mean one-legged burpee these days if called upon.

The power of community has also defined my diabetic life by my discovery of a virtual community. When I was first diagnosed in 2008, I searched the web for information about latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) and found little information.   I developed the courage to finally write about my disease in March 2011 by creating my blog, but did little writing until the Slice of Life Challenge in March 2012. During my slice writing I inadvertently tapped into the dsma by clicking on links that Google Blogger thought matched mine. I followed them and discovered the weekly chats such as the DSMA Wednesday nights at 9 with dweeps. I learned the relevent hashtags #dsma, #doc, #sweatbetes and #BigBlueTest. I expanded my community by participating in the Big Blue Test and wearing the Big Blue Tutu, ways to educate my face-to-face community as well as the participating Postcard Exchange a way to reach out to my virtual community.

The power of community, one-to-one, face-to-face, and keyboard-to keyboard, not only defined my diabetic year, but transformed my diabetic life for which I am immensely thankful.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


As a teacher, I may have underestimated the power of modeling for years. This fact has become abundantly clear as I think about my relationship with my daughter over the past year.  It started back last March when I first participated in the Slice of Life Challenge.  Hope started pestering me to create a blog for her.   After March was over, I slacked off writing my blog and her interest tapered until I did the Slice of Life Challenge with my students in May.  Again, she wanted write.

Later this summer, I began Camp Gladiator (CG).  CG was my personal fitness challenge to build core strength.  My daughter sometimes watched and sometimes she would run in front of me and mock me by saying, "You can't catch me!"  Words of inspiration, no doubt.  She, however, began running her friends through Camp Gladiator.

During the fall we went to see the President.  Hope already had opinions about the election. She would burst out with questions about politics or the world whenever we were in the car listening to NPR.  Sometimes she grows weary of listening to NPR and asks to change the channel. I don't. Listening is as important as reading. She designed her shirt for our Saturday outing and made signs, "Third Grader for Obama."  No matter her side, she began to understand how the political process worked.  She has a model.  

Last night trying to reinforce healthy eating we made our dinner together. We ate the same thing. We filled half our plate with cucumbers and strawberries and a slice of cheese pizza. Left to her dad's devices she would have only eaten cheese pizza and more of it. She's a self-proclaimed vegetarian who can sometimes be caught eating a chicken nugget. She has limited protein options cheese and eggs. She will taste most things that come from the ground. My husband and I aren't vegetarians, which is fine, but he and I both modeled being firm in our convictions.

Our students like our own children take cues from us, what we value, they value.  What are the messages you are sending? Both positive and negative?  They are watching and listening especially when we think they aren't.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

January DSMA Thinking In March

In January the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA) blog carnival posed the question, "What are you striving for?"  Two months later I have an answer to that question, a little late of course.  I am striving to break 7.  After meeting with my amazing PA where we celebrated my completion of a half marathon and he encouraged me to do another one sooner than later, my A1C results revealed that nothing changed.  I maintained.  I didn't get worse.  I maintained, which is positive.  But I am positively not where I need or want to be.  All of the other numbers are gorgeous, but I know in the recesses of my mind that if I don't fix that one number, all of the other numbers won't really matter so much in the long wrong.

After cultivating an exercise habit including cardio, interval training, and weights, I am still striving for to come under 7. An ultimate struggle.  For the past three nights in a row, I have had an awesome dinner exactly what the nutritionist prescribes and a sit-down with my daughter.  It also translates to no working out.  This week is my gladiator off-week, which is great. I needed it. I am teaching for a colleague all week in the morning and I have my formal observation. It a more stressful week than normal.  Who am I fooling? In this profession, stress is the norm, but what I are really striving for is the next big change that will help me come under 7. which overseeing my food intake more strictly will help me break through.

