Saturday, August 30, 2014

Inspired by nature!

 So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
  It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  Our driveway is finished!  Six weeks ago our broken asphalt was removed, and two workers began the process for laying paving stones.  It's quite a process, 
but it's finally complete.

2.  I popped in for my colleagues' last day of pre-service preparation with cookie bars for everyone.  It was fun to see my friends!  

3.  I made real progress this week on the boxes of books in the garage.  It's difficult to purge my book collection.  I'm asking tough questions each time I put a book on the shelf as I realize that some books must go. 

4.  I finished two books this week from my stack of current reads - Marilyn Nelson's novel-in-verse, How I Discovered Poetry, and Kirby Larson's new book, Dash.  I read the ARC (thanks to Island books) and loved it.  The book was launched this past Thursday.  It tells the story of Mitsi, a Japanese-American girl who must leave her dog, Dash, behind when the family goes to an incarceration camp.  Be sure to share this book with dog-lovers and students interested in WWII.  Now it's on to the meatier reading of Black Count for my book club and finishing Read Write Teach with a group of fellow bloggers.  

5.   I'm loving the cooler weather, cloudy days, and the beginning of fall color.  I'm continuing to explore new trails and neighborhoods on my walks.  Retirement provides the time to enjoy more walks with my husband, take more pics, and be inspired by nature.
Slow down.
Hang on.
Look up!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Poetry Friday: Toasting Marshmallows by Kristine O'Connell George

Writing about summer activities is an important part of kissing summer goodbye and savoring summer moments.  One of my favorite books to inspire those memories is Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O'Connell George and illustrated by Kate Kiesler.
In the title poem, students can decide if they are patient marshmallow roasters like the narrator waiting " my pillowed confection slowly reaches perfection," or the rapid fire roaster like her brother who roasts quick and "...eats quick."

"The Best Paths" can be enjoyed by anyone who has ever felt the lure of a path leading " to where you didn't know you wanted to go."

On our Colorado hikes to the waterfalls at Snow Mountain Ranch, my husband spun stories about the abandoned cabin.  Our children loved being scared by these sad stories.  We would stand in the doorway and imagine the life of the trapper who once lived in the "Abandoned Cabin" where    "...There's more sky than cabin.  The forest lives here now."

You can listen to Kristine O'Connell George reading "River Messages" on her website.  

I can connect to almost every poem in the book, but I especially love the final poem, "Flannel" and the girl who tucks away her blue and plaid shirt camping shirt so no one "...will find it and wash away the memories."  

Head over to Poetry Friday Roundup with Jone at Check It Out to get your weekly dose of poetry.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our Story Street

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. 

This particular street has held fun memories for our family ever since my daughter and my husband encountered the law on an evening walk down this street.  A few years ago, a colleague bought a house there.  It always makes a street sweeter when a friend lives on it, or in her case, beside it.  This week hubby and I had our own adventure on this street.

It was dark as we returned from our Friday evening walk, but we had enough light to make our way down the dead end street that allows us to cut through the schoolyard for a shortcut on our return journey home.  Sometimes the side gate to the school is locked requiring us to retrace our steps, go through the park, and climb up the hill.   We were hopeful that the gate would be open.

As we walked under the trees, something flew low, right toward us and over our heads.  I remarked, “That’s a brave crow.”  I turned to look at the trees behind us and saw a dark form on the tree branch.  That dark form seemed bigger than a crow.  I whipped out my phone, turned on the flashlight, and pointed it at the tree branch.  Much to our surprise, it was an owl staring right at us.  We marveled at our luck and continued our walk.

Just as we arrived at the school gate, we had a repeat performance only this time the flight came from behind, and the bird landed on a branch in front of us.   Once again, I pulled out my phone and turned on the flashlight.   Sure enough, it was an owl, probably the same one.  He seemed quite interested in our progress, but I was a little spooked that he might track us all the way home (residual memories from Hitchcock's film).   So I stepped out from under the trees and headed for the open field.  I wanted to be sure that I was not the mammal this owl was tracking for dinner!

One of these days, I’ll share the other adventure that occurred on our story street. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Surprise Visitors, Books, and Poetry!

 So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
  It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  Entertained surprise visitors! 
Our good friends' trip delay became our good fortune.  They were going sailing in the San Juans for a family vacation.  Unfortunately, the captain of the sailboat was still making needed repairs.  Fortunately, they came to Seattle for the day and spent the evening with us.  Four of their five children were with them, and their oldest (born in Houston) is getting married next month.  These are friends that we knew in Houston when he was in medical school, and we were all much younger.  We were lucky to see them several times as we made the trek from WA to BYU to drop off our kids for college (Idaho is a good stopping point). This is one of those cherished friendships that no matter how many years pass between our visits, it's always a joy to be together!  

