Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Poetry Friday and Slice of Life: S'More Time

is hosting this week's round-up of
poetic goodness. Be sure to stop by 
to see her poem, "a quiet boat."
I love how Amy says that repeated words layer 
like cozy sweaters. I'm letting the poem I wrote
for Slice of Life do double duty this week. 
I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice"to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to our friends at Two Writing Teachers for hosting this meeting place
each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

S'more Time

My first camping trip in years
and I loved our nighttime s'mores 
 of crunchy graham crackers
with golden marshmallows toasted to perfection,
and melted chocolate oozing out the sides.
But as I reflect on that culinary delight,
I realize that I need . . .  
 s'more time to gaze at the crackling flames of our campfire,
s'more time to linger in the starry night,
s'more time to watch Sara's and Will's outdoor expertise, 
s'more time to sip hot chocolate around our morning fire,
s'more time to throw rocks into the ocean,
s'more time to dig in the sand,
s'more time to watch Jack and Grandpa take walks together,
s'more time to snuggle a sleepy boy as he sings with me,
s'more time to watch Jack's explorations,
s'more time to savor the magnificent outdoors together.

-Ramona Behnke

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: My Path

Welcome to Spiritual Journey First Thursday,
a group of friends who blog monthly about our spiritual journeys. 
Donna who blogs at Mainely Write and our host for September,
has chose the theme My Path as our focus.

When Donna invited us to write about "my path," I ended up thinking about paths that have mattered in my life. In Proverbs 4:26 we read: "Ponder the path of thy feet and let all thy ways be established." I came up with five meaningful paths: my family path, my reading path,
my baking path, my friendship path, and my discipleship path. 

Anyone who reads this blog knows how important family is to me. I'm blessed to be close to my siblings - two sisters and a brother. Even though we lost our parents when they were quite young (both were in their 60s), we have managed to stay close even though we live thousands of miles away from each other. I'll always be glad for the love I share with my husband, for our two fantastic children,
their wonderful spouses, and our two delightful grandsons!

My reading path is one that I've nurtured my entire life. When I became a mother and heard women say they hadn't read a book since they'd had children, I vowed that I would not become one of those women. So I started a book club with friends from our church congregation and neighborhood. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, it was less than a year before I started another book club. We are currently celebrating our 20th year together. And it's impossible to think of the years I spent as an educator without remembering the books I shared with students and the joy that filled our classroom
as we shared the words of favorite books.

I'm not sure why I decided that my baking path was significant, but it matters to me. I'm not a gourmet baker, but I love 
to share cookies, breads, and cakes from my kitchen 
with friends, neighbors, and loved ones. 

My friendship path is tied up with my reading path and my baking path since some of my best friends are those that I share books
(and baked goods) with frequently. 
"What are you reading?" is my favorite way to greet a friend. 
I hang onto my friends as long as I possibly can. 
I've adopted a quote from a book I once read: 
"If you're ever in my life, you're always in my life."

The path of a disciple of Christ is one that can be challenging and demanding, but so fulfilling. I've chosen to share a poem that I wrote forty years ago as a young missionary in Hong Kong.

I meditate
        Listening to the rhythmic ocean
        Watching the white-capped waves rushing to shore.

I remember
        An Oregon coast
        My first love
        Days forever gone.

I realize
        As the waves rush to meet the shore and subside
        So must the days of our lives
        The woman I am today carries only the
        memories of the girl of yesterday.

I wonder
        Heavenly Father in His wise purposes knows me.
        What small lessons am I being taught each day?

I awaken
        A figure clothed in white brings me to here and now
        A group of the Lord's servants meet for a rebirth
        That birth most important, of water and of the spirit.

I ponder
        A mission is only the beginning of my life
        What will Father ask of me in the coming years?

I pray
        For the strength to always say I will
        And faith to walk with Him by my side.

