Saturday, May 20, 2017

Celebrate This Week: The Little Things

 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.


Celebrating a few of the little things that brought
a smile to my face this week!

Seeing a car with an OU (Oklahoma University) alum license plate.  Even though I attended OSU, seeing a fellow Oklahoman (even if it was just in traffic) in faraway WA state was a special treat.  I really wanted to roll down the window and shout "Boomer Sooner."
But I restrained myself.

Opening my weather ap on Wednesday to this picture.  
Yes, Wednesday was cloudy,
but did you see the rest of the week?  
It's been months since we've enjoyed a 
string of successive days of partly cloudy/sunshine
with no rain in sight! 

Pics of grand boy, Jack - he's one happy boy!

Pics of grand boy, Teddy at the park with his friend, Cohen...  
Teddy is the one waving and the one driving the plane.

Im adopting four little words from Keisha's poem
on Poetry Friday "Ingredients for Joy" as my summer mantra:
"Give yourself some ease!"

Friday, May 19, 2017

Poetry Friday - Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics



Head over to Keisha's blog, 
Whispers from the Ridgefor this week's
round-up of poetic goodness.  
Thanks, Keisha, for hosting this week!

I've missed posting the last couple of weeks as I'm adjusting to my new schedule that includes watching grandson Jack for three days a week. The book that I'm sharing today is one that I read to Jack this past week.  It's one that's had many posts written about it already, but it deserves my love since I totally fell in love with this book.  

I loved all the poems and especially that I met Hispanics that were new to me through the poems of Margarita Engle.  I have four favorite poems.  And each of them is about literacy in some form.  

The poem "The Magic of Words" about the Cuban poet, Jose Marti  includes these lines: 
"I say that each day is a poem.
Some hours are green and peaceful.
Others are red, like festivals or storms."

Pure Belpre was a familiar name (because of the award named after her).  She was a children's librarian in the New York Public Library system.  The poem, "Two Languages at the Library", has this conclusion which warms every educator's heart:
"Nothing makes me feel more satisfied
than a smile on the face of a child who holds
an open book."

Julie De Burgos, a poet from Puerto Rico, had a difficult family life (six of her twelve brothers and sisters died of hunger).  Yet "River of Dreams" pays homage to her mother with these words:
" . . . but my gentle mother
took me for long walks
beside a river 
of beautiful dreams."  

"Courageous Poetry" tells the story of Tomas Rivera, noted Mexican poet, novelist, and educator whose family were farmworkers in Texas:
"... I find poetry in tomato fields,
and stories in the faces
of weary workers." 
When I read the dedication page, I discovered a connection between the author and Tomas Rivera:  "In memory of Dr. Tomas Rivera, my creative writing professor."

I can't talk about this book without singing the praises of illustrator Rafael Lopez.  When I opened the book, I was captivated by the young girl reading on the first page.  And as I closed the book, there's a young boy reading.  Take a peek behind the dust jacket and those two illustrations are on the front and back covers of the book.  The striking illustrations of each amazing Hispanic brings these individuals to life. When I read the information about Lopez on the back flap, I discovered that he did the artwork for the 2012 National Book Festival's poster.  I attended that festival, lugged my poster from DC to Washington state on the plane, laminated it for my classroom, and now it proudly hangs in my home.  I love the whimsical animals that grace the poster.  

If you haven't explored this book yet, you're in for a special treat!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Slice of Life - #MustReadin2017 - Spring Update

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.

I'm a master procrastinator.  I was late to join the #mustreadin2017 group.  I missed reporting in for the Spring Update, but I'm happy to report that I've read 7 of the 12 titles I selected for 2017.  And isn't it still spring?   

The books I have finished are shown in red with additional comments also provided in red.  I'm not sure that I'll get to many of my remaining titles anytime soon (next update isn't until September) since my current focus is on Newbery possibilities for 2018.  I have some funds remaining from the grant I write each year to purchase books for our book club that must be spent by the end of this month.  Please leave any book titles you might recommend as Newbery possibilities (books published in 2017) in the comments.

1.  The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill - It won the Newbery, my book club loved it, and I just finished my book for my adult book club.  So it's next on the list!
Finished!  I loved every word, and I'm not a huge fantasy fan.  If you haven't read it yet, add it to your summer must read list.  

#s 2 - 5 are books from the March Book Madness Middle Grade New Classics list.  I love this list and out of sixteen titles, there are only four that I haven't read.  So these titles come right after #1 in order of priority:
2.  Booked by Kwame Alexander  Finished!  What a delight to finally read this novel-in-verse.
3.  El Deafo by Cece Bell  Finished! 
4.  A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielson  Finished!  One of my new favorites that also belongs on your summer reading list if you haven't read it yet. 
5.  Sisters by Raina Telgemeier  Finished!
I managed to finish all the March Book Madness titles before the end of March.  We were delighted when A Night Divided, first choice of our book club, won the middle grade brackets.  