Making time to keep a food diary is the first most important basic step. We know that is the fundamental step in any food plan.  The frustrating part to me is that every time I make a food change, I have a series of lows where I end up over-treating and panic eating as someone described in a blog earlier this month, "the entire week's worth of Weight Watcher's points." Trust me, it becomes this vicious cycle for me.

My next step is to get  my husband attend a diabetic nutrition class with me. I could use a review and he could use some education in this area.  Don't get me wrong! He does a great job making breakfast and lunch for me every day! To hear me complain at lunch you wouldn't think so.  But even so, when I first got diagnosed, he didn't attend the class with me.  He tries really hard, but sometimes he doesn't quite get it right.  A no-carb lunch isn't what the doctor ordered.   To really have his full support managing this issue, I need him to be a little better educated.

BTW---When I went to the diabetes nutrition class, all of the men with diabetes brought their wives.  All the women with diabetes came alone.  Maybe just an anomaly but that is what I noticed. Has anyone else had this experience?

My last step is to be more mindful. It is really easy getting sucked up into the work.  Sometimes I feel like the most wanted person on campus.  I need to take care, eat lunch, and pay attention.  I have two steps managed and I think this is the third and final step to help me get there.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Slice 11: Make it Right

I have been at odds with discipline practices, especially in schools.  Self-discipline is the key to success in many arenas.  In my house, we make it right.  My daughter may or may not have seen the candy for Easter that my husband forgot to hide.  We awoke the next morning to discover the Easter Bunny had made it right.  My boss wants people to make it right when the adults mess up. Fess up and then tell her how you are going to fix it.  That is her practice.  Sadly, we don't allow kids to make it right when they mess up.  Instead, they are treated to punishment such as in-school suspensions or we send them home for out-of-school suspensions, thereby pushing them right out where they want to be, anywhere, but school.   Either way, they miss an opportunity to learn and they miss class, a class that they need.

When we send kids out of class, we make extraneous work for teachers. Teachers are asked to send work for students to do in ISS or OSS.  The work that we need to send must be assignments that kids can do without help, busy work to keep them quiet. Current classroom practices and research about the brain and learning have required teachers to engage students and abandon lectures and worksheets. With small group instruction and other work where collaboration is key, we are still employing a factory-model in our disciplinary methods.  If kids could do the work that we do in class by themselves, they wouldn't need their teachers.  What type of work do you send to a a kid who needs to be in your class? Work that they may or may not be able to do by themselves. Work that rarely is sent back to you to grade. Worksheets?  How can we better serve the academic needs of kids who are sent out of the classroom to make it right?

Some teachers develop work-arounds such as asking the students to leave ISS to attend their class.  Astute teachers avoid escalating situations in which students clearly want to get pushed out of class for behavior issues.  One student reported to a school board member that he acted out in class just to get sent out of class, clearly an engagement issue.  There is no better drama in high school than the potential for a fight.

What discipline solutions do you employ at your school?  How do you ensure the kids who potentially need instruction the most get it even though their behavior is out-of-bounds?  How can staff members work together  to make it right with our students both academically and behaviorally?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Investing in Professional Learning

Every day I engage in professional learning on some level through digital means via my Professional Learning Network on Twitter, the feed or the chats, or blogs that I follow.  I also rely on my face-to-face community through informal interactions with my colleagues during our walks, lunch, or phone conversations or my formal interactions with my Professional Learning Community. I also engage in independent study with my professional reading. I kicked off the year finishing Penny Kittle's Book Love and am working my way through  Lee Ann Spillane's Reading Amplified on my virtual shelf and hope to start Kylene Beers & Robert Probst's Notice and Note soon.  All of these interactions are fairly inexpensive as they require time.  But once a year I splurge!  I treat myself to the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention (NCTE) and the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN). This year it is in Boston.

