Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Slice of Life: ALA YMA Musings

 I have a long history of anticipating the ALA Youth Media Awards. I've been watching them live for many years. My happiest times occurred when I watched them with students who had read Newbery possibilities.

This year I sad to report that I haven't read the Newbery winner or any of the Honor books. I checked out Fighting Words and When You Trap a Tiger from the library, but they were both returned to the library unread. My daughter read When You Trap a Tiger and recommended it to me.  Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford is the only Newbery book that was completely off my radar. I own and shared Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad (2007) with my students, so I'm looking forward to reading this new retelling of the same story.

This year's presentation was devoid of the crowd responses and the presenters must have been coached on how to deliver their awards without being emotionally involved with any of the titles. I missed that this year! The rapid-fire, no-nonsense style of delivering the awards left me no time to request titles from the library during the awards. It was all I could do to stay up with recording titles as they were announced. I know the award lists are posted quickly, but I like recording them in my notebook. As soon as the awards ceremony ended, I headed to the KCLS site to request titles.

Here are the books I read that received award love yesterday:

  • When Stars Are Scattered
  • King of the Dragonflies
  • Before the Ever After
  • Efren Divided
  • The Bear in My Family
  • What About Worms!?
  • A Place Inside of Me
  • The Cat Man of Aleppo
  • Outside In
I still remember the year that Wonder was the winner of our class Mock Newbery, yet it did not receive any award love! This year I was disappointed that my favorite middle grade read of 2020, Echo Mountain, did not receive any recognition. I also loved Skunk and Badger. Leave a comment about your favorite reads of 2020, especially those that may not have received award love yesterday.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Slice of Life: Snuggle into Comfort

My OLW for 2021 is comfort. I'm choosing to share some ways I'm currently snuggling into comfort. This list is by no means exhaustive, but includes the things that popped into my head at this particular point in time.

1. Homemade caramels from our friends in Texas

2. Books in progress: The Moment of Lift, The Power of Stillness, The Lazy Genius Way & This Poem is a Nest (Where's the fiction?)

3. Latest favorite series - "A Suitable Boy" on Acorn

4. New adaptation of "All Creatures Great and Small" on PBS Masterpiece

5. School Library Journal's Heavy Medal blog announces Five finalists for their Mock Newbery

6. Betsy Bird's 31 Days, 31 Lists (scroll to the end of her final list to see a roundup of all 31 days)

7. Dark chocolate, specifically my favorite seasonal bar, Theo's Cranberry Orange

8. Upcoming book club gathering for Anne Perry's short novel, A Christmas Journey

9. Brown cozy blanket, my blue rocker recliner & time to read slices

10. Establishing a morning rhythm (Thanks, Emily P. Freeman.)

11. Giving myself grace to skip the January resolution mania. I did begin the 100 days of notebooking challenge. I've already missed a few days, but that's okay. I'm focusing on progress, not perfection. I'll just keep going until I reach 100 days.

12. Relying on this mantra - "I am okay, I am enough, I am becoming."

13. Looking forward to exploring this booklist - Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, Min Jin Lee and Others on the Books That Bring Them Comfort

   It’s Slice of Life Tuesday! You can read more slices at Two Writing Teachers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Slice of Life: Love in a Black Vinyl Travel Case

When our loved ones die, some of the material possessions we have from them become even more treasured. These treasured items aren't always valuable to others, but they can mean the world to us because of the love they represent.

My big sis, Velma (or Velma Ann as she was known in the family), died on December 27, 2020, two days after her 79th birthday. She had struggled with Alzheimer's disease for several years, but was fortunate to stay at home, thanks to the loving care from her husband of sixty-one years. 

And so it was that this past week, I went in search of a special travel case. It's plastic vinyl and the handle is broken (broken piece is inside the case). Evening in Paris is inscribed on the black case with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Perhaps this was the genesis of my lifelong desire to visit Paris, finally achieved when I was 50+ years old. 

The case holds my Tammy doll. For some reason, my mother believed that Barbie was an inappropriate doll for a young girl. She felt that Tammy seemed more girl next door and wholesome than cosmopolitan and curvaceous Barbie. Sometime in the 60s I received my Tammy doll for Christmas. The slogan for Tammy? The doll you love to dress!

