Thursday, April 10, 2014

Natalie Lloyd Visit Was More Than Just a "Snicker" of Awesome!

I love it when I'm in the right place at the right time!  It doesn't happen often, but when it does the pay off is almost always perfect.  Shortly after I posted about A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, I was at the Dublin Literacy Conference.  Our main book seller at the conference is Fundamentals Book Store in Delaware, OH.  The owner, Tami and I were having a conversation about Snicker and I noticed that Natalie Lloyd would be coming to the public library in Delaware and I commented that I would have to put that on my calendar.  That's when the kiddie lit gods smiled on me!

Tami said, "You know, she would like to visit and elementary school, are you interested?"

WHAT!?  YES! WHERE DO I SIGN UP!?


 So Tuesday, we welcomed author Natalie Lloyd to Bailey.  What a treat!  We crowded, and I mean crowded, all 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders into the library with kids sitting on tables and standing in the aisles.  She presented for 15 or 20 minutes and then opened the floor to questions.  The kids were awesome and their un-coached questions were very well thought out.  It was obvious that they had either read the book closely or their amazing classroom teachers shared it with them.


I was fascinated with how much of the book actually mirrors Natalie's life.  Family and friends were the  inspiration for many of the characters.  She share photos of her grandparent, parents and pet dog, Biscuit.  The musical piece in the story was inspired by her grandfather and the photo of his well loved guitar and banjo was beautiful.  It really drove home the fact that if you write about what you know, you will never lack for ideas or authenticity.   She admitted to me that she was nervous to be in front of such a large group, it was only her fourth presentation, but I told her not to worry, the kids would love her because she wrote a great book that they love.  As expected, she was a natural and warm in front of them, and they loved her.

She signed autographs carrying on smooth conversations with the kids as the stood at the table and many of them commented on how much they liked listening to her Tennessee accent.  I'll admit, I did too!  She finished a whirl wind visit by signing the wall in THE PIT and that was it.

I love that we get these opportunities to host authors sort of last minute and quick, and what a memory for our kids.  Thank you Natalie Lloyd and Tami for making this happen.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Celebrate! - April 5


I haven't been a regular attendee on Saturdays for quite some time, but after being fortunate enough to hear Ruth speak today at central Ohio's Literacy Connection workshop, that is going to change right now.

Things I am celebrating this beautiful Saturday:

1) The gorgeous sunshine blessing us.  There is something about a sunny spring day that just puts an extra spring in my step (pun intended).

2) Lunch with colleagues.  A normal work week would find me trying to finish lunch in either 25 or 40 minutes, depending on whether or not I had recess duty.  Today, at the workshop, we had a leisurely hour and a half, so many of us headed out to nearby restaurant and had the opportunity to enjoy a more relaxing lunch than on a typical day.

3) Colleagues and my PLNs.  Today, I was surrounded my people I consider colleagues and also people who are part of my personal learning networks.  Educators from a variety of districts and states were present, and I learned much from many of them.  How fortunate I am to have found people near and far that help me grow as an educator.

4) Ruth.  In my world, Ruth is a one-name moniker much the same way that Oprah is to others.  Ruth inspires me with her faith, her love of family, her dedication to our profession, and her love of children.  Her passion for writing and conversing about how to celebrate writing are even more reasons she is so special.  Spending the day listening to, and learning from, Ruth was both humbling and joyful.

5) My mom was a bit better when I visited her in rehab after the workshop.  She unfortunately developed a case of C. diff while recuperating from her latest hip replacement, and it was quite horrible for her.  It probably set back her recovery a few days.  She was looking much better today, and the antibiotics seem to be doing their work.

So yes, this is a celebration Saturday!  For more celebrations, head over to Ruth's blog to gather joy.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Break

After reading all of my blog partner's posts about her relaxing Hilton Head Spring Break, I was struck by the difference in our time away.  While my spring break wasn't as relaxed and laid back as Karen's, it was, however, no less fulfilling.  The Lovely Mrs. Prosser and I flew to Orlando to hook up with Meredith, who is student teaching there.  It was an whirl wind, eye opening week for us.

Since enrolling at Ashland University four fast years ago, Meredith has had the goal of being part of their Southern Internship Program.  Originally, she wanted nothing more than to spend her 12 weeks of student teaching in Celebration, the town created by Disney just outside the parks.  Her dream was to teach at Celebration School, and be Cinderella in the summers.  As she progressed through the education program at AU, she began to have second thoughts.  Not only about the Celebration dream, but teaching in general, she hadn't had that classroom experience that helped keep her teacher fire going and she wasn't sure it was the right field for her.  If you've read any previous posts about Meredith, you know that I know she has that "it" factor of teaching that can't be taught, so we knew she was a born teacher she just needed to stick with it.

