Sunday, March 31, 2013

We made it! SOL 2013:31 of 31


          Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  

                   For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 


Inspired by newtreemom's Easter Hymn, I tried my hand at composing a hymn poem;

God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son
I Stand All Amazed
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Where Can I Turn for Peace
Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer
I Need Thee Every Hour

Because I Have Been Given Much
There Is Sunshine in my Soul Today
The Lord Is My Light

 

This is my second year to complete the March Slice of Life Challenge.   My students join me in slicing daily, and we work hard to build our writing muscle all month long.  When I finished last March, I wasn't sure that I could continue slicing every Tuesday.  But I did, and this month I celebrated my 100th post!  I could never have achieved this without the encouragement of this amazing community.  Your posts inspire me and your comments encourage me.  With the help of this fantastic community, I've become a writer!  My sincere thanks to everyone who helped make our month a success, and especially to Stacey and Ruth who created this fantastic place for us to come together.  I can honestly say that it takes a village to create a writer and all of you are members of my village, a very special writing community.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Travel Pals SOL 2013: 30 of 31

                                         
For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth 
from Two Writing Teachers.  

             
When I travel, I'm plagued by book indecision!  I have a Kindle, but still use it infrequently.  I love the pleasure of the physical page, and I already own/have checked out many of the titles I want to read.  Friends and family know that vacation time for me must also involve some time lost in a book.

 Here are the chosen (with no time for book spine poetry):


And those who were left behind (with a pat and a promise of future trips)!

    

Friday, March 29, 2013

Quick Post of 5 Word Lines SOL 2013: 29 0f 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


I'm sneaking out a day early for spring break so I can spend Easter weekend with my brother and family.  I tried to mimic the six word posts of fellow bloggers, but mine insisted on a five word format!   When you like haiku as much as I do, it's really hard to count words instead of syllables.  


All my plans are written
and my classroom is ready. 
But my bags aren't packed,
because my laundry's not done.
There's no time to slice
because I'm leaving on a 
jet plane bound for Oklahoma
to spend spring break with 
cherished family and dear friends!




Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lifted Up! SOL 2013: 28 of 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  



Linda's and Elsie's posts about trees sent me scrambling back to my list of possible slices from earlier this month.  I thought I had listed a possible tree post as Trees in My Life.  A quick scan reveals it's not there, but then I see the words "Lifted Up."  These words are the title of an original piece of art that hangs in our home.

I love it when artists title their pieces.  And especially when a title captures so eloquently how I feel about trees.  I love them in the springtime, I love them in the fall, I've even learned to love their naked beauty in the winter (when I see more lake views on my way to work), and I certainly love them in the summer when life slows down a bit so that I can sit under a tree and read.  I've decided that favorite trees in my life each deserve a dedicated post, but no time for that today.  Here are a few favorite springtime tree photos with a promise for more tree posts to come.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My life in a bag! SOL 2013: 27 of 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


This post was inspired by Juliann's post, Bags, Bottles and Bundles.  http://chasingstories.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/march-26-bags-bottles-and-bundles/

My life as a bag lady reached its zenith about twenty years ago when I was attending graduate school, chairing the elementary school book fair, serving on the neighborhood Watch committee, creating Camp Read-A-Lot (a school-wide book celebration), exercising at Jazzercise, and serving as Primary president (an organization for Sunday instruction of children ages 18 months to 12 years) at my local church.  Bags were the perfect way to organize my materials for these various commitments and keep me sane. Whenever I left the house, I would just reach for the right bag and all my materials were right there.

I've continued this tradition with my current school roller bag, a bag for my Primary class on Sunday, a bag for the library, bags of newspapers for our art teachers, and bags for donating items to our local thrift store.  This photo shows you some of my favorite bags - the Mary Englebreit bag for library books, the cupcake bag (made by a dear friend) for Sunday stuff, and my favorite bag (the navy one with green straps).  They no longer make my favorite bag at Lands' End.  In order to replace this bag, the following qualifications must be met:  a zippered top that provides extra storage space when zipped closed, the backbone to stand up alone, handles long enough to go over my shoulders and fit over the handle of my travel roller bag, the ability to fit under the seat on the airlines,  a ring for keys, and some interior pockets for organizing stuff.   My old bag meets all of this criteria except for the pockets and ring for keys.  Because I've used this bag for decades, I know that the addition of these two items would turn my favorite bag into the perfect bag.  How about it?  I'm sure that some of you are also closet bag ladies. Tell me about your favorite bag and be sure to tell me where I can get one just like yours.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Addicted to Book Spine Poetry! SOL 2013: 26 of 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


This is one that I started on Sunday, and it begged for completion.  Now, one of my jobs during next week's spring break is to return the piles of pulled books to their proper bookshelves.