And I so loved dressing Tammy! Her wardrobe was all handmade by my sister Velma. I have marveled over the gorgeous outfits for years. When I was young, I liked to dream that I had all the clothes in my size that were in Tammy's case, including the two gorgeous evening gowns, the two church dresses, the tent dress (so chic) with matching scarf, blue skirt and red-checked blouse with matching scarf, a red jumper and blouse, a green sheath dress with ruffles on the bottom, shorts with matching crop top (trimmed with rick rack), clam digger pants and top, Chinese evening jacket (because Aunt Nan worked at a Chinese restaurant and the employees wore brocade jackets that Aunt Nan made), and six rather ordinary nightgowns (my favorite was the pink and blue floral flannel on the top right).

I spent some time dressing Tammy last night in my favorite outfit, a turquoise sheath dress (with flower trim around the neck) and coordinating corduroy coat. Tammy no longer has any shoes or hangers for her clothes. I recall that at one time she had pink hangers for her clothes and a box that fit into the case for her shoes. But since my days of playing with her, she has spent time with two other little girls, my niece Susan (now a Grandma) and my daughter Sara (a mother of two boys). Maybe one of these days I'll go on E-bay in search of shoes, but as I recall they never stayed on her feet anyway. Tammy may be the best dressed barefoot doll in the world, thanks to the tiny stitches and elegant clothing lovingly crafted for her by my big sis, Velma, more than half a century ago.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Spiritual Journey First Thursday and Sharing Our Stories: Comfort, My One Little Word for 2021

This is my ninth year to choose a word to guide me. Words that I have chosen in previous years include listen, savor, stretch, abide, nourish, delight, try, and light (my OLW for 2020). I shared my 2021 word, comfort, on Tuesday's Slice of Life, but saved some favorite quotes and scriptures connected with comfort for this Spiritual Journey post.

I arrived at my word when I took an online quiz to help you choose a word. I thought comfort seemed terribly self indulgent, even though I definitely need comfort at this season in my life. And so I came up with the idea of extending comfort to others as a way to reach beyond seeking comfort for myself. When I went in search of some ideas online, "stepping out of one's comfort zone" popped up. My first response was, "Oh, no. I'm not going there." That's too far outside my circle of comfort. 

My journey with comfort may take me in new directions, but I'm currently choosing to focus on comfort through the lens of these phrases. I've sorted the quotes and scripture accordingly.

Snuggle into comfort.

"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." - Jane Austen (This might have felt true before the pandemic, but I'm not so sure it rings true anymore.)

"Cats are connoisseurs of comfort." - James Herriot 

"Our greatest comfort in sorrow is to know that God is in control."

"Snuggle in God's arms when you are hurting, when you feel lonely, when you feel left out. Let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all sufficient power and love."                - Kay Arthur 

"Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."  - Psalm 23:4

"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." - John 14:18 

Reach out to comfort.

"To be with old friends is very warming and comforting."

"Friendship is the comfort that comes from knowing that even when you feel all alone, you aren't." - Anonymous

"Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand."      - Anonymous 

"God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters." - John Henry Jowett 

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."         - 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4       

Step out of my comfort zone.

"Be comfortable with being outside your comfort zone. That's the only way to grow."

"All progress takes place outside the comfort zone."

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

"Outside of the comfort zone is where the magic happens." 

I've found that setting up regular checkpoints is a great way to maintain focus on my word throughout the year. I'm committing to write a comfort post in April, August, and December. I look forward to reading your One Little Word posts. 

Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link is hosting our gathering. 
To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Slice of Life: OLW for 2021

I took one of those online quizzes where you answer a series of questions to determine what your OLW should be. I didn't expect to stick with the one selected, but it found me and it's stuck. More about my 2021word in a bit, but first a quick visit to my previous words of the year. 

This is my ninth year to choose a word to guide me. Words that I have chosen in previous years include listen, savor, stretch, abide, nourish, delight, try, and light (my OLW for 2020).