I attended my first NCTE conference during my first year of teaching in 1993.  NCTE just happened to be in Orlando.  I was actually not smart enough to realize how lucky I was to have such an opportunity.  A mentor teacher, Marianne Raver got me there as a volunteer. My fees were free which was a perfect opportunity for a first year teacher, low risk.  I found inspiration there in the many voices.  I've since been to Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New York City, Orlando, Chicago and this past year Las Vegas. I've not only had the opportunity to attend, but also had the opportunity to give back to the professional community by presenting at NCTE.

Las Vegas was on my top five travel trips.  Not only did I enjoy seeing my teacher friends from Japan, Washington, and North Carolina and exploring the neon lights of Vegas, my time spent listening and learning was most valuable.  Based on my experiences this past year, I have been exploring Pecha Kucha which was shared in a session with Sara Kajder and her two grad students.  I am revising my use of the brown brown bag exam in my class based on my interaction with the presenters on the panel with whom I co-presented
I am rethinking about how I use digital tools on cell phones with students to create opportunities for repeated interactions with text based on the work shared by Troy Hicks, Bud Hunt & Sara Kajder in the Middle School Mosaic session. I am going to continue to read more nonfiction and dip into some of the titles shared by Carol Jago and finally try out book paths as shared by Kellee Moyee---reinventing the book pass by moving kids not books.

I am still paying for Las Vegas and  will soon start saving for Boston. I am hoping to spend a little less since I have a friend there.  I know that 10 months from now I will have new titles in my hand and new ideas and questions in my head.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Slice 9: Perspective

Life is hard. Teaching is hard. Writing is hard.  Imagine writing with only your right thumb on your I-Phone and the culmination of that writing is an 89,000 word book.  Is writing really that hard? This morning on my way to Camp Gladiator I was moved to tears by the interview on NPR this morning with Susan Spencer-Wendel, a woman who was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gerig's disease at age 44 in 2011.  She was formerly an award winning courts reporter for the Palm Beach Post.  After her diagnosis she adventured.  Her journey is captured in her just-released book Until I Say Good-bye. 

 Her last words in the interview,  "My pat answer is as well as can be mind becomes mightier and more quiet, you do indeed hear more in the silence" resonate loudly with me.  Life is hard. Teaching is hard. Writing is hard.  The hardest, but most important part is keeping it all in perspective. Listening for 6 minutes and 35 seconds helped me keep that perspective.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Slice 8: 50 Impossible Things Before Noon

Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast is a short story collection by Jane Yolen. When I think about my job as reading coach, I thought about 50 Impossible Things To Accomplish Before Noon since school ends at 2:11.   Really it is an attempt to explain my job to people outside of the field of education as well I also have to create a portfolio for my work this year so I thought could use this to start thinking what I need to feature:

  1. Lead a team to implement a reading plan for the 3200 students.
  2. Oversee and place\monitor 1200 students in reading classes.
  3. Work side by side by teachers in their classrooms.
  4. Florida Teens Read Classroom library
  5. Promote the love of reading
  6. Bulletin Boards
  7. Book Talks
  8. Family Literacy Night
  9. Talk to random students about books
  10. Put the right book into kids hands
  11. Monthly Chat & Chew
  12. Celebrate Literacy Week
  13. Million Minute Marathon
  14. Read Posters
  15. Work with teachers to integrate reading into their classrooms 200
  16. Support and work with 11 reading teachers.
  17. Create a reading focus calendar that makes sense.
  18. Testing--Approxiamately 6000 tests will be given during the 4th nine weeks not including all the progress monitoring tests that were given during the 1st-3rd nine weeks.
  19. Cella
  20. Reading Benchmark
  21. E-Pat Testing Tutorial
  22. FAIR testing
  23. EOC exams
  24. DAR 
  25. Facilitate lesson study
  26. Listen to administrators, teachers, and students.
  27. Coach a teacher through a lesson design or observation.
  28. Troubleshoot technology issues.
  29. Share effective articles for teacher to use with their students
  30. Family Literacy Council
  31. Reading Section of School Improvement Plan
  32. Text Complexity Training
  33. Black Belt Team for CCSS ELA
  34. Register students for ACT
  35. Counsel students
  36. ACHIEVE 3000 pilot
  37. Cultural Responsive Pilot Study
  38. Fuel Up to Play 60
  39. Oversee and place service learning students.
  40. Train leadership team.
  41. Freshman Intervention
  42. Order books
  43. Facilitate Marzano Book Study
  44. Coach teachers through deliberate practice
  45. Be a role model as a teacher, reader, and learner.
  46. Coach teacher-leaders.
  47. Write grants.
  48. IMS Champion
  49. Encourage and help teachers overcome obstacles.
  50. Keep the focus on what matters most for kids.
When I am on the move at work, it is hard to keep up with me.  My ultimate goal as a reading coach is to promote the love of reading while cultivating tenacious readers.  All of these and many other tasks are pieces of that intricate puzzle.  Today it involved testing, Skyping with Jonathon Maberry with a little Marzano and ACT mixed together. The only routine is the swiftly moving river of work.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slice 7: Family Literacy Night

