Friday, December 26, 2014

Saturday Celebration: Christmas Books

 My celebration this week has to be about Christmas!  There is just so much to celebrate when you spend time with friends and family. A tradition I have started with our grandkids is that I give each of them a book.  It might be something they have asked for since they know I will be giving them one. Or it might be a book I think they will enjoy! Here are a few out of the twelve books I gave as gifts:
Graham comes to my house for a Playdate once a month after preschool. One of the things we do is to read a book. I have There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and also the old lady with all the things she swallowed. Graham loves to put them in her mouth as I read the book. Now he can read his own book!

Bam also comes once a month after preschool for a Gramma Playdate. Bam is a lover of horses. On the way to my house he counts the horses and horse trailers he sees. So naturally, I got him a new book about horses. He had to have his mom read it to him as soon as he got the book. I am sure he will be telling me new facts that he has learned from listening to this book being read to him!

Meron is now in first grade. Before she went to school I got to have her come to my house for Gramma Preschool twice a month for the whole morning. We did writing, math, science and cooked! But one of the things she loved was to read. I had the book Silly Sally by Audrey Wood in the large kindergarten size. We would get on the floor and I would read it to her. After awhile she was reading along with me. So, this year I got her Silly Sally for her own. She just had to read it to everyone that day. I told her how much she had grown because now she was reading it to me!

What a wonderful day to celebrate! We love our times together and especially as we celebrate the real reason for the season, the birth of our Savior.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours as you celebrate your own traditions!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: A Book Club Christmas

I love my book club.  I know I have said that before, but I really do love my book club! We met on Monday for lunch at our special place: Cebollas. The first thing we noticed as we shuffled back to the last booth, was the stocking hanging above our seats.  Juan was welcoming us!
We always tease Juan and ask him to join our club and discuss the book.  He grabs the book and seriously looks at the cover. Then with a serious voice he says, "Yes, this book has a title. It is a good title.  Okay, back to the gossip talk!"  He tells us that we talk about the book just a little and everything else a lot. 

Well, this time we had lots to say about Still Life by Louise Penny. We discussed the characters and how they interacted with each other. We discussed the setting and how we all would love to live in Twin Pines. We discussed the way the author used red herrings to throw us off the track. We talked about who had figured out the villain and who had been fooled. We loved the book so much, many of us want to read the whole series.
Yes, I love my book club for challenging me, for entertaining me and for always being there for me! These gals are the BEST. We have already picked our books for the next four months. We like to know what's coming!
Hope you have someone to share your reading thoughts with as you go through your reading times. Hope you also have a very Merry Christmas and that you get time to just sit back and enjoy a good book! (with candy and a cup of novel tea is perfect!)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: A Step Back in Time:

Our home is fifteen years old. We knew this day would come, but not at this time of year. The issue: a new dishwasher!

The week before Thanksgiving, we realized our old dishwasher, which we purchased when we built our house, was not doing the job it used to do.  We made the trip to a local store and after much deliberation, we purchased a new, top of the line, dishwasher! How exciting! It was to be delivered the day before Thanksgiving. We were hosting the big meal for my sister and her husband and my son and his family.  We NEEDED that dishwasher!

As promised, the installer came early on Wednesday morning and spent an hour hooking it up. Then he loaded the old one and took off. We loaded the machine and noise!  It did an amazing job. We were so happy.

Thanksgiving came and went with the usual joys of the season. Lots of food, great conversation and fun with two of the grandchildren. The dishwasher did its job and we felt the day was a success.

Fast forward to the following week. On Saturday morning, after a long walk with our dog, we came home to start a nice big breakfast. I checked the dishwasher, since I had done a load the night before. I wanted to unload it before I began cooking. What a shock when I saw the soap was still in the little container on the washer door. We tried all kinds of things to get it to work. Nothing!

Finally, we called the repair service of the store where we had purchased the washer. We were thrilled that they would come on Monday morning to repair it. Yes, we had a weekend of doing dishes by hand. We actually kind of enjoyed it.

On Monday, the service man came. He checked a few things and then gave us the news! The computer in the machine was not working. He ordered the part which will come this week in the mail. Then next Saturday he will come back and install it.

We are back to doing dishes by hand. I'm thinking of giving in to going out to eat all week. Then I started thinking of all the times I washed dishes by hand over the years. I remember fighting with my sister about who would wash and who would dry. I remember doing dishes as my son sat in the kitchen doing homework. I guess it is time to make more memories!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Book Club

I love my book club. I decided to join a book club, first of all, because I wanted to be able to tell my students that I read books and then talked about them.  (Just like I was asking them to do! ) It was a real life assignment!  I decided to join a book club that set up its own "rules". We meet once a month. We meet at a local restaurant. We read something that challenges us or not. The people who are in my book club are amazing, intelligent people. Well, most of the time!  They are fun, anyway!!
Last night was our monthly meeting to discuss this month's book and catch up on each others' lives. We also solved all the problems of the community, nation and the world. Well, maybe not really solve them, but we talked about them!  The manager of our book club restaurant knows us and gives us special treatment. We keep trying to get him to join the discussion of the book, but he says all we do is talk about other stuff.  He has given us his opinion of the cover once in a while!
This month we read The Kitchen House.  We were all glad we read it, even though some parts were emotionally difficult to get through. I would recommend this to other book clubs. We had plenty of discussion and opinions. We thought Kathleen Garrison did a great job of developing the characters to the point we really felt like we were right there in the moment!
 I think that is why it was so emotionally tough.
Our next book is Still Life by Louise Penny. We are not meeting until the end of December, so we should have plenty of time to read it. We are excited because this is a series book and we may have to read more of this author's work, even if it will be on our own. So, if you are in Auburn on December 22nd, head on over to Cebollas at 11:00 a.m., say hi to Juan, the manager, and be ready for some lively talk...we will discuss the book, too!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Celebration Saturday: Happy Anniversary!

Today I am celebrating our thirty-second anniversary. Here are a few pictures that show just a sample of some of the wonderful things we have been able to share.
We love to run. We have done everything from 5Ks to marathons together!


We had a great time at Disney with all our kids and grandkids!


We also love baseball, especially the Tigers!

We might get in trouble at times, but is this necessary?
We are always up for some fun, if it includes the grandkids!

Yes, I think we made the right choice 32 years ago!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Slice of Life: Talking about Themes

Last week I was able to visit another one of my favorite classrooms. This fifth grade group is so smart about talking about books. I was thrilled that they were working on that when I came that day. The focus of the day was: Themes of a book.
The class started by looking at a story in their basal reader. The students realized that they might have different viewpoints of what the theme was. They learned that it was okay to disagree about that. The children then shared what they thought the theme could be. But, that wasn't enough, they also had to prove it by stating from the text proof to back up their theory. 

Then in their reader's notebook they had a picture of a tree with a large trunk and bunches of leaves. On the trunk it said: THEME. On the bunches of leaves they had listed what makes up a theme: defendable opinion; moral or life lesson; implied-not necessarily stated.

After that, the teacher read the book: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. The students listened and jotted down three possible themes and how they would defend it. Quickly, they met in groups of 3 or 4 and shared their ideas. When they came back together, the teacher had several groups share one theme and the proof. What a smart bunch of kids!
While I was there, I shared with the teacher a new book that I had recently purchased. It is called Reading Projects Reimagined--Student-Driven Conferences to Deepen Critical Thinking by Dan Feigelson. This book is short and easy to read. It gives teachers a way to have children think for themselves while still guiding them. We always want kids to become independent thinkers and we want them to use comprehension and to use it on their own. So, that means..."teaching them to recognize, name, and extend their own ideas about what they read."
I think in this day of helping kids to read, comprehend, and defend their thoughts, Dan has given teachers a great tool to do just that!  A good addition to any professional library!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Time Out for Dave

Today is the first day of the rest of Dave's adventures with rehabilitation. He went to the surgeon and got a clean bill of health. It has been a long journey!
After several months of limping, each week getting worse and several visits to the local vet, we finally got to the real problem. Dr. Dave, our local vet, told us he had a torn ACL band and needed surgery.  We were directed to an animal emergency clinic and to Dr. Coolman. What a blessing that was!  Dr. Coolman gave us the sad, but good news. He could fix his leg. It was hard to leave him in the hands of someone else and let him stay there all night. He had never been away from home!
After the surgery, we were able to take him home the following day. He had to wear a cone so he didn't lick his wound. He had staples all up the front of his leg. He looked so sad. He slept most of the time the first week.
The other sad part was, he had to go on a serious diet. So, after the staples came out we put him in a strict diet program. He could only have the diet treats and we measured his food.  It didn't take long for him to realize we were serious and that meant no other treats! He couldn't walk much because of the healing of the bone. That didn't help!
So, he did a lot of sleeping.  We did play ball with me rolling the ball to him. We also learned a new game of hiding the ball in a plastic cup and then he had to find which cup it was under. He could only go outside to do his "business" walks!  He missed seeing all his friends and they missed him, too.
After eight weeks of rest and diet, he got the all clear sign from the doctor today. He was very pleased with his progress and that he had lost 5 pounds. He is now ready for physical therapy. We have guidelines to go by as he goes through this phase. He will gradually take short walks to build up the leg muscle and help with the weight loss. He is a much happier dog now and uses the leg like normal!  So glad to have our baby back to normal!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: It's Halloween Again

Halloween is such a fun holiday. It takes imagination to come up with costumes and even decorate the house! We started a tradition a few years ago and we just keep adding to it. We are so lucky to have our grand kids close to us, so we travel from house to house to see their costumes, take pictures and deliver goody bags! The pictures turn into photo books to keep as memories of the years. It is a great way to see how much they grow and change! Here's a peek of our memories over the last couple years!
Audrey and Mallory are Strawberry Shortcake and a Strawberry

Audrey as Snow White and Mallory as a dwarf
Audrey and Mallory always dress as a "couple". It is fun to see what they are going to be each year.
This was Kaelyn's first Halloween. Graham was a pumpkin

Last year Kaelyn was a flower and Graham was a doctor
Graham wanted to be a doctor after he got this outfit for his birthday. He said, "I'm Dr. Garman!"
Meron as a witch, Shelby as a clown and Bam is a pumpkin

Shelby was Thing 1, Meron was a cheerleader, Bam as Mr. T and Lane as himself
The creativity in costumes is amazing. It is interesting to see how the older kids start fading away and just want to pass out the candy. Still we love seeing them and they don't refuse the goody bags we bring them!

