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Showing posts from March, 2012

Chloe Says Good-bye (31/31)

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We end the month as we began--with Chloe at the computer-- Dear Slicers, No offense, but I'm really glad the month is over.  Finally, I will get a little attention in the mornings. Do you know that I haven't gotten to rock and cuddle in the chair all month???  And after school, well, there is no playing in the yard. We don't go for a walk. We don't play Frisbee. We don't do ANYTHING  until she has sat down at that dumb ole computer AGAIN to see if anybody wrote to her. I hate that computer. At least now, we can sit outside longer.  And she will play fetch with me and go for longer walks. You noticed, didn't you, that she didn't let me write very much.  One time. That was all. Well, two times, I guess, since I got to write the first one.  And now, I guess, three times, since I get to say good-bye. But really, that wasn't very much at all. I had a lot of good ideas too. I got to visit my BFF again. I figured out a way to keep the birds out of t

Light at the End of the Tunnel (30/31)

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It hit me today...next week at this time, I will be at the lake. Opening day. There are 34 more school days left. Speech Banquet 3 more speeches Romeo  and Juliet 3 more writing pieces Semester projects. Done. I'm not sure where this school year has gone, but wherever it went, it raced right by. It didn't see hello, good-bye, see you soon. Nothing.  Just came and went without so much as howdy do. Well, it seems that way. But in reality, there were many great moments. Back in September, I wasn't sure I would ever bond with my freshmen. Today, I will be sorry to see most of them go and am looking forward to having them in speech next year.  They hated to read at the beginning of the year. In May, we will have our second novel unit--at their request. We had a great Contest Speech season--two All-State teams and many, many one ratings. My speech classes got better each and every speech. And this year, no one failed because they didn't do the re

Where the Love of Reading Goes to Die

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High School. Ask a high school kid if they like to read. They will look at you like you are nuts. Like to read? No one wants to admit to that.   I've written about this before  but after Ruth's post last week, I want to add a few more thoughts. I blithely posted on Ruth site that high school is where the love of reading goes to die, but that's not the entire truth.  It's a slow lingering death. It starts earlier than high school. I talk to my high school kids (I know, what a concept). They are extraordinarily honest about teachers and classes and how they think things should be taught. We talk about reading. They hate being told what to read and they hate analyzing everything to death. They hate answering comprehension questions about every short story and novel they read. They hate discussing in lit circles. They understand the need to do some of these things with some things they read. They just don't want to do it for everything. Sometimes, they

Do You Share? (28/31)

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Reading through my Twitter feed, I came upon this Tweet from Dr. Justin Tarte . If you don't follow him, you should. He's a   Pretty Smart Guy . Anyway, last night he asked if you would share all  your lesson plans from your entire career with a brand new teacher for free. I answered absolutely, Here's why: I didn't teach right out of college. I had a different career for a few years. Stayed home with our boys for a few years.  I subbed for awhile and was a paraprofessional for several years.  When I finally took the 7th grade English position in our district, I was thrilled.  I met with the head of the department and asked what I should be teaching. I expected a syllabus, at the very least. "Whatever you want," was the response.  I was shocked. Scared. Nervous. Confused.  What was I supposed to do? I made it up as I went along. But after that, all along the way, I worked with fabulous teachers who shared. "Why reinvent the wheel?"

You're Gonna Have to Share That Bagel....(27/31)

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"May I have your attention please.  We are now going into a Shelter in Place lock down.  Please stay in your classrooms until further notice.  This is not an emergency situation. Continue on with class as normal. Please do not text or use your cell phones." I make sure my door is locked and sit down at my desk. This is my third hour speech class. If I have to be locked in a room for an indeterminate about of time, this is the class I want to be locked down with.  There's not an annoying kid in the bunch. And, they are pretty funny in their own way. Immediately, the chatter begins. "What's that mean?"  I explain that something is happening and to be safe, they want everyone to stay in the classroom." "Is this a drill?" "Probably not," I explain "As Mr. F said, it isn't a dangerous situation, but we need to stay in the room. "How long will we be here?" "I don't know. You could be here all da

She Speaks (26/31)

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There's a character in my head. I don't know where she belongs. I don't know if she lives in the YA novel that I began (and abandoned) in NaNoWriMo (she could be the mother)  or if she has her own story.  She spoke to me. She spoke in prose, she spoke in verse. I'm going to share this, but I really don't know where it's going..... Standing there In the Vestibule In her long white dress She knew. This was a mistake. Even though Everyone (and by Everyone, she meant her mother) Thought he was perfect and A Wonderful Guy, He wasn't Perfect and Wonderful For her. This was a mistake. And because  It wasn't in her To disappoint a crowd, To withstand the scrutiny, To face the stares, She made another mistake. She said, "I do".

