Saturday, February 27, 2021

A Little Spring in My Step #SOSMagic

For a short month, February sure has seemed at least two months long.

As I went about my Saturday routine of grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning, I found a little spring in my step.

The only traces of last week's snowstorm are the snow mountains that dot the parking lots and the clumps of grass and dirt from the roadway that accidentally found their way in front of the snowplows and are now haphazardly laying in people's yards.

Looking in the landscape this morning I saw the heads of the daffodils poking their way through the mulch - a true sign that spring may be on its way.

As I was tidying up my desk in Ethan's-bedroom-turned-my-office, I opened the window a crack to let in the sun rays and the freshness of the spring-like air. 

I heard my husband tinkering with his Jeep, preparing for that riding-with-the-top-down kind of day.

Tonight I plan to grill burgers, hopefully toasting winter's departure. 

I feel it. 

I feel the change of the seasons today. I feel the promise of spring. 

I hope Mother Nature doesn't let me down.


I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Is Someone Listening? #SOL21

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating this community to share our stories.

He's listening. He's always listening." 

I hear these words in the back of my mind all the time. Who is listening you ask? Well, I don't really know, but it is quite troublesome.

Last week my husband's toe was hurting, and after researching on the Intenet, he seemed to think it was gout. He wrote beets down on our grocery list. (While searching, he also found that beets would help gout!) He then asked, "Do they make beet juice?"

"I have no idea, but I will look," I said to pacify him.

I "searched" at the store and told him, "Nope didn't see any beat juice."

"He's listening. He's always listening."

The next day as I was scrolling through Facebook, guess what came up in my feed. Yep! Beet juice. I never searched for it on my computer, but there it was. This greatly troubles me. Are people listening to my conversations? Can they hear me through my phone or my computer?

My husband did search for it on his computer, so I guess maybe if the search is at least in our house, it could possibly show up on my computer?

But, I still feel like someone is listening.

This is just one of several advertisements
that popped up on my feed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Haircut Mishap

It's less than two weeks before the March Slice of Challenge begins. And I think it has been since last March that I sliced. I thought it might be a good time to build up to that writing marathon! Don't you think?

Tonight I read a post about a COVID haircut from Jennifer Larance. She was a brave wife and gave her husband a "real" haircut. I cut my husband's hair about every three weeks, but I use the clippers with a 1/4 inch guard. In other words, it is merely a shaved head.

But that 1/4 inch guard is a very important part.

He sits in the chair down in the basement with an old crib sheet around him like a cape. I complete my first run-through and check to make sure I didn't miss anything. Shaving his neck is my favorite part, so I take the guard off and carefully pull down the sheet to expose his neck.

Buzz...I finish the haircut and place the clippers down. Looking at my wonderful work, I realize I missed a spot on the bottom of his head near the nape of his neck.

"Oops. It looks like I missed a spot back here," I say as I pick the clippers back up.

But that 1/4 inch guard is a very important part.

I click the button up and the buzzing begins. Just as I make a quick stroke up the back of his head, I suck in my breath. What have I done?

"Oh no."

Yes, that 1/4 inch guard is a very important part.


Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating this community to share our stories.

Monday, February 15, 2021

#IMWAYR ~ 2/15

 

In 2021 I'm trying to return to communities that support me as a reader, a writer, and a teacher. Not sure how regular I will be, but I am here today. 

Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle and Ricki at Unleashing Readers co-host It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Stop by and see what others are reading this week.

What I Read Last (Two) Weeks:


Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome

This book, at just 112 pages, was a quick read, which will appeal to many reluctant readers. And any book that connects characters with libraries, poetry, reading, and writing, is a keeper for me. 




Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Alan Gratz books are always a hit in my classroom, and I believe Ground Zero will be too! My students have a high interest in 9/11 books, so this definitely fits a need. Gratz has become a master at weaving stories of different characters in different time periods and somehow connects them in the end! Brandon, the main character in Ground Zero is nine, however, I would have some concerns about placing this book in the hands of students that age due to some of the graphic scenes.

I know my middle school students are going to love this one!




