Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Slice of Life: Sunny Made Me Do It!

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

While we are quite organized about our travel plans and careful about budgeting travel expenses, I just returned from an unplanned trip to DC.  When we returned in July from our first trip to see Teddy, I booked a second trip with Sara in October.  We'll be there for my son Blake's 32nd birthday, my daughter Sara's 30th birthday, and Teddy's four month mark.  I was great with this plan until Sunny disrupted it.   

It's a well-known fact in our church congregation that I love babies.  One Sunday in late July, I chatted with Sunny and her mom in the foyer before Sunday School.  When I sat down in Sunday School class, Sunny's mom tapped me on the shoulder and handed me her beautiful daughter.   I enjoyed every moment with this sweet girl.   When I handed her back, I asked her mom how old she was. "Four months," she replied.  And that's when I started scheming to fit in another trip before Teddy was four months old.  I could not let him get that big without another visit from Grandma.

We looked around and found some miles that we could combine with some cash and we made it happen.  I was even okay with a middle seat (since that's all that was available).   I left on Friday, timed my arrival so that Blake could pick me up after work and returned on Monday morning with an airport drop-off before Blake went to work.  I'm so glad that a few moments with Sunny on a Sunday morning in July convinced me that I needed to see Teddy before our planned October trip. And I'm glad for hubby's business travel that provided miles for this unplanned, but oh-so-wanted trip for this first-time Grandma to visit nine week old Teddy (and his mama and daddy too).  Was it worth it?  You bet.  I loved every precious moment!
Cuddle time with Grandma

Shoulder time with Dad
Tummy time on quilt made by Aunt Sara

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Organized Classrooms, Liberty, & A Trip to Visit Teddy

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. 

1.  Organized classrooms
One of the benefits of retirement and subbing is the opportunity to be in many different classrooms.  Although we haven't started school yet, I've been doing some testing this past week.  I love these labeled supply cubbies.  I would have loved one of these organizers when I was teaching.  
2.  Author generosity
I recently commented to Kirby Larson on Facebook that the ARC of Liberty (that I received from Island Books for our after school book club) was snatched up at one of our summer meetings.  Look what arrived in my mailbox this week from Kirby!
I plan to finish it soon and then ship it to OK for my niece's 4th grade classroom. There's something very special about getting to read a book before the actual publication date.  
3.  A view of Mt. Rainer
Sometimes the weather and the flight paths cooperate and I can see Mount Ranier as I leave Seattle.
4.  Teddy time while Stefi enjoys a girls' day out 
My daughter-in-law was able to take advantage of my visit to spend some time with her girlfriends.  We enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes (Blake's favorite breakfast), a Costco run,
and lots of time to visit with Teddy.  Here's a pic of him in Dad's lap,
chatting with me this morning.
Smiles for Grandma!
A serious moment!
A satisfied moment!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Slice of Life: Musings from the Garage

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

Last week I finally got serious about a project that I promised my husband I would work on this summer - purging boxes in the garage. I'm not finished, but I did get started and actually got rid of quite a bit of stuff (see Celebrate This Week).   Here are some random thoughts from the week.
Does it spark joy?  
I tried using this question from Marie Kondo.  But way too much of my stuff does spark joy.  At least on initial rediscovery.
Gradual release of clutter method 
I used this method with my stash of Riverbank Review magazines.
1.  Touch each issue and page through each magazine
2.  Tear out book reviews, essays, notes from the editor, interesting articles, and poetry pieces.
3.  Revisit torn out articles.
4.  Remind self that each article requires time and space to file.
5.  Winnow saved pieces to 10 or less.
Quick release of clutter method 
I used this method with my Bookbag magazines.
1.  Take a photo of favorite cover.
2.  Do not, under any circumstances, open the magazine.
2.  Walk to recycle bin.
3.  Dump magazines.
True confessions and fodder for a future blog post
1.  I kept twenty-nine articles from Riverbank Review magazines.  
2.  I kept five articles from Book Bag magazines.
Lesson learned 
The longer I work on the project on any given day, the easier it is to begin pitching. 
Wisdom from a fellow blogger 
I made this sign months ago (maybe last summer?) after reading a post from a fellow blogger who I believe credited her mother for this sage advice.  For me it trumps the "Does it spark joy?" question.
It's currently in the spare bedroom/my home office, but I'm moving this sign to the garage worktable!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Purging, Promoting, and Sharing Pics!