Thanks, Donna, for encouraging us to ponder our paths. While my paths may seem rather ordinary, without any surprising doors or amazing opportunities, I'm grateful for the lessons I've been taught and for the opportunity I have to walk with the Savior by my side.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Slice of Life: Naptime Delayed!

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

It was 12:50. Lunchtime was over and so was playtime. It was time to drink some milk, read some stories, and take a nap. But Jack had other plans. He reached up and unlocked the sliding glass door to the deck. (Oh no, one more thing he's figured out how to do!)

Normally we don't go outside at this time of day, but Jack felt compelled to investigate the very loud noise. As we stepped onto the deck, he said, "Mo mo." That's his word for motorcycle, but we soon learned that this loud noise was not a motorcycle. It came from far up in a neighbor's tree. 

Jack and I watched carefully as the logger wielding a chain saw cut off 2 feet chunks of the tree at a time and pushed them to the ground. Each time one hit the ground, we chanted boom! I have no idea how tall the tree was (my guess would be somewhere around 40-60 feet), but we watched as the logger descended 2 feet at a time to saw through each piece of trunk and push it to the ground. There was no way we could leave until the workman was on the ground and out of our line of vision.

Sometimes it's important to seize the moment and watch something that doesn't happen very often. And that's how Jack convinced Grandma to delay naptime by almost an hour today!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Poetry Friday: Summer's End

is hosting this week's round-up of
poetic goodness. Be sure to stop by 
to see her poem, "Spider, Spider" published 
in Highlight's July Hello magazine. 

Even though autumn does not officially begin until September 23, I often feel that summer is over when school starts. Unfortunately for many people that happens in August. Our school starts on Wednesday after Labor Day. Here's a poem for all the students and teachers headed back to school:

Three Words

Three words
Most cruel:
Back to school.

-Douglas Florian

Even if you've been back in school for awhile, the three day Labor Day weekend provides a chance to savor a bit of summer. What will you pack from summer "...for a snow-packed day"?

Pack Up

Before the summer's gone-
Pack a rosy-fingered dawn. 
Pack a pond 
Or ocean spray.
Pack them for a snow-packed day.

-Douglas Florian

Both of these poems come from Summersaults by Douglas Florian. I love his series of four books that honor and celebrate each season of the year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Slice of Life: A Delightful Monday!

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

Normally, I don't watch my grandson Jack on Mondays, but this week my daughter's schedule was switched around a bit. So we found ourselves making a run to the library on Monday morning to return books that were due this week.

Jack has his favorite routines at the library: 

First stop is always the magnet board.

That's followed by playing with the orange dogs.
And then he makes his way to the board books. He spent a long time looking at his favorite books.

I wish I had a pic of him carrying two books to the checkout desk and trying to reach the counter to hand them to the librarian. Imagine my surprise when she lowered to counter to kid height. 

This week I limited our board book checkouts to ten. Here they are with a bit of commentary on each title.
Jack's favorites (ordered by preference & the # of times we've already read them):
Trucks to the Rescue!Sounds, and The Book of Things that Go.
Are you noticing a definite theme here?

Grandma's favorite: 
Blanket of Love, a lovely rhyming picture book, part of Little Simon books imprint
You can be sure that I'll be checking out the other two pictured on the back - Good Night My Darling Baby and Mama Loves You So.

Two books to sing:
Itsy Bitsy Spider and We Love to Sing Along!

One book to celebrate summer:
Good Night Summer

One book that focuses on nighttime routines:

One alphabet book:
O is for Orca
This boy is already identifying certain letters - O, D, and G were his first three.

Another Grandma favorite:
I Like It When . . . 
Can you see why I love it?
I love the opportunity to immerse myself in the books that Jack loves and read with him often. What are some of the favorite board books in the lives of the children you love?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Slice of Life: A Delightful Sunday Sighting

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

Lance and I landed in the garage at the same time. This is highly unusual since I usually lag behind him which often prompts Imi to comment to Lance, "Mona's late again." 