How Am I Supposed to Get Anything Done?

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Sub notes to write Creative Writing to grade and drafts to comment on. English assignments to grade. House to clean. Post to write. But something else keeps getting in the way! Tell me. Could you resist this face?

Music of My Life

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I drove to a nearby town this morning blaring Adele as loud as I could.  I love Adele--not to sing along to--I can't sing with her. When I want to sing along, I have another set of CDs to play. But, it got me thinking about songs I associate with different parts of my life. When we were young and lived at home, my sisters and brother and I remember our parents and their friends getting together to play cards many weekends.  Country music blared throughout the house. Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams.  Our lullabies.  One song stands out from this. The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton.  One year at Christmas my siblings and I sang the song from beginning to end because Mom didn't believe we all knew it. In high school I listened to whatever was on the radio.  My best friend and I cruised up and down Main Street with the radio blasting.  We would scope out the cute guys as we drove for hours up and down the same path, honking and giggling as we would pass

When Did That Happen?

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Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop  Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop  Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop The Leaves On  My  Tree Popped Out Today! I'm a spring checker.  Constantly on the look out for the signs that winter is over and spring has truly arrived.  I peek under leaf cover for signs of my honeysuckle coming up.  My little patch of violets are blooming. The peonies are peeking through and the Black-eyed Susans are four inches high! So how did I miss the leaves on the maple tree?  Really. I know they weren't there yesterday!

Noah's Ark

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Teaching Speech for the last five years, I have had some odd groupings of kids for class.  There was the class of all high achieving girls and one bad boy. There was the redneck and jock class. But my 8th hour class this semester beats them all.  It's kind of like Noah's Ark for high school classes. The first group are the Mona Lisa girls who sit towards the back or the side, straight backed They maintain that half  smile at the antics going on. They stay on the fringes of the action, never really participating. A couple of them think they are cool, above the rest, but they aren't nearly as cool and popular as they think. The next group I find hard to name. At first I called them Slackers. But they aren't. They come to school every day (except the first day of each deer season. Did you know in Iowa there is more than one) and they do care. They just don't show it. They sit in the back of the room, slouched down in their seat, chewing their gum. They ha

What Would You Say

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I got a great birthday gift today from Fountain  (yes, I gave her crap because it was late. And she thinks I'm getting old!). She's my former school roommate , for those of you who aren't familiar with her or our relationship . She gave me a plaque for my desk that says, "Flying Monkeys. I have them. Not afraid to use them." I am huge Wizard of Oz/Wicked fan and have a similar sign hanging in the front of my room.  Anyway, she also gave me "Questions and Answers; A Five Year Journal". She knows me so well. A question I found glancing through it prompted this post. "What do you want to say when someone asks, "What do you do" ? I find books for teenagers who proudly proclaim they hate to read and have never finished a book. I make them admit that maybe, just maybe, they haven't ever found the right book. And that maybe, just maybe, they didn't give reading a fair chance. And I give them choice. I give students a place to wr

Indecisive (20/31)

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                                                              Split                                                                                                     Splat                                               Pitter                                                                             Patter Nothing Splitter       Splatter            Pitterer                    Patterer Sprinkle. Sprinkle. Sprinkle Nothing. Indecisive rain Can't make up It's mind Hang the clothes up Take the clothes down Let Chloe out Bring Chloe in Open windows Close windows                                                             Split                                                                                                   Splat                                         Pitter                                                                            Patter Nothing

The Scorpio Races (19/31)

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A little different post for me today. I don't normally write books reviews, but I loved this book and must share a bit. According to Maggie Stiefvater, she has been fascinated with the myth of the water horses for quite some time. She has tried to write about them before, but could never get the story right.  It wasn't until after Stiefvater wrote the Shiver trilogy that she went back to attempt it again.  This time, success. I loved the story of Sean, the boy who has won the Scorpio races four times. The boy who races for the joy and his love on a water horse. And I loved the story of Puck (Kate, to those who don't her well) who must race to save what she loves.   And, though, Stiefvater may not think she has written their story, I love the story of the water horses.  The majesty of their rise from the ocean and their drive to return. The violence of the races. The training days, the storm that brought horses inland, the race day. And how can yo

Memories (18/31)

