Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bitstrips Help to Tell Our Story

Join the Two Writing Teachers
for the Tuesday  Slice of Life Challenge

Last week, I got into Bitstrips again. (thanks for the gentle reminder via twitter with @Dogtrax).  Here's my first comic from last Friday:

I shared my Bitstrip to Facebook and my younger brother saw this and asked me how I made it.  I told him about Bitstrips!  He created a few too.

Then, we got the cold and the snow on Saturday...I missed #dublit15 because of the roads being so treacherous.  It snowed and snowed almost ALL day on Saturday...Mike added this comic:

If the big snow would've hit during a school day, we'd have yet another snow day.  We're now at 6...and then the latest cold snap and school was called off yet again for us on Monday.  Don't get me wrong, I like my snow days/cold days.  But this is getting I added this comic:

I am just done with this winter!  I did not choose to live in a climate that is normally sub-zero and I just can't stand it!  

Through this comic creating, I reflected... and realized that we were telling the story of our weather woes, a perfect slice.  So thanks to Bitstrips, I was able to write my slice for this week.  Hope you enjoyed the comics!

What are your weather woes this week?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Celebrating the Circus-Playmobile Style

A special thank you to Ruth Ayers for
hosting the Celebrate Link up this week!

Celebrating time off from work-a cold day... 

When the road ahead looks this chilly and not getting any warmer anytime soon, what else could we do?  Planning to stay home and stay warm...then this message popped up on my phone:
So of course, we took Rosemary up on her offer to celebrate our "cold day" off, together!  We arrived at about 12:15 and of course the house smelled of yummy cookies!  Lunch was already cooking...while we waited for lunch to be done, we chatted and the kids began putting the Romani Circus together.  We all loved attending the circus on the cold winter day.  We even played some cute background music.  Thanks to Rosemary -celebrating yummies, fun and friends in a "cold day"!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Feature the Creature #nf10for10

"Nature gives you gifts every day...I'm teaching readers to be open—to stop trying to make everything fit a prescribed view and just live in this world."--Jim Arnosky

Created with Canva

Celebrating Features of Creatures and 

Authors who help us to know them-

never taking any creature for granted! 

Inspired by all of the authors who are sharing their talent by writing non-fiction books about animals, I wanted to select books for my post that teach about the unique gifts animals give us.  I checked out the World Wide Web, book store and public library to research and review the books.  Here are my ten recent favorites that teach about special creatures and their features.

The book Creature Features by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is fun! Each of the animals explains why it has the unusual facial feature to the audience who is asking the question through letters.  It teaches readers that wondering about animal features is something important to consider.  Reading about each animal's feature piqued my interest in what makes them special and different and allowed me to learn more details about each of the 25.  Here is a link to the website that gives more background information on how the authors collaborated on the creation of the interesting and intriguing book!  I hope you enjoy learning about how the book was made as much as I did!

A Butterfly is Patient by Author Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long.  I love the facts they share with readers about the butterfly by giving it human characteristics all through the story along with the beautiful illustrations.  They have also written other books with a similar format:  A Rock is Lively, A Seed is Sleepy and An Egg is Quiet.  Here is Dianna's website too! I learned about a new gathering of butterflies called a "puddle club"!

How could there be so many interesting facts about baby elephants?  Author, Scientist, and Researcher Caitlin O'Connell tells the story of little Liza, the elephant baby.  She worked with  I learned so much about them by reading this-from their size to the pink coloring on the back of their ears and skin on the underbelly and even the toes.  I really appreciated learning how dependent they are on their family and mothers! And then I read about-

another elephant story, Moses, the True Story of an Elephant Baby.  Moses was being raised by Jenny Webb. I enjoyed learning about how Moses used his trunk to explore nearly everything in his surroundings and even slept under Jenny's cot/bed.  I liked how the author told the story of Moses through his growing after he was orphaned due to his mother being killed by poachers.  There is now an elephant orphanage and it's run by the Jumbo Foundation.  You can read more on their facebook page as well.  Moses' story ends sadly but at least the Foundation work continues...

Born in the Wild by Lita Judge tells all about baby mammals and their parents.  I read this book with my daughter and she enjoyed seeing the gentle illustrations and reading about the animals.  The format of the book is broken in sections which would allow it to be read over days.  It would also be a good book for comparing and contrasting the characteristics of the animal babies.  The end of the story gives additional information about each of the animals.  It has a glossary and sources listed as well as additional websites for information about animals.  Here's a link to an interview with the author for more background on the book...(I loved reading about her advice for budding author-illustrators.)