As he headed back into the house, he called out, "Go ahead." That little something that he forgot brought a Sunday serendipity my way.

I turned the corner onto 78th street and headed up the hill toward 40th. Something moving on the left side of the road caught my eye. My head swiveled, my foot came off the accelerator, and I stopped in the middle of the road. There was a deer in the tiny front yard. The greenery on the side of the house parted and a protective mama emerged from the undergrowth. 

With frequent checks in my rearview mirror for other vehicles, I inched forward, ascending the hill slowly with the two of them. Soon there was a car behind me, but I was relieved to see that they had also noticed the deer and were content to move slowly up the hill too. Then I saw Lance's car in my rearview mirror. I continued my slow creep up the hill hoping that Lance might see the mother and child that had slowed our progress. All too soon, the deer ducked into the foliage of the next yard. 

I continued my short drive to church, filled with gratitude and delight (my OLW) for this Sunday morning serendipity. And yes, Lance saw them too!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Slice of Life: Book Finished Early!

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

I'm in two book clubs and most months I'm dividing up the pages I have left to read by the number of days until the book club meets. Assigned reading! And I left high school more than a few decades ago. But this month I had motivation to finish the book early.

Our book for September is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I picked it up from the library on Thursday, did the math, and figured out that I needed to read about sixty pages a day in order to finish it by Thursday when Kristin Hannah is speaking at Third Place Books. But along the way something wonderful happened. I became so engrossed in the story that I read beyond my assigned reading pages. And Monday morning, I woke up at 4 and read until I finished the book. (I rarely read past 11 or 12, but waking up early to read is a guilty pleasure that I love to indulge.) I wonder why I don't do this more often. After all, I am semi-retired (there are those three days a week that I do the grandma gig). 

I'm headed to the author reading with several friends from our book club and a friend who lived and taught in Alaska for thirty years. I'm sure we'll have fun quizzing her on the way to the reading. 

Has there been a book that captivated you recently, something that you could not put down, that kept you up reading past your bedtime or pulled you out of bed long before you usually get up? Tell me about it in the comments.

Friday, August 10, 2018

#PB10for 10 and Poetry Friday

I love this day each year when we join with other picture book lovers to share titles.  A giant thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for creating this special day!  Here's a link to the google community for #pb10for10.  

This is my fifth year to participate and here are my previous posts:  
2013 - Golden Lines about Night

I pulled some of my favorite picture books off the shelf, trying to find a unifying theme. But this year's collection has no theme, just ten of the many picture books I love. Perhaps it could be called "old" favorites since several titles were published in the 20th century and the "newest" title was published in 2014. I love new picture books too, but I wanted to highlight some old faves this year! While I don't have a theme, I was able to pair titles that had a connection.

Some Things Go Together, with Charlotte Zolotow's dancing lines of couplets and Karen Gundersheimer's sweet illustrations, reminds us how wonderful it is that some things go together, especially you and me.

Mittens belong together and Annie is in search of her lost mitten in The Mystery of the Missing Red Mitten . My copy, purchased at a used bookstore, is autographed by Steven Kellogg and has a photo inside the front cover of the young girl who received the book in Dec. 1994.

Old Henry by Joan W. Blos and illustrated by Stephen Gammell is an ode to nonconformity. When Henry fails to conform to the neighbor's standards, he finally leaves with the words, "I am sorry I came." It doesn't take long for the neighbors to realize that they miss Henry and for Henry to realize that he misses his nagging neighbors. The insight reached could be useful for today's world: "And we don't have to make such a terrible fuss because everybody isn't exactly like us."

In Cynthia Rylant's An Angel for Solomon Singer with paintings by Peter Cantalanotto, we meet Solomon who doesn't like his lonely life in a New York hotel for men. When Solomon discovers The Westway Cafe, he finds a place to love and someone who makes him feel at home.

