Thursday, March 23, 2017

SOLSC 23/31: Not on Facebook!

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

A group of women in our church congregation gathered yesterday for a birthday party!  The honoree, our women's organization, Relief Society, just hit its 175th year!  We shared laughter, food, quotes from past leaders of our organization, and gifts of service with each other.  Laurie set the scene for our evening together, Heidi prepared the crockpot pork, Justin and Seth provided child care, and all contributed food for the beautiful Mexican salads and luscious desserts we  enjoyed.  

We left our tables for fun in the gym where we donned mustaches and headbands, all in the spirit of fun.  When our donkey piƱata was decapitated by the second strong young woman (these gals are serious exercisers) to take a swing at it, Laurie shook its contents on the floor.  The scramble was not for the candy, but for the gifts of service written on slips of paper.  They ranged from a gardening lesson to a vocal lesson to an evening of babysitting to mending and sewing projects to lunch at a local restaurant and many gifts of home baked food items.  I scored with good friend Anne's homemade dinner rolls!  Everyone pitched in at the end of the evening for clean up duty.  And I kept my promise to not post any of the pictures I took on Facebook!   
Just one of many luscious desserts!  





The serious shot!
And the goofy shot!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SOLSC 22/31: A Tale of Two Sweet Boys

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


Alarm set for 5:15,
I wake at 4:45.
Sleep eludes me.
I grab my phone for
early morning slice wanderings.

I hear the shower downstairs
and so I head down
to make the requested
chocolate chip pancakes
for grown son's breakfast
before our early morning airport run.

Son answers
call from wife on east coast
who reports rough night 
with Teddy (teething time).
Her middle of the night
query in Teddy's voice, 
"Where's my Dad?"
And her answer, 
"He's the sucker 
who would hold 
you all night."

I love seeing my son's joy 
each time he's FaceTimed
with Teddy and wife.
This new role, him as Dad,
delights my mother heart!

And this morning
both of us watch
a sweet boy wrapped
in hooded towel
(nine month birthday today)
who escapes his towel
to crawl naked,
joyfully exploring his environment
without the encumbrance of clothes.

I spy the wet curls 
my son has described. 
Teddy examines shadows
across the room.
and then sits in striped shadow
to babble with Dad.
We bid goodbye to
sweet boy and his mama.

Such a pleasure
to be part of son’s
quick west coast visit
to meet new nephew, Jack!

Quick breakfast,
a couple of pics,
and sweet boy,
and his mama
and daddy
head to the airport.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SOLSC 21/31: Making a Stand for A Night Divided!

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


Our after school book club, Books, Brownies, and Beyond is participating in the middle grade novel bracket of March Book Madness.  Voting for the Final Four closes at 7 pm EDT today.  So on this 21st day of our March Slice of Life Challenge, I'm sharing 21 things about Jennifer Nielsen's book, A Night Divided (which, as you may have guessed, is the book that I want to advance in the brackets tonight).   I just finished this book last night!  It's one of four titles that I hadn't read in this year's Sweet Sixteen.  I still need to read Sisters and Booked.  I finished El Deafo earlier this month.  

 A tragic beginning:
1.  "There was no warning the night the wall went up."

A heartbreaking result:
2.  Gerta's Papa and brother, Dominic, are in West Berlin the night the wall goes up.  Gerta, Mama, and oldest brother Fritz are on the other sound of the wall in East Berlin. 

Three viewpoints: 
3.  "'We will never be able to leave,' Mama said.  'The sooner you both accept that, the happier you will be.'"
4.  "I nodded back at her.  But I knew I could never again be happy here.  And I refused to accept my life inside a prison." - Gerta
5.  "Courage isn't knowing you can do something.  It's only being willing to try."  - Fritz

An unfamiliar setting:
6.  Post WWII
7.  Cold War
8.  Communist East Berlin

An important bedtime song:
 9.  "The Farmer in March" 
10.  Gerta's Papa sings it to her on their last night together before she is separated from him on the night the wall goes up.  It makes an appearance two other times in the book.  

