Saturday, February 28, 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.  The Spelling Bee
We had our school-wide spelling bee on Wednesday.
Two sixth grade girls (we're a 6-8 middle school)
qualified as our runner-up and champion!
Look at these creative sushi (Rice Krispies) treats created
by a student and his mom as part of our nourishment after the first round. 
2.  Playdate with Imi!
I've missed my twice monthly playdates with my favorite almost one year old while her mom volunteers in her sister's kindergarten classroom.  Now that my six week commitment in the library is over, Imi and I are back to our regular play dates.  She's grown a lot since our last time together in December.
She loved showing me how fast she can scramble up the stairs.
And she'll walk around the house if I hold her hands.  
3.  Granite is in!
I felt like a kid waiting for Santa Claus as I waited for the installers to arrive on Friday morning.  Next week the tile, some painting, completion of a few final projects, and then appliances will be installed the following week.  Almost there!

4.  Blake and Stefi come today!
My son and daughter-in-law arrive this afternoon.  I love anytime we can squeeze in a visit with my kids who live in the other Washington
(technically they're now in Virginia), but both are a long way from home.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - STRETCH

The bloggers at Spiritual Journey Thursday are writing about the spiritual focus of our community's One Little Words.  This week, we are writing about my
One Little Word, STRETCH.  I can't wait to read the posts this week!

"One small step at a time in the right direction will get us where we want to be."

"Little by little, one travels far."
- Tolkien

Stretch is an anti-resolution response.  I've spent years setting the same resolutions, but several years ago I decided to no longer play the resolution game.  I love this quote that came from a thought-a-day calendar several years ago.  "The courage that counts is the courage of the every day.  Most of life is putting one foot in front of the other.  Big leaps have received too much press."  
To this quote that I've loved for years, I add today's inspiration: 
Small stretches are where true growth is found.  

In her book Sunshine in My Soul, Linda Archibald talks about seeking equilibrium and pacing ourselves so that we don't run faster than we have strength.  "We'll understand that we can be diligent daily without feeling eternally exhausted.  We will balance relaxation with 
stretching and steady improvement.  We will rejoice in baby steps
dream a little instead of just make plans, and respond smoothly to life's transitions.
We will be too busy enjoying each day to stop and take measurements of
how far we've come and how far we have yet. to go.  
Instead, we'll just check our course headings:
'Am I still on the straight and narrow path, . . . 
and little by little improving?'"

A good friend shared an article about meditation with me.  I reread it in preparation for a talk I was giving.  I decided to practice the simple guidelines and to meditate for ten minutes.  As I finished, my eyes fell on a picture of the Savior that my son gave me.  I've always loved this particular print.  The Savior is seated, staff in hand, a flock of sheep in the background.  One sheep is nuzzled at his feet  and another sheep rests his chin in the Savior's outstretched hand.  As I gazed at the picture, I reflected on the Savior's hand stretched out in love.  In Deuteronomy the children of Israel are reminded to not be afraid, but to remember their deliverance from the Egyptians
" . . . the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm,
whereby the Lord thy God brought thee out: . . . "  (Deuteronomy 7:18,19)  
I want to spend more moments in the Savior's outstretched hand,
understanding that he knows me and wants me to stretch,
to rejoice in baby steps, and to improve little by little.   

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Finding Joy Amid the Chaos . . .

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

Some of you know that I'm in the middle of a kitchen remodel.   As part of that process, I had to empty all my lower cabinets and drawers.  Because I've done this before, I tried to keep each drawer or cabinet contained in a specific box (for the most part), except for the piles of stuff that I put on the dining room table and another folding table.  I discreetly covered them with sheets to keep the dust away, but when I glance into the dining room, they look like two coffins with a path between.  

I am rather proud of my ability to find things in the middle of the current mess.  When my husband mentioned needing painter's tape, I immediately went to the first shelf of the laundry room where I keep a blue basket of tape and twine.   However that shelf has been repurposed to hold containers in the makeshift kitchen.  Less than one minute later, I walked into the dining room, located the blue basket, and retrieved the painter's tape.  He wanted the big glass mixing bowl on Saturday so he could boil sugar water (in the microwave) for the hummingbirds.  That took a little longer ,and I must admit to looking in 3 or 4 boxes before finding the set of 3 bowls wrapped in a tablecloth at the bottom of a big box.  I finally moved the Rolodex from the dining room to my desk since I needed it so frequently (I know, who besides me still has a Rolodex?).  Old habits and routines die hard.  

