Tuesday, March 31, 2015

{#sol15} Music Programs 31/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Elementary students can be so enthusiastic when they are performing in their music productions. This evening was a treat as I watched two different programs. The first and second graders sang about not being sleepy and their bedtime routine. My favorite song was unsurprisingly, "In the Pages of a Book." The kids held up some awesome books during this one. There are great lyrics, "I can be myself or someone else in the pages of a book....I can lose myself or find myself in the pages of a book."

The third and fourth graders were having a beach bash and wishing for summertime. I couldn't help but wish for it right along with them. This has been a long school year with our construction work going on since October. Many students were full of joy and energy dancing up on the stage. They brought huge smiles to my face.

Thinking about the past month of slicing also brings a smile. This has been a learning experience and sharing with so many people is the best. Thanks for being a part of my writing journey this month.

Monday, March 30, 2015

{#sol15} A Touch of Spring 30/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

It's difficult to believe that this is the second to the last post of March already. The month flew by and most days, the words came easily.

It's also difficult to believe that the snow is finally gone. Today my dog and I had a fabulous walk in the sunshine with no jacket required. No bath was required either. That's a first. Ever since November, we have had snow, sand, salt, and/or mud to deal with so a walk always led to bathing the dog. Not surprisingly this meant that my dog had way fewer walks during winter. He is a tiny thing and also has difficulty with the cold so most days we would instead play fetch up and down our long hallway instead.

Being able to walk all the way to the park and back without having to carry a shivering wet mess of a dog was a wonderful treat. His tail was wagging and I'm sure if I had one it would have been wagging too.

We may still get one or two cold blasts, but today we had spring in our steps. We'll take as many of these days as we can get.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 

Adelita and the Veggie Cousins/Adelita y Las Primas Verduritas by Diane Gonzales Bertrand is a book to use when teaching about veggies, but it isn't a riveting story. The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington cracked me up. The collage is well done and the story is entraining and funny. Trouble by Jane Kurtz was one that I read at the Ethiopia night I went to last week. I believe it's a retelling of an Ethiopian tale. It's lighthearted and fun too. Finally, Sybil the Backpack Fairy #1 (Nina) by Michael Rodriguez was a cute middle grade graphic novel about a girl who finds a mischievous fairy and another creature in her backpack. Trouble and Chicken-Chasing Queen were my two favorites.

Aside from finishing those four books, I am also in the midst of a few. I'm reading several at a time. I'm also listening to The Plague of Doves one more time since I know the secrets now. As soon as I finished it a week ago, I put the first CD right back into the player. :)

The Coming Week:
I'll be re-reading Gabi a Girl in Pieces and hopefully I'll finish a few of the ones that I'm currently reading. Beyond that, I'm not sure if I will finish any unless some picture books jump into my hands. Have a great week!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

{#sol15} Doodling 29/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

This picture is my attempt to hurry along our spring. We don't have green grass, blooming flowers, or blue skies yet, but they are coming. The book Picture This by Lynda Barry encouraged people to doodle. She writes, "A spiral is portable, reliable and takes up unbearable time and space and thoughts that torment. It gives us an active place to rest and be." 

I've found this to be true. My doodles often have spirals. They are comfortable and require little thought. They give my mind a rest. I'm listening to the second Octavian Nothing book trying to get through all of the Printz awards and honors. It's a challenge to me as I find it quite dry, but the addition of some doodling should make it more palatable. The doodling won't distract me from the story, but will give my body something to do in the meantime.

It's been a relaxing morning that included a little baking. I made strawberry scones, boiled some eggs, and made homemade chai (using the recipe from Lucy Knisley's fabulous graphic novel Relish). My family woke up in stages and everyone had a bite. I love the yummy smells that are still lingering on in the house. Now I'm off to listen and doodle and sip some more sweet chai.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

{#sol15} Celebrate! 28/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

Many of my celebrations this week made it into my Slice of Life posts. Slice of Life is one of my celebrations. It hasn't been nearly as difficult as I thought to post each day this month and truly, the best part may be reading and commenting on other people's posts. The posts have been thought-provoking, beautiful, emotional, and sometimes hilarious. It's a treat to visit the many blogs and enjoy the writing and life journeys of others.