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. 

1.  Made significant progress on the boxes in the garage
I donated two boxes of books to a friend's niece who is a second year teacher.  
I gifted a box of 80's vintage clothing to the thrift shop.  
I got rid of twelve years of teacher plan books.
I purged personal files from thirty plus years ago.
consolidated two boxes of keepsakes into one box.
I said goodbye to a box of Riverbank Review and Bookbag magazines.
 2.  Spent two mornings proctoring tests for our high cap and advanced math placements
That doesn't seem like much to celebrate EXCEPT that I took advantage of meeting students
new-to-me and new-to-the-district to to promote Books, Brownies & Beyond, our after school 
book club.  I set up a display of books for them to peruse as they waited for parents to pick them up and handed out the blog address for our book club. 
3.  Took this pic on a walk
4.  Snapped this pic in my front yard
5.  Received this pic of son & grandson at Saturday brunch
I hope you've had a week filled with large and small moments to celebrate.
Thanks, Ruth, for this opportunity to celebrate together.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Poetry Friday: "Book-heart"

Head over to Dori Reads for this
week's round-up of poetic goodness!
Thanks, Dori, for hosting this week.

I haven't posted since June.  Even though I'm not headed back to the classroom, almost September is a good time to renew my commitment to the Poetry Friday community.  Last spring, I discovered Book by John Agard.  I loved this distinguished history told in first person by book.  It's a delightful romp through book's development from the pictogram to the codex and ending with a conversation with its friendly rival, the ebook.  One of our 6th grade teachers ordered a class set for her early civilizations social studies class after I shared the book with her last spring.  A poem by Grace Nichols and shared in Book captures how I feel about the books I love.  You'll have to look at Book to read the entire poem, but here are the concluding lines of the poem:
"...No the books I love
get kissed and squeezed
and pressed against my heart."  
I can't resist promoting Ms. Bixby's Last Day which I just finished this week.  It's definitely one of those books that I'll kiss and squeeze and press against my heart for a long time.  I checked it out from the library, but I'm ready to purchase this one so I can highlight and kiss and squeeze to my heart's content.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Slice of Life: A Peek into my Summer Reading Stacks!

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

I'm a book hoarder.  It's true.  But, in my defense, I also share my hoard of books.  At our book club meeting last week, I shared the titles I had checked out from the library.  I have three more titles ready to share with some of the voracious readers in our book club.  And when my daughter comes over, she raids the bookshelf where I stash the library books.  
The stack on the left is middle grade titles.  My daughter and I started The BFG (a book neither of us has ever read) as a read aloud on our road trip to Idaho.  We need another road trip, or maybe I'll just read to her while she quilts.  Ms. Bixby's Last Day is my current read.  It was due today, but I'm willing to pay the fine so I can finish it (I can't renew it due to the many holds on it).  And the next book I'm reading from that stack is As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds which comes highly recommended by several blogger friends.    

The three books in the middle are some of the ARCs donated by Island Books, our local indie bookstore, to our book club.  

The stack on the right is adult books that I want to read.  And I left off the most important one, our September adult book club selection, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk.  It's upstairs so I can start it soon.  Other titles I want to read soon from this stack include Falling by Elisha Cooper and The Golem and the Jinni, loaned to me by a friend and recently returned to the shelf by my daughter.  

You may be wondering about the picture book, A Story for Bear.  I picked it up at the library for $4, thanks to our Friends of the Library who keep an ongoing display of books for sale.  I couldn't resist purchasing it for my grandson Teddy's collection.  It's such a celebration of the power of reading!  And the flowers?  A gift from Lance to  celebrate our anniversary last week! 

And here are my top five reads for the summer so far:  

1.  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (July's adult book club selection)
2.  Summerlost by Ally Condie
3.  Nine, Ten:  A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin  Check out her blog where teachers can share their stories of 9/11/01.
including two audiobooks:  
4.  The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
5.  Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson

I'm planning on five more weeks of summer reading.  That's right, summer doesn't end for me until fall begins on September 22. Back-to-school means back to a weekly meeting schedule for our after school book club.  Soon we'll be selecting our Mock Newbery titles.   Do you have any recommendations for us?  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Joy in the Center Median!

