Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Slice of Life: Look into each other's faces!

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.

Like many of you, my heart is hurting with the most recent violence experienced in Charlottesville.  My thoughts turn to poetry as they often do in times of distress.  I'm sharing a few lines from Joyce Sidman's poem "Starting Now" from her book What the Heart Knows:  Chants, Charms, and Blessings.

"It is time for us to wake:
...
you and I,
who rant about injustice,
...
It is time to look into
each other's faces,
...
Time to speak until the air
holds all of our voices.
Time to weave for each other
a garment of brightness.
...
Open your eyes.
Feel your strength.
..."

Go buy Sidman's book (or check it our of the library) so you can read the entire poem.  It's worth the cost of the book.  And then read the rest of the book.  Other poems that are especially appropriate for right now include "Song of Bravery," "Blessing on the Downtrodden," and "I Find Peace."  And in the interest of looking "into each other's faces" and speaking "until the air holds all
 our voices," I offer up these timely posts from bloggers and journalists who speak more eloquently than I. I've been sharing them on FB, but wanted to collect them all in one place.  I will continue to add resources to this post. 

Pernille Ripp
Great Picture Books to Inspire Hope in the World 

Erica at What Do We Do All Day?
Picture Books that Teach Kids to Combat Racism

The Washington Post
The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America. Here’s help.

Kylene Beers
And School Begins

From Karen Jensen
Sunday Reflections:  Talking with Teens about Charlottesville

The Stenhouse Blog
Resources for teaching empathy and tolerance 
(books can be previewed online)

NCTE 

There is No Apolitical Classroom:  Resources for Teaching in These Times

Rethinking Schools
Seven Ways that Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville - Starting Now

Many of my teacher friends have already begun the the school year, others are prepping their classrooms, and some are busy soaking up the last bit of summer.  Wherever you are on that continuum, you have my wishes and hopes and prayers for you as you interact with your new group of learners.  The final stanza from Joyce Sidman's poem "Starting Now" can be a rallying cry.  


"Join hands.
Right here.
Our moment:
starting now."  

Saturday, August 12, 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 limiting myself to three of the many celebrations swirling around in my head this morning!  
  • This text from my friend Karen - "Check out the full moon - bright orange!"  I couldn't resist so I hopped in the car and headed for higher ground so I could see the rising moon.  When I came back all bubbly with excitement, Lance decided to join me.  So off we went and that's when we spotted a deer just as we rounded the curve beyond our house!  An orange full moon and a deer all because a friend sent a text - that's a joyous way to end a day.  
  • Ruth's post about handwritten notes and specifically the note she received from Sam (which ties in beautifully with the slice of life that wrote this week) -  Be sure to click on the pic of Sam's note so you can see his delightful illustrations.  I'm bolding a few words from Ruth's post so I can kickstart my goal to join the 52 Letters in a Year challenge:  "I looked at the card again and knew it was time to stop thinking about sending handwritten notes and start doing. The card Sam sent me is incredibly ordinary. It took minutes for him to write. It warmed my heart -- for days."  As soon as I finish this post, I'm off to write my first note to Michelle to begin my challenge.  
  • And what would a celebration be without some pics of my favorite boys?
I captured this screenshot from a video on
Instagram (after 18 tries).  I wish you could hear
the joyful babbling that accompanied it!


  • Thank you, Ruth, for this opportunity every week to focus on joyful moments!  (And I can't get rid of that bullet below, no matter how hard I try.  Sometimes, Blogger makes me crazy!)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

2017 PB 10 for 10: Picture Books for a Snowstorm!

I love this day each year when we join with other picture book lovers to share titles.  A giant thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for creating this special day!  Here's a link to the google community for #pb10for10.  This is my fourth year to participate.  

The idea for this year's theme comes from a request from friend and fellow blogger, Irene Latham.   In response to a recent post about bookshelves in a cabin where I was staying, Irene left this challenge: "If you could donate some picture books to be in a house to be read during a snowstorm, what would they be? Write a post about that, pretty please??"   

Here are ten picture books that I chose for our snowstorm reading pleasures.  I begin with several snowy titles before branching out to some seasonal poetry books, then some books to snuggle up and read with a grandparent, a couple of wonderful stories, and finally a bedtime tale.  

The first choices for our shelf speak to the snowy delights of winter.
1.  The Snow Speaks by Nancy White Carlstrom and illustrated by Jane Dyer
"Then deep winter sets in.
   Day climbs into night
   for one long, winding darkness.
And there is snow on snow on snow."
2.  Winter is the Warmest Season written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer
"In winter, bodies sit closer,
books last longer, and
hugs squeeze the warmest."
3.  Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes
"In the deep woolen dark, 
as we slumber unknowing,
let the sky fill with flurry and flight."

