Thursday, January 29, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - TURN

The bloggers at Spiritual Journey Thursday 
are writing about the spiritual focus of the 
community's One Little Words. 
This week, we are writing about
One Little Word:  TURN.

Leigh Anne created a blog that is dedicated to her OLW for the year.  It's a special way to track her spiritual journey throughout the year.  I love the red background on the header of her blog because it makes me think of hearts and the importance of TURNING our hearts to God.    

The theme for our women's conference this past week was taken from Jeremiah 31:33:  
"... I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."  When we TURN to the Lord and write his law in our hearts, we experience the joy of walking with Him, becoming His people and knowing Him.    

During this week, I found myself humming the chorus to the Shaker song, "Simple Gifts:"  

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

Even though some see the reference to turning in the song as dance instructions, I like to think of these words as applying to our spiritual bow and to bend as a reflection of submitting our will to God, and that turning (or repenting or changing) will become delightful to us as we reconcile ourselves to God and eventually come 'round right (the journey of a lifetime).  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Come Wander with Me!

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

I wake up, glance at the SOL (Slice of Life) entries at TWT (Two Writing Teachers) for inspiration, begin wondering about the east coast blizzard, and head downstairs to put some clothes in the dryer.  I notice a newsletter that I promised myself I'd address and mail yesterday.  The cat claims my attention, so I feed her and return to address the newsletters.  One printed out perfectly, but the other eight had weird formatting issues.  I decide to open the original email to see if I can get correct versions to print. When I open my email, I decide to follow my son's advice to read, file, or delete each of today's emails. (He helped me clean up my inbox last summer, but was appalled at Christmas that I hadn't followed his advice.)  I read today's poem from Writer's Almanac, decide it's a keeper, and send it to my poems file.  I read Anna's Aim Higher post, comment, and send the link to some of my former colleagues.  Then I decide to write my post for SOL. Now it's time for breakfast and some serious self-reflection about how easily I can get distracted.  Oh wait, before I do that, I really need to get those newsletters printed out correctly and addressed.  Maybe my OLW (One Little Word) for 2015 should have been FOCUS!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Celebrate This Week

 Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
                                    A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  My heart ornaments . . . 
When I packed up the Christmas decorations this year, I kept out my heart ornaments (and then misplaced them - remember last week's white box I found) so we could use them for a once yearly event for the women in our congregation.  This year's theme, Written In Our Hearts, was taken from Jeremiah 31: 33 "... I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."  My friend, Laurie, found this branch and created our lovely centerpiece for today's conference.  
2.  Weeding books with Amy . . . 
I'm working as a part-time librarian at my old school.  One of our tasks is to "weed the fiction collection."  I'm making a list of Books that Need Some Love (books that have never been checked out or only checked out once) for a display in February.  It's fun to read the shelves with Amy because I'm also making a list of books I've never read that Amy says I absolutely must read.  

3.  Wonderful walks savoring spring-like weather in January . . . 
Instead of taking the monorail to The Seattle Center, my husband and I walked from downtown Seattle to The Rep to see an afternoon matinee of August Wilson's play, "The Piano Lesson."  After the play, we walked back to the downtown bus stop.  Easy way to get our steps in for the day.
On Sunday I persuaded my friend, Jan, to walk the north end instead of our usual mid-island library walk.  We bumped into our friend, Ann, who was also out enjoying the lovely evening.  We strolled into several pocket parks and saw this view of Mount Ranier from a dock in Lake Washington.
And anytime I'm on the north end, Slater Park calls me to stop, savor the view, and snap a picture.
Slater Park sunset

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Fly

The bloggers at Spiritual Journey Thursday are writing about the spiritual focus of the community's One Little Words. 
This week, we are writing about 
Michelle Haseletine's
One Little Word:  FLY.

I've been trying to connect Michelle's word with my spiritual journey and I keep coming back to this favorite scripture in Isaiah 40:31:
"But they that wait upon the Lord 
shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; 
they shall run, and not be weary; 
and they shall walk and not faint."

