Monday, April 30, 2012

What Are You Reading?


“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun.  Since I read both I will post to both. Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.

Here is what I have read in the past month. I enjoyed many of these books for a variety of reasons, but there weren’t any this month needing to go on my ‘must own’ list. Right now I am 43% of the way through a book, that I am enjoying, but it is a long book – 925 pages! (My arms are thankful for my Kindle vs. the weight of this book in print.) You’ll have to wait until next month to know what it is since I don’t post until I have finished the book.

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

God Went To Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity by Kari Wyatt Kent

100 Best-Loved Poems (Dover Thrift Editions)100 Best-Loved Poems edited by Philip Smith

The Dream Keeper and other poems by Langston Hughes

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Inspired to Link

Some rights reserved by ...-Wink-...


What’s your parenting Achilles’ heel?
"I think moms often have our own versions of the Achilles’ heel. Those little issues that get under your skin, even if they don’t seem to bother anyone else.The things we’re most sensitive about, worry the most about, spend the most time defending to ourselves or justifying to others."


I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.
"Before I go on, I feel I must say something one time. Today’s post is not about homosexuality. It’s not about Christians. It’s not about religion. It’s not about politics. It’s about something else altogether. Something greater. Something simpler.

It’s about love.

It’s about kindness.

It’s about friendship

“Oh, but you’re not gay? You’re clean, and well dressed, and you have a job? You look the way I think you should look? You act the way I think you should act? You believe the things I think you should believe? Then I’m definitely a Christian. To you, today, I’m a Christian. You’ve earned it.”


A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”
NOTE: Yes, I bet you can guess where this is going, but definitely worth a read.


Want to understand today's kids? Read this…
We, the Web Kids

Jump to Hyperlink

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My personal use of hyperlinks has drastically increased over the past 8 months since I started this blog. 
I have kept a personal / family blog of photos since we moved overseas.
That blog has been pretty straight forward. (Sorry, you don't get the link.)
I post pictures.
People look at them.

CIMG1600 Some rights reserved by Kristi Lonheim
When I was contemplating creating my own blog (other than pictures) I started paying more attention to the blogs I was reading. I began to realize that blogging has its own formatting 'rules'.  Hyperlinks are a part of this.
I noticed that people were linking to sources whenever they could.
I observed people sharing related conversations to enlarge the discussion.
I appreciated bloggers who took the time to link to Amazon for books.
I found communities that regularly shared with one another.

I spent time lurking. (I'll admit there are still a couple blogs upon which I only lurk.) Once I made the jump to writing my own blog I took on the responsibility of sharing my sources, joining conversations, and linking ideas with hyperlinks being a primary avenue.
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A few years ago I started sending out our yearly letter only via email. (It is not a Christmas letter, rather an Easter letter. Long story that would be a huge tangent here.) This year I hyperlinked my letter. Why not? I was able to link to photos, blog posts where I further flushed out my thinking, or additional information. Why bog down the letter turning it in to pages, but also why not offer the information for those that were interested?
Through COETAIL courses I have learned more about embedding items within my blog and am now comfortable messing with simple HTML code. I have added video and Google Docs (including scroll bars). I think about the easiest way for the viewer, the person I am sharing with, to access the information I want to share. This pondering takes into account both layout and the size of files. (Perhaps next year's letter will be subjected to videos of my daughter.)
What is the point of hyperlinks? I believe it to be two-fold. One is to give attribution. I need to be pointing back to the places I get my information, ideas, images, etc. The other point is connection. Part of the blogging world is about building community. By linking, the conversation and community can grow.
I think I have made the jump to hyper speed hyperlink. Are you with me?
Some rights reserved by George

Note added:
I published this post and headed to bed only to realize the irony of spending the evening contemplating hyperlinks and then forgetting to publish my weekly "Inspired to Link". This is another way links have become part of my life. There are so many ideas I am compelled by throughout the week, but not necessarily writing about. I started my Sunday, "Inspired to Link" as a way to share some of the things I come across and allow them to inspire you as well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Define "Bullying"

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Danah Boyd's article, "Bullying" Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, really hit home with me. She points out that students often don't think of the situations they are experiencing around them as "bullying". The term reminds them of elementary school and the kids who gets picked on just because they are different. It becomes a question of semantics. If kids don't relate to the word 'bullying' then why are we using it?