2.  Finished Absolutely Almost!
I picked up this book because of the buzz in the blogosphere.  I absolutely (no almost) love this book:  the short chapters (a hook that always keeps me reading),  the author's craft, and the main character Albie.  It deserves rereading with a careful eye to author's craft.  Check out a favorite chapter (pgs. 210-211), rain in new york.  Every paragraph begins with the phrase "When it rains in New York," the sensory detail is incredible, and there's a wonderful concluding sentence to this short chapter.  Quick, request it from the library before the list gets too long, or better yet, visit your favorite indie bookstore for your own copy.  You'll want to write in the margins!

3.  Joined Poetry Friday!
I've been lurking for far too long, and had promised to join this wonderful community after retirement.  The beginning of school marks the official beginning of my retirement, so yesterday I took the plunge.  Many of the bloggers are friends from Two Writing Teachers and Saturday Celebrations, some are poets books I love, and others are new friends I can't wait to know.   This week's round-up was led by substitute round-upper, Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.  I love her novels - Leaving Gee's Bend and Don't Feed the Boy (don't be misled by the "young cover," this is a book  perfect for sixth graders with tough issues to discuss).  So I can't wait for Irene's new book, Dear Wandering Wildebeest, available September 1.  Even if you don't have time to post, don't miss Poetry Friday to bring a breath of poetry into your life each week!

Friday, August 22, 2014

School Supplies: A Book of Poems collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

I'm new to Poetry Friday, but feel that I already know many of you either from Slice of Life or Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  I've lurked and commented occasionally, but now I'm committing to blog with my fellow poetry lovers. I may eventually branch out, but my plan for now is to share a favorite book of poetry each Friday.  It's sad when a favorite children's book goes out of print.  The discovery that School Supplies:  A Book of Poems collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, is out of print sent me scrambling to the computer to request this book from the library.  It's a fun anthology to have in your classroom all year round, but especially as the school year begins.  Even though it hasn't come in at my library yet, I wanted to go ahead and feature this book now since school will begin soon or has already begun in many parts of the world.    

The poems in the anthology are written from the perspective of school supplies or objects such as a pen, notebook, globe, a school bus, a compass, and even a paper clip. While the recommended audience is ages 4-8, this book was loved and enjoyed by my third graders many years ago, but also more recently by my middle school sixth graders. Students may even be inspired to write a persona poem about one of their school supplies.  The poems are delightfully illustrated by Renee Flowers.  I hope your school or public library still has a copy.  Request it today and share it with your students!

Head over to Poetry Friday Roundup with Irene Latham to get your weekly dose of poetry.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Talk. Sing. Read. Play.

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 

When I visited my daughter in Ithaca, New York, I was able to view the very public support of a nonprofit community organization that promotes early literacy.  I drove my daughter crazy with frequent requests to stop the car, so I could take another picture.  She indulged me most of the time, but there's still one that I really wanted.  Our local children's librarian told me about the Family Reading Partnership. From the sign at the tennis courts, to the large murals on the buildings, to the individual yard signs, I'm a huge fan!  You can learn more about this organization at their website where you can also access a weekly column at Family Reading Corner.  
Wouldn't it be great if more communities stepped up in support of literacy for all children?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrating the Possibilities

                                   So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
  It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  1st pickup of PB10for10 books recommended by
blogger friends (with more to come from my list of holds):
I'm reading one book a night and when I finish the stack,
I'm inviting some young friends over for books and cookies!

2.  Savoring beauty on my daily walks:

3.  These wise words from Ruth's post:
"Life is changing.
There is always a need to learn the new steps in this life dance."

4.  Inspiration from "Thumbprint," a poem from Linda's SOL:
"...Imprint my mark upon the world,
whatever I shall become."
Somehow I always thought I would have arrived
by this point in my life, but I'm still becoming!