Another treat was seeing the trailer of Meg Medina's new picture book, Mango, Abuela and Me, coming at the end of the summer. It looks so fun.

Tuesday was a day of thinking. It was the conclusion of some professional development that a team of teachers from my building attended throughout this year. We learned about Culturally Responsive Classroom Practices. We're hoping to implement some of the classroom practices that we learned in the coming year and are already trying to use some of them in our own spaces. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as we get the information to other staff members. I'm excited to see what we can do.

On Wednesday evening, creativity was the theme. I was able to go to a craft night and have a beading lesson. Ever since attending the American Indian Summer Institute in 2013, beading has been something on my bucket list. A young Mohican woman there was working on beadwork for a Powwow and it was beautiful. The artistry was stunning. Being able to learn how to string beads together was nice, but spending time with women and girls while we worked on different projects and talked was also very relaxing. I hope to be able to participate often.

Thursday was a busy day as I taught and then went to a presentation about Ethiopia. Having read Black Dove, White Raven within the past month had me wanting to learn more about this fascinating country. We learned a lot about the country and its people. Following the presentation, I made my way to our elementary school dance. Joining in the fun was a spirit lifter. Several teachers were out on the dance floor and we had a blast acting silly and dancing around with our students. This all made for a long day, but one filled with goodness.

Related to culturally responsive practices, a new resource appeared on my radar that will help me gather resources related to Native Nations of Wisconsin. It also helps others. Someone was just asking me yesterday how to get information to local elementary librarians about what resources to purchase and I was able to direct them to this resource. Win!

The week was filled with excitement and fun as our school celebrated our Spirit Week and that is a celebration in itself. Seeing everyone dressed in crazy ways and being silly together made for a lot of laughter and many smiles. Coming up, we have a short week and then my son comes home for a few days. Life is good.

Friday, March 27, 2015

{#sol15} American Indian Nations in WI 27/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I love social media. A post yesterday alerted me to the creation of a new Facebook group providing  some fantastic resources. The group is called Wisconsin Librarians and Teachers Supporting Act 31. They posted a great list of books and online resources that help with teaching about the American Indian Nations in Wisconsin. For librarians or teachers wanting to add to their library collection, this is an excellent place to start.

We already own most of the titles listed for elementary, but it was nice to see a few titles that were new to me. They also had some great titles for teachers - like this one I picked up from our public library:

Debbie Reese had mentioned Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask on Twitter a while back, but I hadn't gotten to it yet. It's in my house now so maybe soon.... 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

{#sol15} Ethiopia 26/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

This afternoon, UW La Crosse hosted an event focusing children's literature, culture and life in Ethiopia. A panel presented about their experiences in Ethiopia. Some had gone on a medical mission there, some were members of the press that had worked on a documentary during that trip and two had lived in Ethiopia when they were growing up. 

After reading Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein, I was especially eager to hear more about Ethiopia and the people who live there. We saw pictures of the work being done through Project Mercy and heard about those experiences. We also saw some of the documentary. 

One of the women who had grown up in Ethiopia was Jane Kurtz. We heard her talk about her books, literacy and Ethiopia Reads . From the website, "Ethiopia Reads collaborates with Ethiopian communities to build schools, plant libraries, teach teachers, boost literacy and provide youth and families with the tools to improve their lives." I read her book Trouble this afternoon and now will be on the lookout for more of her works. We have several in our school library that I will be reading soon.

Ethiopia looks like a beautiful place that I need to add to my travel list.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

{#sol15} Beading 25/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Beads, beads, and more beads. Tonight I spent several hours making a bracelet at a craft night. It took me near forever to measure and count and figure out my design, but eventually I was finally working on the loom. There were snacks, a movie was playing and we were chatting sometimes too. It was a relaxing evening and people moved at a nice calm speed. Not everyone was there with a daughter, but a few were. It got me thinking about how we learn so many of our arts and crafts from family members. 

