Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Slice of Life: A Poetry Reading at Island Books!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lanny
 for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

On Monday evening I had the exciting opportunity to participate in a poetry reading at Island Books, our local indie bookstore.  Here's the blurb for the evening from Island Book's event page: 

"The headliner for the event will be current Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, author of, among other works, Dare Say. Also on the bill are Ramona Behnke (literary blogger at Pleasures from the Page), David Horowitz (founder of Rose Alley Press), and Laura Totten (founder of the Mercer Island High School Poetry Club).

This reading is co-sponsored by Humanities Washington and ArtsWA/Washington State Arts Commission."

Thanks to David for taking the lead to organize this event.  Someone asked if I was planning to share poems from all the books on my lap.  (Little did they know that my book bag was filled with ten or so additional titles.)  David gave me 3-5 minutes on the program.  What teacher can talk for only 3-5 minutes, especially when it's about a favorite subject?  I set the stopwatch on my phone and I'm happy to report that I only took 6 minutes and 37 seconds.  

Since I was the first person on the program, I kicked off the evening with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's poem, "The Poem Fire."  You can read that poem in my Q post from National Poetry Month.  Next I shared "Fall Song" by Joy Harjo.  Then I mentioned a few favorite books of children's poetry - One Today by Richard Blanco (the poem he read at Barack Obama's 2nd inauguration) and beautifully illustrated by Dav Pilkey, Joyce Sidman's lovely book of poems What the Heart Knows:  Chants, Charms, and Blessings, and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's newest book, Read! Read! Read!  I shared "Double Life" from my galley copy (requested from Amy since I knew the book wasn't coming out until today).  Imagine my surprise after the reading to see the book already on display in the children's section.  
Finally, I shared an original poem "Pulled by the Light," (I was inspired to write this poem after reading a TWT post from Betsy Hubbard.) and then it was on to the stars of our evening - David, Laura, and Tod.   
A poetry reading is absolutely the best way to spend a rainy, September evening!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Celebrate This Week!

Join us each weekend for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.

When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build. 

   A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember.

So much to celebrate -
Book sales, food drives, guitar lessons, and grandsons!
  • I worked at our Friends of the Library book sale.  In addition to helping set up the children's section, I worked one evening shift.  There's nothing more fun than helping patrons of our library find books.  It's a great source of income for our Friends of the Library and a wonderful service to our community.  Fall is when we have our big sale!  I unpacked 20+ boxes of children's books, others had already unpacked many boxes when I arrived on Monday evening, and there were still 20+ boxes to go when I left.  But when I stopped by the next evening they were all unpacked!  I celebrate finding board books and children's classics for my grandsons, literary fiction for my sisters-in-law, and the occasional books for myself. This year I scored two small finds for me:  Stitches by Anne Lamott and Read It! Play It! with Babies and Toddlers.  
  • Lance and I manned the doors for a two hour shift at QFC this morning for our local food pantry.  My favorite donors are the parents who share the list with their child and then return with a bag that they allow their child to donate.  I love the parental example that teaches the power of giving to one's community!  I celebrate the community members who just reach for the list of items needed (with no explanation needed) because that's just what they do.  One generous lady commented, "I'm grateful to have enough to eat and glad to share." 
  • I started guitar lessons!  Nancy Stewart, a local performer, teaches Mother Goose guitar lessons as part of her ongoing pilot project Sing With Our Kids.  And Friday night was my first lesson.  We learned three chords.  I walked away with a loaner guitar and a notebook full of songs (with guitar chords) to sing with kids and sore fingers.  
  • Here's a pic of grandson Teddy's jubilant goodbye to summer at the splash pad!
 
  • And here's grandson Jack and his dad saying hello to fall and football season!  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Slice of Life: Thinking About Genre

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lanny
 for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

I listened to a favorite podcast, Books Between, on my way to watch grandson Jack this morning.  I love this podcast that is hosted by Corinna Allen, a 5th grade teacher and mom of two. Corinna's discussion of genre in Episode 34 started me thinking about the genre list I used to pass out to my students each year.  

I had "genres" that weren't really genres at all.  I like how Corrina cleared up some of my confusion with genres by clarifying that some books are classified by format rather than genre (such as novels in verse and graphic novels which indicate a specific format and can found in a variety of genres).  The one genre from my classroom list that I didn't find on Corinna's genre list was classic.  This category (rather than genre) was mostly a nod to parents who wanted their offspring to read some of the classics they had loved as children.  I like how Corrina emphasized that the lines between genres can be fuzzy at times.  