Enduring Freedom by Trent Reedy and Jawad Arash 
(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Trent Reed, along with Jawad Arash, tells a story of two sides of the War in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks and two boys caught in the middle. I learned so much about the Afghan people, their culture, and their perspective on the presence of the United States military in their country. I love the way the authors show the importance of education and how education holds such power in overcoming our world's struggles. The authors' notes gave me a deeper appreciation for the book as they tell the real-life connection between the two authors. and how this connection is mirrored in the story of Joe and Baheer. I will have no problems finding readers for this book, which is due out in May. 





Nest. Flight. Sky. by Beth Kephart

After reading Handling the Truth by Kephart, I knew I wanted to read more from her. I found this book on Hoopla, an app that is becoming my new best friend! In this memoir, she writes about the death of her mother, her obsession with birds, and their connection.


On my reading radar for this week:






Sunday, February 7, 2021

Untold Stories #SOSMagic

 


I recently finished a new book by Jeff Zentner, In the Wild Light. A line caught my attention where a grandfather in the story said "stories told just become ordinary."

I believe in the power of story and the strength of the ordinary, so what exactly did he mean? As I read on, I realized he meant that some stories are meant to be untold for fear of becoming ordinary. 

One of the characters in the book, Delaney, has a conversation with the main character's dying grandfather. Delaney tells Papaw what is on her heart and never reveals it to Sawyer (until the end!).

This story reminds me when we keep those untold stories tucked inside our hearts, they become extraordinary. Like...

  • that first kiss
  • when he asks you to marry him
  • when you sit and watch her sleeping in your arms
  • when he looks up at you and says, "It's a boy."
  • when she looks at you with those distant eyes, and you know she remembers who you are
Maybe these stories are meant to be untold.

And maybe they aren't so ordinary after all.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Monday, February 1, 2021

#IMWAYR ~ 2/1


In 2021 I'm trying to return to communities that support me as a reader, a writer, and a teacher. Not sure how regular I will be, but I am here today. 

Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle and Ricki at Unleashing Readers co-host It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Stop by and see what others are reading this week.

I have been taking a break from social media, and I am loving the reading time it is affording me. I've reacquainted myself with Netgalley again, and our library just made Hoopla available, so I am loving my reading life right now.

Here's what I read last week:


In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner (ARC by Netgalley)

I loved The Serpent King and Goodbye Days from Zentner, and this one is just as amazing. I loved how Cash uses poetry to help him get through his grief and learn about what is important in life. The writing is absolutely beautiful. You will want to put this on your list for August.



Hooper by Geoff Herbach

Adam needed basketball. It saved him, and he knew it. Each year, I have students who need basketball maybe more than basketball needs them. It's books like this that teach kids being part of a team is more than just playing the game. Although this is written for young adults, I would have no problem handing it to my middle school students.




Hunter's Choice by Trent Reedy (ARC by Netgalley)


Hunter's Choice by Trent Reedy is a much-needed book in my classroom library. I have many boys who are outdoorsmen, and I do not have books to fill this need. Plus the female characters add even more appeal. The exploration of human life and our role in wildlife is appropriately done for this age group. It has just enough suspense to keep the reader's attention and keep them turning the page. I can't wait to purchase this one for my classroom library.


On my reading radar for this week:






I am struggling with Everything Sad is Untrue. I want to abandon it but giving it a little more time. If you have read it, please let me know if it's worth plugging away.

Thank you for always welcoming back the prodigal reader!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

My #MustReadin2021 List

 


Back in 2014, I joined Carrie Gelson at There's a Book for That who started a little community of readers with a common goal - to tackle our to-be-read stacks. This year I have agreed to co-host this small community. It is one day before the end of the month, and I am just now finalizing my list and writing this post.

I have boxes of books that I have not yet read but want to. I opened each one and pulled out twelve titles to use for this year-long challenge. I am following Michele Knott's lead and will try one each month. Sounds easy enough, huh?

Here is my #MustReadin2021 challenge titles.


