Category Archives: #SOL22

#SOL22: Peeking into the Season for Old and New

Glimpses from years and days past

So appreciative of these views

Of treasures

That remind us of our past

Our collective thoughts

And our actions



And above all …

Friendship across the miles!

Tablerunners …

And ornaments

What old treasures are you displaying? How are you making room for the new?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

#SOL22: Anatomy of a Twitter Chat

And so it begins …

“Would you … Could you …?”

Shared Expectations

“Possible dates are: ___, ___, or _____. Would any of those work?”

Back and forth:

Quotations, questions and a deeper understanding from authors about their goals. Ordered, proofed and developed in Canva.

Pretweeting prep by #g2great (usually @drmaryhoward)

Rest of team is responsible for RT and “likes” as tweets pop up.

Anticipation builds . . . the day of the chat. Questions, questions, quotes, and time speeds up.

The chat opens with welcoming comments. An opening quote. The pace quickens as more folks join the chat. Conversations. Friendships. Literally chatting.

And then questions begin to drop. Replies. Volleying RTs and likes. Conversations deepen. Threads develop. Multiple answers. Sometimes with additional pictures, quotes or links for more clarification.

Q1. A1.

Q2. A2.

Q3. A3.

Q4. A4.

Q5. A5.

Q6. A6.

Just when the chat is getting interesting, a final quote pops up. An announcement for the next chat and then a flurry of goodbyes and Thank Yous.

Time’s up!


But wait,

There’s a Wakelet where Mary collects the Tweets.

And then a blog post on

Last week was our chat for The Gift of Story with John Schu.

Wakelet Link

Blog post by Kitty Donohoe link

And then tweeting out the links to share the wisdom.

But there’s always more …

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

Oh, so much motivated me to write The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life. In truth, I think more about who motivated and inspired me to write this book than what.

For sake of space, I’ll share three bullet points.

 *Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo inspired me to look at my heart and the hearts of others in new ways through her books, the

conversations we had at conferences, her Facebook updates, and the inspirational text messages she sends me.

 *Terry Thompson helped me dig down deep through his thought-provoking questions and compassionate heart. He’s a brilliant

editor and friend. I’m so lucky and grateful!

 *Most importantly, every child I’ve interacted with over the past 20 years motivated me to write The Gift of Story. The impact

they had on me and my heart inspires me every day. I hope The Gift of Story inspires readers to talk about the affective side of

reading and learning and life.

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

1. Read aloud every day.

2. Talk about the affective elements of story with their students.

3. Encourage their students and colleagues to finish the sentence starter Story is…

4. Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day with everyone on the campus.

5. Host an author or an illustrator.

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

Thank you for this wonderful question. I hope every teacher walks away from The Gift of Story feeling encouraged to read and read and read and evaluate wonderful children’s books. When we share our hearts in authentic ways, we inspire those around us to do the same. I hope they think about how every child who walks into their classroom has a story. I hope they establish opportunities fortheir students to tell their stories and find themselves in the stories of others. I hope they smile.

What chats have you been a part of? What part of a chat is intriguing to you?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

Thank you to #G2Great and John Schu for sparking this topic and the quotes.

#SOL22: Remembering Numbers?

A request. An agreement. A beginning plan. I found some fabric. Changed my mind. Finally decided on the fabric and got ready to actually construct the items. Items that I’ve made before …. 10, 20, maybe 30 times. Familiar task.

The catch: I haven’t made them since I acquired my new sewing machine so it’s been over a year, and my machine is a little picky about the thicknesses that it likes to sew through with skipped stitches and really gnarly knots of thread on the bobbin side.

But I forged ahead by pressing my fabric, cutting it larger than the batting. Sewing the first X and then the second made me feel quite successful as it hadn’t taken too much time since this project really wasn’t on my current list but would pay off in a future trade or two.

And then a screeching halt.

I couldn’t remember the size of the dart – four on each piece of fabric or eight per finished piece. How deep to begin? What length? Two numbers that were necessary for success.

I made one guess.

And then another.

I secretly wondered, “Will it really matter?” And yet, wanting to do a good job because it would be going to someone with a sewing background, I stopped.

I didn’t dig out my book of patterns. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a “pattern”. So I resorted to Google.

I had a plethora of choices. I could buy a pattern or watch a YouTube video. Neither solution appealed so I clicked on page two of the search.

I probably huffed out a frustrating sound or two or three. Seriously, I only needed two numbers that were probably about step 5 or 6 of the pattern. Totally not worth speeding through a video or wasting money to buy a pattern. (And not something I could measure off of a completed item.) And again, “Will it really matter?”

The seven minutes I spent hunting for the numbers seemed like an hour or two, but also included some thoughts about where to record the numbers so I would remember them. I don’t have a permanent solution as I only have them on a post-it for now!

Why does it matter?

It was a familiar task, although I hadn’t made one in 12 months. I wasn’t sure about two numbers that I needed. Did I dare trust recall or should I do the research and verify?