The CyberSmart! curriculum has many well laid out lessons, but if we are not talking the same language are we really teaching our students anything. Especially in the realm of Digital Citizenship, if it isn't relevant to their lives students students are not going to engage with the material. Sure, they might complete the tasks we ask for, but it is simply busy work for them. We must find a way to connect with our students and help them deal with the issues they are actually facing.

Our students text. Our students chat. Many of our students (even the under 13s) have FaceBook accounts. What are we doing to help them learn to navigate these parts of their lives successfully?

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Tara Parker-Pope wrote about the struggle in her own family in the article, "When Dad Banned Text Messaging". She points out that, though she wondered about the meaningfulness of her daughter's 100 texts per day it was the messages her daughter received that stopped her in her tracks.

"That’s when I learned about the mean-girl texts, the ones no one would have the nerve to say to a person’s face but are easy to send from one nonconfrontational phone to another."

So, we don't call it 'bullying'. Perhaps we don't even name it. We explain situations and ask students if they can relate to what we are describing. I guarantee you they have either been directly involved or on the fringe of a conversation that has occurred because someone was mean to someone else via cyberspace.

Once we have shown students that we understand their world they will be more likely to hear what we have to say. Just as we had to teach them, when they were younger, to go directly to the person (taking an adult when needed), to use "I" statements, and to realize that they don't have to be friends with everyone, but they do have to show respect for everyone, we now have to transfer these lessons to their digital interactions.

Are we taking our role seriously?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who knows?

I always thought it was a foregone conclusion that any weight I gained, in my adult life, would go to my hips and thighs. That is the way I am built, my genetics. I have visual examples within my family to point to this in addition to my own experience.

And then I started my 40th year in my skin and it doesn't seem to be true any longer. Over Spring Break I ate all kinds of fabulous things and drank wonderful calories. I, therefore, expected to come back to find my slacks too tight and I that I would need to get walking / riding the bike. 

This time my slacks are fine and I have a tummy. What is up with that?

Some rights reserved by Lynie

Is this a part of aging? I wouldn't be as surprised if I was now adding weight in new areas, but it seems to be a shift. I find myself perplexed by the change. 

Of course there was the (welcome) season of thickening around the middle as "Pipkin" grew inside me. That was different. That had a purpose. Once she was born I took on the challenge of training for, and completing, a marathon. I walked hundreds of miles in the months following giving birth, primarily in an attempt to repossess my body. (Since I was still nursing it only partially worked, but I felt better.)

As I was trying to make sense out of this seemingly new body, I found myself thinking of my mother. Genetically she is my best guess as to what my body will do. There is one picture I think of in which was was really skinny - her wedding picture with Jim. She wasn't that much older than I am right now.

The next time we Skyped I told her about my ponderings. During our conversation 
she asked an interesting question - how will I know when I have started menopause since I am on Depo

I told her I had no idea. I had never thought about it.

Our conversation continued for a couple of minutes before I realized the possible implication of her question.

I know she went through menopause in her early 40s and hoped (because I am betting on being one of the 99.9% whose migraines end with menopause) it would start soon, but I figured I had a couple more years. 

She told me how her weight shifted to her tummy when she started menopause. 

Oh, is that why she asked the question? Hmmm.

J got home in the middle of this conversation, a bit amused at the tidbits he was hearing. I got off Skype with my mom and filled J in so he would have some context. As I was talking with him I started putting some things together. 

About two months ago I started wearing a big t-shirt to bed. He had asked me why. I explained to him that I got sick of waking up in a pool of sweat. (Are you laughing yet?) I had never even considered that it could be night sweats.

Hospital nurse testing patient's urineCredit Anthea Sieveking

I know the internet is not a doctor, but it is a resource. I was curious, both the answer to my mom's question and to learn more about menopause. Yup, I spent some time Googling. 

I learned something interesting. Insomnia is a possible symptom. I have always been an excellent sleeper, until a couple of months ago. Now I am up at weird times and can't seem to sleep 8 hours if I try, though I have always needed 9.

There are other small things, but I also realize we sometimes makes things fit into what we think we are experiencing. I will see my doctor this summer.

Who knows? I might be starting menopause.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Inspired to Link

Connected, but alone?