5.  Raindrops encourage me to ponder the possibilities of retirement:
May your week be filled with possibilities and opportunities for growth!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Learning Takes Mentors, Persistence, and Lots of Practice!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
The traffic was backed up before I even reached the exit for I-5.  Not a good sign.  I knew there was a way to get where I needed to go without the freeway, so I took the first possible exit.  I looked for a good place to stop so I could search for the address and plug it into my phone.  I hoped that if I headed away from the freeway, that I'd be directed to an alternate route.  No such luck!  Every direction was turn right, turn left, turn right, get on I-5.  One right turn landed me on a narrow street behind a truck with the door open, and no driver in sight.  After honking several times, I gave up and managed to turn around on the narrow street to go back the way I had come.  I tried plan 2, I phoned my doctor's office to tell them I was stuck in traffic, and I asked for directions so I could get there without the freeway.  The receptionist couldn't help, so I did the next best thing - I turned right, turned left, turned right, and got back on the freeway.  The last three patients had also been delayed by traffic, and I was only 20 minutes late.  (Daughter informs me that there's a way to tell the map program that you don't want to use the highway - future learning opportunity.)

I've been blessed to visit my daughter in New York this summer and to have a quick visit from my son and his wife.  I always have a few computer/iPad/phone questions for them. I try hard not to ask too many since I don't want to wear out their willingness to help. Some of my best learning comes when my children see me do something "the wrong way" or as I like to call it "the long way."  Even though they've pointed out how to get to my camera quickly by swiping up, I usually forget and end up unlocking the phone, entering my password, going to apps, and clicking on camera.  I've actually remembered "the quick way" a few times recently!

My son watched me searching for something by going to Safari and pointed out how to reach the Search iPhone feature with one quick swipe down from the middle of the screen.  Wow, that new learning may change my life.  (However, I had to call him just now so he could remind me what he had shown me that was new on my phone.)  It would be great if I could report that I just got my iPhone, but unfortunately that is not the case.

While visiting my daughter in New York, she hooked me on a series she's watching - The Good Wife.  She assured me that we could access it, but it took hubby some time to figure out how to access it on Hulu through our Tivo.  I noticed that even though he didn't know "how" to do it, that he just kept "trying" different things until he discovered how to do it. Then he did it again with me watching, then he handed me the controller so I could do it myself.  And then I did it again.  I can happily report that I was able to find and watch an episode without any phone calls to him or my children!

Today was our third book club via google hangout.  Two of my good friends have moved away, so we decided to hold "three musketeer" book club meetings.  They are not on a regular schedule since we must first be sure that all of us have finished the book and then find a time that we can meet.  Our first hangout was with my daughter present, so she set things up for us.  For our second meeting, another friend's daughter helped her before the meeting, and with a couple of calls for extra assistance from her genius children, we finally figured it out.  For today's meeting, I was supposed to talk with my daughter for a quick refresher.  I didn't think of it until she was already in bed (I hate that 3 hour time difference), so another friend volunteered to figure things out.  I was unable to link up with the two of them, so we used a 3-way conference call to discuss the book.  After our meeting, I was messing around on the computer and figured it out.  The one friend wasn't near her computer and missed the call, but the other friend answered.  We celebrated that I had figured it out through trial and error!

A few take aways for student learners (and that is all of us):
1.  We can benefit from learning beside someone who can watch and coach.  My son had no idea that I didn't know how to access the Search iPhone feature, but by watching me he discovered something I needed to learn.
2.  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  If one method or path doesn't work, try another.  Keep at it until you are successful.  Then celebrate that success!
3.  When you figure something out, do it again, and again, and again.  My children's piano teacher always insisted that they play a phrase or line correctly three times before moving on.  Practicing correctly is an essential part of the learning process.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

PB 10 for 10 - Memories as Precious as Gold!

This is my second year to participate in #pb10for10.  You can join the fun by leaving a link at Cathy Mere's or Mandy Robek's August 10 for 10 Picture Book Event.  I retired at the end of June and many of my favorite picture books are still in boxes in the garage.  That's okay - there will be plenty of rainy, gray days perfect for sorting through my teaching stuff because right now I'm busy savoring summer.

I looked through my bookshelves (which I recently purged in order to make room for the books I moved home from school) and chose 33 titles I love.  I looked at them in search of a theme.  Bear books?  (Not quite enough.)  Maybe books with animals as main characters?  As I looked at the books I pulled, I knew that I had to find my books in the garage.  I managed to locate two boxes, stowed away under a table and at the bottom of the stack.  I ended up with a mix of books from home and books from school and my theme - memories, specifically memories that are triggered when I pick up certain books.

1.  Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox,
      illustrated by Julie Vivas
"What's a memory?" he asked.
"Something as precious as gold, young man, something as precious as gold."