But my proudest moment came when I was cleaning out and packing up the junk drawer so it could be used as a silverware/plastic bag drawer in the laundry room makeshift kitchen.  That's when I discovered this piece of gray plastic!  
You don't know what it is?  Usually I throw random finds like this away only to discover in a few days the real use of the item.  But this time, for some odd reason, I recognized the original use of this plastic thingamajig.  With a smile, I grabbed it, walked to the laundry room trash can, and snapped it in place.  
I'm not sure why I didn't recognize it months or maybe years ago when I stashed it in the junk drawer.  But I'm glad I remembered and every time I look at the trash can, I'm reminded that in the middle of a big mess, it's the little things that bring us joy!

Saturday, February 21, 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!
I discovered this opportunity on Twitter . We are participating in the Middle Grade Novel Bracket.  Picture Book and Young Adult Brackets are also available.  The Pre-Tourney Seeding Form is open, and students may vote anytime until Tuesday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. 
I'll be joining the fun with my after school book club.

2.   Sunset at Slater Park 
I drove north begging the sun to stay up for a few more moments.
I arrived just in time to capture this beautiful shot.

3.  Visiting with Joan
My across-the-street neighbor from almost 18 years ago joined her husband for a business trip
to Seattle.  We shopped at Elliott Bay Book Company, lunched at Poquitos, and toured
The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.
  The next day we shopped, lunched at Thai Ginger, and talked some more.  
We keep up with each other's lives by phone, but nothing beats getting to chat in person.

4. Walking with a friend

It's taken us all week to get together, but the stars finally
aligned yesterday for Karen and me to enjoy a walk together.
Our walk was a delight for the senses:  we kept stopping to enjoy 
 gorgeous blooms, fragrant smells, and exquisite scenes like this one. 
Have a delightful week with many opportunities to celebrate small joys!

Poetry Friday

I've missed being here the past few weeks and couldn't resist Linda's invitation to consider the "sounds" we love captured in the words.  Today's poem at Writer's Almanac "Sweater Weather" by Sharon Bryan is sure to bring a smile to your face.  It begs to be read aloud. Enjoy every sound!

And then stop by Linda's blog at Teacher Dance for Poetry Friday Roundup.  Thanks, Linda, for hosting today and for coaxing me back.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - DIVE

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 Greg's word, DIVE.

Greg's word DIVE is an acronym that embraces four words:  Dwell, Ignite, Venture, and Embody.  There's much to love and ponder in this very active word, but I'm choosing to focus on dwell.   Dwell is not a word that we use much today, but it is frequently used in scripture.  

I love the journey that I've taken through scriptures that have the word dwell in them.  I've chosen three to share today.   One of my favorites is Isaiah 32:18, "And my people shall dwell in a peaceful habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places."   Look at all the comforting words in this scripture:  the Lord longs for us to be peaceful, sure, and to find quiet resting places.  I'm trying to incorporate meditation into my morning devotional time, to bring stillness and focus to my distracted life.  It's a fairly new practice for me, and I'm taking baby steps as I try to quiet my thoughts and dwell in the presence of God.  

Another passage revisited this morning is  Ephesians 3:16-17, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; . . . "  As we are strengthened by his Spirit, we have the promise that Christ will dwell in our hearts through the exercise of faith.  

And finally, this scripture from Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."  I love our Thursday journeys together and especially this exploration of our One Little Word(s) from a spiritual perspective.  It's joyful to meet as a group of believers and share our thinking.  A highlight for me is the music that is shared in the posts each week.  When I looked at the definition for dwell, I noticed that abide is a synonym for dwell.  I love this beautiful rendition of "Abide With Me" by The King's College Choir, with some verses that I've never heard before.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Does this look like mid-winter to you?

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

I promised last week to blog about something other than the kitchen project.  So, I turn to our gorgeous weather.  I'm always super happy when our mid-winter break is not rainy. Not everyone in our community leaves town, and it's a treat for those of us who stay behind when we have blue skies and sunshine, and this year record-breaking temperatures.  We broke the record yesterday with a high of 58 and today is supposed to hit 60 degrees.  This has been an unusual winter, with not much cool weather.  I remember lots of years when I yearned for the temp to break 60 in May or June.  We saw the play, "Carousel," on Valentine's Day.  It's not June yet  (think "June is Busting Out All Over"), but these photos taken on my walks the past two days show how February is bursting out in blooms and the mountain is out, always cause for celebration in Seattle!