In the fall this year she had an outstanding experience in Shelby, OH with a cooperating teacher that saw what we have seen all of these years, a natural born teacher.  Here supervisor from Ashland saw it too, and Meredith's fire for the classroom began to see a spark again, then she was chosen for the internship program, and the director, Joe Hendershott, a guy I grew up with, worked very hard to find just the right placement for Meredith.  For the first 6 weeks she taught in Sarasota, FL, just 10 minutes from the #1 beach in the United States, according to the signs.  Her second 6 weeks would fulfill her dream, she was assigned to Celebration School.Ashland's program pairs the students with host families in the school districts and the two families Meredith stayed with could not be any nicer and welcoming to her. 

Each time we talked with Meredith the spark that started in Shelby, grew and her passion for the profession was back.  She loved living in Sarasota with her runs on the beach, the sunny weather, avoiding the horrible Ohio winter, and quickly realized that she is a misplaced beach person.  She really felt it was where she was meant to be all along.  The Lovely Mrs. Prosser and I sensed a contentment in Meredith that we hadn't before and both agreed with her that Florida is where she belongs.

When we met up with her she had just finished her second week in Celebration and they were on break this past week so we were able to spend the whole week together.  As I said, it wasn't a relaxing break, we drove from Orlando to Sarasota to Fort Myers and back to Orlando in the first 3 days.  We visited family, walked on a cloudy beach at Siesta Key on a day of rain, and spent one sunny day on Hickory Island Beach.  Through it all we had time with Meredith.  Time to talk about her plans, time to help her think about her plans, time to look into what she needs to do to teach in Florida, and time to appreciate the independent young lady she has become.  The weather wasn't great, and it was a busy time, but as she dropped us off at the airport yesterday, this sentimental father couldn't help getting a little teary eyed. My baby girl is grown up and grown up good.  We couldn't be prouder of her.

I know there is a beach town in Florida that will have an amazing young teacher next year.  It makes me happy to see Meredith happy.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things - SOL, March 27


"These are a few of my favorite things..."

This was a wonderful week for me; an opportunity to recharge and rejuvenate.  Many things made me happy; the words Maria sang in Sound of Music have been a soundtrack in my mind as I thought about what brought that happiness:

University of Dayton has been doing incredibly well in the NCAA tournament.  After sharing much of our money with UD the past four years to pay for our youngest daughter's education, I am incredibly excited at how well they are performing.

After a long cold winter, the opportunity to pursue outdoor activities that didn't (well, usually didn't) require a winter coat was appreciated.  Many walks on the beach, several days of golf, reading by the beach and pool,  and riding a bike for miles - these activities were gifts this week.

Being able to eat fresh seafood is one of my favorite parts of being here at Hilton Head.  Whether it was walking across the street to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store and having them steam the shrimp as I waited, or going to one of many excellent restaurants found on the island, much seafood was consumed.

Quality time spent with both our oldest daughter, Kate, and my husband.  Kate lives in DC, so it's easy to understand why I treasure my time with her.  However, my husband and I have been so busy the past few months, it was wonderful to get the chance to relax and spend unhurried time together.

One of my absolute favorite things this week was watching my husband and daughter be readers totally immersed in all the books they chose to read.  I know they are both individuals who love to read, but oftentimes don't have the opportunity to relax and get lost in a book.  Getting away for a vacation provided that time, and they both engaged with many books.  A sight like the one below was not an uncommon one this week and it brought joy to my heart.

Though not visible, these two are
both engrossed in the books on their
respective Kindles.
For more slices, head over to Two Writing Teachers blog.  Four more days; enjoy the daily slices while they last and then join Slice of Life on Tuesdays after that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cold in Carolina - SOL, March 26

It was cold in South Carolina today.  Specifically, there were freeze warnings, and it didn't make it out  of the 30's until after 11 AM.  Now I know I probably have some friends laughing, knowing that they have snow on the ground or in the middle of a blizzard where they are.

Cold in Carolina?  The 30's?  Please, Karen, be serious.  That's not real cold.  Get a grip.

Because I knew there would be no sympathy on this issue from some of you, I decided to embrace this day and all of its temperature fluctuations.  I wasn't going to let a few degrees stop me from enjoying the day.

This morning, I put on at least 4 layers on the top, and 3 layers on the bottom for my daily walk along the beach.  It was brisk, with a stiff ocean breeze blowing as well.  But, I was able to enjoy several things along the way during my hour-long walk:

  • the waves were barely breaking; the ocean was as smooth as glass
  • the sun was shining brightly; not a cloud in the crystal blue sky
  • the dolphins playing and cavorting as they looked for food
  • greeting several of my new-found Hilton Head friends
  • watching little ones play in the sand, and reflecting back on the days our girls did the same -- so many great memories!
This afternoon, it warmed up to a balmy 50 degrees and I was grateful because my husband and I had gotten a tee time to play golf.  I'm normally a very fair-weather golfer, so this was going outside my comfort zone, but once again, I layered my golf clothing and was good to go.  It was a great afternoon:
  • we have been looking forward to getting out on the golf course all winter
  • though my score might indicate otherwise, I was quite happy with several of my shots
  • Myron and I had time to be alone and talk since we weren't paired up with another two-some
  • we got to see at least 20 turtles and 3 huge alligators sunning themselves (luckily our shots didn't land anywhere near those big guys!)
So yes, it was cold in South Carolina today, but we made it work anyway.  I'm sure that the year-round residents were shaking their heads at the crazy people outside, but it turned out to be a day full of surprises and fun.  And a lot of layered clothing.