Corinna's discussion of genre (just a brief part at the beginning of this episode) included reasons to study genre and practical ideas for reinforcing the study of genre in the classroom or library.  I especially like the color coded circle tracker for students to keep track of genres read.  

Sometimes I wonder if focusing on genres kept my students from reading.  My goal was to broaden their reading horizons, but categorizing the books they read by genres often became problematic.  I think some of the ideas Corinna shared might have helped my students understand the genres of books better.  Leave a comment about how you encourage your students to read widely and to branch out into new genres (if you feel that this is an important practice).  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Celebrate This Week and Must Read in 2017 - Summer Update

Join us each weekend for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.

When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build. 

   A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember.

For my slice of life on Tuesday, I wrote about my addiction to middle grade books.  Today I'm reporting on my progress for #MustReadin2017.  Thanks to Carrie Gelson who hosts this group and encourages our progress with periodic reminders to update our lists and keep reading, definitely something worth celebrating.  Don't miss the pics of boys with books at the end of this post!

While I was able to report 7 of my 12 titles completed for my spring update, my summer progress has been slower.  Thank goodness my spring reading for this list was substantial!  I've been busy reading all summer, but apparently not working very much on this list. Three books (not from my list) that I've loved this summer are News of The World by Paulette Giles, Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham, and The War I Finally Won (thanks to Island Books for sharing their ARC) by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  

The two titles I completed for #mustreadin2017 are Gertie's Leap to Greatness and The Seventh Wish,  #s 6 and 12 from my list of 12 books.  The blue font reflects my thoughts when I created the list and the purple font shows my thinking after reading the book.  

6.  Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley and Jillian Tamaki When I heard Gertie compared to Ramona Quimby, I knew this book belonged on my must read list.  Finished!  I enjoyed this tale of a spunky fifth grader who's on a quest to become the best fifth grader in the universe.  

12.  The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner -  I can't believe I still haven't read this book.  The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, also by Kate Messner, is one of my all-time favorite books.  Finished!  This is a title that has been on my want to read list for some time, especially after I followed the news when some schools rescinded Kate's author visits because this book dealt with drug addiction.  The fish who grants wishes may make you want to tag this book as magical realism, but there's nothing magical about Charlie's sister's struggle with heroin addiction.  A much needed book about a difficult issue.  (But my favorite Messner book is still The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.  It's a perfect fall read aloud for the middle school classroom.)

That leaves me with three remaining titles to read by the end of the year When Friendship Followed Me Home, Flying Lessons and Other Stories, and The Sun is Also a Star.  And I think that's totally doable. My favorite reading time is while Jack naps.  He rewarded me this past week with his longest nap ever - 2 hours and 15 minutes!  

Here are celebratory pics of my favorite boys, already on their way to becoming readers!
My daughter posted this pic of Jack this week:
"Sometimes you just need ALL the books!  #raisingareader
And here's Teddy reading
with Aunt Sara during his Seattle visit!

And now I'm off to read the updates of my friends to #mustreadin2017. I promised that as a treat to myself after finishing this post.  I'll read with pen in hand while growing my list for #mustreadin2018.  Books and bookish friends with book lists are wonderful celebrations!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: Nourish


Welcome to Spiritual Journey First Thursday, a group of friends who blog together each month about our spiritual journeys.  Hugs and gratitude to Irene Latham for gathering us to learn and share together each month.  
This month I'm hosting and I chose my OLW (One Little Word) for 2017, nourish, as our theme for today's blog posts.  I'm lucky that I have this beautiful mug to remind me of this year's word.  I purchased it along with a "Savor" mug a few years ago.  I have to admit that savor is probably my all-time favorite OLW, but at the time I knew that nourish was a word that would eventually claim me.   

A few years ago when I realized that I couldn't even remember my OLW for the year, I decided that I would check-in with my OLW with a slice of life on each fifth Tuesday (there are a few fifth Tuesdays scattered throughout the year).  It's been a great way to hold me accountable to my commitment to live with my word.  Carol's One Word post in January prodded me to stop dithering and choose my word (although I might say that nourish chose me when I bought the mug).   She also inspired me to look back at my previous OLWs and weave them into my 2017 OLW post.  Jack's arrival on the first fifth Tuesday of 2017 interfered with my intention to write a fifth Tuesday post in January, although I can say that his arrival has nourished my life in countless ways.  And the days marched forward and suddenly it was May and time for a fifth Tuesday check-in.  I skipped the August fifth Tuesday check-in since I knew I would be writing about nourish for SJFT in September.  