Saturday, February 14, 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!

I celebrate chocolate!
It's no secret at my school that I love chocolate.  A colleague came into the library yesterday to share from his bounteous box of chocolates.  No baking for me this Valentine's Day since my makeshift kitchen has no range or oven.  So this priority mail package of fudge hearts from Sara's Ithaca kitchen is much appreciated!  

I celebrate books!  
Anne hosted our book club for a lively discussion of The Family:  Three Journeys Into the Heart of the Twentieth Century.  We enjoyed her homemade wheat rolls, a favorite from Anne's kitchen.  We shared favorite books at our after school book club on Thursday.  Friday I met with two groups of seventh graders in the library.  Some of my former students were in each class.  It was fun to share book love right before our mid-winter break.   
Some of the books from Friday's 7th grade book talks!

I created the Lonely Books Display, books that have never been checked out (or just checked out once or twice) from our library.  It's time to dive into Code Name Verity, book club choice for our occasional book club with two dear friends who have moved away that meets via Google chat .  

I celebrate love!
I celebrate family:  my dear husband and almost 33 years of marriage, children (my two and their spouses are together this weekend), parents who are dearly missed, siblings, my one surviving aunt, nieces, nephews, cousins, the entire wild and wonderful bunch!  I'm at a stage in life where I watch the connections dwindle as older relatives die, but I celebrate the continued growth of our family tree with the arrival of Taven Scott Edwards this week.  He made me a great great aunt!  I celebrate friends:  church friends, school friends, neighborhood friends, old friends, blogging friends, and new friends, including this sweet bundle of joy who stopped by the library with her mom this week for a quick visit and game of peek-a-boo.  She turns one today. 
Happy Valentine's Day!  Take the time to share some love today.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - LOOK

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
 Justin's word, LOOK.

I love the words of this verse in Psalms 5:3.  (Maybe because I'm a morning person, and I can do anything in the morning with the Lord's help.  However, I turn into Chicken Little every evening by 9).

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. "

Trees, one of my favorites of God's creations, encourage me to look up.  Last summer I paused on a walk with a friend to look up.

As I look at the majesty of God's creations, I'm encouraged to praise and acknowledge his hand in all things.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hill, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth."  (Psalms 121:1-2)
Photo taken in Chile at Torres del Paine National Park
Last year my OLW was savor.  Anytime I pause to savor what's around me, it includes looking.  When I look around me, I'm awed by the majesty of God's creations.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day Six

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Slice of Life (SOL) Tuesday community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday. 

It's day six of the kitchen remodel project.  I promise to write about something else next week.  If you saw my Celebrate This Week post, then you know that we already have pull-out drawers in the lower cabinets.  Yesterday, they slid the microwave oven drawer into its future home and then took it out.  The new sink is in place.  The pull-out drawers in the TV cabinet are in place.  The electrician is here.  They are busy rebuilding the cabinet for my ovens since the new ones are bigger.  (My old ovens required me to turn cookie sheets sideways in order to fit them into the ovens.)  Best of all I have the neatest, cleanest contractor ever.  If you've ever had workers in your home, then you know what a blessing this is.  Yesterday when he set up the table saw in the garage, he hung plastic over my wall of boxes and my husband's car!  Tomorrow the granite folks arrive to make the template for the countertops.  I'm excited by the daily progress!  

Saturday, February 7, 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.  Week 1 of Kitchen Remodel! 
My husband and I never dreamed that they would completely demolish our old kitchen in one day.  He compared it to yanking a bandaid off quickly.  We were shell shocked at the end of day one.  I consoled myself with a Goodbye Kitchen post.  Four days later and I have pull-out drawers in the lower cabinets and new appliances delivered and waiting in the garage for installation.  

2.  Mid-winter break in one week! 
Why does a retired teacher keep track of school breaks?  When she takes a six week part-time sub position just as the new year begins and the kitchen remodel project is on the horizon.  Crazy move, but I couldn't resist the chance to play librarian for a few weeks.  Next week I'm doing my first book talks as librarian on my last day, the day before mid-winter break.  We're almost ready for the school wide spelling bee:  class rounds completed and library qualifying rounds finished.  I'm encouraging everyone to wear yellow and black the day of the spelling bee!