Finally home from work!  High school teachers in my district start at 7 am.  I pulled a 15 hour day at school and in less than 12 hours I will be right there again alongside those teachers who pulled a 15 hour day with me. Given the length of the commute, some may not be home yet as I am writing this.  Teacher over-time or community service for a good cause, family literacy night.  Family literacy night is just one of the several events that we do at our school to continue to foster the love of reading in teens.

Each year we create a life-sized version of a game inspired by one of our Florida Teens Read books. This year Rot & Ruin  provided the catalyst to create a zombie game modeled after a version of Candyland/  Two of my colleagues, a fellow slicer, Krystin Beavers, and Helen Philpot and their students worked hard to draw scenes from the novel as well as costume themselves appropriately.  It was a hit.

We also offered book spine poetry as well as our kid "craft" ala Cat in the Hat foldable where student collected figurative language from Dr. Seuss's books. I am always amazed because students of all ages seem to gravitate toward the activity that we design for younger children.  We also offered an parent training in Spanish for a pilot program at our school as well as a book trivia game using Socrative, one of my favorite tech tools for the classroom.

Our grand finale was the Poetry Club performance who are coached by another colleague/fellow slicer, Lee Ann Spillane.  Check the phenomenal poets out on their YouTube channel.  Although our campus has 3200 students, our family literacy night was intimate, a synonym for small about 100 teachers, parents, and students.  No matter the 15 hour day, no matter the size, we had a great time!  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday: Slice 6

It's Wednesday! I actually napped today! I would still be napping if my urgency to slice hadn't taken over me. Most Wednesday eves I work my second job as a teacher-educator at the University of Central Florida.  It's spring break for us there.  My real spring break happens in two weeks. You know, the one where I get the days off.

I love my class and love to end Wednesday with the three hour class  about teaching writing in middle in high schools. I feel overwhelmingly positive about the future of education when I leave that class. In fact, some of the students are participating in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge this year. Their blogs are in my feed on the right.  This semester I have 45 students not all of them are taking the class because they want to be English teachers in a middle or high school.  Some are elementary education majors, psychology majors, social studies majors and  I've even had music majors. The class is not the largest class that I have taught, but teaching a class this size has taught the most about integrating strategies to get students to talk.

This Wednesday though I could have go to work out, gone shopping or played ultimate, but I napped. I surprised my daughter by picking her up after school.  I commented on slices and finally wrote this. Later I will join two Twitter chats #dsma and #rwworshop at 9 to finish my day, still a full one without class tonight, but a day seemingly off with its absence.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Slice 5

It's almost ten east coast and I am scrambling to slice. Not really! Last year my latest post was at 11:50 pm. I've had a crazy day at work and blew off the evening work I normally do by going to dinner with a friend after my workout.  The hardest thing about slicing is banishing the thought that I have to write something that matters every day.  I just need to remind myself that writing is hard and slicing is cultivating a writing habit every day at least that is my goal.