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 did it!  I managed to get some pics of my favorite flowers of the summer.  We have a busy arterial in our small community that comes right off the freeway and leads to the freeway.  This summer, for the first time ever, we've had wildflowers growing in the center median.  I've loved them.  I've schemed about how I could get out there to photograph them.  Busy traffic on both sides and a narrow median to boot!  It wasn't going to happen.  Unless . . . I could put someone in the back seat with a camera and drive very slowly.   So this week I finally managed to remember   . . . and I had someone in the back seat . . . and I handed her my phone . . .  and I drove as slowly as possible (with my emergency flashers on) . . .  and she captured these pics for me of our glorious wildflowers that make me happy every time I drive by them!  
What brought you joy this week?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Picture Books to Sing! #pb10for10

It's time for one of my favorite blogging events, #pb10for10.  Book lovers gather to share their favorite picture books. Cathy provides detailed instructions if you want to participate.  Join our #pb10for10 google community, share your favorite titles, and discover wonderful new books.  A giant thanks to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for sponsoring this yearly event.

Previous #pb10for10 posts
Golden Lines about Night 
Memories as Precious as Gold 

As most of my regular readers know, I'm in a new relationship.  I became a first-time grandma on June 22.  We traveled to the east coast to meet Teddy (Theodore) in July, and I was swept off my feet.  I'm head over heels in love!  And as I thought about this new relationship, my theme for this year emerged - Picture Books to Sing.

I headed to Island Books on Monday where I spent a delightful afternoon perusing their shelves and snapping pictures of titles.  At one point Lori asked if I needed anything.  I explained that I was working on a blog post, and she left me to my own wanderings.  We're lucky that Nancy Stewart, a pied piper of children's music and founder of Sing With Our Kids, lives in our community. Thanks to Nancy's influence and frequent storytimes/performances at Island Books, we have this special section in our bookstore.

So in honor of Teddy, my new grandson, I bring you 10 books to sing, 10 books to croon to the young ones in our arms . . .

1.  I purchased the board book version of this title at Hooray for Books while visiting Teddy (and his parents).  Exquisite illustrations and verses that I didn't know existed make this a top choice for all new parents (and grandparents).

2.  I almost purchased this one too, so I was excited to see it in the bin at Island Books.  The four preschool favorites include one of the songs that I frequently sang to my children:  "You Are My Sunshine."

3.  No child should grow up without this song in his/her repertoire. I love that this version by
Paul Zelinsky has celebrated 25 years in print.

4.  Every child loves this simple tune and this book has the added bonus of including sign language to accompany the words and actions.

5.  My mother sang the traditional verses to me which I also sang to my children.  But I love Sylvia Long's version which focuses on comfort to be found in the natural world (as opposed to comfort found by buying things).  I'm adding this title to my "books to buy for Teddy" list.

6.  Old McDonal Had a Farm, a perennial childhood favorite starring Pete the Cat!
7.  For several years I was Max's Sunday buddy during Primary (children's Sunday School).  He frequently requested "Puff the Magic Dragon."  I stumbled through a few phrases and hummed the rest.  This book could have rescued me.  It also includes the words to "Brahms' Lullaby," something else I need to add to my repertoire, so I can sing it rather than merely hum the tune.

8.  I'm in love with Jane Cabrera's illustrations and lyrics that begin with the familiar words of this round, but take Cat and Dog on a jungle journey through the rain forest with new lyrics as they meet various animals in the forest.  A brand new discovery for me!

9.  I purchased this title recently from the used book shelves provided by Friends of the Library and popped it into my church bag to share with Imi, my two year old friend.  Oops, it's impossible to read. As soon as I opened to the first page, I wanted to belt out the words.  Not the best one to share during church.  Perhaps the series should be called "Bunny Sings Back" instead of "Bunny Reads Back."

10.   Since I'm collecting these titles with my grandson Teddy in mind, this delightful version of a favorite children's song is a title that must be included.  This board book pulled from my own shelves has all the verses.

It's been awhile since I've sung to a babe in my arms, so I'm sure you have some favorites that I've missed.  What picture books to sing would you add to Teddy's list?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Slice of Life: Sharing Book Love

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

Today's post is cross posted to Sweet Reads
the blog for Books, Brownies, and Beyond.  