Are you nodding your head? Do you know where this is going?

I’m highly educated. (Perhaps too highly but that’s another story.) When confronting a familiar task that I’ve not done in a year, I’m not comfortable that I’ve remembered the right numbers as numbers really aren’t my jam. So I check. I check my understanding. I consult sources for accuracy.

What recourse do students have when they are taught something and then expected to remember it forever for tests that have zero real-life application? What do they do when frustrated? How do they survive in the pressure cooker classroom seats?

Have you ever forgotten, or lost your confidence in your memory of some task after a year of not completing that task? What did you do? How did you regain your confidence?

And what was I sewing?

Soup cozies. A fabric holder for a bowl of soup so that you can hold it in your hands without burning your fingers. (And bonus points when fabric, batting, and thread are cotton so they can go in the microwave!) The dart measurements are a big deal as they provide the shape for the bowl.


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

#SOL22: And before that …

It was blazing. The wind had whipped up flames shooting over a foot above the fuel source. The fire truck had left. Water was not a solution. The ambulance had left. No injuries. The deputy sheriff remained on the edge of the street with a spotlight from his vehicle trained on the fire. The fire was blazing.

And before that, the neighbors hung out their doors watching. Lights, sirens, and yelling above the roar of the vehicles as a variety of community helpers assembled, studied the problem and then left. Many onlookers remained to see what would come next.

The flames continued.

What would be the solution?

Before that, it was a few sparks. A few small pops. And before that, a single spark. Probably caused by “the 7,000 volts of electricity through the insulator” was one cause the technician from the power company suggested.

The CO2 or ABC powder extinguished the fire as the wind spread it across the grass and the road. Before that, the tech had raised the bucket on the truck. Before he climbed in the bucket, the tech had donned protective clothing and a halo of lights . . . perfect for the late October setting.

The good news was that the electricity was only turned completely off twice. The second time was for repairs. A plan. The execution of the plan was successful.

And before that, the power was turned off prior to the dousing with the CO2 or ABC powder and the subsequent fire flaming out.

The irony. The pole was scheduled to be replaced. The pole with the fire blazing at the top. The fire did not reach the transformer. The fire that began as a spark.

Just imagine as you look at this picture …

… A spark at the top of the electric pole. A spark in the middle of a drought. A spark that could have caused so much damage but didn’t. The blazing fire from the single spark.

And before that, I was working on my computer responding to emails, and getting ready to post announcements for my courses. Unaware of impending excitement. Just a regular Sunday evening.

Do you always tell a story that begins at the beginning and flows straight through to the end? What other structures do you use to heighten the anticipation?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

#SOL22: Poetry

Sun blazing

Red lights flashing everywhere

A sign of tapping brakes

And the masses slow.

Forward motion

Below the speed limit.

Vehicles hugging the left lane

Cause some to pass on the right.

Others wait

And wait

And wait.


They will move over

As soon as they recognize their “slowness”.

Ah . . .

Will they choose to use their turn signals?

The top driving infraction . . . no turn signals!

Driving: Torture? Fun? Relaxing? Annoying?

It all depends on your point of view

And the drivers on the road!

  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What constitutes a poem?



Word choice?

Literary devices?

Oxford languages defines poetry as:


When do you intentionally choose to write poetry? When does poetry write itself?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL 22: A Trillion?

I’m sure I’ve seen that message a trillion times.



Connected. No internet.

If you live in a town, city, or have access to quality internet, this message may be foreign to you.

If you live in a rural area or one with spotty internet service, this message may be very familiar.

How familiar?

To reach a trillion times in one year, that would be 2,739,726 times per day.

Okay . . . so maybe not exactly a trillion.

BUT, today, I counted 51 times. And that was in the first eight hours. So if that was the average per day occurrence, the total for one year would be 18,156 times per year. Take that times the 20 years of the internet would result in 363,120 messages. Not a trillion.

BUT, when I’m waiting. . . it sure feels like the message pops up multiple times every hour.

What annoying thing occurs frequently enough that it causes frustration? What does the data say about the frequency? Is it REALLY a major problem?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL22: Notifications

“Your tracked flight is now $… (was $…)” Two days in a row. Prices inching up like the gas pumps. Breaking Point? Is it time to dig in and purchase? There’s a long list of tasks that I should be completing. Other things I would rather do. Some homework. Another blog post where I need to hit publish . . . And yet . . .

Is it procrastination? Is it an optimistic hope that prices will decrease? Is it just a lack of time to sit down and review the details?

If Coco can deliver meals, who can deliver flight bookings? Coco in Santa Monica last week . . .
For more information about Coco, check out this link. New: Coco in Iowa

Food Delivery. Flight, hotel, car reservations. What services are you adding back into your life? How will you measure success?

____________________________________________________ Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.
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#SOL22: Talk

Oversell? Undersell?

The waiter was charming. “It’s the best. As a third generation LA resident, it’s the best.”