The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Cod Word Courage by Kirby Larson
We Had to Be Brave by Deborah Hapkinson




Unbound by Ann E. Burg
Takedown by Laura Shovan
Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen


The Season of Styz Malone by Kekia Magoon
Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly
Pride by Ibi Zoboi



The Usung Hero of Birdsong USA by Brenda Woods
Team Players by Mike Lupica
Captured by Alvin Townley

Our town has a Triathlon each spring, and there is always one person they choose to be "last to try." This way no one comes in last. I'll consider this to be the last to post so no one will feel like they are too late to participate.

If you would like to read more about #MustReadin2021 or see the great book choices of other members of this community, then check out this blog post. We would love to have you join us no matter what the time of year.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Snow Day #SOSMagic


Wednesday the weather app showed an advisory for our county. Snow coming early afternoon. Hopes of an early release filled the hallways like an all-morning passing period. We had been disappointed two other times recently, so we were almost afraid to talk about it for fear it would never come to be.

Around noon, the snow began to fall, quickly covering the fields outside our classroom windows. Kids were too excited to focus on the lesson I had prepared, and talks began about having a snow day the next day. I told them how I didn't want a snow day but would rather have a Friday in May when it was warm outside. They, of course, thought I was crazy.

The news came that the busses were on stand-by followed an hour later by the announcement that we were dismissing early. By 8:00 that night, the superintendent had announced a two-hour delay the next day, BUT they would reevaluate in the morning. 

Today, I woke at my normal time, turned on my phone, and waited for the call I was sure would come. Yes, we had a snow day. As much as I said I didn't want a snow day, I have to say, I welcomed pulling up the covers and rolling over for a few extra minutes of sleep.

My daughter Megan posted on her classroom page a request for snow day pictures. We live on one of the few hills in our town, and many kids come to sled when we have snow. Megan shared with me who all was on the hill and showed me pictures of students sledding and snowboarding and building snowmen and having snowball fights.

And the guilt set in.

I remembered all the snow days when my son would get up at sunrise, pack his bag, and set out for the hill. He would spend the entire day outside, coming home only to get dry socks and gloves and food. He loved the snow, and we have so many memories of these days.

I am sure many of my students spent the day outside just like my son did all those years. Telling them I didn't want a snow day was a little selfish. 

Yes, today we had a snow day. And I am glad we did.


I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Friday, January 1, 2021

#MustReadin2021 Round-Up


Back in 2014, I joined Carrie Gelson at There's a Book for That who started a little community of readers with a common goal - to tackle our to-be-read stacks. This community continued to grow, and Carrie continued to round up our lists and blog posts until 2019. Although some have continued to create their own #MustRead lists, the community has not had an "official" round-up. 

I don't know about you, but I know my reading life took a dive last year with the pandemic. Because of this and with the start of a new year, I was looking for a way to reignite my reading life. I found that I missed the #MustRead community. So I decided to team up with Cheriee Weichel at Library Matters, and co-host #MustReadin2021. 

For those of you new to the community, this challenge means you take a look at the books you wanted to read in 2020, but for whatever reason, did not get to them.  You then make your own personal list of books you want to commit to reading in 2021. 

There is no set number of books and books can be published from any year, in any genre or format, and in any category. These books will not be the only ones you read this year but will be the ones included in your personal challenge.

I will round up the initial posts here on my blog, and Cheriee will host the update posts on hers at the end of April, August, and December. Update posts are optional.

If you would like to create and share a list, click on the link-up below to add your blog post. Feel free to use the graphic above to include in your post, too. Be sure and check back regularly to see the reading plans everyone has made. If you would like to look back at posts from previous years, then check out Carrie's curated posts here. I look forward to co-hosting with Cheriee and continuing to build the community Carrie began.

We can't wait to see what is on your #MustReadin2021 list!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 - A Different Kind of Commitment #SOSMagic

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, I chose the word commit as my one little word and made a list of my "ten commitments." I glued them in my notebook as a reminder of the ten things I wanted to be more mindful of and committed to:  my family, my health, my teaching. my writing, my reading, my faith, my communities, and limiting my distractions.

Little did I know that 2020 would hold one of the biggest commitments I have ever made. A commitment to keep me, my family, and others safe.

Because it does me no good to dwell on how the year turned out, today, I decided to make a list of other "commitments" that came up during our pandemic time this year.