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As I bask in the sun Watching the grandkids Chase Each other with squirt guns on a warm March afternoon I think of another birthday chase. Sitting in the backseat Watching  Grandpa Racing  down Main Street Chasing Mu favorite red tights That blew out of the car On a blustery March afternoon. As I check out the flowers  Peeking Out of the ground Celebrating life I think of other flowers Standing at attention Honoring the dead As I bask in the sun Memories  Chase  Through my mind Intertwine With the present Taking me back Reminding me of  Life's Circle

Things I Just Don't Understand.... (17/31)

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Last year on my birthday, I posted things I had learned in 54 years .  This year I thought I'd make a list of things I still don't understand after 55 years. 1. I don't understand how people can hold grudges for so long.  How can they go for years not talking to people they once loved? 2.  Mean people. Have a piece of chocolate and smile. 3. People who don't like chocolate. How can you not like chocolate.  If it doesn't contain chocolate, it's not candy. 4. Old People. And I don't mean people over a certain age. I mean those who act old,  people who don't have any fun in their life.  Grow little for heavens sake!  Sing in the car.  Watch Sponge-Bob.  Play with kindergarteners. 5. Teachers who don't read. 6. Teachers who don't write. 7. Teachers who don't read, but "teach" reading. 8. Ditto the writing teachers. 9. Teachers who don't care about the whole child. 10. The new timeline on Facebook. 11. Voting

Spring is Sprung

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One of Grandpa's little ditties:  Spring is sprung, the grass is ris.   I wonders where the birdies is.   They say the birds is on the wing.   Ain't that absurd?   I always thought the wing was on the bird.   I had to look this up because I couldn't remember the whole thing.  The poem, known as" Spring in the Bronx" is actually anonymous wiki answers tells me, although it is often attributed to Ogden Nash. We have a four day weekend for spring break here in northeast Iowa.  Nice of the school district to do that for my birthday, don't you think?  Chloe and I are enjoying the day--what were left of the winter decorations are packed up and put away for next year and it is spring in and outside of my house.  I have a long to-do list, but I am done for the day. The deck is clean and that is where I'm going to spend the rest of the day, reading and enjoying the beautiful weather. Enjoy your weekend!

Follow-Ups: Novels, Author-To-Be, and Inservice (15/31)

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Today's post is in three parts. Part 1: Young Adult Novel Unit. My freshmen finished reading their novels yesterday.  Really. They finished.  And all but maybe two liked the books they chose. Really. Liked a book. Liked reading. And the kicker is. THEY WANT TO DO IT AGAIN.  As they turned in their activities yesterday, I handed them a small square of paper.  I told them I wanted them to write me a note about this unit.  They were to be totally honest. I just wanted to know if they really liked the unit. If they thought I should do it again next year. What they thought about the timing and the activities. They could tell me anything they wanted to. Only one student didn't like the unit. One out of forty. And I think her biggest problem was she didn't like the book she chose. I may do it again before school is out. Maybe after Romeo and Juliet.... Part 2: My Author-To-Be If you've ever wondered about the expression "Over the moon", I have the pe

My Husband, the Shopper

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My husband is a shopper.  Not my kind of shopping...the leisurely stroll through stores just to see what's new and what you might need that you didn't know you needed.  No, my husband is a comparison shopper.  Not that it's a bad thing.  We  He seldom makes a bad purchase.  We get the best buy for our money. It's just a very long drawn out process. I have been known to go sit in the car and read while he shops. Once I brought our portable TV and watched basketball while he shopped at Menards. The only thing that could get our sons to come along on a shopping trip was the promise of eating at Old Country Buffet!  Even grocery shopping takes forever.  The grandkids are the only ones who will voluntarily go to the store with him. Anyway. It starts with Consumer Reports magazine. Years and years of Consumer Reports magazine. Really. I try to recycle them and he digs them out. And, yes, we both know that they put out a little booklet of the highlights every year, but

What Teachers Do During Inservice (Slice 13/31)

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A couple of weeks ago, my creative writing journal was "List 10 things you think teachers do when there are no students in school."  Most of them got pretty creative. The first category seemed to be "Playing on the Computer."  Quite a few thought we unblocked Facebook so we could chat with each other and stalk students. And texting--we have to text each other don't we? I mean, our rooms are soooo far apart.  And, of course, we must be playing with photo booth like they do and take crazy pictures of ourselves. And how about YouTube videos? Surely we must watch a lot of those. The next category fell under "Fun and Games". As we blast "I'm Sexy and I Know It" over the speaker system, we roller blade through the halls or have races in our "rolly" chairs.  And there always Dance Party while we have a wine tasting.  We also take off our shoes and run through the halls and play Wii Bowling on the SmartBoards. There are a few