The question becomes, "How do I wait upon the Lord?" so that I can access these promised blessings:  renew my strength, mount up with wings as eagles (fly!), run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.  In Hebrew, wait means to hope for, to anticipate.  Waiting for the Lord implies that I anticipate and hope for Him, that I cherish time spent in prayer and pondering His word, that it becomes more than a task to be checked off my daily "to do" list, but the time that enriches all the other moments in my day.  I want to wait and hope for the Lord like a child waits for Christmas morning, with gleeful anticipation.  For another interpretation of the word "wait" in this scripture, you might want to explore this article which focuses on the strength that is received as we wait on the Lord and are thus enabled to mount up with wings as eagles and FLY!   

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Afternoons Rock!

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

I'm retired, but I spend my Tuesday afternoons with a fabulous group of students in an after-school book club.  We're reading books selected by King County librarians as possibilities for the 2015 Newbery Award.  One of the local King County librarians, Carrie Bowman, has joined us for our discussions.  Our books were purchased by the schools foundation and will be added to the book club collection in our library for teachers to use after the Newbery is announced on February 2.

We met twice in December, and today was our 3rd meeting of the new year.  We started evaluating the titles we've read today.  Next week we'll finish our evaluation and Choose the Next Newbery from the titles we've read.  Today's lively discussion included these titles:
Rain, Reign by Ann Martin
West of the Moon by Margi Preus
The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Sovern
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Next Tuesday we'll discuss the rest of the titles from You Choose the Next Newbery at KCLS (King County Library System):
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage

Then we'll complete our ballots and follow the Newbery guidelines to select the next Newbery from the titles we've read.  This is my fourth year to partner with KCLS and the students at my school to participate in a Mock Newbery book club.  We begin each Tuesday with a lively check-in and check-out period, followed by discussion of books read that week, and a closing of our time together with treats brought by students in our group and cookie bars from my kitchen.  It's a sweet afternoon, and my former colleagues at school look forward to Tuesday afternoon treats too (when we have leftovers)!

We'd love to hear from fellow slicers in the comments.  Which of the books from our list do you feel are strong possibilities for this year's Newbery and Newbery Honor awards?  Also, let us know of other titles you think are possibilities for the 2015 Newbery Award.  Some students in our group have read all seven titles already and are busy exploring other titles published in 2014.   We're watching the countdown clock at the YMA (Youth Media Awards) site where you can learn about all the awards that will be announced on February 2 in precisely 12 days, 9 hours, 38 minutes,  and 6 seconds.  Can you tell that we are excited?  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Celebrate this Week!

Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
                                    A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

    1.  I found a white box that was lost or shall I say misplaced (watch for the backstory on a future blog post).  If you don't lose things, then you have fewer moments of celebration in your life.  Because when I find something I've lost, I rejoice!

    2.  Priority mail saved the day.  My daughter remarked the other day that I gave her husband a Seahawks shirt for Christmas in 2013, but I didn't buy one for her.  So on Tuesday night, my friend Jan (who loves football) fed me dinner, then we walked the mall, and found a shirt for Sara.  I popped it in the mail on Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon, she had her Seahawks shirt in time for Sunday's game!

    3.  I discovered this book in our school library.  One of my favorite sessions at NCTE was "Harnessing the Power of Narrative, Visual Art, and Lyrical Storytelling in Informational Books."  I loved hearing from Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, authors and illustrators whose work I already knew.  Cynthia Grady, author of I Lay My Stitches Down, discussed using poetry to engage students with language and history. I can't find my NCTE notes (remember I'm a blogger who loses things), but I do remember Cynthia talking about how each poem gives voice to the perspective of a different person.   I can't wait to explore the poems created from her  meticulous research of American slavery and quilt history.

    Friday, January 16, 2015

    Poetry Friday

    Irene Latham at Live Your Poem... is hosting this week's poetry round-up with a special edition of Poetry Friday focused on Martin Luther King.  Be sure to stop by for a taste of poetry love.

    Today's book of poetry (like last week's share) comes from the library collection at my old school.  I'm spending the next month working as a part-time librarian.  The opportunity came at a busy time (our kitchen remodel begins in February), but I couldn't resist the lure of spending my days in the library and getting paid for it.

    This morning I strolled over to the 811s in search of another favorite book of poetry to share with you.