"If we are not able to be alone we are going to be more lonely. If we don't teach our children how to be alone they are only going to be lonely." Sherry Turkle goes on to call for reflection and conversation. I will have to watch this another time or two in order to be able to fully reflect on it. What do you think?

Still trying to figure out Arab Spring? My friend Matt posted about it here.

My Reader dropped this blog post in front of me this week. Interesting food for thought and included a video I will remember for a long time. If you haven't seen it yet you really need to take a look. If only we all kept a positive outlook and were willing to redesign 'the box'. Thanks, Caine, for the inspiration.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The "Terrible Twos" are Nearly Behind Us

small_3801081866Some rights reserved by BabyDinosaur

I have heard it said, many times, the it is not really the "terrible twos" you need to watch out for. She is nearly done being two and it has been a very enjoyable year. I would have to say that I agree.

However, I think we are getting our sneak peak at the "willful threes".

When she earns herself a timeout the timer is set for two minutes and she is put in her timeout spot. When the timer goes off we ask, "Why were you in timeout?" She always tells us. Sometimes we need to restate why it is important and perhaps there is someone she needs to apologize to. We hug and reassure her that she is loved. Done. Next thing.

That has always happened, until the night before last.

The timer went off. I asked her why she was in timeout. She looked at me and not only rolled her eyes, but her entire head as well.

I had to set her down and walk away so I could laugh without being seen.

Oh. my. goodness. I think we are in trouble.

I have pulled out my copy of Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood because I need to re-read it. Quickly! Product Details

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Belfast Blessed - The Un-Slice

Why "The Un-Slice"? There is no official Slice of Life this week, but it has become part of my rhythm - my routine. So, today I sit down to Slice. It is Tuesday and this is part of my week. The ideas ebb and flow, but this one day something will find its way to print. I know there will be others to "Un-Slice". Those that pop into my Reader I will visit with a sense of familiarity. Perhaps I will tweet this post as well and find a few new Slices to read through the Twitter community. Ruth and Stacey, you have created something that is large and welcoming and wonderful. Thank you and enjoy your respite.


I have gotten the 500+ photos (that's after deleting bunches) sorted and 34 visual posts up on my family's blog. What I haven't done is write a reflections of our trip.

Our time in Belfast was a welcome respite in the middle of the school year. We spent nine days enjoying the fellowship of dear friends with the added bonus of getting to see Northern Ireland. I have been pondering how best to sum up the trip and can't seem to come up with the perfect way.

The email I received from Michelle when we got home touches on much of what I will hold dear. I want to get my own version down (though I have considered copying and pasting hers). Mine could take the form of a list. Or recipes. The photos capture our outings very well, but the story they don't tell is of food and fellowship around the table. Maybe the only way is a combination of it all.

I could list places we visited:
Queen's University Campus
The Palm House
The Ulster Museum
The Truck Park
Castle Espie
Giant's Ring
Murlough Beach
The Maze at Castlewellan
Titanic Belfast and The Boat Factory
Ferry across Strangford Lough
North Coast: Ballycastle, Ballintoy, Giant's Causeway, & Portstewart

Castle Ward
Downtown Belfast
St. Anne's Cathedral
The John Hewitt
Belfast Central Library
Sakura Japanese Restaurant
The Chocolate Room

Or moments that mattered:
Meeting Connor
Hearing the accent come out of Ryan
Being with dear friends
Double decker bus rides
Socks, Sweatshirts and Jackets
Ruby's Birthday
J driving on the 'other side' of the road
Connor FINALLY getting his quilt
Palm Sunday service
Picnic on the beach where they got engaged
New children's books
Drizzle and a snow flurry

Picnics in the car
The North Coast in sunshine (cold, but sunny)
Kids (and dads) rolling down a grassy hill

After the kids were in bed
Learning Shadows Over Camelot

Joan's generous and relaxed hospitality
Seeing the library where Michelle used to work
Good Friday service
Patrick driving us down to Dublin in the wee hours

Or the food!
Irish Farmhouse Bake
Death By Chocolate (aka Brandy Truffle Cake)
Belfast Black
Lemon Curd
Ulster Fry

Many moments are captured in my heart. Here are just a few visuals for you.


And Michelle's email. I have put it into my notebook. The precious words of a friend are cherished, especially when the miles and months build up.