Friends or enemies?
11.  Anna, Gerta's best friend
12.  Frau Eberhart, the neighborhood busybody
13.  Officer Muller, the border guard

Meaningful quotes found at the beginning of each chapter (sharing just a few) :
14.  "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope."  
- Martin Luther
15.  "He only earns his freedom and his life who takes them everyday by storm." - Goethe 
16.  "In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity."  - Albert Einstein
17.  "Who shows courage, encourages others." - Adolph Kolping
18.  "Freedom lies in being bold." - Robert Frost
19.   "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." - Nelson Mandela

Greta's surprising realization:
20.  "Even at those times when you want to say good-bye, it's still sad when the moment comes...And no matter where I went in the future, a part of me would always belong to the east."

A personal connection paired with another beginning of chapter quote:
21.  Several years ago I visited the Newseum in Washington DC.  They have a portion of the Berlin Wall as part of the Berlin Wall Gallery, a permanent exhibit.  I remember lingering in this gallery as I tried to imagine what life was like for people at that time.  Jennifer Nielsen's historical fiction novel, A Night Divided, puts us smack in the middle of a family divided by the wall and the difficult decisions they make.  Students who read this book will gain important insight into this tragic time in history and its impact on individual lives.   
"Forget not the tyranny of this wall, horrid place, nor the love of freedom that made it fall."  - Written on the Berlin Wall after it came down.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

SOLSC 20/31: The Power of One

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

It's been interesting to watch the power of one vote!  I'm retired, but our after school book club, Books, Brownies, & Beyond, is participating in March Book Madness.  In our first round, Sweet Sixteen voting, we had a tie between Brown Girl Dreaming and The Honest Truth . . . until Ms. Bowman's vote for Brown Girl Dreaming moved it to our winning spot. This past week we had a tie in our Elite Eight round between El Deafo and Crenshaw until Evan's vote broke the tie and moved Crenshaw into the winning spot.  This week we'll vote on The Final Four:  A Night Divided vs. Sisters and  Pax vs. Crenshaw.   I wonder if any of our winning titles will be determined by a single vote!   

If you want, take a look at the brackets for the middle grade titles (scroll down past the ballot for the final four), and leave a comment for the book title that you wish had not been eliminated.   I think I speak for our entire book club when I say that we wish The War That Saved My Life was still standing.   In first round voting, it had a 7 point lead over Booked.  And in second round voting, it had a 5 point lead over Pax.  

I love getting involved in March Book Madness.  If you like this sort of thing, take a look at School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books. Their battle pits sixteen of the very best books for young people of the year, judged by some of the biggest names in children's books.  I love reading the author's thinking for each battle as he/she evaluates each title and then decides on the winner.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

SOLSC 19/31: Sunday Musings

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


Sunday

Glorious sunshine,
Children's voices,
Communion sweet.

Learning together,
Worshipping together,
Loving together.

An afternoon nap,
Calls with family,
A perfect Sunday!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

SOLSC 18/31: Celebrate This Week

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


                            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 love kicking off the weekend by celebrating moments from the past week.  It has truly changed the way I live each week because I'm always cataloging moments I want to share.  If you don't know about our Celebrate This Week group, stop by Ruth's blog to read of the magic delivered Friday night by her son Sam. 

I woke up early this morning thinking about heartwarming moments I wanted to share.  So here are the best heart warmers of this past week!

  Blue sky on Thursday!
And blue sky predicted for Sunday!

This spot of pink blossoms on our driveway (without
the usual raindrops adorning them).

Reading picture books to my six week old grandson - I think he already has a favorite - Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes!

This church sign spotted on the way home from the library!

A Friday night spent reading picture books.  
Welcome by Barroux is a new favorite!

Instagram pics of grandson, Teddy,
and Stefi's words:  
"At least once a day I notice Teddy has gotten really quiet and I inevitably find him in his room, sorting through his books
until he finds his beloved lion book.  He then sits quietly
and "reads" to himself for a few minutes."

This photo of Jack in St. Patty's Day green.  

Friday afternoon symphony with husband.  
We call it the "gray hair special."

