Archive for December, 2015

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.


We cannot  attain the presence of God because we’ re  already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God ‘s love is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another, it means that God is choosing us now and now and now. —Richard Rohr


An elderly couple came to the door and handed my father a pamphlet.

“Are you seeking the kingdom?”

My father replies, “You don’t have to seek it.  I know where it is.  Right here. Right now.”

“We are talking about the kingdom of GOD?” pressing the pamphlet forward into his hands.

“Yes, you don’t have to seek the kingdom.  It’s here. You just need to pay attention.”

At those words, the evangelists turned and left.


Moments before this visit, Dad was reading W.H. Auden’s poem, For the Time Being. “And because of His visitation, we may no longer desire God as if he were lacking.  Our redemption is no longer a question of pursuit, but of surrender to Him who is always and everywhere present.”


What makes the paper whites bloom
on this cold morning? Opening
up like lace droplets
on the dormant garden?

Who tells the white pelicans
to go to convention on the lake?
A gathering of pruning, splashing,
fishing. Awkward grace
in a cloud of white.

A poem will come if you let it.
Sit with His presence for a while.
Moment by moment, we are here
to praise.

–Margaret Gibson Simon


Photo by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Photo by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.


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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.


sunburst Reach


My One Little Word for 2015 was Reach.  To be honest, I haven’t thought much about this word lately.  Why did I choose Reach?  I began the year with the image of an oak tree with outstretched branches.  I wanted to be like this oak, grounded in strong faith and reaching to new heights.  How have I done that this year?

Yesterday I took a walk in my parents’ neighborhood.  I have a new camera that I am playing with.  I learned that you can’t take pictures of birds when you are walking.  They flee.  But the clouds.  Oh, the clouds were amazing as the rainy heavy ones gave way to the light, the blue behind.  I took many cloud pictures.  (The one above I enhanced somewhat in Picmonkey.)

Where are those goals that I was reaching for?  They are illusive as goals tend to be.  I looked and noticed and was present to the moment of walking.  I captured this image.  This one is not altered.

winter red berries

Perhaps my reaching has become seeing, noticing, and being present to the given moment.  If a star cannot be reached, it can be your guide.  These last few days of 2015 seem to be pointing me beyond reaching, forward to a realization of who I am, right here, right now.  That’s not such a bad place to be.

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Poetry Friday round-up with Irene Latham at Live your Poem.

Poetry Friday round-up with Irene Latham at Live your Poem.

St. Nick visit

Merry Christmas Poetry Friday! My celebration began last night at our Christmas Eve service. St. Nick visits each year and tells a story to the children. He also leaves candy in their shoes that they left at the church door. Since it was 80 degrees yesterday, their little bare feet did not get cold.

On Christmas Eve Eve, our choir with some children tag alongs went caroling at two local assisted living facilities. We brought Santa along. I love this picture of Baby Jacques cuddling up to Santa.

Jacques with Santa

Tabatha Yeatts gathers names and addresses to spark a poetry exchange. I received a lovely package from Linda Baie in cold Colorado. She sent a poet’s set from our own Robyn Hood Black’s Etsy shop.

Poetry gift exchange

Linda crafted a black-out poem especially for me and mounted it on a Christmas collage. It’s lovely.

Christmas poem from Linda

passage home
round the lamp
beam each one in his own way,
making others idle
giving coats
strong enough
for bad weather.
lined on the inside with flannel,
every one did something
for the season

Friday, December 25th.
This day was Christmas;
all day long, and
a holiday dinner
Old Style celebrated
drank, ate

finished all
another answered
very well
magnificent light
carrying us
fine day

–Linda Baie

Winter Poem Swap 2015 smaller copy

May you and yours enjoy this day and always the blessings of Christmas Joy.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver; Chunky and noisy, but with stars in their black feathers, they spring from the telephone wire and instantly they

Source: Starlings in Winter, poem – Mary Oliver poems | Best Poems

I want to be light and frolicsome.I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing,as though I had wings. copy

We received some rough news this week. A diagnosis. A good friend. A young mother.

How do we handle this cancer nightsoil in the midst of Christmas carols and wrapping and baking. Where is the joy? I am struggling to find it.

I found it on Facebook, of all places, where her neighbor set up a Caring Bridges site. There’s a picture of over 50 people gathered in prayer. I texted, “I am overwhelmed by what you are doing.”