I truly appreciate the book Ivan the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla because Katherine Applegate told Ivan's true story.  The true story is the plot outline of her award winning Newberry book, The One and Only Ivan (which I could not stop reading the minute I picked it up).  I learned through the true story, that Ivan also had a sister who died shortly after coming to the shopping mall.  The book helps readers realize how Ivan adapted growing up in the human world and did human activities...and how in the end, he was finally treated better.  If you are not yet familiar with either book, I highly recommend reading both-you won't regret it.

I picked this book called Kate and Pippin because it's the remarkable story of a dog who mothers and befriends an abandoned baby fawn.  The pictures help tell the story of how Pippin was left in the wild by her mother and rescued.  The family raised her to help her become stable but let her wonder off into the wild whenever she was ready.  At first, they didn't think she'd come back.  When she did the family was surprised and amazed.  As Pippin grew, she became good friends with Kate and the pictures show how they played and grew together.  Unique to think that Kate (a great dane), who had no pups would adopt Pippin and care for her as if it were her own.  They even have their own Facebook page-
Here's a video to watch to learn more about their adventures!  So cute to see them play together.


I chose to add the story of The Secret Life of Squirrels because I am always amazed at the crazy things squirrels do.  Nancy Rose photographed the squirrels doing unusual things with human props and surroundings-such as mailing a letter as you see on the front cover.  At the end of the book, she also shares tips for photographing wildlife as well as a Q & A session on her work.  I also had to share this video of two squirrels-obviously an adult and a younger squirrel-who needed modeling and encouragement-one of the first videos I used in professional development to show how we all sometimes need intervention from another resource.


Tuesday Tucks Me In is a beautiful story that tells of the love between Luis Carlos Montalvan and his service dog, Tuesday.  Tuesday is the narrator of the story, taking the audience through his daily travels both work and pleasure as Luis' service dog and companion.  He starts out showing readers how he wakes up with his sweet, adorable, dog-loving face through Luis' eyes.  It's incredible how service dogs like Tuesday can do so much for people.  I read this book with my daughter too and she ahh'd and ohh'd at each of the photographs.  Tuesday is such a gift!

This book caught my eye because I have loved Winnie-the-Pooh bear since I was a child. It was written and illustrated by M. A. ApplebyP. R. Hayes.  I had no idea of Winnie's background story...I never really thought about it-which is why I love the quote shared above by Jim Arnosky.  Winnie was a bear from the wild that was adopted by a a soldier during World War I.  They became close unlikely close friends...such a sweet background story.

So here you have ten special gifts in books about animals that will have a lasting impact on all who read them!  Enjoy!

Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine, Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this event.  Click on over to the Google+ Community to read more! 

Please feel free to comment and add any special ways you've been able to use these stories in the classroom with students!  Thanks for sharing!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Game Changer

Join the Two Writing Teachers
for the Tuesday  Slice of Life Challenge
for hosting!
Game changer!  

Today's slice is all about our games...I felt excited to stay home with the kids on Monday-no work or school in honor of President's Day.  Being that the weather was a chilly -5 (that's negative 5 Fahrenheit) degrees I thought it best to just hang out at home.  After having a quick breakfast, Natalie expressed an interest in playing some games together.  I love a good Board Game now and then so I was all in!  Game on!

First, she visited the front hallway closet where our games are stored...
"Pick me up!"  she demanded so she could get the best view possible of the top shelf and see all of the game choices before her eyes.  

"Hi, Ho, Cherrio?  Candy Land?" I questioned-hopefully planting some seeds.

"No, no.  I want Sliders, Sorry Sliders!" (ages 6 and up-so who knows where this is going-but I let my sense of adventure lead me wherever she wanted to go).

"Ok, you got it!"  So I snagged the step stool from the kitchen, reached high into the closet and pulled down the Sorry Sliders game.  We opened the box and arranged the set-up on the table...she picked yellow sliders and I picked blue sliders.  I had to show her how to flick the sliders so they landed on the target points.  She got the hang of it but rather than flick it, she decided it worked best to push it-making it her own.  