We know we will meet again. It is just the where and when that are yet a mystery.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inspired to Link



Saudi princess: What I'd change about my country a BBC Magazine article.


"I don't take my kids outside to play. I SEND them outside to play" where Meagan Francis talks about how kids can still play, outside, without structure.


Use Google Forms to collect important data? Perhaps contact info? Vicki Davis tells her tail of warning in her post "Why Schools Shouldn't Use Google Forms For Anything Private (Lesson Learned)".


Want to do something good in the world? Check out Free Wheelchair Mission. (Thanks to Kristen at RageAgainstTheMiniVan)


Links photo credit:">...-Wink-... via">photopin">cc

Friday, April 13, 2012

G's new books

Our daughter came back from Spring Break with many new things. Memories top the list, but a few material possessions were added to our home. Do new pajamas that fit count? Probably not, but she also came home with six new books.

IMG_2978Read Aloud Bible Stories: Vol. 2 I had ordered her before we went. She has volume three and enjoys it very much. When my friend, Christine, talked about volume two having the Resurrection story in this post I had visited to have the book delivered to our friend's house. Risky to bring it home? Yes, but worth it.IMG_2976

Once we were in Belfast I had a great time exchanging children's book ideas with my friend. (Our friendship can actually be traced back to a class called "Children, Books, and God" at grad school.) One author I now LOVE, but had never heard of before is Oliver Jeffers. He is from Belfast and I think he is both insightful and hysterical. We came home with

IMG_2971How to Catch a Star and IMG_2972Up and Down

But I think I will be have the entirety of his collection before the summer is over.

Since the Titanic is HUGE in Belfast right now, (she was built there,) we needed a Titanic souvenir. IMG_2977Samson's Titanic Journey was the perfect choice with another local author, Lauren Graham. Her books are harder to find (not available on Amazon and only in a few book stores), but we came home with IMG_2970Brainy Bot The South Belfast Squirrel as well. One of the things that made it hard to not purchase more of her books is that we visited all the settings for the different stories.

The final addition to G's collection was

IMG_2973The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale. This version was written by Elena Pasquali and illustrated by Sophie Windham. It is different then the one I know and have in the States. We really enjoy these illustrations. The great thing about this book is that it doesn't come right out and state its meaning so I knew it wasn't a risk to get pulled as we come back here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Internet Presence

The biggest question I have pondered regarding one's internet presence is in regards to having a digital footprint. Should we have one?
That isn't really the question. You have one. The real question is how much control do you choose to have over it. This is something I spent a good chunk of time wrestling with and wrote about here.

My conclusion? A positive digital footprint is a good thing.


If it is good for us, why not for kids?

In an article out of Educational Leadership titled Positive Digital Footprints William M. Ferriter says,

While schools are teaching students to worry about the consequences of being found online, (Will) Richardson is worried about the consequences for kids who can't be found online.

He is not saying open the flood gates and encourage students to do anything they want online. Rather it is our responsibility to show them where the pitfalls may be. Then, once students have a firm understanding about the good, the bad, and the ugly, we need to encourage them to start their online presence so they can begin to establish their own positive digital footprint.

Lisa Nielsen's take can be found in her post Why I Let My Kids Have an Internet Presence. She says,

The way I see it, there is risk in everything we do. We put our kids on school buses every day without seat belts.

So why not a digital presence? She even lets her own children, "first and last name and everything".


Digital Footprint? Yes, heard of it. Digital Shadow? Now that is a new one. (A dark thing? Like in A Wrinkle In Time?) Sarah Perez in Calculate Your "Digital Footprint" with New Tool from EMC says that a digital shadow is all of your digital information generated about you. This information is generally passive, as opposed to your digital footprint that you play a direct role in putting on the web.

Your shadow includes things like images of you on a surveillance camera, your bank records, your retail and airline purchase records, your telephone records, your medical database entries, copies of hospital scans, information about your web searches, general backup data, information about credit card purchases, etc.

Not the kind of information you want broadcast to the world. So now that I have come to embrace my digital footprint it is time to wrestle with my digital shadow. How do you feel about your shadow?