 An Instagram pic from Texas friend, Karen, of a fountain at the National Museum of African American History with this inscription:  "We are determined . . . to work and fight until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."  
- Martin Luther King 1955

Friday, March 17, 2017

SOLSC 17/31 & Poetry Friday: A Book Spine Poem

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

If you've ever written book spine poetry, you know how it can totally mess up your bookshelves and become very time consuming as you search for those just right titles .  So this week, I limited myself to my current library picture books.  You may recognize a title that you've recommended since my picture book basket is filled almost exclusively with titles recommended by slicer friends.  

Welcome,
Step right up!
This house, once
Adrift at sea
A piece of home.

Head over to Robyn Hood Black's blog, 
Life on the Deckle Edgefor this week's
round-up of poetic goodness.  
Thanks, Robyn, for hosting this week!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

SOLSC 16/31: A Meditation on Badges!


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

A few days ago, I opened the SOL call for writing to find these two  questions (Are you a last minute, write by the seat of your pants slicer?  Or do you plan ahead?) and two new badges.  

I had an immediate response.  You see, I'm a pantser, but I'm no longer a last minute slicer.  Oh, I used to be.  For years, I would sit down at 10 pm to write a slice, and race the clock to make the midnight deadline.  But then in the interest of fairness to everyone, we learned that "everyone has the same 24 hour period in which to post,"  and while it may be fair, it strikes fear into the heart of this West coast slicer.  I no longer have the luxury of writing at 10 pm.  (And I kind of miss that adrenaline rush I used to get as the midnight hour approached.)  

This year, I've taken an entirely new approach.  I write in the middle of the night.  That's right!  Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking about my slice, I grab my computer and slice away.  Because I'm retired, I have the luxury of going back to sleep after my middle of the night writing.   I don't think this is a healthy approach and I fear that I'm screwing up my sleep cycle.  

So why can't I write my post at 10 pm for the next day?  I'm not a night person, and I needed that deadline in order to write at night.  In my defense, I've been trying to stop writing in the middle of the night.   I managed to sleep until 5 am this morning before grabbing my computer.  

So why do I feel that there is a judgment against the pantsers of the slicing world?  Who says that a pantser doesn't plan ahead?  I am constantly composing slices in my head.  I have at least three slices percolating in the back of my head right now.  So I propose a new badge for the seat of the pants slicer who still manages to plan ahead (even if that planning is only in her mind).  "Plantser!"  How about it? Where do you fall on this continuum I've created?  Pantser, Plantser, or Planner?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SOLSC 15/31: Parking Garage Blues (verse two)

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

If you missed the first installment of my parking garage blues, just know that Karen and I came very close to missing the beginning of our movie, "United Kingdom," (but didn't)!  It was an inspiring movie, reminding me of the power of the big screen to tell a story that piques my interest to examine the historical facts and reminding me that there are always those who bravely challenge racial intolerance. 

Okay, movie over, my review over, time to tackle the challenge of the hour.  Will we navigate the twists and turns that lie ahead to successfully find Karen's car?   It's one of those times when one wishes for a trail of breadcrumbs, but no breadcrumbs (or Reese's Pieces) appear.  So off we go!  Down the escalator.  I head lemming-like to the elevator for the Lincoln Square parking garage.  Karen reminds me that we're in nightmare parking (aka Bellevue Place Parking).  So we take the skybridge to Bellevue Place and then find the Hyatt.  

We're above the lobby and so we take the escalator to the lobby.  Only we forget to look for the sketchy street entrance (foam doors, spray painted black) that took us from our elevator to the street outside the Hyatt.  When we board the elevator in the lobby of the Hyatt, we're delighted to see P4 on one of the buttons.  Okay, so we're taking a different elevator back.  That's okay, how big can one level of a parking garage be?  

We disembark, I pull out my green P4 parking garage slip, and we reassure ourselves that we're on the right floor.  We start looking for our elevator (which Karen remembers was called Three Coins) and we keep looking . . . and we keep looking . . . for our elevator.  Three different elevators later and none with the name Three Coins, we begin to realize how large this one parking level really is.  Then we remember that Karen had snapped a picture of the number of our parking stall.