Join me for a stroll through some of my favorite picture books linked to memories as precious as gold.

2.  My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb
My mother taught in a one-room schoolhouse during World War II with a wartime teaching certificate.  The area was populated by extended family, and some of my cousin's parents were taught by my mom during the war.  Like Miss Arizona, "... she taught students about words and numbers and the faraway places they would visit someday."
3.  Crow Call by Lois Lowry, illustrated by     Bagram Ibatoulline
When World War II ended, my oldest sister, age 4, was introduced to her daddy who had been gone for three years, including being MIA in a prisoner of war camp for five months.  She did not know this stranger who re-entered the life that she shared with her mom and grandparents.  She was too young to remember her daddy, and may have felt as cautious as Lois Lowry did in Crow Call, "I sit shyly in the front seat of the car next to the stranger who is my father."  This was a great book to use with sixth graders as we explored personal narratives.

4.  The Birthday Moon by Lois Duncan,
pictures by Susan Davis
This imaginative book, describing the possible uses of the moon as a gift, was a favorite of my daughter.  I needed a birthday book for PB 10 for 10 because today is my dad's birthday.  He loved giving gifts, and birthdays were always special days.  This is a fun book to use with students as they think of ways they might use the moon if it were given to them as a gift.  It would be fun to provide a typed copy of the words of the book and ask older students to determine the rhyme scheme of this book.
5.  Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
I shared this book with the grandchildren after my mother's funeral.  Each of them took the time to draw a picture of Grandma and share a special memory.  Like the animals in the story who were sad when Badger died, the grandchildren discovered that "Whenever Badger's (Grandma's) name was mentioned, someone remembered another story that made them all smile."  Whether it was turtle pancakes or marshmallows for breakfast, each grandchild had special memories of time spent with Grandma.

6.  My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray, illustrated by Raul Colon
I use this book each spring to introduce the project that students create for a parent or guardian using words and memories.  In this book the girl and her mother dance through the seasons. Students are encouraged to brainstorm memories that might be associated with seasons or special celebrations.  Each season is filled with wonderfully descriptive words.  It's fun to pay attention to the words the author chooses to hyphenate and her technique for placing adjectives after the nouns they modify (notice the drinks she describes to accompany the activities of each season).   My mama didn't have a dancing heart, but she had a singing soul.  I hear echoes of her enthusiasm for life in these words:
"Bless the world
it feels like
a tip-tapping
kind of day.
Let's celebrate!"
These words also bring to mind Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres, an opportunity for bloggers to remember events from the past week worth celebrating.

7.  Good Morning, Baby Bear by Eric Hill
This was a favorite of my children, so well-loved that several pages were torn and are now taped together. We loved the simple illustrations from the first words of the book "Wake up, Baby Bear," to the closing words "Have a nice day!" as Baby Bear heads out to play.

8.  Time for Bed, Sleepyheads by Normand and Sandra Chartier
This was a first birthday book for my daughter from Uncle Karl and Aunt Kathy.  This Golden Book, published in 1983, features mommies and daddies all over the neighborhood calling their children in from play.  Each two page spread features a different animal family engaged in bedtime routines.  My favorite pages and lines:
"In the Bear Family's cozy den, Mama Bear leads her cubs in their bedtime prayers.
Then the little bears give their mother lots of good-night hugs and kisses and shuffle off to bed."
And the closing pages:  "Now all is quiet.  Stars twinkle in the night sky.  Moonlight shines on every housetop.  Sleepyheads all over the neighborhood are snug in their beds at last.  Sh-h-h-h-h-h-h."

9.  The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg
This picture book was inscribed by Steven Kellogg for my son's 5th birthday when I took a summer reading workshop.  This fall is my son's 30th birthday.  We never tired of this story and the problem-solving librarian, Miss Severs, who comes to the aid of Louis and his friend, Alphonse.
I recently purchased a 25th Anniversary Edition of the book because someday my son will claim his copy.  In the note from the author, Steven Kellog notes that the revised and re-illustrated anniversary edition includes "...nuances of character, sequence, and plot..." that were not explored in the original version and " pictures..." made possible by full-color printing not available in 1977.   It would be fun to let students compare and contrast the two versions of the book.  I'm still partial to the 1977 version, but someday it will go to my son's home.  Maybe I should start perusing used bookstores so I can puchase a 1977 version of my own.