This poem, composed of inspirational books, features titles that are in descending syllabic order.  There's a pattern beginning here - slice, book spine poetry, slice, book spine poetry, slice, book spine poetry.  I may need an intervention soon!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Splendors of Spring! SOL 2013: 25 of 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  



Yesterday was a glorious Seattle day.  We took our out-of-town friends from 30+ years ago to see the cherry trees on the quad at the University of Washington.   As we discussed the cherry trees, I decided that I needed to be sure my facts were straight about these particular trees. Our discussion made me realize that locals (15 years of residing in the NW qualifies me as a local) sometimes need to bone up on their facts for visiting friends.  These trees came to UW around 1939.  They were originally planted in a different location, but transplanted to their current location on the quad due to construction. Anticipating future problems, grafts were taken of the trees in 1959 and are being grown in a nursery in Mount Vernon, WA.  It's a splendid sight to see the trees in bloom on one of our rare sunny days in Seattle. 



This is a picture taken from inside my classroom today.  No wonder the students found it hard to focus on ancient Egypt and the process for selecting the Newbery Medal.  With beauty like this right outside the window, I am compelled to write another haiku.


Blue skies and sunshine

Cherry trees burst forth in bloom 

Week starts with gladness

Sunday, March 24, 2013

More Book Spine Poetry SOL 2013: 24 of 31


For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


Thanks to Elsie's Friday post about book spine poetry, I can't walk by a bookshelf without retrieving interesting titles and engaging in a little wordplay.  I still haven't allowed myself to visit my shelves of picture books, so there may be more book spine poetry to come.  


A reflective haiku created with favorite inspirational books:


 A personal manifesto for our household: 


     If you've never tried book spine poetry, check out Elsie's helpful post:    


Saturday, March 23, 2013

A counting exercise! SOL 2013: 23 of 31


For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day.  Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  

Papers to grade:  4 sets x 2 classes x 57 students = 456 possible paper cuts Yikes!
Student slices that need comments from me:  31
Meals to plan: 7
Stores to visit:  3
Lessons to prepare for Sunday class:  1
Friends to connect with at church:  Many
Old friends in town:  2
Days until daughter's visit:  5
Weeks until spring break:  1
Number of stops on plane trip to OK:  1
Best Brothers I'll see:  1 (Also my only brother)
Sisters-in-law I'll see:  1
Nieces I'll see: 1
Great Niece I'll see:  1
Parents of great niece I'll see:  2
BFF I'll see: 1
Relatives I'll see:  too many to count
Books I want to read over break:  10
# of slices left to write this month: 9
Woo Hoo!  We're in the single digits now!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A haiku and book spine poetry! SOL 2013:22 of 31


For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


Inspired by Elsie
I join her in creating
Book spine poetry!







If you've never tried book spine poetry, check out Elsie's helpful post:    

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Mother's Wisdom SOL 2013: 21 of 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice of life every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


Today's pancake post was inspired by Amy's pancake poem.  When I'm stumped for a writing topic,  I turn to the posts of fellow slicers.  I can always find something to spur my thinking or provide a connection.  I think there's a lot of pancake desire floating around our community this morning.  Amy's words and the accompanying picture sent me back twenty plus years to my mom's kitchen.  

I can still see her, apron tied around her middle, standing at the black griddle making pancakes for my two young children.  These weren't ordinary pancakes, and this was no ordinary ritual.  We lived eight hours away from my mom so a visit to Grandma's house was a cherished experience.

As my mom slid another perfect "turtle" pancake onto Blake's plate, he uttered words that chilled my mother's heart, "Grandma, can you teach Mom how to make turtle pancakes?"

No, I thought, not one more expectation to add to my crazy young mother's life.  I loved these early years of mothering, but couldn't for the life of me figure out how my mom accomplished so much with such ease.

Without even skipping a beat, my mom turned to Blake and replied, "No, honey, only Grandmas can make turtle pancakes."