We check her phone for the #,  only to discover that there are no #s on these parking stalls.  What???  I pull out my green P4 parking paper again.  Yes, we're on the right floor.  We try beeping her car.  Nothing!  We separate while I go around one concrete barrier and Karen explores another.  Yep, you guessed it.  We lose each other.  After calling out "Karen, Karen? Karen!" several times -  I decide, no problem, I'll just call her on my cell.  Oops, underground parking garage, no coverage.  

And while I'm wandering around alone, kicking myself for losing my friend, I make an exciting discovery!  Stalls with numbers painted on them.  But only on this one lane of the garage and only on one side. While I'm happily exploring this option and determined not to step away from the numbered stalls, Karen pops into my vision.  I share my discovery, we follow the numbered stalls, find our Three Coins elevator, walk around the corner, and VOILA, Karen's car!  We slide into the seats, laughing at our escapade and eager to be above ground.  And as we exit the garage, my phone beeps with Karen's message.  Why did her phone work in the garage and mine didn't?  We have the same phones and the same carrier!  

Lessons learned:
1.  Don't get separated from your friend when searching for your car in a parking garage.
2.  NEVER allow a parking attendant to lure you (against your better judgement) to nightmare parking via the tunnel to Bellevue Place. 
3.  Just go to the movies at Factoria where there is above ground parking (even though you may have to wait a bit longer for the newer movies to show up).  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

SOLSC 14/31: March Book Madness

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


If it's Tuesday afternoon, then you'll find me at my former middle school talking books, sharing books, reading books, and eating brownies or cookies with an incredible group of students.  Some of these students have been coming for three years (ever since I retired and decided to start an after school book club).  

We begin the year with students choosing titles for book groups  from our school literature circle collection.  Then we transition to reading Newbery possibilities for several months in preparation for the announcement of the Newbery award in January.  In February we focus on book groups for African American History Month. 

And then March finds us participating in March Book Madness.  Even though the voting is closed for the Elite Eight (winners will be announced tomorrow morning for the Final Four), you can scroll down the page to see the brackets and book trailers for the middle grade novels in this year's tournament focused on The New Classics.  

Here are the results so far from online voting, shown in blue.  When the results from our book club, Books, Brownies, and Beyond (BBB), differ from the online results, that result is shown in red. 

Round One Sweet Sixteen

Roller Girl vs. Counting by 7s

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library vs. Sisters
(BBB - Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library)

Brown Girl Dreaming vs. The Honest Truth
(BBB - Brown Girl Dreaming)

Echo vs. A Night Divided
(BBB - Echo)

The War That Saved My Life vs. Booked

Fish in a Tree vs. Pax
(BBB - Fish in a Tree)

The Fourteenth Goldfish vs. El Deafo 

Absolutely Almost vs. Crenshaw


Round Two, Elite Eight
Counting by 7s vs. Sisters
(BBB - Counting by 7s)

The Honest Truth vs. A Night Divided 

The War That Saved My Life vs. Pax
(BBB - The War That Saved My Life)

El Deafo vs. Crenshaw

We split the results again, just like we did in round one.  Watch for a future post that discusses our results and a padlet that allows students to respond regarding the books that have been eliminated.    

Last week, we spent our book club hour having a round table discussion of all sixteen titles.  Someone defended each title, explaining why it should win its particular bracket.  

This week we created a bulletin board to showcase the brackets and results so far for March Book Madness.  It was a team effort and we're proud of the result!  In the second picture, we managed to coax the boys into the picture (one had already left) and another teacher stopped by so that Ms. Bowman (librarian from KCLS who co-sponsors our book club) and I could join the group.  Also note that we had added the title to the board by the time we snapped the last picture.  All in all, a great Tuesday afternoon at Books, Brownies, and Beyond!


This  post is cross posted to Sweet Reads,
a place for me, the members of our after school book club,
and interested readers to share the books we are reading,
booklists, and other book related activities.