“It’s hard to accept the love that comes with such a crappy thing.”

So I will find joy in the love. Love of my family, my friends far and near, and of God’s word made flesh.

Watch the light of the full moon tonight, this Christmas Eve, hold your loved ones tight. Because this moment is all we have. Merry Christmas!

candle light

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Slice of Christmas

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Jesse Tree in our church

Jesse Tree in our church

As I sit down finally to write my slice, I look outside. It’s dark, already! Today (Monday) is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It feels like I snapped my fingers and the day was done. My list is long, and even though school is out, I don’t feel like there is enough time. This happens every Christmas. When will I learn to start early?

Pumpkin bread is filling my kitchen with the scent of something good. The Hallmark channel is on, and I am watching yet another holiday movie, a guilty pleasure. After two trips to the shipping place (they know me by name), I put the final packages in the mail. I finished the Christmas cards. And I replaced the burned-out string of lights on the stairway.

I am not telling you about losing my car in the Walmart parking lot… in the rain. I am not telling you about the failed gift to my students…plastic candy canes full of M&Ms = M&Ms on the floor. I am not telling you about burning my finger on the curling iron. Nope, not going to tell you about it.

I’m not telling you these things because they are minor and mean nothing. When the days shorten, and we are left alone looking out at the dark night, may we see the shooting star, make a wish, and let it go. Let it go! And Merry Christmas, everyone!

Our 2015 Christmas card: a sister selfie.

Our 2015 Christmas card: a sister selfie.

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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.

The last week before Christmas break is a bit like the end of school, exciting, crazy, rushed, and long all at the same time. On Tuesday, my students had a visitor. What a treat! Margaret George is a local artist. She designed a window on Main Street that was full of little things kids love. So I asked her if she would come and paint ornaments with my students.

Artists like Margaret live in their imagination, so they can be scattered and perhaps a bit unorganized. But not Margaret George. She arrived early. She had a box full of supplies that included a glitter globe. She even brought cups for water, plates for paint, and an ornament tree to hang them on as they dried. She thought of everything.

My students gathered around the table and were engrossed in paint and artful play for two hours. Margaret bought glittery gold reindeer ornaments at the Dollar Store. She covered the glitter with white gesso paint. This gave the students a new surface to paint on. And she brought glitter that made the ornaments look like they were covered in sugar. Today I celebrate the gifts of a local artist, sparkly glitter, and the magical days before Christmas.

painting ornaments

Emily reindeer

reindeer ornaments

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A Story in Haiku

Poetry Friday round-up with Diane at Random Noodling

Poetry Friday round-up with Diane at Random Noodling

Won Ton and Chopstick  is a cutie-pie story in haiku.  I shared it with my students this week and a funny thing happened.  They were compelled to read it chorally.  These short verses about Won Ton, the cat, and his new friend (maybe) Chopstick, the puppy,  are clever and witty.

Wonton and Chopstick

Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlow

When searching for a website, I came across this great activity for kids.  Wish I had found it sooner!

We  quickly figured out that it’s not so easy to write a story in haiku.  I tried a few drafts about my cat Mimi.

Bow tie mustache bites
at open faucet, waiting
for drip-water to fall.

Oh, that Christmas tree,
lights and hanging ornaments
a feline playground.

Rip, tear, gnaw, paw, rip
Ribbon scatters, glitter rains,
Here’s the cardboard box.

–Margaret Simon

Mimi Christmas Tree

Lynzee, first grade, and I worked together.  She’s been studying pandas for her passion project, so she wanted to write a panda story.

Two Pandas

Brother panda eats
bamboo leaves high on a shoot
Chomp! Chomp! Delicious!

The Unexpected Surprise

Brother pounces hard
wakes Sister with a Beep! Beep!
Then he runs away.

Mother Saves the Day

Sister yawns lazily
runs inside to Mother
who holds mug of warm tea.


Emily is in gifted art class.  She is working on a hero art project.  Her hero is Cynthia Lord who wrote A Handful of Stars.  This post tells why.

a handful of stars
all shades of blue and purple
blueberries fill page

patterns and designs
with stars,stripes,splatters, and dots
it’s a masterpiece

finalizing it
adding the stars on top
Cynthia Lord, proud


Madison, 2nd grade, chose Atlantis on Wonderopolis this week and made her poem into an Animoto video.