My mother showed me how to do needlepoint and helped me use a sewing machine - though that thing always scared the daylights out of me. No matter how gently I pressed, I always felt like the machine was a runaway train. Mom also taught me how to make stamps with potatoes when I was really young and later how to paint with brushes. I remember getting an art set for Christmas one year and clutching it like it was a treasure box. 

I'm thankful that family members and even near strangers (as was the case tonight) pass on their knowledge and love for crafts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

{#sol15} A New Book Trailer Makes Me Smile 24/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Book trailers are so fun! Meg Medina is an awesome author and I'm excited to see this trailer for her newest picture book coming this August in both Spanish, Mango, Abuela Y Yo and in English Mango, Abuela and Me.

Abuela, Mia's grandmother, moves in, but she doesn't speak English and Mia doesn't speak Spanish. I can't wait to see how Mango helps out.

I have this situation when I visit my in-laws though I don't have a bird to help. Most of the younger relatives speak English, but some of the older relatives speak German and very little English. I know some German, but am far from fluent. This makes for a great learning experience though it can be quite challenging.

I've run across a few other books that deal with a language disconnect between children and their grandparents. In Playing Loteria/El juego de la loteria by René Colato Laínez, a young boy goes to Mexico to visit his abuelita, but he's worried since she only speaks Spanish. In Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye, a young American girl goes to Palestine to stay with her grandmother. Again, there is a verbal language barrier, but they manage to communicate. I think it's great to have more books sharing this type of experience.

Mango, Abuela, and Me looks like it will be a great addition to our library and I look forward to reading it this summer. Book trailers are awesome ways to get us excited about books.

Monday, March 23, 2015

{#sol15} A rather serious post 23/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I'm re-reading Louise Erdrich's book The Plague of Doves and I hope it's not giving too much away to say that it involves racism and there is a lynching. Earlier this year, I read The novel X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. It had a reference to lynching and contained a scene with Billie Holliday singing "Strange Fruit." It's a song I had never heard before. This is the magic of YouTube because I was able to listen to the song immediately after reading the passage. If you're familiar with it, you know the song is unsettling, and it is powerful.

Lynching isn't just hanging, but hanging someone outside of the legal system often to punish, but also to terrify people. While re-reading The Plague of Doves, I can't get a phrase out of my head, "Man's inhumanity to man." Our country has way too much history that involves hatred and oppression of a whole group of people. Doves shares a Native American perspective and X an African American perspective, but many groups of people have been seen as less than human and then treated that way.

Our society has not yet managed to heal the many wounds made over the years. We're still stuck in patterns that are damaging and sometimes even deadly. I want to be someone who interrupts these patterns. I'm becoming bolder, but it's slow growth. I keep hoping that the more I verbalize this, the more I'll speak up.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 
Picture Books

Migrant by Jose Manuel Mateo and illustrated by Javier Martinez Pedro made my jaw drop. The unusual format - a codex that folds out accordion style with intricate illustration really captured my attention. I got lost in the details of the illustration. Beyond that, the story of a migrant family facing the dangers of leaving their small village to cross into the U.S. gripped me even with so few words. I am not sure that libraries are going to buy it given the unusual format, but it will be on the shelf at my school. I found a wonderful review of it at Hyperallergic if you want to see the full illustration and know more about the book.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Qin Leng made me smile so much. Hana has started taking violin lessons after spending time with her grandfather in Japan who plays. Now she feels she is ready to be in a talent show. Her brothers are not so sure since she has only had three lessons. She has a surprise for them though. This is a wonderful book to use with primary children particularly in a music class.

Haiti: My Country is a gorgeous book. The illustrations are portraits of Haitian school children and are beautifully done. The poetry is written by Haitian teens. The poems revolve around home, nature and Haiti. They are full of hope and life.

Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made it from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues by Matt Taveres - wow that's a long title. I don't watch baseball, so to me, Pedro was just a name. Through this picture book biography, I learned more about Pedro and really appreciated learning about his relationship with his older brother. It's a wonderful story of family and persistence.