We slid through two rounds (she won both) and she decided to switch it up.  We cleaned up and put away the Sorry Sliders.  Then, she chose to play the Power Rangers Trouble game (ages 5 and up) more adventure...  We got out the pieces and she chose to be blue this time.  I was yellow.  The popper in the middle was a bit stiff and took some practice for her to get the hang of it.  We started moving our guys around the board.  I didn't follow the 1 or 2 to get out of home rule... Then for whatever reason-she became obsessed with popping a 1!  A 1?  Really?  One is the worst number to get (maybe only sometimes is it the worst)-you can only move your guys one space (you might only need one space to win, right?).

"Mommy, it is NOT the WORST!  I like 1!!"

She kept on popping and re-popping the popper until she got a 1.  I let her go...I just watched her and waited until she got a 1.  Pop, pop, pop, poppoppop...poppoppoppoppop...I wasn't counting, but I think she popped it like 20 times before a 1 came up.  By the time it came up, we had "Trouble" staying interested in finishing...Game off!  We cleaned up and put it away until another Game Changer Day!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Celebrating A Quarter and A Call

I stood in the lobby looking around...I didn't know what this guy looked like for sure, didn't know what to expect.  I just knew I was supposed to meet him.  The guy with the tan coat and docker pants...well that could darn near be any guy.  I felt uncomfortable.  I studied every guy who walked in the door.  I wondered to myself "what the hell am I doing?" and "this is crazy" followed by "is he here and I just don't know?".  

After thirty agonizing minutes went by, I gave in to worry.  I kept doubting the reality of the blind date ever happening.  I decided to call his house...I took a quarter out of my pocket and nervously sauntered over to the pay phone.  I put in the quarter and dialed the number sketched on the post-it note the secretary had given me...

"Hello?  Nora?  It's Amy.  Is Kevin still going to meet me tonight?"

"Yes, he left about 45 minutes ago.  He should be there by now.  You're at Bucks right?"

"Yes, but I haven't seen him yet.  What's he wearing?"

"He's got his tan jacket on (affirmation) and he's wearing khaki colored dockers (more affirmation).  Call me back if you don't find him please!"

"Ok, will do...I'll keep looking!"  Click.  I hung up the pay phone that had just eaten my quarter and looked around again.  I still didn't see this guy whose mom I knew from school (the school secretary) who'd shared that she thought it would be good for us to "get together" and "go out sometime".

I wandered around the lobby area one more time and still didn't see "this guy", "Kevin".  I looked from guy to guy to guy...we were supposed to meet in the lobby!!  And then it occurred to me, "There's another lobby upstairs!!"  I hurried up the steps and walked into the long, train station-like lobby of the upstairs and saw a guy in a tan coat seated on the bench but looking around as if he were to meet someone!

"Are you Kevin?" I blurted in exhaustion feeling a little out of breath.

"Yes, are you Amy?" hand extended...

The rest of the blind date and twenty years of history together are what I'm celebrating as the anniversary arrives tomorrow.  What if I had no quarter?  What if I never called?  Would I have even met him?  Would I have kept looking, waiting, and thinking? (stood up on a blind date-really?).  Instead, I'm celebrating the way things worked out-happily ever after-20 years later!  

What are you celebrating this week?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fashion and Friends

Join the Two Writing Teachers
for theTuesday  Slice of Life Challenge
for hosting!

Fashion and Friends

On Saturday morning, Natalie and I both woke up early...I wrote my weekly celebration and we lazed around the house until about 8:30.  Then, we got dressed and ready for our Fashion and Friends Escapade!  Natalie was invited to be model for a fashion student's line of kids clothes at the Kent State School of Fashion Design and Merchandising.  Wow!  How fun could this be?

Natalie had a ball playing around and being silly with her friend Justin while they were being fitted.  She tried on a dress with leggings, a shirt, jacket and pants, and then another dress with a jacket. The clothes still need trimmed and hemmed but they are almost finished. I wished I'd taken pictures of all of the outfits but I did capture at least one-here's a picture of the two of them with the clothes they will model.

I'm so excited to see how all the kids look for the photo shoot that takes place in a few weeks.  I'm sure all of the little kids will look adorable.  The student is working to create clothes that kids are able to put on without adult help.  In my mind, that's a great idea!  It was neat to see how she mixed the colors and fabrics together to create these outfits.  I'm constantly in awe of how designers can put things together and come up with something from nothing by starting out with drawings and bolts of fabric.

After we were done with the fitting, our escapade ended with breakfast at Dunkin Donuts!  A sweet way to finish up our exciting morning adventure.