#s 6 - 12 are not in any particular order:
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. 

7.  When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin - This is a title that I considered when I was selecting titles for our Mock Newbery 2017.  And I read and loved so many dog stories in 2016!

8.  Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne La Fleur - When I fell in love with this cover, Lori at Island Books gave me the ARC.  My daughter read it first and highly recommended it  to me.  And I just saw that the sequel, Threads of Blue (also a beautiful cover in blue), comes out September 12th.  Finished!  I had forgotten that this book had a sequel until I finished it.  I fell in love with the cover, and now I'm in love with the story too!  And I can't wait for the sequel, Threads of Blue (available this fall). 

9.  Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh - I rarely read short stories, so this is a good stretch for me.  I think I will enjoy sharing stories from this book at our after school book club. 

10.  The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - Daughter Sara is currently reading this, but I picked up her copy at the hospital and read a bit.  I can't wait to get back to it.  

11.  Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes -  I heard Nikki Grimes present at Poetry Camp this past fall.  She autographed my copy of Words with Wings.  Novels-in-verse are a favorite genre.  This novel uses the Japanese poetic form of tanka, a form similar to haiku that uses syllable counts and is five lines long.  Finished!  I'm amazed at the quantity and quality of books written by this well known author.   I loved Garvey and his journey to self-understanding.  I've also read Nikki Grimes' latest book, One Last Word:  Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance, an incredible collection that pairs poems from poets of the Harlem Renaissance with original poetry written by Nikki Grimes using the golden shovel method. 

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. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Celebrate This Week: Mother's Day

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.


Twenty-six years ago today, I spent one of the happiest afternoons of my life.  I've probably written about it before, but it bears repeating. My mother was in the nursing home fighting the ravages of cancer. My best friend, Jan, joined me at the nursing home for that Mother's Day afternoon.  And before long, Uncle Aaron (my grandfather's brother), came by too.  He and Jan serenaded us with gospel music for a long time that afternoon.  I grew up hearing my mother sing hymns as she cooked, as she ironed, as she hung out the clothes.  Just about any solitary activity found her singing hymns.  And she smiled through the pain as she listened to those beloved hymns sung by two special people on that sacred afternoon.  Before the month's end, my mother would die, but the memory of that afternoon continues to hold a special spot in my heart.   

This is a special Mother's Day for me.  It's my first one as a grandmother.  Teddy was born in June and Jack was born in January. The arrival of these two grand boys marks my arrival into the world of grandparenthood (I know that's not news to regular readers of this blog).   It's a delightful ride that's only just begun.  But I can finally understand a bit of what my mother meant when she would say, as she faced death, that she knew her kids would be okay, but she hated to leave her grand babies. 

 Jack and his sweet mama at yesterday's
community baby shower hosted by
performer Nancy Stewart
and our local library 
Teddy and Grandma reading a book 
during his recent visit 
The rhododendrons are in bloom!  
I must celebrate these rhodies that cascade
  over the fence from our neighbor's plant. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Slice of Life: Making Hay


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.

I love that the first words that popped into my head after settling my grandson Jack for a nap were, "Make hay while the sun shines."  And I am so delighted that the sun is shining.  We've had a prolonged rainy spring, so any day with sunshine is cause for joy.  And really, I have to make hay while Jack sleeps.  I have a goal to write my slice of life on Monday, but didn't reach it yesterday.  So here I am with a thread of what's in my head.  And it may be short or it may be longer depending on Jack's ability to sleep in his crib.  We're currently transitioning him from the rock 'n play to the crib.  

            This quote is on my Susan Branch calendar for May.
Here's my own "What is life?" meditation.  

"What is life?  
It's the wonder on Teddy's face as he
explores Grandma's homemade toy 
(beans in a peanut butter plastic jar),
it's the thrill of watching Jack giggle all over,

it's the beauty of this rain-kissed blossom,

and it's the fragrance of lilacs as I step onto the deck.
Each moment precious, each moment beautiful."

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Celebrate This Week: Pure Celebration

 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.

After two months of dual celebrations (Slice of Life in March and National Poetry Month in April), I'm happy that today I can have a simple celebration with no other motives tucked into my post.  (Warning:  This post includes numerous grandson pics.)    
  • I loved attending church on Sunday with both grandsons (in matching outfits) and their parents.
  • Teddy and I enjoyed an outing to the outlet mall and his first visit to Scott's Dairy Freeze (one of Dad's favorite spots).  On our return drive, Teddy resolutely worked on taking off one shoe and one sock (much to Grandma's delight).  Teddy loves his new musical toy from the Graham family.  And he loves books!   We missed this boy when he left on Monday to attend Aunt Amy's graduation in Utah.  He (and Mom and Dad) come back tonight for a quick overnight before returning home on Sunday.  
  • I finished my first week on granny nanny duty with grandson Jack!  My daughter went back to work three days a week and I get to spend those days with this precious bundle of joy.  I'd forgotten how busy one little person can keep you.  It's a good day if I can accomplish one thing other than keeping Jack fed, clothed, diapered, read to, sung to, and happy.  That's okay.  We're too busy making precious memories to worry about Grandma's "to-to" list.  