With only 5 days to go, be sure to check out the other slices at Two Writing Teachers blog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vacation Friendly - SOL, March 25

Anyone who knows me well would agree that I am not a particularly outgoing person in large, social crowd situations or with new people.  In small groups or with close friends,  I can talk a mile a minute, oftentimes sharing too much.  But in larger groups or with new people, I tend to hold back, observe the different conversations, and figure out where I might best insert myself.

That reserved nature has been thrown out the window this week.  I have initiated conversations with more strangers than I can ever remember.

I met an older lady walking down the breezeway on the floor of our condo unit.  We engaged in a 5 minute conversation about how she was walking the different halls of our 5-story facility as opposed to the beach where the wind was blowing fiercely.  We talked about where we came from (Ohio and Minnesota respectively) and the importance of walking on a daily basis.

I have had several elevator conversations, something I normally avoid at all costs.  I have discovered where people live (many of them were from Canada), how long they have been down here (1 month is the average), what the weather has been like back home (for the Canadians, anywhere from 1 - 4 feet of snow await them), and what restaurants they might recommend.

At the pool, I ran into the same lady three days in a row.  We have become the best of friends, discussing how cold is too cold to be sitting by the pool, sharing titles of books we are reading, and talking about where our homes are.

So what's with this new chatty Karen - this person who is conversing with so many strangers?  I'm not sure, but I think it might be related to how relaxed I am feeling this week; it seems to have taken out a layer of inhibitions I might normally have had.  I am enjoying the ability to be open to new experiences and people when I have the "room" in my brain to take it all in.

And it's been a blast!

For more slices, head on over to Two Writing Teachers blog.

Monday, March 24, 2014

That Good Kind of Tired - SOL, March 24

Last night, I felt just like my children when they were younger.  On the first, nice spring day after a long winter stuck inside, they would play outside to their hearts' delight.  Then, that evening, as they ate dinner, filling their bellies with food, their eyelids would begin to get droopy, their bodies would begin to slouch, and their movements would begin to slow down.  Simple fine motor skills like spearing a piece of food with a fork and getting it into their mouth would become a challenge.  All that fresh air and play appeared to be their undoing.

Now, fast forward 20-plus years, and the same thing happened to me yesterday.  It was a gorgeous day, and I was determined to be outside for the majority of it.  As many of you know, it has been a long, cold winter, and I wanted to enjoy every last minute of the amazing weather here in Hilton Head.  I took several walks on the beach (one of them particularly long) and spent the rest of the time outside reading - on the beach, on the sun deck overlooking the dunes and beach, and on our balcony.

So, by the time I got to dinner, I had spent much time in the fresh air laden with pollen (an oxymoron I know), ocean breeze blowing, sound of the waves lulling me into relaxation.  As hungry as I was, the movements to my mouth became lethargic (and that never happens) and the sounds of the conversation at our table with my husband and daughter became muted.

When we got back to our condo at what seemed like the ungodly late hour of 8 PM, the two of them wanted to walk across the street and get some ice cream.  More steps?  More food?  I just didn't think that was a possibility for me, so I "let" them have some father/daughter time and I went upstairs to put on my jammies and settle into a good book until they got home.

By some miracle, I was still awake when they got back.  But not by much.  I actually fell asleep on four different occasions before finally admitting that sleeping in the bed was where I needed to be.  At what I thought was 11 PM, I headed back to bed.  But I noticed that the alarm clock in the bedroom said 10:02, so I reset it to 11:02, thinking it hadn't been done since Daylights Savings Time began last week.

I slept like a log through the night, waking up when my clock said 6:30 this morning, feeling fairly rested.

I bet you know where this is headed.  Turns out I actually did go to bed last night at 10 PM, something unheard of for me, and probably why in my sleep-deprived mind, I was so certain the clock was wrong and not me.

When I woke up ready to embrace another new day here in Hilton Head, and maybe even see the sun rise, I walked out to the kitchen and living room area and realized that all the clocks said 5:30.  Whoops!  I guess I was that good kind of tired last night and actually did officially go to sleep at 10:00.

I thought about heading back to bed, because who gets up on vacation at this hour?  But I decided to take another route instead -- I am writing my Slice for today, will comment on other Slices, and with any luck, I will see the sunrise soon. And I'm pretty sure there will be a nap outside in my future as well.

Have a great Monday!  Check out the other slices at Two Writing Teachers blog.