    This week's choice, Hey, You!  Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things, a slim picture book anthology of poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko was always a favorite in my 6th grade classroom.   George Ella Lyon's poem "Invocation" begins the book with this phrase, "O pen, open poem..." and concludes with the wish that "...poem will open heart and mind."  Student readers will recognize that the poems in this book are poems of address, poems written to things. My personal favorite is "Letter Poem to a Mailbox" by Marjorie Maddox.  In this short 25 line poem, students can discover examples of alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, and personification.  Paul B. Janeczko points out, "There is lots of room for imagination when a poet writes to a thing,"  Students reading this anthology might be inspired to write a poem of address to a backpack, a cell phone, an animal or perhaps a favorite season.

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Spiritual Journey Thursday - Listen

    The bloggers at Spiritual Journey Thursday are writing about the spiritual focus of the community's One Little Words. This week, we are writing about Carol Varsalona's 
    One Little Word:  LISTEN.

    I like these words from Carol's post, "If you LISTEN in stillness, your ears will allow you to hear what silence is saying."  As I began thinking about Carol's word this week, I was surprised to find very few scriptural references with the word listen.  And then I remembered this favorite plaque:

     Just as Carol advises us to "listen in stillness," this verse from Psalms 46:10 admonishes us to be still so that we can know God.  Not an easy task in today's world filled with constant voices clamoring for our attention.  

    In a favorite inspirational book, Mitten Strings for God, Katrina Kenton begins her chapter on listening with these words, "In order to listen, we must first be quiet."   She continues ". . . Listening involves making a choice - right now, for just a moment - to stop dead in your tracks.  To stop moving, to stop talking, to stop making noise.  As Madeleine L'Engle has said, 'When I am constantly running, there is no time for being.  When there is no time for being, there is no time for listening.'"

    And that brings me back to the counsel from Psalms - Be still - a necessary requisite for listening.  I  want to still the chaos of the day long enough to be still and listen so that I can hear the promptings of the spirit to guide my daily walk.

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    The Lure of the Cover

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

    I stood in the airport newsstand shop, perusing the magazine covers.
    It was December 23 and too late to entice us with holiday projects,
    so every cover screamed the new year buzz words.
    Even though I rarely buy magazines
    (they're too expensive and I never get around to reading them anyway),
     this cover called me!  

    Let me count the words that lured me:
    1.  Get Organized!
    2.  Clutter Cures for Every Room
    3. New Year
    New Recipes
    4.  Weeknight Comfort Food
    5.  Vegetarian Slow Cooker
    6.  Save More in 2015
    7.  All-Natural Ways to Handle Your Hormones
    8.  Lose Weight, Get Fit
    9.  19 Best Apps & Websites
    10.   Yule Love It! 
    11.  So Easy!  Marshmallows & Rolos (Candy Mushrooms)
    Okay, so #10 & #11 are a project, but a beautifully crafted food project: 
    The Yule Log! 
    (I had just helped the Siddoways with their traditional Yule log 
    and I might want to make one someday!)
    12.  Low Price $2.79
    What were the four words that did not call to me?  
    The Perfect Cocktail Party,
    but once I looked inside the magazine
    I discovered 
    13. awesome recipes for appetizers 
    paired with the cocktails.

    And so I succumbed.
    Finding resistance futile, I bought it.  
    Hook, line, and sinker!

    What are the words that lure you 
    and crumble your resistance
    at the magazine stand?

    Saturday, January 10, 2015

    Celebrate This Week

    Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
     When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
    Discover. Play. Build.
                                        A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

    1.  An opportunity to "stretch" -  Our half-time librarian is on medical leave for six weeks.  There's no way that a book lover like me could pass up the opportunity to spend time in one of my favorite spots.  With the kitchen remodel slated to start in February, two curriculum units to finish, and a week of testing with our sixth graders, January promises to be challenging and fun!
    2.  A Downton Tabby tea with Jan and Coleen - 
    We read aloud from this parody by Chris Kelly while enjoying tea and treats (don't miss the saucer of milk at each place setting).  Jan's decorative cats come from all over the world!