I really thought I would choose gather or connect as my OLW for this year (words that were in the running for my 2020 word). But comfort, the word from my online quiz, continued to call to me. And so, I'm yielding to comfort which feels just right for 2021.

I've chosen three ways to interact with comfort during this year. My journey with comfort may take me in new directions, but I'm choosing to focus on comfort through the lens of three phrases:

Snuggle into comfort.

Reach out to comfort.

Step out of your comfort zone.

I'm not one of those people who begins the new year ready to tackle personal improvement projects or set resolutions. It's hard for me to say goodbye to the lights of Christmas and the joy it sprinkles into life. And so for now, I'll be snuggling into comfort. One of the ways I do that is by replacing my nutcracker collection with my snowman collection and keeping the white lights and greenery on the mantel. I'll keep my new blanket handy for snuggling under any time I sit in my favorite chair. And I'll savor hot chocolate on rainy days to comfort my heart and chase away winter's gray.

The January page of My Favorite Things calendar (Wendy Bentley) has a perfect quote to remind me of my intention to snuggle into comfort: "Winter is the season for snuggling and staying warm." What's your favorite way to snuggle into comfort?
 It’s Slice of Life Tuesday! Click over to Two Writing Teachers to read more slices!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Poetry Friday (on Saturday): "Moving Forward"

 for this week's roundup of poetic goodness.
Thanks, Ruth, for hosting this week.

Sorry to show up late to this Poetry Friday gathering, but I want to be a regular this year. So here I am with a poem that I wrote on March 13, 2020. I had no idea when I shared "Moving Forward" for Poetry Friday how important this poem would be to me during 2020 and beyond. It's been on my refrigerator for months and I'm sharing it again today as I find myself still trying "...to muster through the challenges of the day...to make today one of the good times." 

It's a golden shovel poem. Golden shovel poems are inspired by a line of poetry or text, constructed so that the ending word of each line when read top to bottom composes that line. This poem utilizes a sentence opposite Irene Latham's "Compassion" poem on page 15 of Dictionary for a Better World.

Moving Forward

When I find myself at loose ends, it
is time to look for my purpose, for it is 
by being intentional that I can often
shake off the doldrums and begin the 
journey toward hope. The smallest 
movements to action can be the moments
of catalyst to move us forward. Drink a glass of 
water, go for a walk, read a book, make connections
with others, think happy thoughts, create something that 
you can share. These are the actions that will carry 
us during times of isolation, that help us 
"hear a humming," the call to muster through
the challenges of the day, to find the 
way to thrive, to "get on with it" in spite of tough 
times, to make today one of the good times. 

- Ramona Behnke, March 2020

"hear a humming" - from the poem "Freedom" by Irene Latham on p. 38 of Dictionary for a Better World

"get on with it" - Charles Waters quoting the landmark Monty Python group, p. 17 of Dictionary for a Better World.  

And here's what I ate to celebrate the new year. The black-eyed peas were canned and the ham was from the deli, but I made the cornbread from scratch!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Sharing Our Stories and #52Stories 52/52: Leave the Light On for Beauty!

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life. And today on the last day of 2020, I'm celebrating all 52 stories!

 Sometimes it takes awhile to figure out how I stumble onto words I love. My meandering path began this morning when I opened up a Choice Literacy newsletter from December 18. First I checked out a a post from fellow blogger, Margaret Simon, about her process for using One Little Word in the classroom and I shared it to Facebook for friends who are interested in choosing a word for 2021. Next I read Annie Campbell's big idea post on the same topic and wondered if Annie had written anything recently. So I clicked on the title of her blog and that's when I found her December 30th post, 20 Something Reasons 2020 Doesn't Suck. It's writing that spoke to my soul.There are three sentences that became the seed for this post.

"Some years are really hard. Every year matters. Leave the light on for beauty."

My OLW for 2020 was light. I rarely walk without snapping photos. My frequent walks have brought light to 2020. For my final story of #52Stories, I'm offering twenty favorite pictures from a year that was hard. December has been particularly rough as we have faced two deaths in our family. But when I look at these pics, I'm led to offer gratitude and praise to God for the gift and beauty and light of this world, even during dark times. Hopefully, they will bring some light to your day too!


To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.