To be continued...Friends and Fashion II  around the end of the month.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Celebrating Learning

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for the Celebrate Link Up
at her blog, Discover Play Build
Head over there and link up your Celebration too!

This week I'm celebrating learning!  I always consider myself to be a learner above everything else.  I love to try new things and feel a sense of accomplishment as I grow from the experience.  Maybe, just maybe it's becoming contagious around the house...

One of my co-workers is learning to play the trumpet.   She joined this band of adults who want to learn to play an instrument.  Her group held an open house to recruit newbies and since she knew Kevin (my hubs) wanted to learn an instrument too, she invited him to attend.  Kevin went to the open house and decided he wanted to join the group and learn to play (drumroll please) THE BASS GUITAR!

So, this week, he had his first lesson. He's been picking up the bass and trying to practice every night.   On the night of his first lesson, he was full of pride and put on a little show for us.  He's just glowing over this...
By Feliciano GuimarĂ£es from GuimarĂ£es, Portugal (Bass guitar  Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I'm so happy that he's doing something that he's always wanted to do...learning to play an instrument!  So you can see why I have to celebrate learning this week!  Cheers to anyone who took on new learning this week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sing Your Song

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for hosting the Slice of Life each week!

"Keep walking along and singing your song, 
because it's all good!"  --Pete the Cat

There's lots of days on the calendar and Spring will soon be coming...but we have a day off and so we are staying home...sang Natalie.  I giggled (to myself) as I watched her standing in front of the calendar singing to herself.  I complimented her on putting those words together for a song...

"MOM, these are MY words and I am singing them for ME.  They are NOT for YOU." (she owns the whole Voice and Inflection thing!)

"Ok, I just wanted to let you know that I liked them.  You are sounding very happy about singing those words!"

"But mom, they are my words and you can't have them!"

"Ok, keep singing your song...sorry I interrupted, keep singing."

The battle of the song ended but I loved hearing her melodious random singing about everything that was going on around our house yesterday.  It made me laugh and smile...and it made me think of Pete the Cat's words.  Maybe Natalie took his advice too because she was walking along and singing HER song which I will someday share helped me find MY Slice of Life!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Celebrating Love, Kevin love

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for the Celebration Link Up
at her blog, Discover Play Build
Head over there and link up your Celebration too!

Love, love, is all you need!  The Beatles

Celebrating Love this Week
The song popped into my head after my conversation with Nattie during our drive home from daycare.  Her words were so sweet that I had to capture them...

"Kevin love!"

"Yes, Nat's!  He's a player on our Cleveland Cavaliers!"

"Yes, Mommy!  But we have another Kevin love in our family!"

"We do...and who is that?

"It's Daddy!  He's our Kevin and we love him!"

-love is all you need...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Invitd-Girls Movie Night & Delicious Food

Join the Community at Two Writing Teachers
for hosting the Slice of Life each week!

Invited?  Girls Night In?  A Movie?  Food?  Just Moms-no hubs, no kids?

I could hardly wait to let my friend know that I was able to attend the Girls Night In!  And then, the dilemma came-what food should I bring?  Indian?  French?  I am no Martha Stewart in the kitchen so this would be a challenge...I lamented for days...

Finally, I told Anna-"Just please assign me something-I have no idea what to make!"

She suggested, "Bring a side!"

I thought-ok, this can work.  I trekked out to our new Giant Eagle Market District!  What an experience.  It is definitely not the normal grocery story excursion.  I had pinned and googled French side dishes all day.  I finally came up with this potato recipe from Williams Sonoma-everyone liked them so I decided to share them with you too...

The food, fun and fellowship along with watching the good movie (which I found out is based on a book that I now have to read) made for quite an evening "in".  Our evening ended with a perfect slice of dessert! Eclair cake!   Here is that recipe:

Happy future eating and movie watching...I hope you can find joy in the cooking.  I know the dessert for sure is a three star experience!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Full of Joy and Blessings

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for the Celebration Link Up
at her blog, Discover Play Build
Head over there and link up your Celebration too!

So many blessings to celebrate this week...I'm giddy with happiness as I write today's celebration.  

Snow Day-A surprise snow day due to icy conditions on the roads.  The temperature hovered around freezing at just the right time to make the roads slippery and dangerous.  Since I was able to stay home, Nat and I suited up in our snow clothes and hurried out to play in the snow.  You can read more about our adventures here.

