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Archive for December, 2014

A Year of Open

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I don’t remember where I first read about choosing a single word for the year rather than making a bunch of resolutions that never happen. Lots of my blogging connections do this. My 2014 One Little Word has been Open.

Open collage
Open became a mantra for trying something new. I tried some new writing workshops. I tried some new art techniques. I even opened my heart to new friends. My openness helped me apply for and win the Donald Graves Award. Open felt like the just right word.

This word choosing is harder than you might think. I am looking for signs for my new 2015 word.

Guanyin

Is the sign in this little statue my husband gave me for Christmas? My Berry Queen name is Queen of Good Will. He said this goddess reminded him of that. She is Guanyin (or Kwan Yin), the Goddess of Mercy. She is made of soft wood and her cloak is wrapped tightly around her. She seems to be carrying a book.

I like that others see me as merciful and giving. However, this is an outside view of who I am. My One Little Word needs to be one that I will internalize, one that will inform my work in the world. My OLW has to be mine, not given or assigned to me. I’ll keep looking for signs. I believe it will be revealed to me soon.

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Bridge Picture

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Simon cousins 1995

Simon cousins 1995

When my father-in-law was alive, he was an amateur photographer. He and my mother-in-law would go on birding trips, she with her binoculars and he with his camera. Years ago he had a darkroom set up in the laundry room. His 85th birthday would have been on December 21st, the winter solstice. He died ten years ago this November.

Papa would annually pose the cousins on a small wooden bridge over the creek (or coulee in South Louisiana) in their backyard. My children being the oldest cousins remember this fondly. My youngest daughter announced on Christmas that she wanted a “bridge picture.” Two of the cousins are missing, but five of them (my three and my sister-in-law’s two) lined up on the bridge for a 2014 photo. Today on this Celebration Saturday, I celebrate the memory of Papa and the love of family, especially cousins.

Simon cousins 2014

Simon cousins 2014

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Find more Poetry Friday at Holly's blog, Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Find more Poetry Friday at Holly’s blog, Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Carol Varsalona sent out an invitation to all poets to submit to the Finding Fall Gallery. I had the pleasure of meeting Carol in person at NCTE. She has an enthusiasm that is contagious. I know she spent all Christmas Day putting together her FInding Fall Gallery. I know because I was getting emails and Tweets about it. She has graciously featured my students and myself. Please treat yourself to a walk through the gallery of poems. It’s a beautiful space to be in. Thanks, Carol. Link to Finding Fall Gallery.

My fall poem with an image chosen by Carol.

My fall poem with an image chosen by Carol.

Emily's fall zeno poem.

Emily’s fall zeno poem.

Vannisa's fall poem.

Vannisa’s fall poem.

Kielan made an Animoto video with her fall poem.

Don’t forget to link over to Carol’s site for more beauty and words.

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Christmas on the bayou

The house is quiet.
There is the faint smell of gumbo from last night’s dinner.
An echo of voices from family and friends lingers.
The dogs are pacing. They know this day is different. Someone else is here.
The presence is palpable. The gifts piled high under the tree, all touched by loving hands hoping this is the one special gift. Waiting.

St. Nicholas

I am still singing the carols from last night’s Christmas Eve service. St. Nicholas made his annual surprise visit during the children’s sermon. He left candy in all the shoes outside the red door. Greetings from extended families, hugs all around.

As the years go by, Christmas changes. The girls are in their twenties now, so they sleep most of the morning. I am an early riser. I’ve finished coffee number two. The stockings are all filled and waiting. Even though there are changes, there is one thing that remains, love. Christmas is love. Christmas is receiving the love of Christ into our hearts.

Our priest expressed it well last night. As he held a baby in his arms, he talked about how the mother must smile at the baby for her to learn to smile. God smiled on us in the form of Jesus. His smile sends love into our hearts. May you feel the warmth and love of God’s smile today and every day.

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Chrismons decorate a large fir tree in our church.

Chrismons decorate a large fir tree in our church.

On Saturday, I attended an Advent Quiet Day led by my friend Brenda. She asked us to contemplate receiving gifts, being a better receiver. Having quiet time in the midst of the bustle of Christmas preparations was a gift that I was there to receive.

I wrote this in my journal.

Gifts abound. Friends who respect and care for me, a family that not only needs me but wants me. The obligations of mothering are fewer as my children become adults. I am given the gift of watching now, watching them be who they are. This watching fills my heart with pride. Sisters–their strong bond keeps them grounded and loved.

For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139

That was long ago.
From my mother’s womb,
I have strayed and lost my way.
I have tarried too long in the weeds.
My hands are scarred.
My feet are swollen and sore.
I cannot wait.
My impatience is debilitating.

I must take time to keep watch and wait.
The darkness of the winter night
soothes my wandering, busy mind.

Rest.
Wait.
Watch.
Recognize the need to walk on.
Take the long road.
The journey will guide you.
Keep walking.

–Margaret Simon

My Christmas wish for you is that you will have time to sit in silence, reflect on your journey, and prepare for the coming of Christ and the coming of a new year.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

This last week before our Christmas break, my students created book talks. Unfortunately, Powtoon is being blocked by the network, so the choices of digital media were limited to Emaze and Animoto. I am still a big fan of Animoto. I have even purchased a longer time for my students’ videos. The platform does not allow for much text, so I tell them that the bulk of the text needs to be written in their book talk. The Animoto enhances their talk. Another thing I like about Animoto is the videos can be uploaded to YouTube and easily embedded on a blog.

A few weeks ago, Julie Johnson posted this blog about reflecting digitally. While my students do not have tablets, they could still reflect. After each presentation, I asked them a few reflective questions. I was pleasantly surprised that their choices for design were intentional. I will continue to use Animoto and hope the site continues to be free or reasonably priced and easily used.

Andrew, a second grader made this Animoto (his first) about Kate Messner’s Ranger in Time.

Emily chose the music on her video to reflect the idea that each person is an individual. She thoroughly enjoyed Sisters and her excitement over the book showed in her video. She asked me to take pictures of certain pages in the book to make her point clear.

Use of technology is a line on my rubric for book talks. Technology offers a wide range of choices for enriching presentations and motivating students to be intentional about their choices.

Add your own DigiLit Sunday post with Mr. Linky.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Last Saturday, New Iberia commemorated artist George Rodrigue with a day of festivities and a Christmas parade. George Rodrigue (1944-2013) is a well-known Louisiana artist who created the iconic “Blue Dog.” He grew up in New Iberia. The whole downtown is colored blue with blue lights and blue decorated windows. My Berry Queen sister, Cathy, made us matching blue dog poodle skirts to wear in the parade. We all word blue wigs. The streets were lined with festive parade-goers.

Blue Dog Berry Queens

Blue Dog Berry Queens

The Shadows always looks beautiful. Our final day of performance was Monday. My student Erin, dressed as Harriet Weeks, looks out dreamily to the gardens below.

Harriet surveys the Shadows

Harriet surveys the Shadows

I caught a nasty cold and spent Thursday afternoon on my soft sofa with Charlie at my side. Even though it took illness to get me there, I was grateful for the quiet time to watch the twinkling Christmas tree.

My view

My view

Jack, the lemur, became part of our origami Christmas popper making. Vannisa set up a “photo shoot” with him among the wrapping paper. Together we wrote a Christmas poem for you. Merry Christmas everyone! Celebrate!

Jack the lemur wishes you a very merry Christmas!

Jack the lemur wishes you a very merry Christmas!

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