Today is National Book Lover's Day!  And I had a perfect afternoon for this special day.  I spent it at the library with the members of Books, Brownies, and Beyond, our after school book club.  Our summer meetings are filled with sharing what we've been reading, checking out the titles on display, and making plans for more reading before summer ends.  Notepads are available for students to make lists of titles, and one student filled an entire page with books she wanted to read and needed another page to continue her list making.  
We welcomed two new members today, Charlie and Harrison.  Charlie is vacationing in our area and Harrison will be an incoming 6th grader at IMS in the fall.  We were also glad that Regina, a sibling of one of our members joined us again.  One of the activities for our meeting was a scavenger hunt in the library organized by Carrie Bowman, the KCLS teen librarian.  After that invigorating activity, we needed sustenance for our continued quest for good books.  I can't think of a better way to spend National Book Lover's Day than by sharing books and cookies in the company of fellow book lovers.  

Our final activity was a quick perusal of the ARCs (advance reader copies) provided by Island Books, our local indie bookstore.  We had a drawing to organize the choosing.  You can tell by the picture that each attendee was pleased with his or her new book.  Thanks, Island Books!

One of our planned activities was to bring a stack of favorite books to share.  Here's my stack of favorite books (from the titles available at my house).  It was tough.  I wanted to narrow it down to ten, and I only allowed myself one title per author.  Of course, as soon as I settled on my stack, I walked upstairs where I spotted Because of Winn-Dixie on a shelf.  How could I have left that one out?  
I like this quote by Lloyd Alexander about our favorite book(s):  "Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favorites. They’re always with us. We just sort of accumulate them." — Lloyd Alexander

What are some of your old favorite books that will always be with you?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Glimmering Little Gifts

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. 

One of my favorite ways to begin Saturday is by reading celebrations.  This week I've borrowed a phrase from Tara's post, "Sunrise slowly reveals glimmering little gifts."  I celebrate this weekly focus on the good in our lives, this opportunity to join together in celebration during good times and bad with this community of friends and writers.  
And here are some of the "glimmering little gifts" from the past week:  

1.  Getting to hear my new grandchild's heartbeat 
That in-utero "whoosh" is an exciting sound!  
2.  Joining Lindy and Laurie at the Seattle temple
Lindy leaves soon for the Belgium Netherlands Mission.
3.  Walks with friends
It's a wonderful blend of friendship, blackberries, exercise, and blossoms.
4.  FaceTime with Teddy & videos from Stefi
Stefi captured him rolling over this week,
and I just keep replaying the video.
5.  SeaFair weekend means Blue Angels
Friday's practice provided lots of distraction 
while I worked in the garage. 
6.  Booked another DC trip
When I held a four month old at church last week,
I knew I had to see Teddy again before October.

Hope your upcoming week provides many
"glimmering little gifts" to celebrate!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Slice of Life: My Daddy Was a Master Gardener!

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

Even though my Daddy died when I was 25 years old, he's still a part of my life.  He taught me important life skills - fill the tank when it's half empty (which I don't always do in town, but religiously follow when I'm on trips), ask questions and stay curious about the world around me (I stopped today just to ask some workmen threading a plastic line underground what they were up to - turns out they're laying conduits for future needs), and celebrate summer sweetness with homegrown tomatoes.  

I haven't always managed to grow my own tomatoes, but I'm doing it this year.  I planted late, in mid-June.  My daughter Sara and I managed to snag the last few plants at Home Depot.  I planted them in pots on the driveway where they can get the maximum sun exposure.  And now I'm watching the weather reports, hoping for dry sunny days so all the green tomatoes will get enough sun to burst into summer color.  I have two pots of yellow cherry tomatoes (Sun Gold Hybrid) and one pot of Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes.  

When I check on their progress, I revel in their star status.  Check out the green stars on the top of each tomato. 
I love to caress the plants and then inhale the tomato fragrance (essence of summer) on my hands.  
I've actually found some red fruit tucked near the bottom of the plants and enjoyed five fruits of my labor so far.  

I'll continue to hope for fewer clouds and more sunshine so that my tomato plants will flourish, I can savor the burst of sweetness daily, and even share a few with my friends.  I think my daddy is glad to see his granddaughter encouraging her own tomato plants this year.  (She called me in a panic this morning when she discovered the wind had blown over one of her pots.)  Whether I'm watering the pots, caressing the plants, or hoping for more sunshine, I always feel that my daddy is walking beside me, nodding his head, and encouraging my amateur gardening skills.  And that's a good feeling!