Football-The Ohio State Buckeyes went 2/2!  Not only do they have the best damn band in the land, they have the best damn football team in the land-as they won the National Championship Title by beating the Oregon Ducks!  We are so proud that an Ohio sports team finally has something to celebrate.  My big take away from this win and watching the Buckeyes this season is coming together as a team and can help over-come just about anything.  We won with a third string quarterback and a virtually unknown running back (at the start of the season).

Book Birthday-Celebrated book birtdhay with Kate Messner and the launch of #59reasons!  You can read more about her book launch here and here.  Besides the idea that this book could be an awesome tool for professional development and teachers learning to write, I am also excited because Kate included my reflection from the Teachers Write Summer Camp in Chapter 12 Time to Reflect.  I feel so honored.  Thanks Kate and Stenhouse for deciding to include my reflection letter!

Slicing-Writing my slice and having time to read others' blog posts was great fun.  It was great to catch up on what everyone in the slicing community has been up to over the past few months.

A Day off!  -What could be better?  A day off for inservicing 6 hour options in the Fall.  I felt  relaxed and played on twitter and blogs!  I also took Nat to see Disney's Frozen on Ice.  She loved every minute of it!

Movie Night-Besides the joy of being here to celebrate writing with you,  I get to go to the "Girls Night In" for dinner and a movie with girl friends!

What an awesome much to be thankful for...What are your blessings this week?

My Reflection Letter in Kate Messners' 59 reasons to write

Dear Amy,
You have seen an invitation to participate in this special opportunity called Teachers Write, Virtual Summer Writing Camp. You don’t know it yet, but you are going to learn so much about writing and the things writers do to inspire their work, finding inspiration in the everyday, progressing through research, revising, setting goals and sharing your work in an on-line community of others who will be supportive to a newbie-writer just like you. An opportunity like this will help nudge you to fulfill your goal of someday becoming a published children’s literature author. Here are some of all the great mentors you’ll be connected with, Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jen Vincent, Jo Knowles, Pam Bachorz, Margo Sorenson, Sara Lewis Holmes, Miriam Foster, Barb Rosenstock, and Jody Feldman just to name a few…You’ll also connect with other camper-writers along the way and be inspired by them too (Margaret, Jayme, Andy, Diane)…
Here is some advice as you prepare for camp:
1. Prepare to write everyday-but make your program work for you-you know that having your 7 year old and 19 month old children will put demands on your time that may pull you away from your writing work, but get back to it when you can. ;)
2. Share what you are doing with others.
3. Learn all you can from this community of experts- authors, teachers, and librarians.
4. Don’t be afraid to take risks, like the motto on your blog-“a ship in port is safe but that’s not what ships are for”.
5. At some point, work up enough self-confidence to join a critique group (if you don’t get to this point, it’s ok-just keep working at it).
6. Remember, the best writers are also avid readers (make time to read too)-you may have to give up watching TV-take something off your plate to get all of this done-the effort you put into it will pay-off someday.
7. Write every day.
8. Write every day.
9. Write every day.
10. And write every day-even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
You may not always be able to all 10 things on your list, but try. Oh, and if you do nothing else, write every day! So, you’re off and away to camp real soon, enjoy the learning you “virtual teachers write camper” you!
On your mark, get set, write!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snow Day Play-A Winter Whisperings Gallery Contribution

Contribution to the Winter Whisperings Gallery
thanks to Carol Varsalona for the invitation to contribute

Created by Amy Rudd, Akron, Ohio

Snow Day Play!

Join the Community at Two Writing Teachers

A Tuesday Slice of Snow Play...

Today, snowy, cold, blustery-an unexpected gift of retreat from the job that is non-stop.  We were called off for a snow day due to a mixture of snow and freezing rain that hit the roads at just the right time.  So, we could play, play, play in the frozen white stuff!

Priority 1-suiting up in appropriate snow attire-hat, gloves, winter coat and boots!

Priority 2-"Do you wanta' build a snowman?"  Yes, let's build a snowman named Kuku!

Priority 3 and up-just pure fun!  Sled riding, running, making snow angels, and a snowball fight too-all just a ball-so much fun for me and for you!

Pic Collage on the ipad -to create the snowy scene

A perfect way to spend our day-enjoying our time together...sometimes even though it's bad I'm thankful for nasty weather!