Today was a relatively good day, but a dangerous day for me.  If I really want to manage my disease well, I can't have days where I don't eat lunch. I know better!  I need to act better. There were students who needed me every minute of the day.  That is the gist of a teacher's life.  The hard part is finding balance and staking time for yourself, even in your workday!  There is always work and more work.

The work that I was happy to do today as a reading coach included---

1. Helping out a friend get testing for 400 kids started because I had the time and the flexibility in my schedule.
2. Registering students for ACT who would not normally choose to take it. If you haven't helped juniors and seniors through it lately, it takes a good hour to do it.
3. Working with a colleague to develop a lesson on literary analysis for ESOL students just because I said hello to her in the hall after school.
4. Making space for another student to come to our Skype visit on Friday with Jonathan Mayberry just because the teacher recognizes how much it will matter to this student.
5. Hanging out with a teacher friend (after work hours) and figuring out what to do with her students when I teach her class while she is out for a week.

What I know is that staying focused on the work that went well will keep me from dwelling on the work that was frustrating.  I just need to make sure that I am also working well for myself.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Paper Vs. Plastic Part Deaux

Last year one of my slice's was about Paper Vs. Plastic or why I choose to buy and read books, hard cover or paperback, but definitely not e-books.  I try not to close doors in my life so I found myself giving plastic a try again. Having received an I-Pad also made it an exploratory option for me. I tried to overcome my inability to read e-books and failed. I confess I am addicted to paper.

I realized that reading professional books is a tactile experience for me. There are books that I visit and revisit. The post-its left behind are signals for me to dip back here.  The notes remind me of where I was at and the questions remind me of where I intended to go.  This fall I borrowed a book Switch and had permission to write in it.  After the owner read it following me, he told me that he thought I was writing to him, especially with the questions in the margins.  I loved the idea that we were reading side-by-side, a professional journey. I love to follow the thinking of readers who precede me.

I also get a thrill when I see somebody with a book I shared in their hands, especially students.  I love when they pass it on.  My books do find their way back to me and out again. I love receiving a book in my mailbox from Paperback Swap.  I love books slipped onto my desk at work because they are whispers that say, "I know you well enough to share."  They are also calorie and carb-free.

I honestly tried this past month to read not one, but three plastic books. It wasn't my lack of time. It wasn't the genre or the content; it was the format.   I did plenty of other reading while not quite getting to or finishing the plastic books.  To be fair, I do most of my reading in bed at night with my daughter and I am cautious about bringing technology to bed.  But in a world where I spend far too much time linked in via my plastic, I relish the solitude that paper bequeaths me and the connection to others it still allows.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

SOLC 3/31: Brave the Silence

It's time to take action according to the month's One Little Word project with Ali Edwards. My action aligns with my intention this month which is to Brave the Silence. My action will be to talk less and listen more. In lesson study I learned that if I stayed quiet and waited long enough someone would say what I was thinking. We can do that in many different ways in our work.  I'm not talking about the kind of silence that the quote, "Silence is the voice of complicity." is talking about.

My goal is to deliberately practice listening to allow my students and my colleagues the oppportunity to keep learning going. Sarah Dessen writes in her young adult novel Just Listen, "This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don't jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.  My action is to practice being the listener this month.

In our classroom I am reminded again and again of Kylene Beer's words about the one who talks the most in the classroom does the most learning.  I have been working on increasing the amount of student talk in my instruction for the past two years. This work became even more important as I work with teachers and have over 40 students in my classes.  It becomes readily apparent which students feel comfortable sharing out whole class. I also like using different strategies because it makes students talk to different people.  We have our comfort zones, but then we talk to new people we are introduced to new perspectives.  In my resolve to brave the silence, I hope to learn more by letting other discovery what they didn't know, they knew.

