Archive for December, 2013

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers

Join the Chalk-a-bration over at Teaching Young Writers

My students did not want to miss the Dec. 31st year end Chalk-a-bration, so on the last day of classes on Friday, Dec. 20th, we wrote year end poems. Some of them became too long for chalking, so they posted on our kidblog. I tried out a chalkboard app. Not sure if it is the best chalkboard app, but it was free.

Tyler borrowed a line from Naomi Shihab Nye to start his poem and drew it on our chalkboard contact paper.

"Goodbye 2013" by Tyler with a line from "Burning the Old Year," by Naomi Shihab Nye

“Goodbye 2013” by Tyler with a line from “Burning the Old Year,” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Year End Haiku by Margaret Simon

Year End Haiku by Margaret Simon

Where we have grown has disappeared
nothing is impossible
anything can happen
12 days till New Years
12 days of Christmas
12 months of Chalkabration
going by too fast
but slowly
every second counts
its all happening
nothing stops
running on a non stop trail of a timeline
crossing the border by the second of the clock

by Vannisa

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, I am thinking about a One Little Word for the new year. Last year I was suffering with ankle pain (tendonitis) and walking in a boot. I chose the word acceptance for a few reasons. I wanted to give myself the patience I needed to recover, and I was looking for self-acceptance of my writing voice. My ankle recovered. It took six months, so I definitely made use of my OLW. I published a poetry book. Somehow I feel less intimidated by this because my poems were surrounded by my father’s loving art. Acceptance presided, along with bravery and perseverance.

On one of our drives during the holidays, I decided on the word OPEN for 2014. I am now loving this choice as I worked on this poem.

Open by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Open by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

For today’s special year end Slice of Life, fellow blogger Bonnie has made a video compiling photos from the world of bloggers, including me! It’s an awesome celebration of life! Thanks, Bonnie!

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Discover. Play. Build.

Christmas changes as the children grow. This year, my oldest daughter traveled with her boyfriend to Wyoming to spend Christmas with his family. He has a 2 year-old niece, so everyone marveled over her first understanding of Christmas. Maggie sent pictures and called through facetime, so we connected. But it was not the same. Christmas Day was quieter, but still wonderful. Jeff made the obligatory pancakes, even though he had to make a run for milk and syrup. My mother’s dressing recipe turned out great, and we enjoyed the time with our two other daughters and my mother-in-law. Not to mention the delight of the dogs with their new toys and treats.

This weekend our family has grown. We are all together in Jackson to celebrate Christmas with my family. We are 18 all together. Each of my daughters has a boyfriend with her, so our five grew to 8. This is a first for us. Last night the eight of us went out to a restaurant to eat and hear my brother play. What fun! The sisters requested “Sidney Elf,” a Christmas song Hunter wrote when they were younger. We all sang along when up pops Sidney, Hi de doo!

Tonight the 18 of us will get together to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. We are all so grateful to be together and to know my parents are happy and healthy. We have much to be grateful for and to celebrate!

Christmas 2013

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City Lights

See more of Poetry Friday at A Year of Reading with Mary Lee Hahn

See more of Poetry Friday at A Year of Reading with Mary Lee Hahn

Before the Christmas break, I sat down with my students and asked them to set a goal for reading and writing over the break. I set one along with them and challenged myself to write 10 poems over the break. So far I have written four. And since we have a week to go, I may be able to meet my goal.

Images tend to send me into a more creative mood. My friend, Michelle Zimmerman, is a great photographer. I often take her photos from Facebook (with her permission) to use for writing prompts. On Christmas Day, she posted this image.

If you would like to write a poem to this image, you can post it in the comments or email it to me, and I’ll add it to the post. (margaretsmn at gmail dot com)

Photo by Michelle Zimmerman

Downtown Seattle. Photo by Michelle Zimmerman

City lights
climb the trees,
sit atop lampposts,
shine in the shape of a star.
Wherever you are,
darkness surrounds you
while the lights
of the city streets
tell you the time,
stop cars and buses,
send out the message:
You are not alone.
We are here to
light your way.

Dec. 25, 2013
Margaret Simon

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The Calm Before…

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

As many of you know, I write a Slice of Life every Tuesday. Usually I write it on Sunday because my weeks are full of lesson plans, school, meetings, errands… But this weekend I finished up the Christmas preparations. Yesterday, I ran errands. So this morning I am sitting in my warm kitchen with my dog Charlie on my lap, knowing that soon we will all be in here, my husband, my daughters, and me, cooking up a storm. I will attempt to make my mother’s dressing for tomorrow’s dinner. Jeff will be making a gumbo for tonight’s Christmas Eve celebration, and Martha will make lemon squares. But at this moment, I am having a quiet cup of coffee and listening to the calm.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be stressful. Even when I try to keep it low stress, stress creeps its ugly head in at some point or another. Yesterday, it came to me while I drove through CVS. I drove into the wrong lane, the drop off lane. I yelled at the poor clerk, “Was there a sign to tell me I couldn’t pick up here!”

Later I returned. No, I didn’t circle around and try again. I left. But the errand had to be done, so I tried again when I was calmer. The sign could not have been bigger on the overhang. On the left, Pick Up, and on the right, Drop Off Only. What an idiot! I smiled at the clerk and wished her a Merry Christmas. And I learned a lesson.

I hope your day today is free of stress, mixed with calm and chaos, and full of love.