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer's Alphabet by Chris Barton was super fun. I think that gaming readers will love reading this one. The illustrations are fun. I loved the definition of joystick even though it made me feel old, "A crude device used by ancient civilizations-by your dad, your mom, even your grandparents...."

Picture This by Lynda Barry was a great inspiration for creativity this week. I wrote about that here and here. For elementary level teachers/librarians this is not a children's book really. I don't think there is anything in here that is adult in nature except the prevalence of cigarettes, but it wasn't written for children. One of the lines resonated with me, "You have to be willing to spend time making things for no known reason." That's what I did the past few days. I made a few fun collages, and a drawing too. I also liked these two questions, "What if drawing was a way to get to a certain state of mind that was very good for us? And what if this certain state of mind was more important that the drawing itself?" There are still a few more activities that are suggested in the book that I want to try. Here are some of the things I made for no known reason:

Chapter Book

All the Answers by Kate Messner was an ARC that I picked up from the publisher at ALA Midwinter. It was a story that drew me in and made me care about the characters. I loved that there was the addition of magical realism threaded through this family story. I read the story straight through and enjoyed every minute of it. Who wouldn't want a pencil that had all of the answers? In some ways it reminded me of Bigger Than a Breadbox and I think readers who enjoyed that will love this one too.

The Coming Week:

I found the first Octavian Nothing book to be quite a struggle and this one is turning out to be the same. I think the storyline is interesting, I think I just find so much telling and so little action and dialogue to be boring. I feel shallow and like a lazy reader to admit it, but that's the way it is. I am listening to this second one on CD while doing other things so that I can hopefully stick with it since it's one of my "must read" books for this year having gotten a Printz award. I'm just at the very beginning of all of the other books. I'm also about to start a re-read of Gabi for a review. I am not sure if I will finish all of these, but will give it a good shot. Have a great week filled with reading.

Reading Challenge Update
Goodreads - 106/520
#MustRead2015 - 10/53

Sunday, March 22, 2015

{#sol15} Positives and Negatives 22/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Back on the 16th, I wrote about wanting to take a look back at where I've been. I've been doing that, but I haven't been sharing much of that exploration here. I wasn't sure if I was comfortable sharing the details online. Domestic violence is part of what shaped me. It wasn't everyday, but there was a constant feeling of walking on eggshells in our home. That kept me quiet, fearful and unlikely to bring friends home. 

I'm thankful for the many friends who invited me to their homes. Reading books and visiting others showed me that not all families lived like we did. Seeing other ways of living in the pages of books and in my friend's houses gave me hope for the future. During middle school, I finally started to realize that homes could be places that felt safe.

Over the years, I've tried to look for the silver lining in my childhood. Here are a few of the positives:

* In trying to get a new start and try to make a better life, we moved many times. This brought a wonderful diversity to our experience. We went from very white small-town Ohio to Dallas, Texas. What a change. Then we lived in various areas of southern California before returning to Ohio and  finally moving to San Antonio, Texas. Along the way, we met some amazing friends.

* While living in Southern California, during the calm times we took long drives, explored beaches, visited mountains and had fun together. It wasn't always doom and gloom.

* We became resilient.

There are other positives, but for a long time in my life, it was hard to see past the negatives. I'm thankful that I'm able to see positives in my past while acknowledging that some of it really sucked.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

{#sol15} Creating and Celebrating 21/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

One nice celebration is rediscovering coloring. Here's that Slice. Thursday evening I was coloring at family night and when I went home I dug out a coloring book and continued. Friday evening, I finished a picture in the coloring book then also created a picture of my own based on an activity found in Picture This by Lynda Barry. This was a book I saw when I visited The Bubbler makerspace in Madison a few weeks ago. It has great suggestions for creative activities. After I finished coloring, I started working on collage. Barry encourages us to create a page of blue. Oprah magazines have the best colors and textures. Whenever they're on sale at the library, I grab them for collage. While looking for blue to put on my page, there were circles that were calling to me, so I cut them out too. I listened to a book on tape while cutting. In Picture This, readers are encouraged to draw and create  while watching t.v., but a book sounded better.