    3.  This sunset captured on my way home from Mock Newbery book club on Tuesday -  

    4.  I finished the audiobook for The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage, one of our Mock Newbery possibilities.  I loved the sequel just as much as Three Times Lucky which I reviewed here.  If you need an audiobook filled with memorable characters that will keep you chuckling on your daily commute and sitting in your garage to finish a chapter, look no further than these two delightful books.  I listened to both of them on audio:  Three Times Lucky was narrated by Michael Friedman and the sequel was narrated by Lauren Fortgang.  I savored the final words of Sheila Turnage as I listened, and then listened again, and then picked up the book to read Mo LeBeau's tender note to upstream mother at the end of the book.

    Have a wonderful week filled with moments to savor!

    Friday, January 9, 2015

    Poetry Friday

    Join Tabatha and a host of poetry friends for Poetry Friday round-up to share poetry love.  I searched the poetry collection at my old school for a favorite book of poetry.  There were many old friends on the shelves.  The World According to Dog:  Poems and Teen Voices (an odd choice for a cat lover who has never owned a dog) jumped into my arms.
    I love the combination of poems by Joyce Sidman with Doug Mindell's gorgeous photographs and the essays from teen writers accompanied by photos of their dogs.  I recall many poignant pieces of writing that came from my students about their pets.

    This is a book of poetry made for sharing with students.  Joyce Sidman provides a reader's guide with specific ideas for crafting a personal essay, a diamante, and a memory poem.  Tara shared "A Dog in Bed" in her November post.  The advice poem, "Always Take a Dog," is my favorite poem.  This book was published in 2003, but it's still one of my favorite poetry books a dozen years later.  Share it soon with the dog lovers in your life!

    Thursday, January 8, 2015

    Spiritual Journey Thursday - Focus

    I've been a sometime visitor and commenter to Spiritual Journey Thursday. I loved Holly's idea of writing about the spiritual focus of our OLW.  So I asked Holly to include my OLW on the list.  Then I received a tweet from her reminding me that it was time to post.  That's when I realized I had joined the group!

    This morning I picked up a favorite book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.  The book fell open to p. 101 and this paragraph:
    "The story of Mary and Martha was never meant to be a psychological profile or a role play in which we choose the character with whom we most identify.  This is the story of two different responses to one singular occasion.  In it, we should find not our personality type, but the kind of heart Christ longs for us to have.
    A heart centered in him alone."

    I long to be the kind of disciple mentioned in Jeremiah 28, verses 12 and 13:
    "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
    And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

    A heart centered in him alone, and searching for him with all my heart - this is a quest that requires my constant focus.  I like this Selwyn Hughes quote (also from Weaver's book):  "Life works better when we know how to glance at things but gaze at God.  Seeing Him clearly will enable us to see all other things clearly."  I fear that I am guilty of glancing at God and gazing at things.  I want this to be a year when I spend more time gazing at God and focusing my heart on the Lord.

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    Contented Cat Stretches!

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

    Two Writing Teachers.

    In the waning days of 2014, I started thinking about my OLW for this year.  I had a wonderful journey with savor and felt that I truly embraced my word this past year.  I found that checking in on 5th Tuesdays was key for me and helped me maintain a focus on my word throughout the year.

    Suddenly, people were beginning to post their words along with beautiful visual reminders.  When I saw Michelle's beautiful visual on Twitter, I quickly messaged her and asked how she did it.  Here's her reply:
    "I used google slides (just like power point). Found the pic online.
    It's a wallpaper, so I can use it. So easy! :) Happy New Year!"

    Great, except that you must understand that I'm a teacher of a certain age who spent fourteen years out of the classroom and was totally overwhelmed by technology when I returned.  I relied heavily on help from my own kids, my husband, my students, and somehow never mastered Powerpoint.  But I plunged into google slides anyway and tried a few things.  I decided it was a good way to "stretch" and put my OLW for 2015 to work right away.  After playing around for almost an hour, I decided my effort was "good enough" and followed Jone's recent advice to "let go of unrealistic expectations for perfection."   I love that the photo is one I took this fall when the steps in our ravine were covered in scarlet maple leaves.  