And what's a shelf of picture books with some poetry of winter and other seasonal delights?
4.  When Green Becomes Tomatoes:  Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano with pictures by Julie Morstad
"January 30
it is the best kind of day
when it is snowing
and the house
sounds like slippers
and sipping
and there is nowhere to go 
but the kitchen 
for a cookie."
5. Fresh Delicious:  Poems from the Farmer's Market by Irene Latham and illustrated by Mique Moriuchi.  
"Peach
Where your
baby-fuzz
cheek
meets my
hopeful nose,
the world
explodes
with sweetness."

Grandparents stranded in the cabin with their delightful grandchildren will enjoy the next two titles.  
6.  Grandma According to Me by Karen Magnuson Beil and illustrated by Ted Rand is a favorite book from my daughter's childhood.
"But my favorite part of my grandma is her face.  It has lines
all over.  When I was little, I used to call them 'crinkles.'  My
little sister calls them 'winkles.'
     Grandma says they are wrinkles.
     I say they are her story lines."
7.  Grandpa Bud, written and illustrated by Siobhan Dodds, features a grandpa who cooks and the feast he creates for Polly and her friends.  (You might need to explain the rotary phone.)
"Hello, Grandpa Bud.
Mommy said I could 
come over and stay
the night and if I'm 
good you might make 
me a chocolate cake."

Snowstorms and stories belong together and so the next two titles deserve to be tucked on our shelf.    
8.  The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz and illustrated by Elena Odriozola
"Deep in the snow-covered mountains
was the tiny village where Babba Zarrah
lived.  The children loved to settle down
on Babba Zarrah's big old blanket to
listen to her stories."
9.  Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
"The princess laughed and clapped
her hands in delight.  
     'A story!'
she exclaimed.  'And an adventure
story at that!  What a fine gift.'"

10.  Every shelf of picture books is in need of a goodnight story.  Goodnight Harry written and illustrated by Kim Lewis speaks to the power of friends when one is facing a sleepless night. 
"Harry looked out of the window.
 He rubbed his tired eyes.
'What if sleep never ever
comes at all?' he said.
'Never mind, Harry,' said Lulu.
'We're here, Harry,' said Ted."

And because I've finished my post, I can visit all the other PB 10 for 10 posts from my friends.  It's time to start requesting titles from the library and when I find one I absolutely can't live
without . . . then I visit Island Books, my favorite indie bookstore! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Slice of Life: Work on Ramona

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 just returned from a quick trip to meet up with my niece in San Diego after her 3rd AVID conference training for the summer (she's a trainer). After her last day, we headed to Riverside to visit my sis for a couple of days.  On our way there, we saw a neon road sign with these flashing words:  "Work on Ramona!"  

I know that Ramona is a street in Riverside, but it was thought-provoking for me to think about what work might need to be done on Ramona.  There's lose weight and exercise more - an ongoing challenge. There's clear the table and make room in the files for the last of my"want to hang onto professional stuff."  Maybe I'll try to be better about posting to Poetry Friday.  I do love that community.  Yesterday I found a doable challenge through The Mixed-up Files of Middle Grade Authors, a  blog that I follow.  It's that "fresh start" time of year and even though I no longer teach, the crisp, "I can do something new feeling" always comes with the beginning of the school year.  

In my typical wandering around the web fashion, I discovered the challenge in a roundabout way.  I was scrolling through my reading list at blogspot when this title "Never Too Old for Back-to-School" enticed me to stop and click on the link.  I love these lines from Michelle Houts' post: "The best teachers are perpetual students. I believe that with all my heart."   

And since this is a new-to-me author, I clicked on the link to her blog where I discovered more about her 52 Letters in a Year Challenge.  And I'm saying yes!  There's a part of me that shouts, "You don't need one more thing to do!"  But I love getting real mail and I think there are others like me out there in the world.  My beginning and ending letters are to Michelle, and she promises to write back.  And here's another part of the challenge that I loved - Miss a week?  Just catch up the next week.  Michelle provides a list of ideas and a page for keeping track of your progress with the challenge.    

Are you feeling the pull to learn or challenge yourself in some new way?  What will you "say yes to" this fall? 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Celebrate This Week: Two Aunts and a Niece

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 met my niece on Wednesday in San Diego at the end of the AVID conference where she was presenting.  I sat in on the last hour of her three days with the participants.  I relished watching Kara interact with the participants as they left the room.  She stood at the door, called each by name, and thanked them for coming.  I loved looking around the room at the posters filled with three days of learning together. 