This morning was for moving things around and gluing them. It's funny that one family event with coloring got me going on this. The book is helping too of course. Creating makes me happy.

Another celebration is getting fun makerspace things for my library. Our Sphero (robotic ball) arrived this week along with squishy circuits and a Raspberry Pi. These are going to be cause for some exciting learning happening in our library.

I was able to tour our construction area again and see the changes. It's fantastic to see how our new learning space is taking shape.

Finally, the Slice of Life March event has been a great time of contemplation and writing. I'm so glad to be a part of it.

Today is International Day of Happiness. I hope your is a day filled with smiles and joy.

Friday, March 20, 2015

{#sol15} Still Coloring 20/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I'm still thinking about coloring and making art today. Last night I found coloring so relaxing (I wrote about it here). Today, I picked up Picture This by Linda Barry. She seems to see art as therapeutic too. The book asks questions about drawing and making art. This little section was interesting in light of the fact that last night I used a coloring book and I am well over the age of ten. 

Is this true? Could it be? "If you use coloring books past the age of ten, you will wreck your imagination forever." I say if that is the risk I am taking, so be it. However, letting your mind wander as you fill in little sections of line drawings, seems like a pretty healthy activity for a troubled, stressed, or tired mind. My evening plans include a coloring book and a box of crayons.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

{#sol15} My Crayon Box 19/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, Family Night at The Three Rivers House had an Irish influence. Corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie and boiled dinner were available. There were also veggies, but the fruit was a surprise. The fruit was displayed in the shape of a rainbow and there were marshmallow clouds.

The Ho-Chunk language lesson revolved around the colors of the rainbow. We had pictures to color according to the labels. 

Pulling crayons out of the box and coloring the rainbow, my breathing deepened and my shoulders dropped. Coloring is something that we think of as an activity for children, but maybe adults could use a little more coloring time in our lives. With each moment my crayon was moving, my body relaxed more and more. Buzzfeed just posted an article about a woman who is making coloring books for adults. I might get one of those.

There was a quote at the end of the article, "Coloring seems to help people think about a time when life was simpler and carefree." I'm not sure that I totally agree with that statement. I find the act of coloring enjoyable and yes, it reminds me of being young, but childhood wasn't simpler or carefree. Childhood was full of concerns and fears and I was so uncomfortably timid. I wouldn't want to go back, but it was nice to revisit the crayon box.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

{#sol15} Change in Plans 18/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

My head really hurts right now so my evening plans have changed. Writing isn't so easy when light from the screen makes me squint. I had plans for my writing today, but they will keep. I think eggs and toast for dinner will work for me. Then I'll likely crawl into bed early.

It's cold outside and a bit gloomy, but when I went out to get the mail earlier, something green caught my eye. Down among the rocks, a small day lily shoot was peeking out near our mailbox. Even with a headache, that little spot of spring made me smile and gave me a jolt of joy. Tomorrow will be a better day. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

{#sol15} A Look Back 17/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

A Look Back

They made me walk with him for the Easter Parade.
I wanted someone else to be my escort, 
He was the only white boy in my class.
We lived in Dallas in the 70s.
I couldn't walk with anyone else.
This made no sense to my kindergarten self.

In our home dishes could crash against walls.
There were raised voices, tears, fear
And hiding places in the dark.
Not a place to bring friends.
Not a place to feel safe.

We were Bluebirds and knew we were special.
Calling out words around the small circle.
Masters of the universe.
Reading took me to other lands
When the one I was in got too frightening.

Packing up again. Making a fresh start.
Moving, searching for the greener grass.
Learning that we make the same mistakes.
Wherever we go, we bring ourselves too.

Monday, March 16, 2015

{#sol15} Where Have I Come From and Where am I Going? 16/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Jen Vincent over at TeachMentorTexts has taken this Slice of Life Story Challenge to a whole new level. She's been examining the people, situations, and other things that have shaped her life. She has been transparent and courageous examining her life journey. It makes me want to do the same though it's scary to dig deep inside to see what we are made of and who we really are at the core.