10.  All the Places to Love by Patricial MacLachlan, paintings by Mike Wimmer
Perhaps it's my farming background, but I love this homage to the land provided by Patricia MacLachlan in this tender tale of a family.  Each person in the family describes the place he or she loves best.  As the book closes, the boy takes his younger sister by the hand as he recites these words, "All the places to love are here, I'll tell her, no matter where you may live."  This book is a perfect prompt to encourage students to write about the places they love. 

Hopefully, there is a picture book or two that is new for you in this group of memory-inducing titles selected from my rather large collection of picture books.  Now that my post is finally finished, I'm free to explore your posts.  PB 10 for 10 is definitely a day to celebrate!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Celebrating Family!

 So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
  It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!
1.  I told my daughter goodbye on Sunday.  I loved spending 10 days with her in New York.  We had much to celebrate - fabulous weather during my visit, delightful walks, ice cream on three different occasions, the arrival of baby Ruby, two concerts on the quad at Cornell, and plenty of time to talk.

2.  My son-in-law arrived Tuesday evening from UT where he is interning for the summer.  He was here for just one day to do a presentation for work, but we enjoyed having him here for a quick visit and a dinner out together.

3.  My son and daughter-in- law arrived Thursday evening for a quick two day visit.  Her good friend is getting married here.  Lucky us!  We're headed out for a hike this morning before the afternoon wedding.

4.  Everyone leaves tomorrow - hubby on a business trip and the kids return to DC.  It will be quiet for a few days, but I have great memories of quick visits and loving embraces! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Numbers for Tuesday!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Home from New York and thinking about numbers today - I inherited this obsession from my dad.

1.  This morning I spotted two mimosa trees on my morning walk.  I've never noticed them in the Northwest before, but we had three mimosa trees in the backyard of my childhood home.  I could see them from my bedroom window.  Aunt Estelle and I loved the pink blooms, but Dad never liked the mess they made on the lawn. He eventually cut them down.  He could have written this article I found by the Grumpy Gardner.

2.  While listening to NPR this morning, I learned that the 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Broadway premiere for Fiddler on the Roof.  Just hearing them mention some of my favorite songs from the play made me want to listen to the soundtrack.

3.  I went to the doctor for my annual physical exam this morning.  When I set down my FitBit, I checked my steps for the day - 7, 777 steps!  I walked a lot last week while visiting my daughter in NY and am trying to keep up the habit now that I'm home.

4.  My brother's anniversary is coming up this week.  He got married on 8-8-80, and I tried to convince him to wait 8 years for 8-8-88.  He didn't, but my son's good friend from high school got married on 8-8-08, and my daughter got married on 8-8 one year later.

5.  When I checked out at Target this morning, the total for my purchases was $99.94.  Wouldn't it have been great if it had totaled $99.99?  I jokingly told the cashier that if it had, I should have gotten my purchases free.   I did tell her about my earlier step count on my FitBit.  I mentioned that if I were the gambling type, this might be the day for me to buy a lottery ticket.

Since I'm not the gambling type, I didn't buy a lottery ticket.  However, as I walked out of the store, I found myself humming - "If I were a gambler, (daidle daidle daidle deedle deedle daidle daidle dum)."

Use the comments to let me know if you have a favorite song from Fiddler on the Roof, if you can recognize a mimosa tree, or if you have any special number combinations that are meaningful for you.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Active Week in NY!

                                 So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
                      It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

I celebrate an active week filled with adventure, talking,
a bit of shopping, and lots of walking while visiting my daughter in NY.

I walked to the Farmer's Market with my daughter's landlord.
We purchased corn on the cob, raspberries, blueberries, and tomatoes.
Then we enjoyed a delicious lunch with our fresh bounty.   

Daughter and I walked to Cayuga Lake and discovered this sign on the way there. 

 As we walked under an overpass, a beautiful blue heron took wing.
A  short bit later, we saw our friend again.  

I persisted for some time  (33 pics) in order to 
capture this butterfly with his/her wings open.  

I love the willows lining Cayuga Lake.

On Friday evening we walked downtown to purchase sandwiches 
for a picnic and music on the quad with four women fiddlers.  
I had to snap a pic of daughter with this sunflower, one of her favorite flowers!  

After the concert, we enjoyed an evening walk around campus.  

We've already walked 9,000 steps this morning
with a stop by Ithaca Falls on the way home.

That's it!  I'm off to savor our last day together with brunch, 
a stop by Phoenix Bookstore (a used bookstore in a barn), 
a visit to the Cornell Library (pictured above with the bell tower), 
and a full day of visiting with my daughter.