Chloe Talk

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I just love it when I see Mom and Dad packing up my toys and food. I just know that something special is going to happen. And when my blanket is taken out of my kennel, I know it's going to be a great time. We're sleeping somewhere else, there's new people to play with, and, if I'm really lucky, another dog! So last weekend I saw all this going on. I was so excited, jumping up and down and barking to show them how happy I was.  Finally, Dad told me to come with him and out we went to the van. I love going places in the van.  I can stand up and walk around. I can look out the windows and sit in the front seat (if Mom isn't around). We didn't drive very far. Only a couple of blocks and we stopped.  When we got out I was so happy. We were at the lady who gives me a bath and cuts my toenails.  It's always fun when I get to go there. But I couldn't figure out why Dad brought my toys and my blanket.  And then I realized THEY WERE LEAVING ME HERE! I don

Power

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A day at State Speech is a day of hurry up and wait.  A day of so many highs and lows. Emotions run wild (500 or so walking hormones!) Nerves can attack even the most confident as they wait for those all important ratings. All day long I heard, "I can't wait to read my ballots."  Those ballots, you see, should justify the ratings.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Today, one was outstanding. I have a young man, a sophomore,  who competed in Spontaneous Speaking for the first time. Spontaneous Speaking is TOUGH.  At the end of January coaches receive a list of ten possible topics for Spontaneous. Not the questions, the topics. The idea is the students will read up on those topics, watch the news, and form opinions. At contest, the contestant draws three questions related to those topics, chooses one, and has THREE minutes to come up with a speech (no longer than five minutes). Really. Three minutes. I told you it was tough. Then they go in front of

It Is What It Is

Today was State Speech. On our way at 6:30am and home at 8:00pm.  The kids did well and it was a great day, but m y brain is mush. This is all I can manage tonight for the 10th slice!  No time for reading No time for writing Gotta herd those kids on the bus! No time for playing No time for snuggles Gotta herd those kids on the bus! The wheels on the bus go  round and round I herded those kids on the bus! The kids on the bus go yackety yak I herded those kids on the bus! STOP! Forgot the projector Turn this bus around! Run, Mrs. Day, Run Mrs. Day don't run... The wheels on the bus......

Grandma's Garage

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It was a two car garage that never saw a car parked in it, but if you ever needed anything, it was in Grandma's Garage. This garage was stacked floor to ceiling with everything you could imagine. Boxes of all sizes packed with everything from Christmas decorations (72 boxes of them!) to out of season, out of size clothes. Brand new garbage cans packed tightly with sheets of all sizes and towels. Cans of Folger's coffee (at one point 72 pounds of it). Christmas presents bought throughout the year and hidden away on the top shelf, away from Grandkids' prying eyes. Cases of toilet paper. Mementos from long ago. I wish I had a picture of it, because no one ever believes my stories. One year, my dad was invited to a friend's wedding.  He told my grandma he was going to buy them a Crock Pot (something new that came out that year). Grandma asked him what color he wanted. Yep--out in the garage there were several... Grandma worked at a local department store. One ti

Grandpa's Legacy

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Every morning, as I walk from the parking lot to the high school, I pick up the trash that appears upon my path. I don't make a big deal about it. I just pick up what I can and throw it in the trash when I get into the building. There are several students who see me do this most every day. One finally asked why I do it. It isn't my job. He's right. It isn't my job. But if I didn't leave places a little cleaner than when I got there, I'm pretty sure my grandfather would come down from heaven and kick my butt. That, you see, was one of his "commandments".  We learned it many Sundays in the spring and summer as he took us on hikes through the park woods across from his house.  While my grandmother and the rest of the family gathered around the TV or played cards, Grandpa took us on hikes in the woods. The spring was my favorite time to go. I swear Grandpa knew the name of every wildflower we passed:  Blood roots  Dutchmen&#

Deck Day! (7/31)

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Yesterday as  I walked back to my room after a quick visit to the office, I noticed it. Fresh air. Spring. The promise of robins and grilling and spring rains and clean.  Every once in awhile I would smell it throughout the day. Was someone opening the windows? Was it wishful thinking? I snuck home to pick up some forgotten papers during my prep period.  A half day of in-school suspension didn't seem like a bad trade off for playing hooky.  Maybe I should try it! I could      sit out on the deck,           play fetch with Chloe,                plan for spring flowers and                     daydream. Sounded like heaven. But, I went back to school. There were      classes to teach,           rehearsals and                meetings after school. No hooky playing for me! The fresh smell kept dancing into my room throughout the afternoon, teasing me. Finally, at 5 I was done for the day. I gathered up my things and headed to the car.  At least it was still light ou

Counting the Days....