And with those words, my mom saved me!  I never had to add "making turtle pancakes" to my list of skills to acquire.  However, with retirement beckoning and graduations in 2013 for my two married children (and maybe some grandchildren in a few years), perhaps it's time for me to acquire some turtle pancake skills!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lost grade sheets! SOL 2013: 20 0f 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


I wish I could say that looking for lost items is an atypical experience in Room 104.  However, to be totally honest, I must admit that I'm often looking for something I've misplaced.  My students are willing to help me, but today's search occurred after school.  I misplaced the page that recorded two weeks of student slices.  I felt a bit frantic, but knew I had looked at it shortly after lunch, so it had to be  somewhere in the classroom!

I begin sorting other stacks of papers that need my attention in the hopes that the missing grade sheet might magically appear in one of those stacks.   I clear my desk (not really), but I look through everything on my desk, and it isn't there.  A favorite after school strategy is to move stacks of work to student desks to cut down on the clutter on my desk.  So I move over to a student desk to post the Social Studies quiz grades.  DONE! Then I pull the China inquiry notes that need to be scored and add the late papers to the correct classes from the late basket.  DONE!  Then I pull the late papers from last week's SS assignment to add to that grade sheet.  DONE!  My sense of unease continues about this lost page.  I decide to check the front of the classroom - my podium, my stool, and the front cabinet where I sometimes lay things down.  No slicing grade sheet in any of those spots!

So I pick up The Golden Goblet file to work on tomorrow's plans for our class novel. Then I check the box of WRN (Writer's Reader's Notebooks) that I am taking home.  It makes sense that I might have tucked it in that box.  No grade sheet!  My panic rises - this page is the end result of recording slices from WRNs for 18 days in March. Replicating the sheet would require collecting all the notebooks again.  Maybe it is time to call in reinforcements and ask for help.  My son-in-law might be willing to help me look. (Good thing I didn't call - he was watching the BYU/UW basketball game.)  Finally, I decide to abandon hope for today (it's after 6) and go home.  I reach for the group summaries that need timely feedback tonight and find "paper clipped" to the back of one set of summaries . . . you guessed it, the missing grade sheet.  I throw everything into my school bag and head for home.  Another successful search, I just wish it hadn't taken quite so long!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Treasured Monday Moments SOL 2013: 19 of 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  


Moments of connection that made my Monday:

  • An early morning phone call from son in DC
  • An offer of help from son-in-law after school
  • A hug from Nancy at physical therapy
  • An afternoon phone call from hubby in Houston
  • A letter (real mail) from Crystal in KS
  • An evening chat with daughter in OR

Monday, March 18, 2013

It skipped a generation! SOL 2013: 18 of 31

For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  





This is Ella, my maternal grandmother.  She was a woman who sewed.  I have fond memories of her Singer treadle sewing machine.  She made quilts and dresses for herself and her four daughters.  My mother used to say that neighbors could bring a picture of a dress and my grandmother could create the pattern.



 

This is Lillian, my mother.  She was a woman who sewed.  She made my Easter dresses every year.  She also sewed bedspreads, curtains, and made wedding dresses for my oldest sister and me.  She was the fabric manager of a Ben Franklin store where she spent many years helping other women select fabric and create beautiful items for their homes. 






This is Ramona, that’s me.  I am not a woman who sews.  I made a pincushion in 4-H.  I made a jumper in Home Economics.  I once made a Chicken Little costume for my daughter for Halloween.  I started a quilt once that I plan to finish when I retire.  With a mother, two older sisters, and a best friend who sewed, I could always manage to get someone else to help me.  I am a woman who reads.




This is Sara, my daughter.  She is a woman who sews.  You see, the sewing gene skipped a generation.  When she began sewing  projects on her own as a young girl, I realized that she needed instruction from someone who sewed.  So one summer a dear friend taught sewing classes to several girls in our dining room.  Sara surprises me all the time with the projects she takes on.  This fall she picked up a quilting kit while she was completing a rotation in Oregon.  Over the holidays, she finished piecing the quilt top and began hand quilting it.  
Her grandmother and great grandmother would be so proud!  
She is also a woman who reads!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

To sleep or not to sleep? SOL 2013: 17 of 31

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 


It's March Madness at my house.  I know I'm borrowing the term, but it perfectly describes my month.  It started with three friends visiting my son-in-law (who currently lives with us) for Emerald City Comicon.  The following week my son came home for three days of his spring break in the middle of my teaching week!  That weekend my daughter arrived home for the weekend before heading off to her next rotation.  Then it was on to report cards for 2nd trimester and our book club retreat this weekend.  Monday I have a presentation to our PAC (parent advisory committee), Thursday is a field trip (always fun, but so exhausting), and on the weekend we'll be spending time with dear friends in town for a wedding (we haven't seen them in many years).  The next Monday we'll be doing a Skype visit (my first) and then at the end of the month Spring Break starts.  Hallelujah!