Christmas Haiga.  Photo by Michelle Zimmerman

Christmas Haiga by Margaret Simon. Photo by Michelle Zimmerman

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Discover. Play. Build.
Morning Light, photo by John Gibson

Morning Light, photo by John Gibson

I temporarily forgot it was Saturday, Celebration Saturday. I was only thinking about the break. Whew! Here it is, two weeks off! I scheduled a facial this morning using a gift card my husband gave me for my birthday in August. I am Celebrating me today!

Celebrate imperfection and embrace holiness: Bishop Jake’s message touched me this morning. He always has some wonderful wisdom to offer. Today he tells us that we are not called to be perfect. We are born imperfect, and we will always be that way. This week my daughter, Martha, is home from Chicago. Celebrating her! She went to the eye doctor for the first time in probably more than 10 years. (Pass the guilt knife over.) She discovered not only that she is far-sighted like her mother, she also has a congenital defect in her optic nerve. The defect, Thank God, is harmless. Her amazing blue eyes are not perfect, but they are still lovely.

I spend a lot of time trying to be perfect. I would guess many of us do. It was refreshing to hear that I am not perfect and never will be. However, I am holy. This comes with a huge responsibility. To fully be holy, I need to accept others with open arms. I need to connect daily. I need to love fully. For more inspiration, read Pelican Anglican.

God did not make us to be perfect. He made us to be holy, to live into his image. God is love, and so love is the point of human life. And just in case you haven’t noticed, love is messy. God didn’t come to clean up the mess. He came to make it holy. To make it the holy mess he had in mind in the first place.
–Bishop Jake Owensby

Celebrating connections: I posted a full moon photo on Wednesday. My father posted one too, from his home in Mississippi. I wrote a haiku and have placed it over his photo to create a haiga. I learned about haiga from my Poetry Friday friend, Diane Mayr. She posted window haiga this week. Mine is a moon haiga.

Photo by John Gibson.  Haiku by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Photo by John Gibson. Haiku by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

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2013 poetry swap with stamp included
Tabatha Yeatts connects poets all year long. I signed up for her winter poetry swap and received a package from Diane Mayr this week. Diane doesn’t know me in person. We’ve never spoken on the phone, but she took the time to read my blog and even researched Louisiana. I was so delighted by her poem for me that I wanted to share it with you. She also sent a copy of her book Littlebat’s Halloween Story. It’s a precious children’s book told from the point of view of Littlebat as he looks in at a library from the attic. This bat loves stories and wants to stay awake to hear them. Clever story and amazing illustrations. Thanks so much, Diane, for your generous, creative spirit. Diane writes a blog at Random Noodling.

reflections on the teche copy

See more of Poetry Friday at Buffy's Blog.

See more of Poetry Friday at Buffy’s Blog.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

On Saturday, I attended the Solomon House Christmas party. We started giving this party a few years ago for the families we serve. The party is fun for the kids. We have treats and pizza, candy canes, games, and always…Santa. Well, except maybe this year. Our usual Santa (St. Nick) just plain forgot, or was not given a sufficient urging; nevertheless, he was not there, and here we were with a parish hall full of families and no Santa.

No worries. The president of the board to the rescue. Susan is the queen of Goodwill shopping. I think she goes at least once a week. And back in July she couldn’t pass up a Santa suit for $9.99. I mean, who would pass that up? So she sent her husband out to pick up the suit while we stalled with cookies and Christmas carols. When he returned, she grabbed her 18-year-old son and suited him up. Put a man in a Santa suit, and you have transformed him into every child’s hero. Amazing power of red and white synthetic fur.

Our party was a success, and some needy families went home with bags of gifts. Many volunteers make this possible, but I think there must be some divine intervention that makes someone buy a Santa suit in July.

Santa Will

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Discover. Play. Build.

This week I am celebrating service to the community. At one of my schools I sponsor a leadership group. For the last two weeks, we collected pajamas. For each pair of pajamas donated, the teachers matched with a book. If a student or teacher participated, they were able to wear PJs to school on Thursday. We collected 105 pairs of PJs to give to Solomon House, an outreach mission of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

pajamas and books

On Friday I took a group of students to Solomon House. They helped sort food that had been donated through the Food Net Drive. They also walked (or ran) the labyrinth in the backyard.

helping at Solomon House

labyrinth walk

As today we remember the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, let’s celebrate kindness. What acts of kindness will you do today? 26 Random Acts of Kindness

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As much of the country experiences cold temperatures, freezing ice and snow, I am thinking about this Christmas song. In the Bleak Midwinter is a poem by Christina Rossetti written prior to 1872.

My poetry book Illuminate, features the following poem, Outside Salzburg to my father’s first Christmas card drawing. My brother recorded a CD to accompany our book. Following my reading of this poem, he sings “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

Take a moment to focus on the season of Christmas.
Slow down.
Pray for peace.
As we feel the cold chill of the winter air and remember the tragedy of Sandy Hook, may we embrace each other a little longer
and find special ways to show kindness to one another and to our world.

Outside Salzburg

From the train, snow-covered hills beckon
outside Salzburg. The whistle echoes.
Trees stand tall and barren.
Weary travelers stare in wonder.

Somewhere in the distance,
a child is torn from his mother’s arms,
a beggar reaches out with empty hands,
Somewhere, a woman grieves for her lost lover.

But here—on the road to Innsbruck—
a church glistens on the smooth,
unblemished snow, calling out
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

To order a copy of Illuminate with CD by Hunter Gibson, click here. To order on Amazon, click here. I’ll give away a copy with CD to a randomly selected commenter.

For more great poems, join Poetry Friday over at Tabatha Yeatts’ place, The Opposite of Indifference.

poetry friday button

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