  • I'm loving the signs of spring that surround us.  









Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: Reach

I enjoy blogging with this group of friends as we gather on the first Thursday of each month to reflect on our spiritual journeys.  Today we are writing about "reach," Donna's One Little Word.  Be sure and visit Mainely Write to read everyone's responses!

  1. "...But chief of all thy wondrous works
    Supreme of all thy plan,
    Thou has put an upward reach
    Into the heart of man." 

    from “God the Architect” by Harry Kemp

    Anytime I think of the word reach, I think of reaching upward.  And I know that heaven is a place impossible to reach without my Savior. It is easy to grow discouraged with myself, with challenges unmet, and with goals not reached.  But the Savior of the world stands ever ready, hand outstretched to make up the difference and to encourage my efforts.  For His loving reach to me, a sinner, I praise Him and give my thanks.



    Let him lift you.

    "Humble yourselves
    in the sight of the Lord,
     and he shall lift you up."
    James 4:10

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Slice of Life: Poem in Your Pocket Day!

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.

Promoting poetry as a middle school student is not a particularly popular thing to do.  That's why I'm always grateful when some of our book club members join the fun during lunch to pass out poems to fellow students for Poem in Your Pocket Day.  

Our after school book club, Books, Brownies & Beyond, spends poetry month reading poems, sharing poems, rolling poems, and tying them with ribbon in preparation for Poem in Your Pocket Day.  As students entered the lunchroom, they saw our display of poetry books.  Book club members roamed the lunchroom with poems in hand to share and spread poetry love.  


I donned my apron of many pockets (12+) and spent lunch time visiting students in line for the snack bar.  "Pick a pocket, any pocket!" was followed by an oral rendition of the poem.  I was touched when one boy responded to my reading of "Then and Now" by commenting, "That's good.  That's part of my childhood."  And when an 8th grade girl said that "The Moment" made her feel really calm, I gifted her my copy of the poem.  Some of the poems I enjoyed sharing included, "The Owl," "Afternoon on a Hill," "A Writing Kind of Day," and "Remember."  

I found myself navigating a disagreement between our co-principals. He argued that the poem she had received was not a poem.  It was from Bob Raczka's book, Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word.  I found myself explaining that poetry can simply be wordplay.  He wasn't sure that he agreed.

We were excited when students or staff shared the poem they received along with a personal connection to the poem.  It was a lunchtime filled with wordplay and poetic goodness.  We can't wait to do it again next year.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Celebrate This Week and NPM Day 30: The Letter Z

 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.

Cousins meet for the first time!
 Teddy tenderly touching cousin Jack

We celebrated Independent Bookstore Day
 at story time with Nancy Stewart
at our local indie bookstore, Island Books. 
Singing and smiling with Mom and Dad
 Singing and snuggling with Dad at story time
 Love Ms. Nancy's shaky eggs

We enjoyed lots of time 
to hug and snuggle our grandsons
and even managed to chat a bit
with our grown-up kids!
 Matching  "Granny Magnet" onesies!
Grandpa with an armful of boys to love!

 I made it all the way through 
NPM to the letter Z (Whew!).
Zippity doo dah,  hip hip hurray!
My book spine poem for NPM 2017:

She walks in beauty
A jar of tiny stars
Awakening the heart
Opening a door
House of light 
Pass the poetry, please!


Concluding my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month 
with the letter Z . . . 

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
has written some of my favorite books of poetry.  I've already written about two of them for previous Poetry Friday posts.  The author refers to her books as linked free-verse poems.  
Click on the title of either book to access my
March 2016 Poetry Friday posts.
could be used as the basis for an exploration of poetry
during poetry month or anytime during the school year. 
This google book preview shows the whimsical 
illustrations by Andrew Glass and the poems which tell the story of a year in the life of twins, Mary Anne and Anne Marie.  It also includes two of my favorite poems from the book,
"Early Spring,"a perfect example of personification and
"Across the Back Fence," which showcases
alliteration, strong verbs, and simile.  
 explores the life of almost 13-year old, JoEllen,
whose divorced parent's homes are just 42 miles apart. 
This book includes my favorite poem to carry for
Poem in Your Pocket Day:  "The Poems I Like Best."
Cousins of Clouds:  Elephant Poems
celebrates elephants in a wide variety of forms
from the haiku poems that decorate the various parts 
of an elephant to a concrete poem tucked inside "Fortress"
to "Patience" which celebrates the elephant's mothering skills.  Each poem is accompanied by nonfiction text which shares additional information about the life of our elephant friend, 
the largest mammal who walks on land.