All of these things are wonderful events, but added to my already busy schedule and our month of slicing, I think I should change the title of this post to "I Need More Time!"  I'm sad that I never have enough time to read and respond to all the posts that are waiting for me at Two Writing Teachers. I'm reduced to skimming the list and setting the timer. Otherwise, I find myself spending far too much time with my blogging friends.  This morning I returned from dropping hubby at the airport for an early flight determined to snag some much needed sleeping time before church (still dealing with book retreat sleep deficit) .  Instead I plopped down at the computer to do a few comments and today's slice.  Here I am two hours later!  Now it's time to get dressed and head for church.  But, my friends, it's been a delightful morning and so fun to indulge in a few extra moments with some of you.  Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lovely sounds! SOL 2013: 16 of 31


Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 


Our book club started fifteen years ago.  We've seen friends come and go (move away) and some come back again, always an event to celebrate!  Our group covers a wide range of ages from women in their twenties to their seventies.  I just returned from our yearly retreat which is basically a quick overnight excursion to visit, eat, walk on the beach, laugh, and select our books for the upcoming year.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner, had a lively discussion about the Agatha Christie mystery that we read for March, and then it was on to the intense work of the evening - selecting books for the upcoming year.  Each person is allowed to promote three books for next year's list.  After listening to each person share why we should read her selected book(s), we vote for our top six titles.  We've tried many different methods to vote for books (moving from our earlier system of placing M&Ms on selected books to the private ballot we now use).  If you're in a book club, I'm curious about the system you use to select books.

Here's a picture of this lovely group of friends, along with our youngest attendee, swaddled in white. 


My favorite sounds of the retreat - the gentle murmur and laughter of friends sharing their lives and the lap of ocean waves on two quick walks along the beach.  Both are sounds that feed my soul.


I have a video with the sound of the ocean waves, but can't get it to upload to Blogger.  Any tips?

Friday, March 15, 2013

A frenetic slice! SOL 2013: 15 0f 31


Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

 

Grades due today
Comments in progress
Bags to pack 
Leaving school early
Joining dear friends
Book club retreat!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Something in My Pocket! SOL: 14 of 31

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 

 

Here's a tune I composed to celebrate a surprise gift (with apologies to my Brownie troop from many years ago).  It's to the tune of "The Brownie Smile."  Once you memorize these tunes, they're stuck in your mind forever. 

 

There's something in my pocket

It belongs in my classroom

I keep it very close at hand

For it warms my teacher's heart!

I'm sure you couldn't guess it 

If you guessed a long, long while

So I'll take it out and show you

It's two new black markers!


I think you'll need the backstory to completely appreciate this song.  On Tuesday I went in search of black markers, but to no avail.  None in the storage drawers in our teacher work room, none lying around the library (I considered petty thievery, though I would have left a colored marker in exchange), and none in my next door neighbor's classroom (I asked).  I resigned myself to another purchase from my own pocket the next time I went to Office Depot.  Sure, I have plenty of other colors, but I like basic black for most of the writing I do on the whiteboards.

 

On Wednesday, guess who appeared in my classroom waving two black dry erase markers?  Yes, my good friend and next door neighbor, Karen!  I don't know if she found them or bought them, but her appearance with markers in hand made my day.  I stuck one in each pocket and spent the rest of the day humming this old song from my Brownie days - "There's something in my pocket..." and composing lyrics to match today's surprise gift.  What fun to count this fellow teacher and next door neighbor as my good friend.   Such a small thing to warm my teacher heart!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mrs. B's famous cookie bars SOL: 13 of 31

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 


It's a WOW party today in Room 104 during lunch.  Attendance is by invitation only.  How do you get this exclusive invitation?  You find one of our WOW (Words of the Week) in print.  You should encounter it accidentally, not by design.  No "googling" the word and bringing me an example you "found" on the internet.  Nope, this has to be authentic encounter with our weekly word of the week.  Once you encounter the word, you go public by posting the example on our discussion thread.  Posting words provides practice for citing sources.  You have to punctuate the example correctly (quotation marks around the sentence you found), and cite the source correctly (spelling and capitalization count).  If you make mistakes, you keep trying until you have an impeccable entry.