During the second half of this month, I'm hoping to do some digging into my own past. I want to see where I've been and also look ahead to where I'm going. There may be a few tender spots, but it's a journey I'd like to start.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 

I was able to read four middle grade books and four adult books this week. I don't know that I ever finish that many adult books in a week. That's different. Blind Spot was a very interesting look at biases. I talked about it in one of my Slice of Life posts here. Below Stairs was a quick read. It's the memoir that inspired the shows "Upstairs Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" and I found it quite interesting. 

I finally finished reading The Elements of Style and I am sure my writing will improve a ton. ;) The book was humorous at times and that was a surprise to me. 

The Plague of Doves was more than I was expecting. I've read several books by Louise Erdrich, but had not realized what a complex book this would be. There are many characters and it was difficult sometimes to keep all of their connections in mind. It was a wonderfully rich book and I feel like starting it over again now. I wish I had read this one before Round House. I didn't realize they were connected.

The Monster in the Mudball was quite fun as was Lowriders in Space. Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America gave me a lot of history that I hadn't known about the beginnings of the state of Oklahoma. It's not so much a focus on Sarah Rector as on our country during the early 1900s and the changes that were happening.

My favorite book of the week was Listen, Slowly. This is a wonderful book about family, roots, and growing up. It was also a vivid look into modern Vietnam. The people, the homes, the sights, sounds and smells are all described in ways that bring the reader right there.

The Coming Week:
I never did get to The Hunted last week, so that and None of the Above have been moved to this week. I am likely to re-read Gabi, A Girl in Pieces too. Beyond those titles, I'm not too sure what will come my way.

Reading Challenge Update:
Goodreads - 99/520
#MustRead2015 - 10/53

Sunday, March 15, 2015

{#sol15} Strawberry Moments 15/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

My mind is a jumble of memories today. My aunt sent me a packet of things she had found that belonged to my father: his birth certificate, some pictures, a college graduation announcement. He went to college when I was in elementary school. I remember his graduation being such a milestone. Now his things are spread out on the kitchen table - reminders that he isn't here. He's been gone for almost eighteen years now. 

We lived in Texas then and it was strawberry season. We had eaten strawberries together not long before he died. I don't remember our conversation that night, but I can almost smell the strawberries. It's an odd little memory, but it's one that persists. I'm thankful for happy thoughts among the sad.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

{#sol15} Celebrations for the Week 14/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

I think Slice of Life and Celebrate work well together. Here are some of my reasons to celebrate:

This first celebration is a tough one, but it really is a celebration. Yesterday, the body of Joshua Xiong was found in the Mississippi River. He had been missing since November 9, 2014 when he had gone fishing and never returned. He leaves behind a girlfriend, two young children and a family who has been waiting and waiting for him. I know the family, and though this is a painful time, it is truly a blessing that he has finally been found.

Yesterday was a difficult day, but I have some co-workers who provided smiles, hugs, and patient listening. Slicers also offered encouragement and positive words. Having a community on and offline that listen and give support is something to celebrate.

The snow has melted and I was actually hot when I got into my car after work yesterday. Spring is truly in the air and that is such a lift to my spirits. I've been able to get out and walk several times this week and my dog didn't need a full bath afterward. The puddles are mostly gone and the mud is drying out too. We may still get some cold weather or even snow yet, but we are on the road to warmer days and that is such a relief.

Lee & Low Books tweeted out about their book Sweet Potato Pie in honor of today begin Pi Day so guess what is in my oven? The recipe was easy to follow and I had everything in my cupboard except the evaporated milk. So when I ran to the library for the books I had on hold, I stopped by the store for a can of milk and started working on the pie. It's making the house smell delicious.