I became committed to:

  • baking banana bread at least once a week. The sweet aroma of banana bread drifting through the house will always be tied to pandemic baking. 
  • being the one to put the last puzzle piece in. Megan and I worked many, many puzzles, and sometimes we would "fight" over who got to put the last piece in. We had to stop working them because no puzzles could be found in our small town. We ended up "trading" puzzles with other family members and friends like elementary kids would trade Pokemon cards.
  • staying up late. I am not an early morning person, and having a flexible school schedule allowed me to stay up late and maybe sneak a nap in the late afternoon.
  • staying in comfy clothes for as long as possible. Enough said about this one.
  • annoying my daughter by taking pictures of things on our daily spring walks. I would stop to take a picture of flowers, bugs, the view, the sky, animals, and oh, did I say flowers? She would be 50 steps ahead of me before she realized I had stopped. She would turn and sigh, "Oh Mom! What are you taking a picture of now?"
  • finding toilet paper. I considered it a challenge to be one in the house who could find toilet paper. It was like winning the lottery!
Yes, this year was a difficult one. But these not-written-down-on-paper commitments are the ones I will always remember. They kept me laughing and hoping and surviving the year 2020!

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

It's (finally) a Boy! #joysof2020


I think we can all say the 2020 has been challenging, and often it became hard to focus on the positive things. This month the Teach Write Community is closing out the year with looking back at 2020 and finding the joy. We know it is there, but sometimes we just have to look a little bit harder to find it. Check out the #joysof2020 by joining our Teach Write Community.


My mother-in-law was an amazing person. She was a stay-at-home mom and raised seven children. When her youngest, who also happens to be a friend of mine, started college, Marge did too. She became a teacher and eventually taught 4th grade. 

I happened to have followed in her footsteps. I was a stay-at-home mom and when my youngest went to first grade, I went back to school also. I became a 4th grade teacher at the same school, same hallway, same room where she taught.

Back in mid February my sister-in-law gave me a card that belonged to my mother-in-law. It was a birth congratulations card from her Bridge Club friends. At the time, Marge had four girls and was praying for a boy. Her prayer was answered, and my husband-to-be was born.


A Six-word Memoir

Monday, November 2, 2020

Glowing Embers #gratiku


This month I am celebrating with the #TeachWrite community for the month of November by writing a haiku or other small poem each day about things for which I am grateful. They may not all appear in this space, but gratitude will prevail. I invite you to join me.

We have a large fireplace in our home, and it was the one thing (besides a basement!) that I required when we built our house. So many memories, dreams, and hours of simply staring into the mesmerizing flames happen in front of my favorite place.



red embers glowing
wood smoke drifting, heaven-bound
warming hearts and souls

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Blue Moon #gratiku


This month I am celebrating with the #TeachWrite community the month of November by writing a haiku or other small poem each day of the month about things for which I am grateful. They may not all appear in this space, but gratitude will prevail. I invite you to join me.

My children loved Halloween, even up through their high school years. I remember nights of trick-or-treating in the snow and rain, in freezing temperatures, and in too-hot-for-costumes temperatures. This weekend was the perfect Halloween weekend thanks to the weather and the beautiful moon.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/yuri_b-2216431/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1702531">Yuri_B</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1702531">Pixabay</a>

our Halloween streets
Illuminating beacon
once in a blue moon



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Today's Cup

Last Saturday my Aunt Diane stopped by to bring me something I had left at our family get-together on Labor Day. 

We sat on my back porch, a light cool breeze keeping us company. We talked about playing cards on our fall break, picking back up from our weekly summer card nights. 

That night I sent a group text with a countdown of the days - 25 to be exact.



That was the last time I talked to her. She had a heart attack the next afternoon and passed away Wednesday morning, the same day I found this poem. It speaks to my heart and is a gentle reminder of how easy it is to lose those we love. I don't write this post for sympathy. I write this to remind you how each day is a gift.

Days

Each one is a gift, no doubt, 
mysteriously placed in your waking hand 
or set upon your forehead 
moments before you open your eyes. 

Today begins cold and bright, 
the ground heavy with snow 
and the thick masonry of ice, 
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds. 