One books that I like to help teachers design lessons with more student-talk embedded is Daniel's and Steineke's Text and Lessons for Content Area Reading

Here is a list of the top ten strategies I have been using to get students to talk more so I can listen:

1. I Have, You Have
2. Carousel Brainstorming
3. Tabletop Twitter
4. Fold the Line
5. Mile a Minute
6. Quotation Mingle
7. Square, Circle, Triangle
8. Socratic Seminar
9. Find Your Match or Move to the Beat
10. Brown Bag Assessment

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SOLC 2/31: Stride for Pride Part Deaux

Last year I began training a little more seriously for running.  I really hate running because I love the camaraderie of team sports.  I train with people, but on race day I've found myself on my own in my head even with people at my side.  I would rather run with someone for something rather than for the solitude and inner joy than some people say running brings.  Today we did run for something and someone, we ran a 5 k as a family, my family of three plus my work family.  The Stride for Pride is a race that celebrates the life of one of our students, Zaryn, who passed away last year.  His grandfather, mom, dad, and cousin work at my school. His sister goes there as well.  The race is small but it raises money for a scholarship fund.  It brings a community together.

Around one hundred students, teachers, and community members gathered around the starting line. I brought my husband and daughter with me. My husband ran the 5 k well ahead of us and stopped for coffee at the 7-11 and still beat me by at least 10-15 minutes.  My 9 year old daughter attempted to run it with me.  She did great. She is pretty active, most recently doing 9 mile bike ride with only 1 fall; she has been hiking with me since she was born. Today was here first 5K. We ended up walking more than running. She also ended up taking a short cut. We had some quality time where I answered her questions about what would be the best site to stay for the zombie apocalypse.  Aside from enjoying my time with her and the movement, I realized how much I have learned this year about myself and running\moving with diabetes.

Last year I was afraid and now I have a better understanding of what to do, how to handle myself, and what to pack.  You can't go to class to learn everything you need to know in the real world. I test while I walk. I carry my phone. I always have fast-acting sugar.  I don't always do this well, but lately I haven't let it stop me from moving.  Over the past year I have been able to pushing myself harder.  I do know that I still always must be mindful.  People who have managed this disease longer have surprises. Scott Johnson's post I Passed Out on January 1 was an important reminder of what can sneak up on you.

What I have learned since I did the Stride for Pride run  is that I can be more and do more than let this disease define me.  Finishing a half-marathon and this 5K today without any surprises .  I still don't like running.  I love the the camaraderie and the physiological benefits it brings as well as the strength of mind and confidence it has led me to develop about managing a sporty life as a T1.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Slice 1 of 31: Challenge

I love challenges. I don't necessarily love writing, but the Slice of Life Challenge lets me blend both together. Can I really write for 31 days straight?  This year I start off with the knowledge that I can because I did it last year.  Whenever you embark on something for the first time, the uncertainty always lingers.  It's like a road trip to somewhere you've never been.  Once you've been there once, the journey seems so much shorter.   Some nights I didn't post until 11:50 pm.  But I did make it and comment on three people for the entire month.  I even won a cool prize! Though it wasn't about the prize.

Last year it was a personal journey full of questions. Could I balance a little writing each day with work and life?  What does it mean to participate in a digital writing community? What does it mean to create a digital footprint?  How do you grow as a writer?  This year I will continue to explore those questions as well as write side-by-side with some of my graduate students. After doing a tiny Slice challenge with ninth graders for ten days last year in May, I added an open-ended digital writing project to my syllabus for graduate students s.  Part of my journey will be working with those students and dealing with the questions that arise as I read their work.  I already have some brewing!

I am also encouraging my nine-year old daughter to write with me each day. Last year as I sliced, she became more and more interested in writing and kept nagging me for a blog.  We created one and this month I hope to nurture her more as a writer. We already read side-by-side and the slice will give us an opportunity to write side-by-side.  If you are new to the challenge, welcome! If not, I am excited to slice with you again!