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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

In Sunday’s paper, there was an article titled “Dance with the Spirit.” I read about liturgical dance in a local Catholic church. I haven’t seen this dance myself, but I was struck by the words of their leader.

A lot of people think entertainment is foolish, but God wouldn’t give you the gift if he didn’t want you to share it. –Brenda Moore

I carried this thought with me to church and through choir practice. I love my church choir. On most Sundays there are only four of us. We are known as “the heavenly choir” maybe because we sing from the loft or maybe because we sing heavenly.  The historical slave-made brick walls carry our voices into the sanctuary, transformed.

Last Sunday, my director, Leon, asked me to do a solo for this week. We practiced with the keyboard transposed to a lower key. I am an alto. I can sing mezzo soprano, but those high notes can be a struggle on my best days.

About 15 minutes before I was to sing, Leon could not get the keyboard to transpose. What this meant was I had to sing a high F. I tried to stay calm. Breathe. The practice went well. I kept thinking about the article and how God gave me the ability to sing, so I should share it. If I caved, I would disappoint myself, but more than that, I would not be honoring this gift.

The song spoke of God’s gift to Mary of Jesus. “That God should stoop from heaven, to be my son, said she.”

I gave it all I had. The sound of my voice echoed in the air of the sanctuary. I wrote a poem response:

My kingdom go
as your kingdom comes.
I become your voice
Lifted out of my own self-consciousness.

My song is your song,
As Mary accepted your call to be Mother,
I accept this call to sing
for you.

–Margaret Simon

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Magic Mike entertains

Magic Mike entertains

The magic started with a special visit from Magic Mike (not the dancer) at our annual Solomon House Christmas party. We invited ten families. We were all treated to a special magic show with Michael Dardant and my former student Magic Matt. This was the first time they performed together. My cheeks were hurting from so much laughter and joy. Our church had sponsored these families. We ate together, laughed together, and shared the gift of Christmas.

Nothing like a Christmas parade to put you into the holiday spirit. I joined the parade with my Berry Queens. The Magic on Main Street theme this year was Frozen, even though the temps were in the late 70’s at the time. We wore white wigs and blue or white dresses.

My best Berry Queen friend is Cathy, “Queen Puss-n-Boots.” She is a creative seamstress. I never know what she will create for us to wear. This year she created snowflakes on a baby blue skirt. She added fairy wings to our blouses. She knows how to make me look great.

During the parade, a few little girls wanted to take pictures with me, and one precious one gave me a hug. Spreading joy is rewarding and fun! “It’s Great Being Queenly in the Berry!”


Met up with beautiful Miss Iberia, Brandy Milliman.

Her Royal Highness talks the queenly talk with an itty bitty princess.

Her Royal Highness talks the queenly talk with an itty bitty princess.


My husband took me to dinner and dancing. He was not embarrassed one bit.

My husband took me to dinner and dancing. He was not embarrassed one bit.



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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

Last week I wrote about our Passion Projects. My students are continuing to work on these, but we’ve hit a few bumps along the road.

I am trying to tell myself that any worthwhile learning endeavor has road blocks. We just need to power through them.

On Monday, I had to have the serious talk about plagiarism. I showed Tobie how I could put the text of his writing into a Google search, and it would take me to the very site where he got the information. I explained that I was not interested in reading someone else’s work. “I want to hear your voice, your passion.”

Emily pouted and tore up her draft. She was distraught. To her, Mary Pope Osborn has a perfect voice. She lost confidence in her own passion. I gave her the you-are-a-writer speech, then I left her alone, and by Tuesday, she was writing again. And this time without even looking at the book.

Erin had decided to bullet-point facts for her project. This is a good craft move; however, as a class we had decided that the word count would be more than 300 words. She was in tears. I said, “You know everything you need to know about narwhals. Open your journal and just write what you know.” She eventually wrote two more paragraphs.

Before Erin’s road block, she spent a great deal of time making a color page. She has extended her project to be a service project. She wants to raise money to “adopt a narwhal.” She decided to use Paint to create her color page. I forget about this tool. It’s been around a long time. Sometimes the just-right tool has been there all along.

narwhal color page copy

If you are writing about digital literacy, link up your post. Be sure to come back by to read more posts.

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