Slice of Life is another part of my week that I celebrate. Posting each day is not as difficult as I thought it would be - though I am not getting all of my usual posts accomplished. It is also more rewarding that I anticipated. Both from a writing standpoint, but also from the posts that I am reading and interacting with daily. There are some wonderful slicers out there that I really appreciate. Jen Vincent has been posting some very thought-provoking pieces on her blog and there are others too who have been inspiring.

I hope your week is full of lovely celebrations!

Friday, March 13, 2015

{#sol15} Quite Contrary 13/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Mary, Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.
                 - Mother Goose

There was a little girl,
   Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
   When she was good, 
   She was very good indeed
But when she was bad she was horrid.
                  - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

These are two poems that are crashing around in my head today given my cranky state. Perhaps I woke up already in a negative frame of mind, but whatever the beginning, my feelings took a dive during the day. Several interactions with people were not very pleasant and I forgot to use my One Little Word - Breathe - at least until around lunchtime. That's when I decided to take a walk. 

That did help a bit. Walking out the front door of the school and down the street under the warm sunshine, I took the opportunity to breathe deeply. All day though, I was struggling not to dwell on the negatives. When I was busy teaching, things were okay, but whenever I had a quiet moment, my thoughts strayed back to the hurtful words thrown my way and the stresses of the day.

I'm about to dive back into a lovely book and hope that my spirits lift. Often books have been a comfort and distraction. I wouldn't be very good company for anyone right now, but that is another reason why I love books. They don't mind if I'm grumpy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

{#sol15} Biases? Who Me? 12/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I'm reading a book, Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People. If you're thinking this could be a book to make you look hard at your own ways of thinking and interpreting the world, you would be correct. This was one of the books recommended in the training that I am going to hosted by the Wisconsin RtI Center - Culturally Responsive Classroom Practices Within a Multilevel System of Support. Whew! That's a long title.

The book calls into question the idea that we know what we believe. Essentially, they say we have biases that we are not typically aware are there. They play out in behaviors that we may not even connect to our beliefs about others. 

It's certainly giving me much to think about and I like books that do that even when it isn't comfortable. In fact, I think that being a little uncomfortable is a good thing. It means I'm actually looking at things I have avoided in the past.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

{#sol15} Who's that Dancing About? 11/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Have you ever noticed the logo on Annick Press books? 

I kept thinking that it reminded me of something or someone, but I never did figure out who or what on my own. At ALA Midwinter though, a person in the Annick Press booth revealed the truth. We were having a conversation and the name Robert Munsch came up. That's a name that has long been associated with Annick Press. We chatted about The Paper Bag Princess and how much I love that book. That's when I found out that Elizabeth, the original Paper Bag Princess, is the one dancing about for Annick's logo. How did I miss that!?

I just got home with a headache, but seeing a copy of Mortimer by the computer totally made me smile. If you don't know his picture books, you ought to seek them out as soon as possible - especially The Paperbag Princess. You'll thank me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

{#sol15} Tea for Me 10/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Any minute now the wonderful aroma of chai will come floating into the office. I love tea. I have teapots here at home and at work. I'm the teacher that may walk down the hall with a teapot in one hand and a cup in the other. My father-in-law bought me a tea set years ago and that's the one I use at work every day.

The tea I'm making now though, is a more complicated affair. I'm using the recipe from Lucy Knisley's book Relish. It involves cooking black tea along with cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, ginger and other lovely tastes together. She says it makes the house smell like Christmas and I would have to agree. I need to go stir and get ready to sip some sweet and wonderful chai.

Monday, March 9, 2015

{#sol15} The Melting 9/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

There are puddles everywhere and this is a good thing - a very good thing. I took my dog for a walk yesterday and we kept running into puddles. Some even looked like ponds or lakes. It made the journey tricky sometimes, but we enjoyed our time outside.

The snow is melting and everything is wet, but I'll take it. My dog needed a bath when we got back from our walk, but it was worth it being out there with all signs pointing to spring. Every year around this time I think of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. When the White Witch's spell ends, they start to hear the dripping and they know that spring has finally come. We will have highs in the 40s and 50s this week. Winter's grip is loosening and that lifts my spirits for sure.