3.  Lonely Books Corner! 
One of our assignments during my six weeks in the library was to weed the fiction books.  It's a tough job.  I started noticing books that either had never been checked out or checked out only once.  I wanted to pitch them to students as "books that need some love," perfect for February.  We still have a book awards display, robots from the art classes, and yesterday added a February display (red books, books with heart, kiss, love etc, in the title, any books pitched as heartwarming or focused on family, friendships, relationships), so there's not any space for my books that need some love.  So I'll make a poster and place them on a cart.  Hopefully some of my lonely books will get some love.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Reach

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
Margaret Simon's One Little Word:  

When I reflected on Margaret's OLW this week, the first thing that came to mind
was this line of poetry from  Robert Browning:
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?"  
("Andrea del Sarto," line 98)
Followers of Christ learn that reaching for heaven is something we can't do alone.  
I've always loved this poster printed some years ago in our church magazine for teens. 
When we reach up, the Savior can lift us.  The caption at the bottom of the poster reads:
"Let Him Lift You," and references James 4:10 -
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he shall lift you up."
The words "reach up" help us trust the Lord by reaching for him.  Love for the Lord is the first great commandment.  The second great commandment is to love our neighbors.  We do that by "reaching out."  Reaching up and reaching out, both are wonderful reminders to focus on the Savior by reaching up and allowing His grace to lift us, and then reaching out to extend His love to others.  Every day there are many ways to lift other's burdens through a kind word, a friendly smile, or an offer of help.  As we reach up and reach out, we can receive the rest promised by the Lord.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  
(Matthew 11:28)
When we yoke ourselves with Him,
we are lifted up by His grace which then enables us to serve others.  
Reach up, feel His love, and then reach out.
Thanks, Margaret, for this chance to focus our spiritual journey on your OLW for this year.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Goodbye Kitchen!

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

The past few weeks flew by
They always do when you have much to do
Suddenly, it's day one of a long awaited project...
Goodbye dishwasher
Goodbye sink
Goodbye disposal
Goodbye stovetop
Goodbye refrigerator
Goodbye tile (I won't miss your grout)
Goodbye ovens (you've served me well)
Hello drawers and cabinet doors in the living room
Hello dining room filled with boxes and dishes
Hello makeshift kitchen in the laundry room
Hello microwave, toaster oven, and dish drainer
Hello refrigerator in the garage
Goodbye sanity, hello new kitchen to come!

Sunday, February 1, 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.  Book Awards Time . . . 

I've been watching the countdown clock at the American Library Awards Youth Media Page!  Currently it's less than one day until the book awards will be announced - hurray!  To be precise 22 hours, 5 minutes, and 25 seconds (as of this writing)!  Here's the announcement I posted on our school website this past week:
Mock Newbery Club Results
Our after school book club voted on Tuesday for our choice (from the 7 titles selected by the King County Library System children's librarians) for this year's Newbery Award.  Our voting was very close with Rain Reign by Ann Martin in first place, followed closely by The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila TurnageBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, and The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Sovern
Some book awards are beginning to be announced in advance of next Monday's announcement at the ALA meeting in Chicago. 

2015 NCTE Children's Book Awards Announced
The 2015 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children goes to The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming, Schwartz & Wade publishers, and the 2015 Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children goes to Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin, Feiwel and Friends publishers. The links in blue will take you to a list of the honor and recommended books for each award.  
I will keep you posted as the awards are announced.  Why not drop by the library to check out an award winning 2015 title?  If it's not available, you can place a hold and be next in line. 
2.  The Magical Snow Garden by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Jane Chapman . . .
I picked up this picture book several weeks ago at the library, entranced by Wellington, the happy-go-lucky penguin on the cover.  I liked him even better when I discovered these words on the first page - "Wellington loved...sharing books with his very best friend."  And when I turned to the next page, I discovered that Percy, my poetry loving penguin friend, was one of Wellington's friends.  On the final page, Wellington's friend, Ivan, shares these wise words:  "You were right!  You never know what you can do until you try."  If you're looking for a fun winter book with a message about what you can accomplish with the help of your friends, pick up a copy of The Magical Snow Garden.

3.  Time to turn the calendar page . . . 

I love calendars and I love new months.  There's something that's so exciting when you turn the page and see a whole new month of daily possibilities for growth.  Goodbye January, Hello February!