A fun-filled week!

This beautiful sunset

Road trip to Riverside with a stop at In N Out for burgers

Chocolate roll (a family favorite) for
Kara’s early birthday celebration


Happy times chatting around the kitchen table

A meal at Don Jose’s

Laughter at my son’s quote when I returned his call and he asked what we were doing -  I told him that all three of us were in the family room together on our devices and he quipped:  
“The family that wifis together sticks together.” 

A Facetime visit with Mr. Jack – He was so excited to see Kara,
his summertime buddy from June!

Technology help from Kara – she showed me how to grab screen shot pics from Instagram videos and taught me how to use Pic Collage.  I love that Kara and James (my brother's kids) join me as 
proud family alums from OSU!

And what would a celebration be without
pics of my beautiful grandsons?
Jack's first playdate with Aria
Teddy checking out Costco's giant teddy bears

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: New Beginnings



Julianne at To Read To Write To Be has selected the topic, new beginnings, for our post today.  I love the idea of new beginnings.  Even though I'm retired, I still feel new beginnings stirring as the summer draws to a close and school supplies begin appearing on store shelves.  I tried Irene's suggestion from her Smack Dab in the Middle post to list ten words that describe the topic we're writing about and then to scratch through those words.  (I have to admit that I couldn't scratch through them. But I did make two additional lists.)  "Let's move on to the next ten, and the next! Digging deeper, past the cliches, past the expected, is where all the best poems are buried."

And after I made three lists of words, I turned to the internet where I read quotes about new beginnings.  So today's musings are a blending of my thoughts and quotes that spoke to me.  Thanks, Julieanne, for this time to reflect on new beginnings.   

Sunrise
a new day
a new month
a new story.

A time for turning
a time to be hopeful
a time to keep striving and 
reaching for who we can become.  

While always feeling brim with joy
that He loves us just as we are
with encouragement to become more
as we journey with Him by our side.

And so we open our hearts to 
possibility and embrace the 
opportunities and magic 
of new beginnings.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Slice of Life: Bookshelves!

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, Lisa, Melanie, and Lanny
 for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

If you're like me, you can't resist peeking at the bookshelves when you're in someone's home.  We stayed in a cabin in Park City for a few days in July and the bedroom where I slept had wonderful bookshelves.  I love that the book offerings included children's books (but no picture books!) as well as the usual adult books.  This would be a fine place to be stranded during a blizzard.  While I don't typically reread many books, there are several that I would enjoy rereading.  Here are some of my random bookshelf musings, shelf by shelf.

  •  This shelf has two books that I've read:  The Pilot's Wife which always wins our book club's query, "What is the worst book we've ever read?"  and The Picture of Dorian Gray which we recently read (not one of my favorites).
  • I've never read anything by Fern Michaels, so I might give that book a try.  I also might try Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter. Delicate Edible Birds looked intriguing and History's Trickier Questions would be a nice nonfiction foray.  


  •  Sibley Birds is a wonderful nonfiction resource book for vacation (though perhaps not as useful during that winter snowstorm).  
  • Children's book favorites include The Little Mermaid, Green Eggs and Ham, Curious George's Dream and Little Bear's Friend.
  • This shelf includes a couple of middle grade titles that I would like to read:  The Maze and Kenny and the Dragon (which a former student loved and wanted me to read).
  • I would definitely reread The Poisonwood Bible from this shelf.  If the blizzard lasts long enough and the hot chocolate stash holds out, I would dive into Wolf Hall, something I've wanted to read for awhile.  I might even dip into Walden (having only read excerpts from it)!

  • Of the three John Grisham titles on this shelf, the only one I've read is A Painted House.  
  • Our book club's discussion of The Da Vinci Code holds the record for most attendees in attendance.  We used all those in attendance to wind yarn for my daughter's Gold Award Girl Scout project which was making hats for the homeless.  
  • I would like to reread Peace Like a River, Macbeth, and The Screwtape Letters.
  • This shelf wins the award for the most classic titles (5).  Given enough time, I might finally read For Whom the Bell Tolls and Uncle Tom's Cabin.   The book I would definitely NOT read is the Stephen King title.  Who needs to be scared to death while stranded in a snowstorm?
Do you enjoy looking at other people's bookshelves?  What titles would you be sure to have on the shelves of your cabin?  I would definitely add Beach Music by Pat Conroy, Christy by Catherine Marshall, and The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.