Thumbs up photo: photo credit: <a href="">briannaknt</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Shadow photo: photo credit: <a href="">CameliaTWU</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Tuesday, April 10, 2012



Yesterday morning G spied something glowing in our room. I went and got it telling her it was her new clock and that it is special. Eager to hear about the 'special' part she looked at me anxiously.

I explained that when it is 'waking time' it is yellow (as it was then) and when it was 'sleeping time' it would turn blue. (There are specific 'times' for many things at school and this is how she often refers to activities - 'eating time', 'circle time', 'reading time', etc.)

I had no idea how excited she would be about this clock!

She asked me to move it to a different place in her room so she could see it better. I did. She got dressed and we headed to school.


I was surprised by how many people she told about her clock, both before school and after school. (Probably during school as well, but I wasn't there to hear.) The part she was always sure to share was about her clock's colors and their meanings.

J put her to bed last night. She was happy to have had the clock turn blue for 'sleeping time'.

I waited for this morning.

In order to get to school on time I have to get her up by 7 a.m. She usually wakes up on her own sometime between 6:30 and 7. I don't actually want her up before 6:50 so that is when I set the clock to turn yellow.

Just after 6:30 I heard her singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". I peeped through the keyhole (yes, we have old skeleton key holes in our house) just as she turned to see her clock. I waited.

At getting close to three years old, she often processes her thoughts out loud, but this time she didn't. She simply laid back down. I figured she was watching the clock to see it turn yellow.

As 6:50 approached I turned up her monitor and listened.


About five minutes later I went in to get her. She was still laying down, but with her head turned away from the clock. As she heard me come in she sat up and said, "it's bl…", but as she spied her clocked her eyes lit up. She realized it had turned yellow, waking time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What Are You Reading?

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee at
Teach Mentor Texts added an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun. Since I read both I will post to both.
Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.

Here is what I have read in the past month. I enjoyed many of these books for a variety of reasons, but the one with an * is on my ‘must own’ list.

Product Details Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Product Details Infiltration by Sean Rodman

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline*

Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleeza Rice

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Out of steam


I didn't expect it to happen, but taking on the month long Slice of Life Challenge was never agonising. I guess I was in a zone, for a month. I had more ideas then there were days. Some days I thought I knew what I would slice about, but when it came time to write something else had to be written about.

I am glad the month is behind us. Thankful that I was able to meet the challenge. And I know that in subsequent years I have the knowledge that I can absolutely succeed with the month long challenge.

The irony of it all is that now we are back to 'only' slicing once a week I have nothing to write about. I tried to not panic last night as I went to bed, completely unsure of what I would write about today. When I woke up this morning I stayed in the warmth of the bed until G woke up because I still had no idea what I would write about.

I wasn't worried, we were headed out for adventures and surely something would present itself. The day went by and bits floated past, but nothing I could grab onto. Now it is evening. My wonderful husband is putting G down and my only task at hand is to write my slice.

I suppose I could write about the weather - a constant topic here in Belfast. I could try to summon up a post about the aquarium we visited today or about what a fabulous traveler our daughter is. Perhaps I could conjure up some words to share the joy of fellowship over a shared meal (though hurried through with two 2 year olds and a 4 year old) or the quiet evening of adult conversation and games that will commence shortly.

But I must be out of steam. I suspect that I had paced myself for the marathon month of March and a two day break is not enough recovery time for my writing muscles. I am hopeful for next week.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Inspired to Link - Belfast edition


This is a bit different then a typical 'Inspired to Link". Rather then tidbits I have come across and want to pass along these are sites linking you to places we have been to, or are about to go to, in Belfast.

On our drive through the Republic of Ireland we stopped at Monasterboice to see the high tower and the large Celtic crosses.

Our outing the next day involved walking through Queen's University, the Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House, and the Ulster Museum.

The following day involved a fabulous local park, a 4 year old's birthday party, and a visit to Castle Espie.

We celebrated Palm Sunday at Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Church (with an Irish worship leader, Scottish music leader, English lecturer, and American preacher). Later one of our walks was at The Giant's Ring.

Tomorrow we will head to the brand new Titanic Belfast building and see the play "The Boat Factory".

I will eventually get my photos up, but not having Windows Live Writer or Picasa, two programs I use regularly to blog, cramps my style a bit. I will get everything up when I get home. This is to tide you over.

Links photo credit:">...-Wink-... via">photopin">cc