I would like to share some quotes today from a favorite talk "In the Covenant of Grace" by Carol Cornwall Madsen.  She speaks of "moments of spiritual connection" that "comfort, inspire, and refresh the spirit."  She uses the stories of pioneer women to illustrate that these moments "have need of constant nurturing."  She explains that "we can be catalysts for such moments in each other's lives if we follow the counsel of Peter to the Ephesians:  'As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.' (1 Peter 4:10)  As good stewards, they ministered to one another in a myriad of ways because they needed each other, drawing together in a community of faith, love, and support." 


And so I think of the communities that nourish me - my family, my friends, my faith community, and my blogging friends.  And I think of the ways these communities minister to me - a smile, a phone call, a card, a hug, a shared story.  I can't wait to read your thoughts on my OLW nourish.  I know they will comfort, inspire, and refresh my spirit.  I am grateful for the moments of spiritual connection that we share through our posts on SJFT.  Please post your links in the comments.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Slice of Life: You still do that?

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lanny
 for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

A couple of weeks ago while leading our women's meeting at church, someone shared the good news of her daughter's new nanny.  The nanny is from France, and her name is Amina.  I commented on how much I loved that name and that I had recently  read a middle grade novel (Amina's Voice) which had a main character with the same name.  
Someone in the room said, "You still do that?"  I was surprised because reading middle grade novels is something I do because I love doing it. It's not something that I just did because I taught sixth graders or just because I led an after school book club for three years after I retired. This year I'm saying goodbye to the after school book club because my life after retirement is overfull.  Not to worry, I'm still hoping to squeeze in some visits to a monthly group starting at our public library.

This past spring I added babysitting my grandson Jack three days a week to an already full schedule that includes leading the ministry for our ladies group at church and decluttering because someday we will downsize and move to a smaller place (no immediate plans, but it's in the ten year plan).   And there's organizing the family pics and working on family history and filing recipes and writing blog posts, so I never feel bored or unfulfilled.   

So while I won't be meeting with middle schoolers weekly to talk books, I'll still be grabbing any tween reader I encounter to discuss what they're reading.  And occasionally I'll write a slice of life or celebrate post about my latest discoveries.  So in answer to the recently asked question, "You still do that (read middle grade novels)?"

I respond with a hearty, "You bet!  I still read middle grade titles because I love every moment spent with these books and the delightful authors who write for this audience!"

Middle grade titles are one of the four squares of my reading diet:
          1.  picture books 
          2.  middle-grade fiction
          3.  fiction for grownups
          4.  nonfiction that includes memoir and self-help (Yes, I'm   hopelessly addicted to organizational books and books that focus on healthy habits.)  

Feel free to share your thinking in your comment.  Do you suppose you'll still read "kid books" after retirement?   Have you ever thought about the essentials of your reading diet?  

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Celebrate This Week!

Join us each weekend for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.

When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build. 

   A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember.


I'm celebrating a trip to Fred Meyer with Jack because he can now sit up in the shopping cart, and Grandma's getting braver about going places with this young man.  We love our once a week trips to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  This young man and his Grandpa love walking together, playing together, and dancing together.  Who am I kidding?  They love BEING together.

I'm celebrating this pic of Teddy 
in his chair (a birthday present)
with his best friend, Pup Pup.

I'm celebrating the publication of Ruth's new book.  I've ordered mine and can't wait to read it and share it with my teacher friends. 
I love these words from Ruth's post:
"I wrote it in the thick of the mess of life. I wrote it when things were too hard. I wrote it when I didn't have time...

Because this story matters...
Because we have the power to heal children from hard places...
Because educators might be the last hope for healing...
Because we can turn darkness to light."

I'm celebrating Ruth who encourages me to write and look for the celebrations, who reminds me that we can turn darkness to light.  I figure if Ruth can write in the thick of the mess of life, when things are too hard, and when she doesn't have time, then so can I!

I'm celebrating the goodness of so many in Houston and around the world.  We lived there for eleven years and have spent the past week checking on many dear friends.  I'm grateful for the people who are caring for the displaced.  Please take the time to donate to one of the many organizations who are caring for those who have lost so much.
It's one way we can help turn darkness to light!