Through the calm eye of the window 
everything is in its place 
but so precariously 
this day might be resting somehow 

on the one before it, 
all the days of the past stacked high 
like the impossible tower of dishes 
entertainers used to build on stage. 

No wonder you find yourself 
perched on the top of a tall ladder 
hoping to add one more. 
Just another Wednesday 

you whisper, 
then holding your breath, 
place this cup on yesterday’s saucer 
without the slightest clink.


May you take a moment 
to whisper,
to hold your breath,
and place today's cup 
on yesterday's saucer.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Thursday, September 17, 2020

I have forgotten...


It has been over two months since I have written a blog post. That is way too long.
Today, on Twitter, I saw this tweet.


And then I saw the invitation from Ruth Ayres to write. 

And so I did.

I have forgotten what it was like to weigh what my driver's license says
and to walk up and down the stairs without my knees hurting
and to read something without reaching for my glasses perched on top of my head.

I have forgotten what it was like to cook for just me
and come home to an empty apartment
and sign my name as "Blome".

I have forgotten the scent of little boy sweat mixed with pancakes and maple syrup
and the sound of the basketball bouncing in the driveway
and the feel of little feet kicking the driver's seat in the minivan.

But I remember that all I have forgotten makes up 
                    my today.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Sparkle

If you are a long-time reader of this blog, then you know about the EJDs. If you are a newcomer, then let me introduce you to my group of high school friends.

Eight of us have been friends for a very long time. Some for over 45 years. EJD stands for eight jelly donuts. We began calling ourselves that sometime during our junior year because...well, there are eight of us, and we used to do "innocent pranks" with jelly donuts.

This past weekend, five out of the eight got together again for two days of laughing, eating, and relishing in friendship.

It has now become a custom that creative gifts are exchanged. This year was no different.

One of the gifts was a specially made mask. It says, "EJD 2020" and the 0s are donuts.

After we took our picture, I sent it to my daughter. She texted, "Are you smiling?"

I thought to myself how dumb that really was and replied, "Oh, yeah. I guess we didn't realize that no one could tell we were smiling with the masks on."

She says, "Oh, I knew."

"How did you know?"

"I could tell by your eyes. They all sparkle."

Sparkle.

Yes, our eyes did sparkle because we were with people we loved, and our joy in the time spent together couldn't help but bubble up and make our eyes sparkle.

This moment made me think about returning to school. Masked. Where no one can tell I am smiling unless they look at my eyes.

I hope they see the sparkle.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Creating a New Space

At the end of this month, this blog will celebrate its 7th year. It is hard to believe that I have been sharing words in this space for that long.

I have grown as a writer, a poet, and a storyteller. When I think about why I started this blog, my answer is simply because I wanted to share a day in my life as a reader, a writer, and a teacher, and I wanted to join a community of writers.

I still want to continue writing here, but this space has grown and needs to be pruned a bit. So, I will continue to share stories and poems and reflections about my life, but my teaching life is moving to a new space.

This week I will be creating space on another blog called Pencils, Pages, and Practices. My goal is for this space is to become a place to share ideas, resources, and what I am learning and doing in my classroom. I hope you will continue to join me here AND check out my new corner in the teaching world, too!


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Weekend Verbs #SOSMagic


Sometimes I just need a time-out. Time for me. Time to do what I want, when I want, and why I want.

And try hard not to think it selfish.

With so much time at home and school being "officially" out, scrolling through social media and getting sucked into its toxic hold was taking up too much of my time. Last weekend I took a personal time-out, and I unplugged for almost three days.

Do you know what I learned?

  • The world continues with or without me scrolling through it.
  • My personal productivity increased.
  • It wasn't as difficult as what I thought it would be.
  • I was happier.
  • Returning takes discipline.
  • I didn't miss it.

Sunday night I sat with my notebook and wrote my weekend verbs, all the things I did instead of plugging in.

I made time to:

walk
plant
transplant
water
fertilize
smile
read
write
celebrate
sleep
grill
relax
lounge
(sun)burn
talk
collaborate
soak
eat
swing
rock
observe
laugh
drive

BE

Maybe time-outs aren't such a bad thing after all!


I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic