Friday, June 29, 2012


Today, my oldest son is leaving home, 
to attend junior college in Phoenix, 
900 miles away from Denver.  
I will drive halfway, 
or maybe a little farther, in my car, 
and then I will turn around, 
and he and his roommate will drive on.

And while I am thrilled for him, 
I am so, so sad.
I am sad for me
because I will miss that guy--
the sticky floor by the refrigerator 
when he slurped juice from the carton,
the "oops" holes in walls,
that crooked, gap-toothed smile,
the "uh-huh" when I ask
"Do you know how much
your mama loves you?"

More, though, I am sad 
for my younger son.
I adopted my boys from foster care 
when they were seven and nine.

For years, all they had was each other.

And they have been 
best friends,
I cannot imagine one of them 
without the other. 

My younger son 
is without words
he has been 
in his bedroom
with the door shut
since six o'clock last night
refuses to ride along 
even though I would love 
the companionship
will probably not 
say goodbye
to his brother.

And yes, I know growing up 
and moving on is a natural part of life, 
and I know we will get through it, 
but today
I am so, so sad.

"To a Daughter Leaving Home"
by Linda Pastan

… I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving

Read the rest of the poem here.

Poetry Friday is at Paper Tigers.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

THESE BEES COUNT- Alison Formento

Every summer, I try hard to pretend that I am a gardener. Usually my attempts are pretty pitiful. I am really good at growing bindweed, this vin-ish thing that multiplies profusely and wraps itself around every other plant in the yard. And I'm good, really good, at petunias. The petunias in my planter boxes have a steady stream of visiting bees. It seems a good day, then, as I sit on my front porch blogging and watching and drinking my coffee, to review a new book about bees.

THESE BEES COUNT is an interesting blend of story, nonfiction facts, and counting book. Mr. Tate's class (I love that this teacher of young children is a man!) go on a field trip to a bee farm. At the farm, they meet Farmer Ellen, who provides some information about bees. The children get dressed in beekeeper garb, then head out to the hives. Farmer Ellen releases the bees, and the book transitions into a counting book, as the bees travel one by one,  from two dandelions, three apple blossoms, four wild strawberries, etc. When the bees return to the hive, the book transitions back into a fiction/nonfiction blend, and the children learn how honey is made.

I could see using this book from preschool to second grade. There's lots of rich information and great vocabulary (apiary, pollen, nectar, extractor) for kids to roll around on their tongues. I loved the collage/painting illustrations, done by by Sara Snow (when I grow up, I swear I am going to study collage!). I found the transition from story to counting book a little distracting, but I don't think it would bother kids at all. In fact, it might even make a great topic for discussion.

Lots of the early childhood and primary classes in Colorado study farms or insects. This book would be   a fun addition to that study.

Read an interview with the author here.

Review copy provided by publisher. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


When the going get tough, the tough go to the movies. That's always been my theory anyway, and it's proved workable at many different points in my life. 

Take my twenties, for instance. I moved to Denver pretty much straight out of college. I got involved in a church and established a really fun circle of friends- people to eat with and hike with and see on weekends. But then those friends started getting married. And I wasn't. Most of the time I was ok with that.

But then, there were times when the loneliness closed in. And then, I did what any thinking person does. I went to the movies. I would buy a box of bad for you movie popcorn and a drink (or sometimes I'd sneak in my own) and settle into for a couple of hours at a dark theater. For two hours, I'd forget my quiet house, the nights of Lean Cuisine, and my longing for companionship-- and I would settle in to somebody else's life or story. And when the lights came back on, I was good to go again.

Fast forward ten years. The summer I adopted the boys was full of adjustments, for them and for me. The boys had been through a lot, and they had lots to overcome.  Like most new mothers,  I was exhausted, most of the time. My independent do what I want when I want lifestyle had been totally altered. Gone were the days of author readings at the Tattered Cover and Tuesday hikes with my home gals. I didn't have a lot of backup. I couldn't take a nap because there was no one to watch my two very busy guys.

So I did what any thinking mom would do. I took them to the movies. I would buy them their box of $4 candy (I know, horribly unthrifty of me) and for two hours, they would be entertained. And me, well during those two hours, I'm ashamed to admit, I often dozed off a little, ok, sometimes from the opening scene to the credits, but…). For years, I thought I was fooling the boys-- until finally, when Son #1 was about 13 he asked me why I always bought a ticket, when all I did was sleep anyway!

Fast forward ten more years… this has been, so far, a long hot summer. neither of the boys has jobs. Son #1 is in what I'm told is a common push me/pull me, "I'm a man, I can do it myself, I don't need you to tell me what to do, no wait, I need you to …" routine. Pretty much every day he tells me that he is leaving and will not be back for two years, not even for Christmas, and that I will not hear from him, and I better not call. He breaks my mama's heart.  Son #2 is having a really hard time with life in in general. His brother/best friend is leaving for two years. A girl that he has cared about deeply (and now insists he doesn't, although my mama's eyes tell me different) is leaving for college. He made some really poor choices in school and is now facing the consequences.  It is not a lot of fun living with him.

And so, I make the only obvious choice. I go to the movies. A couple of times a week, when my patience has reached it's absolute breaking point, when I can't stand one more minute of nasty teenagers, or a just cleaned already messy house, I simply leave. And I go to the movies. For two hours, I slip away into someone else's world- this summer I've been to India, the bayous of Louisiana, and last night, a small island in New England. Better yet, this summer, I have discovered a new theater. It costs $3 more than a regular theater, BUT (and here's the hook for me!) the popcorn and soda are FREE! So actually I save about $6 or $8 every time I go.

When the going get tough, the tough go to the movies.

Monday, June 25, 2012


It's been hot, hot, hot in Colorado (today is the third day of +100 degrees) and our air conditioning is on the fritz. We don't belong to a pool, so my solution is to seek air conditioned places, like ummm, bookstores! Got lots of reading done, then, starting with a whole pile of picture books!

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You- Nancy Tillman
I'm kinda maudlin this summer- already missing my eighteen-year-old, who is headed to Phoenix to play football. I don't especially like LOVE YOU FOREVER, but came across a new to me book this week. Think I will be tucking WHEREVER YOU ARE, MY LOVE WILL FIND YOU in my son's  boxes, for him to find. (He will probably think it's corny, but oh well! Sometimes a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do!)

Back to School
I have mixed emotions about leveling books. I definitely think that emergent readers need lots of texts they can actually read. At the same time, I don't like the "That's not my level" mentality that seems to pervade so many of our classrooms.

  • Wow! School!- Richard Neubecker- Not sure how I missed this one- it's actually been out since 2007 and there are several more in the series (Wow! America!, Wow! Ocean!) Each colorful two page spread has two words, "Wow! ______). Think the little guys will love this one-- I'm definitely going to look for others in the series. 
  • One Two That's My Shoe- Allison Murray- New take on an old favorite rhyme. A puppy steals its owner's shoes. Another one that is sure to be a hit with beginning readers. 
  • Wolf Won't Bite- Emily Gravett- The three little pigs have captured the wolf in a circus wagon and force him to do all kinds of tricks. I read one review that thought this book could be used to discuss animal cruelty-- I guess I didn't go that deep, I just thought kids would love the repeating refrain and predictability of the text.
  • Five Little Monkeys Read in Bed- Eileen Christelow- Most people who know children's books know the FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS series. In this one, Mama puts the monkeys to bed, but then has to keep going back to settle "book uproars." Love the repeating refrain and the surprise ending. I think this could promote some great beginning of the year discussions about reading mentors and reading habits, even with intermediate grade kids. 
  • Miss Smith Under the Ocean-Michael Garland- I became acquainted with this series a couple of years ago. It's kind of Miss Frizzle meets read aloud. In this one the class is going on a field trip to the aquarium and all sorts of ocean-related books come into play. Think it would be great to talk about how readers use background knowledge to comprehend, or maybe how important it is to read widely so that you understand authors' allusions.

Dog Books

Silly Doggy- Adam Stower- A fun new take on the "I Want a Dog" theme. Pair this with ME WANT PET!, CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS, and THE PIGEON WANTS A PUPPY.

Zorro Gets an Outfit- Carter Goodrich- My sons would argue that I take dog loving to an extreme. My dogs ride in the car. They sit on the couch. They sleep with me every night. At the same time, they do NOT wear clothes! I loved this book about a dog whose owner forces him to wear a Zorro costume!

Good Night Books
When my nephew was little, he had a couple of favorite bedtime stories that we read ad infinitum. I was always on the lookout for replacement stories.  Here are a couple of fun "good night" stories.

Dini Dinosaur- Karen Beaumont- Preschoolers and beginning readers are going to love the predictability of this book about a very dirty dinosaur who gets in the tub with all of his clothes on. 

Tuck Me In-Dean Hachohen- Really sweet predictable book. Every other page asks the question, "Who needs to be tucked in?" The next page is a half page blanket with a different animal all ready to go to bed. I could see using this as a read aloud with toddlers and preschoolers. I also think beginning readers would love the predictability and question/answer format. 

Chapter Books
I also read a few chapter books this week. Totally loved Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee's Bink and Gollie: Two for One; in this book the two good friends head to the State Fair. Funny, lots of interesting vocabulary, and some really big truths about friendships.

Also have read a couple of intermediate grade chapter books-- ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Linda Mullaly Hunt, which I reviewed last week, THE WHOLE STORY OF HALF A GIRL by Veera Hiranandani, a coming of age story about a girl who is half Jewish and half Indian. Thought this would be a great one to hand to a reader who had enjoyed ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT'S ME MARGARET. Finished the week with THREE TIMES LUCKY, which I had heard about from Bill at Literate Lives.

This week I want to finish Lone Wolf by Jodi Piccoult. Also need to get busy and do some more professional reading. And work on my Spanish. And clean the garage!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Sunday Update:   The 2 US-born children are safely in the arms of their parents at a hotel. They have suffered severe trauma and need God's peace. Praise for their release, but continued prayers for them please. The 4 Ghana-born children are still in the custody of the government orphanage. They are not together and are suffering greatly. Pray for their protection and for them to be guarded against the trauma. The youngest child, a 2yo girl, has a fever and they are fearing malaria. Pray for healing and comfort of her tiny body and for all the children to be back in their parents' arms no later than Monday morning! There will be some sort of court proceeding on Monday. Pray for the powers that be to find favor and dismiss this case entirely! Pray that the Ghanaian officials will hand over the case to the US Embassy for their (already in process) investigation and for US Dept of Homeland Security to expedite processing in order to allow this family to travel HOME together in the coming week. It IS possible, but we need the entire Body of Christ rising together for this cause! Please, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING for this family!!!

Later Update: Sol and Christine are out of jail on bail, as are their two biological children. They are released to the custody of the US Embassy, and will have another court appearance on Monday. Pray for emotional healing for the family, who is pretty traumatized, and their physical health, and also that somehow Almighty God would intervene in allowing the other four kids to return to the US with them. 

Update: Thanks to everyone who is praying 
or has enlisted others to pray.
It looks like Chris and Sol and their biological children 
will be freed soon. 
Please continue to pray that the entire family can be freed 
and on their way to begin their new life together really soon!

People who know me at all know that I adopted my boys from Denver Human Services.

People who know me well know that my faith played a huge role in the adoption.
I follow many adoption blogs.
This morning, from one of those blogs, A Place Called Simplicity
I was made aware of a really difficult situation in Ghana.

A family of four traveled- parents are named Christine and Sol, 
they have two little boys, ages 7 and 3.5-
traveled to Ghana to adopt a sibling group of four children.
You can see a link of the family talking about adoption here. 

Somehow, Christine and Sol were accused of child trafficking and thrown in jail.
Their two biological children, 
as well as the four children they are planning to adopt
are currently in an orphanage. 

Because it is a weekend, the American Embassy will not do anything until Monday.
Please pray, and ask others to pray 
that God's hand
 will move mightily in this situation,
that Christina and Sol and their two biological children will be reunited TODAY
and that the adoption will be completed quickly 
and the entire family of eight will be allowed to return to their home very soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I'm trying to get back into the swing of reading more. To that end, I made a trip to the library last week, where I found a couple of great middle grade novels. ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Lynda Mullaly Hung has been mentioned quite a bit on Twitter and in the world of kidlitosphere recently.

Twelve-year-old Carley Connor ends up in the foster care system after an incident with her stepfather lands her mom in the hospital. Carley's mom sounds like many of my students' parents- she loves her daughter, and is doing the best she can to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. Unfortunately, the demands of parenthood are sometimes a little overwhelming, and some of the choices she makes are probably not in her daughter's best interests.

Carley ends up living with Julie and Jack Murphy, and their three boys- Daniel, Adam, and Michael Eric. Life with the Murphy family is much more stable and predictable than life in Carley's family of origin. Carley finds that she enjoys the predictability of a schedule with regular meals and bedtime and homework. She likes having a mom who is home and available. She even enjoys being a big sister and helping with her foster brothers. Then Carley's mom starts to recover and is ready to come back into her life.

As a mom of two boys from the foster care system and a teacher of many foster kids, I loved this book. Hunt understands the lives of foster kids- what it's like for a twelve-year-old girl to move into a bedroom with fire truck wallpaper, the huge internal dilemmas of loving your biological mom but watching her make choices that are not in your best interests, and even the stress placed on foster families. Put this one in a basket with TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord and PICTURES OF HOLLIS WOODS by Patricia Reilly Giff.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012



Today is Summer Solstice. It seems like a perfect day for a book about gardening, and FIRST PEAS TO THE TABLE. FIRST PEAS is a book for gardeners, scientists, writers, and lovers of history! 

As the book opens, Maya's teacher is announcing that the class will be having a "First Peas to the Table" Contest,  Each child will receive twenty pea seeds. The winner of the contest will be the first child who can fill a bowl with peas for the class to eat. The book follows Maya as she researches how to plant and care for peas, starts her peas in inside cups, restarts her peas after she overwaters, transplants them to an outside garden, and finally eats the first delicious offerings from her garden. The book includes lots of information that would be helpful to a child starting a garden. It would also make a great read aloud in a unit on plants.

This book, however, is much more than a simple book about a child's gardening efforts. Maya's teacher, Ms. Garcia, has based the "First Peas" contest on a similar contest held by Thomas Jefferson and his neighbors each spring. According to the author's notes, Jefferson was an avid gardener:
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, architect, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia. But his most delightful work, he wrote in 1811, was to garden. His five-thousand-acre plantation in Monticello, his home in Virginia, included a thousand-foot-long vegetable garden. From 1766 to 1824, he recorded notes in a journal, called his Garden Book. In his neighbor's contest, the winner served his peas at a dinner for other gardeners.
There are tidbits of history threaded throughout the book. Did you know, for instance, that Jefferson invented a garden plow? (And yes, I recognize that Thomas Jefferson is a controversial figure. I guess I think most people, even famous ones, are controversial figures, with some good and some bad; and we, as adults, have to decide how much controversy kids can accept or understand).

As a teacher and a writer, another thing I really, really love about FIRST PEAS is the emphasis on writing.  Children in Maya's class record their data in Science Journals, and there are some terrific illustrations of theses journals, including plant life cycles, tables of seeds' growth, etc. My fourth graders kept science journals all last year (many of my kids did their best writing in these journals) and I would have loved to have this book as an example to share.

FIRST PEAS TO THE TABLE is a terrific new addition to a plant book collection, or a collection about Thomas Jefferson, or a collection about writing. Highly recommended!

Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, June 15, 2012


This is kind of a bittersweet summer. My eighteen-year-old is leaving in just a few weeks to go to school/play football in Phoenix, which is 900 miles from here. My seventeen-year-old is just a year behind. And I'm not sure I'm ready to see my babies leave the nest. As hard as it is, I really like being a mom. I'm having a hard time envisioning what the next chapter-- without football games, and homework hassles, and "where are you?" texts is going to look like…

In January, I chose my word for this year. I wanted a word that would remind me to slow down, and pay attention, and just really enjoy these last few months I have with my boys.  The word I chose was "savor." I came across this poem by Nikki Giovanni at a Common Core Standards workshop this week. Thought it fit my theme, and this time of year perfectly.

"Knoxville, Tennessee"
by Nikki Giovanni

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy's garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
and buttermilk
and homemade ice-cream
at the church picnic…

Read the rest of the poem here.

Mary Lee is hosting Poetry Friday at Year of Reading
Savor today!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Most summers, I do a ton of reading. I read children's literature, so that I will have fresh stuff to share the next year. I catch up on my professional books. I read a few of the adult books I've been wanting to read. This summer, ummmm, not so much.  Not sure exactly what I have been doing instead…

OK, I do kind of know what I have been doing. I've been taking classes-- a district Technology Camp, a workshop on the Common Core Standards, and a terrific two-day institute hosted by the Colorado Language Arts Society, who brought in Kelly Gallagher on Thursday and Donalyn on Friday. And then lots of kid stuff…

Last weekend, for example, I accompanied Son #1 to a football camp in Phoenix.  While I was there, I finished this year's Newbery, DEAD END IN NORVELT by Jack Gantos. I gotta be honest. I am generally not a huge fan of the Newbery books. I was not that excited about reading it. I kind of half expected not to like it.

DEAD END IN NORVELT is the semi-autobiographical story of a kid named Jack, growing up in the small town of Norvelt (named after EleaNOR RooseVELT). When the book opens, Jack is looking forward to a summer of baseball and fun with friends. Unfortunately, on the first day of summer vacation, he somehow manages to fire his father's Japanese rifle, and ends up grounded for the whole summer. As part of his punishment, his mother loans him out to an elderly neighbor, Miss Volker, a retired nurse, and the current town coroner. Arthritis has crippled her hands to the extent that she is no longer able to write the obituaries for Norvelt's elderly citizens, who seem to be dying at an alarmingly regular rate. Jack's job is to act as her scribe.

This initial premise seems like the book might be a little slow-moving. The book, however, is anything but slow. First, an endless string of quirky characters, including Jack's father, who is restoring a plane in his barn and orders Jack to mow down Mrs. Gantos' cornfield so that he can build a runway; Jack's best friend Bunny, daughter of the Norvelt's undertaker, and Mr. Spizz- an elderly policeman who has been trying to court Miss Volker for fifty years.

In addition to the quirky characters, the book is filled with an endless series of surprising, (and often graphically gross) events- and nose bleeds, paraffin strips, rat poison, and run over, flat as a pancake Hell's Angels- definitely enough to capture the attention of a fifth or sixth grade reader, especially a boy. Finally, I was totally surprised by the ending, even though later I wondered why I hadn't seen it coming.

A surprisingly satisfying and fun read…

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I signed up to do Kate Messner's Teacher Writing Camp. Yesterday's prompt was to write about a place. I didn't get the job done yesterday, but decided to give it a try this morning. I'm in a weird kind of funk, realizing how close I am to the end of my football mom days. I have always loved, loved, loved spending time watching my boys practice, and as exhausting as two-a-days and early morning practices have always been, I will miss them…

It is the morning practices that I love most. That early, almost, blue gray kind of light, just before the sun comes over the horizon. The cool freshness in the air. Morning traffic on Colfax still light, so you can hear the birds, just starting to wake and the splash of water in the City Park Fountain across the street.

I let my boys out of the car, to join ten or fifteen other boys huddled by the gate, waiting to be let onto the practice field. Most of the boys, like mine, are not quite awake, and aside from an occasional fist bump, or hello grunt, there is little conversation. One or two more lively guys usually attempt a little horseplay, a slap on the butt, a yank of the backpack, a sucker kiss to the cheek, but they are quickly shut down by "Stop foo…" or a cuss word, or an occasional slap from their more sullen peers.

Eventually, a coach will come and unlock the gate, or one of the more industrious fellas (often the aforementioned horseplayers) will squeeze through the eight inch crack between the two gates. The smaller guys- the tight ends with their long skinny, string bean bodies, the safeties, and the kickers usually go first, followed by the running backs, who are more muscular but still relatively small. Backpacks are crammed through the crack or heaved over the ten foot fence.  Last, if the coaches have not arrived, come the big guys- the offensive and defensive linemen. It is painful to watch 250 or 300 pounds squeeze through an eight inch crack, and there are usually moans and groans.

The sky is a little lighter as the boys amble down toward the benches alongside the practice field. There are no assigned seats, per se, and yet these early morning practices are as predictable as church on Sunday mornings. Son #2, the starting quarterback, takes his seat at the far north end of the bench. Two or three first string receivers sit next to him, then the running backs. The second red bench, a little farther south, groans under the weight of five or six linemen. The second stringers and younger kids sit between the benches, or on the south end, methodically lacing their cleats. And still there is not much conversation.

Then the skree, skree, skree of a shrill whistle breaks the silence. There is Coach Mac's predictable proclamation "It's a great day to be an Angel!" The boys jump up, almost as one, and fall into a steady rhythm on the track. Son #1, accompanied by the other speedster running backs leading the pack. Son #2, much less joyful, but still at the front, pushing to be one of the first five, who will lead the rest of the squad in calisthenics.

And the moms settle in for two hours, sometimes reclining seats for a little more sleep, or with books, or newspaper, and coffee. I lace up my tennis shoes and head out for my own walk around City Park.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


OK, so we are approximately eight days into summer vacation, and I'm ready to go back to school. Why, you ask. Well, partly because I love, love, love teaching and am super excited about my new job.

But also because of this living with the MAN children thing. My boys are 17 and 18. And they basically think they are grown men, capable of making their own decisions. Which I guess in some ways they kind of are. But there are several other issues, the most notable one being money (neither child has a job as of yet), that make them not quite men in my eyes.

But that MAN/child dichotomy keeps rearing it's ugly head.

Take today, for instance. MAN child #1 is heading off to a football camp at the junior college next week. And he has to have a physical. But his insurance will only pay for one physical every 365 days. And his last physical was in late July last year, just before the start of football season. So he is not quite eligible for a new physical. But the football team wants a new one, one that has been done within the last 60 days. And if I do that at his regular doctor, it will cost $300+ dollars out of pocket.

And so after about umpteen phone calls to the doctor's office, and the football trainers, and the insurance company, I finally get a him set up for a physical at an Urgent Care. When we do that physical, his blood pressure, which has always been normal, comes back super high. And the urgent care doctor writes that he needs to see his regular physician for a followup.

So this morning, I spend 20 minutes on hold, waiting to talk to the doctor's office. They are surprised at the high reading and they want to check it. I wake him up at 11:30, so we can leave at 12:30. And of course he is quite pleasant about being awakened such a very early hour.

We set off for the doctor's office.

"I'll just follow you, OK?"

I squelch the impulse to make nasty comments about the price of gas. The doctor's office is only about ten minutes away, "Sure, fine, I'll see you there."

We arrive at the doctor's office. The nurse raises her eyebrows. "So he's 18 now?" MAN child #1 does his customary nod and grunt. "Well then, we have to change his paperwork." It seems MY contact information, phone number, etc. are no longer acceptable. The office will be calling this MAN with his results. OK, fine.

After redoing the paperwork, we head down the hall to the adolescent waiting area. The waiting area  is filled with  teenage girls, including several who are very pregnant. I resist the urge to send my son a text message about the importance of condoms. After all, he is a MAN. He knows this stuff.

Of course I will not be going in to the doctor's office with my MAN child, so I drag out my Spanish book for a little practice. I sit there for almost an hour, and am totally immersed in my Spanish, when I hear a familiar voice.

"Let's go," says my MAN child.

"What did the doctor say?"

"I'm fine. It's normal. I just have to come back in two weeks to get rechecked and make sure."

I think of the athletic trainers we will see in Phoenix next week. "Did she give you a paper saying that?"

"No," he says emphatically. "She said I'm fine."

I am not sure  that the athletic trainers will take his word that he is fine. I envision frantic calls from Phoenix next Monday morning. I want a piece of paper. I wonder if they will print it at the checkout desk.

When we get there, I ask if we can have written results. "Oh. sugar," the woman says to me, "you would need to get those from the doctor. Go back and ask her."

"Let's just go," hisses my MAN child.

"I want a piece of paper to give to the trainer," I respond.

"This is the kind of stuff that embarrases me," says my MAN child. "That's why we say you are annoying. I'm leaving."

"OK, leave then," I respond, wondering if they will actually give me, the mother of this MAN child, a letter without him being present to request it. I head back to the waiting area, and sit another fifteen minutes, while a kind nurse, evidently used to adolescent MAN children,  procures said letter for me.

I tuck the letter in my Phoenix file, with all of the other documents my MAN child needs to bring, then call a friend, to see if she wants to see a movie.

I have had enough MAN children for one day.

Friday, June 1, 2012


This is me, looking out the front window, wondering if I am ever going to get my walk!

Now wait just a stinking minute! No one ever told me that if we agreed to host Poetry Friday my mom would be too busy to take me for a walk, or throw my boney bone! She's been sitting at that dang computer most of the day!

My mom says there are some lovely poetic offerings. That's great, but has anyone noticed I did not get my walk??? She needs to finish up and take me out RIGHT NOW!

Beaches, Berries, and all Things June…

At Random Noodling, Diane takes us to the world of Jones Beach in 1965. Anyone who is my age has been there, walking on the hot sand, trying to avoid stepping on people's towels, eating tuna fish sandwiches (why didn't we get food poisoning back then), and late afternoon ice cream treats. Such lovely memories!

Tara shares some of Ralph Fletcher's beach poems, perfect for this time of year!

Jama's photos of a visit to a strawberry festival, paired with Diane Anhalt's gorgeous poem, "Death by Strawberries" make me feel like I need to put aside my computer and run to the grocery store right now! This feeling is further confirmed by Diane Mayr's posting of Helen Dunston's "Wild Strawberries." Diane also posted a quote by Dunston at her third blog Kks'kwotes.

Irene Latham has a take your breath and words away beautiful poem about peaches!

For another poem celebrating the now, read William James Dawson's  "Bird Song at Morning," posted by Little Willow

Enjoy a quiet morning cup of coffee on the porch with a haiku by Andi "A Wrung Sponge"

For more June poetry, stop by to visit Elaine at the Wild Rose Reader. She has a June acrostic and yummy pictures of her ten month old granddaughter, Julia, eating blackberries.

While we are on the subject of June, did you know that today, June 1st, is National Doughnut Day? I'm putting it on my calendar for next year. A terrifically toroidal holiday brought to us by Jone!

And, as April reminded us,  it's also National Flip a Coin Day. Think that means you need to flip a coin as to which kind of doughnut you will eat. Or if you don't have a coin maybe you will need to eat two doughnuts. April shares two lovely quotes about writing- one by Marla Frazee and another by Juan Felipe Herrera, the poet laureate of California. She also has a book giveaway going on, so hustle over there!

Me, waiting. Is she ever going to be finished?
(Please note that I have strategically positioned myself- I'm laying right in front of the door so no one can possibly get out without me, but I also have my boney bone right next to me,
 in case anyone becomes available for a game of fetch.)

Fabulous new resources
You can read two posts by Rene LaTulippe today. First she has a post on Sylvia Vardell's Poetry for Children. In this post she describes her own blog, No Water River, which is a fabulous resource for teachers, parents and kids (OK, everybody I guess!). No Water River has videos of people reading poems (how great would that be for those of us trying to teach kids how to perform poetry?), cross curricular links, discussions of craft, all kinds of good stuff. After you read about the blog on Sylvia's site, head over to No Water River  see poet Laura Sassi reading "Sir Ned" to learn a few facts about groundhogs/woodchucks.

Laura Shovan offers another fabulous resource for teachers of poetry. Laura, along with another Maryland poet, has just written Voices Fly. This book features eight different workshops taught by different poets, along with poems students created during those workshops. Can't wait to check them out!

Tabatha offers us a new award, the Nota Bene (Latin for "note well") that we can use on posts that we have found particularly powerful. In addition to this new award, Tabatha gifts us with a found poem, a cemetery cento, made from rubbings of words on gravestones.

Original poems
Robyn's in with an original poem about her daughter's bungee jumping experience.Those of us with kids leaving the nest this fall need to print out the last stanza and hang it in multiple places.

Another nature poem at Books for Children. This one is about life around a pond.

Those of us who live in dry places, (like Colorado!) will definitely be able to identify with Mary Lee's latest poem, "Rain."

At "A Wrung Sponge," Andi has a gorgeous haiku celebrating a morning moment with coffee and a feathered companion.

Novelist and poet Lorie Ann Grover also has an original haiku, "While Washing Dishes in Italy."

At the Poem Farm, Amy shares a brand new poem, and also the ideas and poems of  two invited guests, first grade teacher Susan Kellner and one of her students, Chloe.

At Father Goose, Charles Ghigna and his son, Chip, team up with Victory, a perfect pairing of words and art.

Betsy beautifully captures the end of a friendship in her original poem. This one made me a little sad…

Have you ever read a poem centered around the word androgynous? No? Me neither, but that can change today, when you check out Greg Pincus' latest creation, "My Friend Kim

And for another original poem that will make you laugh, check out Violet Nesdoly's "Toast."

At "Hey Jim Hill" you will find a new poem about all the hats kids love to wear! Fun to enter all of these imaginary worlds!

Liz Steinglass has been sick, but joined us long enough to leave a lovely "small moment" and extended metaphor poem about a special time with her mom and sister.
This is my sister, Star. I think she has given up on a walk for today.

Published poets
Myra and her friends at Gathering Books offer us two Adrienne Rich poems. The first, a poem in keeping with their Immigration theme, is a fantastic read, but would also be perfect to use in a unit on immigration (can you tell I'm a teacher?)

At Teacherdance, Linda has a gorgeous prairie poem. So perfect for anyone who reading My Antonia or Sarah Plain and Tall, or planning a road trip through the midwest this summer!

At "There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town," Ruth shares two poems about remembering and forgetting. She also has some beautiful words of her own about the last days of school, "There are many things I want my students to remember about this year, and there are many I want them to forget. I want them to remember what I taught them about books and poems and about how they can move and excite and teach us. I want them to remember how wonderful it is to work on a piece of writing until it shines and expresses exactly what you meant to say. But I want them to forget the days I was sarcastic and impatient. I want them to forget anything I said that was discouraging or made them feel less than the creatures of infinite value which they are. But I can't choose what they will remember and what they won't." I have been thinking a lot about what people will remember about me as my son heads off to college in about six weeks. I am hoping he will somehow forgot the way too many times I was sarcastic, or impatient, or less than loving with him…

A few picture books
At Booktalking, Anastasia shares Cindy Moo, a picture book about a cow that wants to jump over the moon. It looks like a fun one! Not to mention great for teaching allusion!

Janet Squires ushers in summer with a couple of haiku from Bob Raczka's Guyku.

Be sure to check out New York, Baby! and San Francisco, Baby!, shared by Lorie Ann Grover at Readertotz. They sound like fun travel guides for the jet-setting toddlers in your life!

I, on the other hand, refuse to give up (ever)! I know good things (like walks!) come to those who wait!