This year we are going to dress up as we visit them! Can't wait to see their faces!
What are your Halloween memories? 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Saturday Celebration: Visiting the Writers

Last week I was able to visit a new classroom. Being in this 5th grade classroom was a double blessing. First of all, I got to work again with a really talented teacher friend and also work with some amazing young writers.
I had been planning on visiting their writers' workshop and finally it was the right time. Before the teacher had a chance to introduce me, the students were raising their hands and giving opinions of who I was and why I was there. One of the guesses was: She's an author! Well, maybe that's true, but not a published one like they were thinking. Finally, the teacher told them that I was there to help them with their writing and to help her with her teaching of writing. The children were very impressed! Really, they were!

They were beginning work on nonfiction picture books. They had already decided on a topic. They chose a topic that they were experts at, things they could teach others. I was able to talk to three of the children. Vernon was working on a book about football. But this book was to help younger players understand what type of gear they would need. After talking for a few minutes, I was impressed with what an expert he was. We did look at his subtitles and combined several of them so he would have enough to write for each one.

Next, I talked to Montana. She was writing about making cakes. Again, we decided it would help if she combined some subtitles. Instead of one for eggs, one for mixing and one for frosting, we figured out how she could combine all of those into the actual mixing the cake. She came up with four different subtitles. Last was Terra. Terra was writing about taking care of babies. It seems she is an awesome aunt, so she knows a lot about babies. Again, we talked about how to combine sub topics.

Since these three students all had the same issue, I talked to the teacher about how that would be a perfect minilesson for the next day. I can't wait to go back to this room and see how these books are developing!
Soon it was time for the students to get ready to go home. I promised them I would come back several times this year. As I was gathering up my things, Terra came up to me and handed me this note. She said, "Thanks for helping me. You are really smart about writing, just like my teacher said."  See why I can't wait to get back there?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Narrative Writing

 Last week I visited a third grade classroom in a nearby school district. This was my first visit of the year. When I got there the children were working on their narrative writing. I was able to talk to four students about what they were writing.  All of them were doing stories about things that had happened to them.  I called them Edge of Your Seat stories because when I read them, I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.
Brandon was writing about a time he was in a storm. Amrie wrote about when she got a bee sting. Nicholas was telling a story about when he had a bike wreck and Gianni wrote about a time he was sick and had to miss a Christmas party.  All of these things are common among third graders, but they all were exciting. The beginning of the stories all had great hooks. You could tell they had been working on that.  They also had good endings. I felt satisfied when I finished reading each one.

Now the middle of the stories was another thing. This is so common with young writers. A couple of the stories went on and on and on. For example, Brandon told about what he was doing before the storm, during the storm and several days after the storm. When I talked to him we found the hot spot in the story...when the actual storm came...and focused on that. He slowed down the story and added what he was thinking and saying to his brother. He ended the story with going to bed with the candles still lit in his room.

Amrie had included several bee sting stories. She was trying to get the reader to know all about her experiences with bee stings. After talking to her, she decided to just focus on one bee sting adventure in this story and keep the other time for another story. Nicholas could close his eyes and picture the whole adventure of when the car hit him on the bike. He again slowed down the action and added his thoughts and conversation to his story.
This was the first time these children had worked on narrative this year. They were doing amazing things. As they published their pieces, the teacher and I discussed where she would go in a few months when she hit this genre again. I really like the idea of coming back to genres throughout the year. I know these children will take what they learned in this unit of study and apply it to their next visit.  Can't wait to see how they grow as writers this year!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Fall is Here

 The signs of fall in northern Indiana are at their peek right now. The neighborhood has turned into a blaze of color! When we visited Florida a few weeks ago, one of the people we talked to was going on and on about what the Midwest was like in the fall.  Today, I want to share some of what I see every day along with a special playdate with my four-year-old grandson.
When I look north from my front porch, I see the beautiful autumn trees in my neighbor's yard. How could I not snap a picture of that?
We always take a trip to a local farm to get pumpkins and corn stalks to add to our front yard. This is our way of saying Welcome Fall!
Every year I also snap a picture of Dave, our golden retriever with the fall decorations. He just seems to fit in with his golden coat.
Last week I had a playdate with Bam, our grandson. One of the things we did was take a Nature Walk in the neighborhood. He has his bag to collect things that are special. I think it was full of the beautiful leaves. We also got to watch workers as they were busy with building a new house.

Of course, no playdate with Grandma would be complete without making cookies. We played games while they baked, took a Nature Walk while they cooled and then got to frost them and add the sprinkles. We love fall!!! What are you doing to create memories?