The party consists of playing games such as Catch Phrase or Bananagrams while eating lunch.   At the end of our game time, everyone gets one of my famous cookie bars.  Their fame lies in the fact that it's what I always serve to entice my students to search for our weekly words in the books, magazines, and newspapers they read.  You have to encounter a word many times before you "own" it.  Ownership is what I'm looking for as we explore these words all year long.  So as the year unfolds and our list of words grows, the list of eligible participants increases and the length between WOW parties decreases.  Parties are scheduled when the list on the board reaches critical mass, and I have time to make the cookie bars.

Now on to my famous cookie bars - it's a rather pedestrian recipe, and the preparation is never arduous.  I can recite the recipe verbatim.  Here's a step-by-step photo session from last night.

 Cream the butter and sugars together. 
Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Fold in the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Add the bits of chocolate goodness. 
 All done, except for spreading in the pan, the hardest part.  
 Ready to pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
Cut into squares for the party!

Note to students:  No, you may not use any of the bolded words as "finds" for our next WOW party!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Haiku Time! SOL 2013: 12 0f 31

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 


Daffodils burst forth

To signal spring has come and

Banish winter's gray





Monday, March 11, 2013

Slices on my Mind! SOL 2013: 11 0f 31

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day. 
 
It's a dangerous time!  After dropping hubby at the park and ride, I headed for home.  I sat at a stop sign for several minutes before realizing it wasn't a light and would never turn green.  Thank goodness no one was behind me.  What was the source of my distraction?  I was working on today's slice, composing in my head!  I find myself distracted all the time by ideas for slices as I drive, eat, shower, or drift off to sleep, hoping that I'll remember the idea long enough to get it on paper or typed into the computer.


In order to become a safer driver, I'm doing a brain dump of slicing ideas:

Dad's lunchbox
Drones
Genetically modified rice
Daffodils
Collections
Hubby's vault
Weathermen
1.3 & 1.9 people
Surrounded by comics
Lifted up
Embracing poetry
Time travel with a nut bowl
Leah time on the horizon
The princess of a little bit
It skipped a generation!
Guests galore
My life in a bag
The three G's of slicing
A quest for color
Less clicks, more happiness!
My pink bedroom
YCC

How about you?  Do you find yourself distracted/consumed/overwhelmed by slicing?  
Share your strategies for giving this endeavor a place on the couch without letting it overtake the room.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nourished Three Ways! 2013: 10 of 31


Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.  For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a slice every day.  

Those who know me, know that I love chocolate.  I learned a few years ago to keep my chocolate in my friends' classrooms.  I have some stashed in Karen's room and Linda's room, my neighbors to the left and right.  They replenish "our'' supply sometimes, but the lion's share is consumed by yours truly.  Keeping my chocolate in a friend's classroom makes me less likely to eat it mindlessly, plus I get a moment to touch base with a friend when I reach for chocolate.  Friends and chocolate, a perfect combination.  When you add the words from Dove Chocolates, you're nourished in three ways.  I save my favorite Dove quotes and post them along the top and bottom of my bulletin board.  It's always fun when a student notices them and comments, "Hey, Mrs. B., I save those too."  I could probably write slices from my favorite Dove quotes for the rest of the month.

While I frequently find the same quotes (do I really eat that many chocolates?), I unwrapped a chocolate this past week to find a new quote and the perfect words to nourish me at that particular moment.  We had just finished an afternoon of district directed work with time to reflect on our growth and set goals for the remainder of the year.  Our district directed time this year has focused on total engagement strategies.  When a new strategy is presented to us, I'm excited to try it out.  But then life intervenes, deadlines loom, all the minutia of our profession steps forward, and before you know it, another week has passed with little implementation on my part.  I find myself getting discouraged as I realize how very difficult it is to change and implement new practices in my classroom.  So I opened my Dove chocolate that afternoon and found these validating words:  "You are exactly where you need to be right now."  And so I'll continue taking small steps toward change and remember the words from a piece of chocolate to know that my efforts are moving me forward, one baby step at a time.