    I connected these steps to an experience I had this past week.  I arrived before 8 am for a doctor's appointment.  I thought that I could park my own car instead of using the valet parking.  It was early, there were sure to be parking spots, and I'd save some money.  As soon as I entered the garage, I remembered why I use valet parking.  It's an old garage, with sharp turns and tiny parking spots.  I ended up on the top floor and then realized there was no elevator.  However, it was all downhill at that point.  When I returned from my appointment, the steps up four flights all flew by quickly, and I wasn't even winded because they were gentle steps.  I immediately made a connection to these gentle steps when I chose this picture to represent my OLW. 

    I want gentle stretches in my life this year.  I like the slow, languid, relaxed image of a cat stretching (that was the image I originally wanted, but couldn't find - maybe later this year).  There are certain areas of my life that pop up year after year as resolutions:  "Lose weight, exercise more, get organized, strengthen my spiritual life."  I no longer make new year's resolutions, but I know that I can gently stretch myself as I seek to grow in these areas during the coming year.  When I saw Mary Lee's acrostic for notice, I was inspired to create one for stretch that I shared on Poetry Friday.  Perhaps it will be more meaningful with this bit of background I've provided about my intentions for stretching myself this year.

    Moving On

    Tiny steps, with time to
    Refresh, to celebrate
    Each day's small effort as I seek
    To gently grow,
    Comfortable as a cat, content and
    Happy to move forward slowly.

                          - Ramona Behnke

    If you want more inspiration for choosing your OLW or sharing OLW with students, see my previous post, Resources for OLW.

    I plan to continue last year's practice of writing about my OLW journey on Slice of Life each 5th Tuesday throughout the year:  March 31st, June 30th, September 30th, and December 29th.  I look forward to seeing updates from each of you about your journeys throughout the year whenever you choose to write!

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Resources for OLW (One Little Word)

    I introduced Slice of Life writing to some teachers at the school where I taught before retirement.  I'm sharing the letter I sent them with resources for OLW (One Little Word) because I think some of you might also find it helpful:

     January 5, 2015

    Good Morning Slicers,

    Many slicers (people who write Slice of Life entries on the Two Writing Teachers blog) select a OLW (one little word) for each year.  Some of them have used the concept with students.  One of my blogger friends, Margaret Simon, featured my stretch acrostic in an Emaze she created to share with students.  I asked for her permission to share the link and her reply was:  "It is meant for sharing!"
    Here's the link to Margaret's Emaze:

    Here's a post from another blogger friend, Tara Smith (6th grade teacher), about introducing OLW into writing workshop (with great pics of student visuals for OLWs):

    Here's a post from my blogger friend, Terje about how to choose your OLW:

    Here's the archive link for OLW entries at TWT (Two Writing Teachers) blog:

    This morning I finally got around to reading, The Right Word:  Roget and His Thesaurus, a fabulous picture book that I bought at NCTE after attending a panel discussion that included Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, the author and the illustrator.  This book would be a fabulous resource to trigger thinking with students about the power of words.  Here's a book trailer on YouTube.

    Here are some links to blog entries I wrote about savor, my OLW for 2014:  

    Introducing stretch, my OLW for 2015:

    The new year is the perfect time to introduce OLW as a tool for reflection and growth in writer’s workshop.  Have fun and let me know how it’s going!


    Sunday, January 4, 2015

    Celebrate this Week!

    Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
     When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
    Discover. Play. Build.
                                        A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

    1.  Visited Vivian, Bei, and Li - Christmas Day was Vivian's 100th day celebration.  Isn't she beautiful?  I savor my friendship with this family which began last summer before Vivian's birth when we met at Slater Park.

    Double kudos to Mr. B. (my husband): 
    2.  He replaced my hard drive this past week.
    3.  He made cranberry scones for New Year's Day!

    Have a wonderful New Year!

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

    Poetry Friday

    An acrostic for my OLW for 2015:

    Moving On

    Tiny steps, with time to
    Refresh, to celebrate
    Each day's small effort as I seek
    To gently grow,
    Comfortable as a cat, content and
    Happy to move forward slowly.

                          - Ramona Behnke

    Thanks to Tricia for hosting our first poetry roundup of 2015.  Head over to The Miss Rumphius Effect to enjoy more poems for this new year.