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My speech season is almost over. Saturday is our state contest. Once contest is over, I will have much more free time. The poem below contains references to pieces my students are performing this year... 5 Days and Counting Arriving before most Leaving long after the others. 5 Days and Counting "Caps, Caps for Sale" and "I'm too young to have the ears of a rabbit." 5 Days and Counting Do Not Go Gently Hazel and Gus and Tiny's voice of love 5 Days and Counting "MacBeth shall sleep no more " and "Cause we're Tuesday people" 5 Days and Counting Kids popping in during classes and The room that is never empty 5 Days and Counting Laughter Political conversations Laughter My kids 240 days and counting....

Will Write for Comments

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I remember my first post in last year's Slice of Life Writing challenge well.  Terrified, I clicked "post" and waited.  Would anyone comment?  Would anyone even read it? I waited. And comments came. They meant so much to me. Validation, if you will, of what I was doing. Each day, each comment gave me courage to write and share the next day. And I learned the power of positive words. Sometimes, I forget that when I'm reading student pieces.  I try to get them back quickly. I get so busy trying to "assign" a responsible, accurate grade for what the student has written, that I forget each of us have included a piece of our soul in our writing. And that needs validation. So I am trying to slow down. Trying to give thoughtful, connecting responses to each and every piece as I read it. I am trying to remember to highlight those little thoughts and phrases that I really like. And a smiley face just won't do the job.

Celebrating

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My freshmen hate to read. Really. Hate. To. Read. Books suck. Books are boring. Books are a waste of time. They feel the same way about writing, but that's another post So, I did what any book loving nerd would do. I ordered great new books. Pulled great old books off the shelf and started a young adult novel unit . I, of course, was met with groans. "What? I have to read this is 15 days!  I'll never finish it by then." This student had proudly proclaimed they had never read an entire book. "I hate to read." Yea, 'cause I didn't get that from all the whining you have done every time I tell you to pull out a book. " Do you have anything short?" "Do we have to read again today?" Yep. Every day for fifteen days. But Slowly. Ever so slowly. The voices are changing their tune. "Do we get to read today?" What? "Hey. That book looks good. What's it about?" You're talking about books???

Recalculating

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Two years ago, I bought my husband a Garmin for Christmas. I don't understand why he wanted a GPS. I think he just wanted a new toy because everyone else had them. But, I bought it for him anyway. First of all, he can't program it. Why? Because he always drives, so I always program it. I put in the addresses. I listen to the voice give directions. Recalculating. Secondly, he thinks "she's" wrong most of the time. No matter where we are, no matter what "she" says, his response is either, "That can't be right!" or "I'm taking this road instead." Recalculating. Friday night we packed up after school and headed about two and a half hours north for a visit with old friends. We've been there several times and actually know where we are going (for the most part). But Greg asks me to turn on the Garmin and plug in their address when we are about an hour down the road. He knows the highway he's looking for--he jus

Is My Zipper Down?

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Giggles. I try to ignore them. I'm sure that they are just talking about prom or what they are going to do this weekend. They turn around, look at me and giggle.  I'm trying to give a lecture (and God, how I hate to lecture). They giggle again. "Really? Giggling? Is my zipper unzipped?" They turn to each other and laugh. Last period of the day. The boys in the back of the room, who always snicker and laugh, are looking at me, then snickering and laughing.  And it's contagious. The quiet, shy girls in the corner begin to giggle. They look at me. Turn red. And giggle. I do the subtle check. I turn around and continue lecturing. I look at my SmartBoard. Hmmm. A red laser point is dancing around. I look sharply at the boys in the back. They giggle, but I don't think it's them. The shades are up. The library and several classrooms are across the square from me. Hmmm. Detective Day will figure this out.....

Doin' A Happy Dance!

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I'm doin' my happy dance because today is March 1st and you know what that means!  It's the Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Welcome to Coffee With Chloe! Hi, I'm Chloe. Normally, I'm a pretty happy dog, but it's March. I remember what happened last year.  Deb ignored me for most of the month while she wrote in this silly challenge ( Deb here. I wrote my thoughts about the Slice of Life Challenge a week or so ago. You can check it out here ). Really, who wants to write--we should be going for walks, throwing the frisbee, getting rid of those pesky squirrels and birds that keep invading my yard! But no. If she isn't writing on the computer, she'll be writing in her notebook or she'll be checking out writing sites looking for ideas ( Deb again--I'm going to start a new page of sites I have found with writing ideas . Feel free to check it out!).  Geez. I'm lying right here. That should be plenty of