Mother and child have differing views about what to pack in The Bag I'm Taking to Grandma's by Shriley Neitzel with pictures byNancy Winslow Parker. I can't wait until Jack and Teddy are old enough to enjoy the cumulative verse and rebus pictures in this book.

In the previous book, the mother says there is no need to pack books, that Grandma will have plenty of books. And this grandma does! One of my favorites, Where Do I Sleep? A Pacific Northwest Lullaby by Jennifer Blomgren has wonderful rhyming text  that features animals of our region with gorgeous illustrations by Andrea Gabriel. 

The delightful illustrations by Jim LaMarche in Dennis Haseley's A Story for Bear will pull you into  this summer fantasy about the magic of friendship and the wonders of reading.

Philip Stead's Bear has a Story to Tell and illustrated by Erin E. Stead is a lovely story of friendship and patience as Bear tries to get one friend after another to hear his story, but everyone is busy with their own preparations for winter.

My Two Blankets by Irene Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood captures how a young girl feels when she emigrates to a new country to be safe. Everything feels strange, she feels alone, and feels like she is no longer herself. All that begins to change when a girl in the park waves at her and reaches out to become her friend. This book belongs in every classroom.

I've looked for a copy of The Cozy Book for a long time and finally found one at a recent library book sale. I had given my copy to a friend whose family had "cozy" as their word for the Christmas holidays quite a few years ago. This totally cozy rhyming tale by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Betty Fraser follows a child from cozy waking in the morning to cozy dreaming at day's end. 

Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone 
is hosting this week's round-up of
poetic goodness. Be sure to stop by and read
Molly's "The Solace of the Ocean:  A Sonnet."

I'm piggybacking my #PB10for10 with Poetry Friday.
My favorite picture books include four filled with poetry
that I've highlighted here:
 Where Do I Sleep? - four line stanzas
The Cozy Book - verse tour of the things that make up a cozy day
The Bag I'm Taking to Grandma's - cumulative verse  
Some Things Go Together Rhyming couplets 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Slice of Life: Cars, Closets, and Cobblers

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

Jack was spending some time with me while his mom was at a doctor's appointment. We were playing with the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe in the driveway. Jack kept reaching underneath the dash and pulling up spider webs which troubled him. So we decided it was time for a car wash. Bucket, washcloths, and sponge in hand, we washed that cozy coupe from top to bottom. We flipped it over and made sure there were no lingering spider webs. When we set it out to dry, his mom drove up the driveway from her appointment. 

Sara was planning to have Jack take a nap at my house while we tackled my closet. Since we couldn't really work on the closet until Jack took his nap, I decided we should make a peach cobbler. I had six very ripe peaches that were perfect for this endeavor. We tried a new recipe as part of my search for a cobbler recipe like the one my mom used to make. This one came from a friend on FB when I recently sent out a plea for cobbler recipes. It's the one my husband and daughter thought I should have made last time when I tried the one in my Homesick Texan cookbook. 
 This was Jack's project while
we assembled the cobbler!

Once it was in the oven, we had lunch and got Mr. Jack down for a nap. I pulled half of the clothes from my closet and laid them on the bed. We retrieved the cobbler from the oven. It smelled heavenly!

And then we went to work on the two piles of clothes while the cobbler cooled. I'm happy to report that I parted with a few more clothes, especially the ones that my daughter reminded me were too dated (she remembered some of them from when I taught 3rd grade and she was a middle schooler . . . that would have been almost twenty years ago).

And before we knew it, we had a huge bag of clothing to donate and the cobbler was ready to consume. We're both avid milk drinkers, so of course, we added a mug of milk to each serving of cobbler. We settled down at the table, cobbler, milk, and books in hand for our well-earned reward!
This was the remains of the cobbler.
A friend stopped by and Sara packed 
some to take home to share with Jack.
It was delicious, but I'm still searching 
for a recipe more like my mom's, with a 
topping that is more like pie crust than biscuits.
Let me know if you have a cobbler recipe
that fits the bill. I'm sure we have time for
more trials before peaches are out of season.