Tempted to scoff at the claim, I didn’t. And yet, “Tell me more,” did emerge from my mouth.

As a Midwesterner, I was doubting the claim. I was expecting “the sell” on the sea bass so close to the ocean. Seafood, yes. Or the pasta, in an Italian restaurant. Beef, not so much.

A bone-in ribeye, on a patio, with friends, a celebratory dinner.

Tender, flavorful, perfectly done.

Every morsel eaten.

Best steak in Santa Monica!

What talk matters? What talk is convincing? Who are the experts? How do you know the anticipation matches the outcome?

I can’t imagine that I will ever stop asking waitstaff about menu items. It’s truly a pleasure when the “sale” matches expectations. And now my chagrin. After googling beef production, my state lags behind California in beef production. We’re seventh and CA is fourth. Oops. A traveler with arrogance about quality beef is now apologetic. However, I do know quality steak! And you don’t have to be in a steakhouse to find a superb steak. Thank YOU, Il Formo! Thank YOU, Santa Monica!

And this week’s adventures will continue!


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL22: Weekend Recap

Being patient in order for a topic to separate and rise to the top from the busy weekend is difficult.

What should I “slice” about today?

6 seniors on a panel for a Q and A session with the whole group 6 hours of excitement at LFA.

5 years of participating in the Ladies Football Academy at Iowa. 5 family members playing Hand and Foot.

4 family members together most of the weekend. Saturday dinner = 4.

3 football player “lifts” at LFA. LFA and 3 Marek women

2 gooseberry pies made and devoured this week. 2 elder Ruth sisters. 2 Baby Ruths. 2 sisters. 2 from FL 2 winners at Hand and Foot.

1 French toast breakfast created by a chef. 1 glorious day of fun. Best place to relax and unwind.

Which story to tell? Which one wins the story “lottery” for this week?

Revising my list of six. You’ve already seen some of the revisions above.



Which story?

Maybe it’s not really one of those.

Maybe it’s about being on the front page of the sports section for both the Iowa City Press Citizen and the Des Moines Register on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

Moi? On the front page? Of the sports section?

Yes, the Front page of the Sports Section

Do tell!

Here’s what the article looked like in the Des Moines Register.

A J Epinoza Buffalo Bills 2021

(picture from the field on the north side of the indoor practice field … 2019)

Here’s a link to the Iowa City Press Citizen. Scroll down to the second picture.

You may have noticed that the picture looked like a pose in the video from last week’s post. Yes, that 2019 photo of us lifting up AJ Epenesa at the LFA with the help of teammate Chauncey Golston made the front page of the sports section in two major Iowa newspapers. (And it was AJ’s idea)

So the new pics from 2022. Riley Moss. Notice that no assist was needed.

Big 10 Defensive
Back 2021

Eric Epenesa – (brother of 2019 liftee AJ)








Petras / Moss Duet of “Piano Man”

Favorite foods, stadiums, coaches . . .

Thank you, #IOWALadiesFootballAcademy #ForTheKids #UIHC

How do you choose just one small moment from a day fillled with joy and occasional raindrops?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL22: What’s your sport?

I grew up in an era of “no sports.” There were no girls sports in my hometown. I thought I was tall enough, taller than most of my peers, and was totally convinced that I could be good at basketball with some coaching and practice. We lobbied for sports but it didn’t come to fruition in time for me to learn whether I had any ability or not.

So my experience with sports was from the music side. That was my field 100 yards long where we rehearsed, marched and entertained in high school and college. That was my seat in the bleachers in the gym when the pep band fired up the crowd, played a rousing “Star-Spangled-Banner” and then proceeded to entertain ourselves when the athletes fell short as they often did.

I wrote about what I loved about a specific fall weekend in this post that listed MARCHING BAND as a big favorite. It remains a favorite. Competitions, whether a participant or spectator, delight my ears and my eyes. Of course when I know some of the bands or competitors, it’s worth the drive and the photos. Remembering becomes even more important.

When I searched my blog posts, I was shocked. I didn’t panic. I called on my #OLW to “be patient.” I continued to search. I was not giving up. And finally with a change in search terms, I found it. This post from seven years ago. Link

This Saturday will be the 10th and final Ladies Football Academy at the University of Iowa. It will be my fifth because of course, Covid canceled the last two. I anticipate the day’s schedule will be similar. Assigned groups, rotating activities, student/athletes leading us through drills and sessions intended to inform, educate, and even entertain us as we fundraise for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

Here’s the site. link If you have a few minutes to watch the video, my sister is at 1:06 and our group is, yes, holding a Hawkeye player at 2:04. Fun, learning, sporting, and raising money for a good cause.

Yes, I love football. High school and college level. Professional football … not so much.

What’s your plan for the weekend?

I will be with about 500 friends doing the Swarm, tackling some challenging drills, and reviewing WHY I love both football and the Hawkeyes!

Even though the stands will be mostly empty, this is the music I will hear on Saturday!


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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