Celebrating Passion

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As I am driving home from the Write to Learn conference, thoughts ricochet through my brain like a pinball on speed. I’ve just spent the last three days listening to speakers who are passionate literacy learners. Jennifer Richards Jacobson spent an entire day sharing her passion for writing workshop. What can I say about Taylor Mali’s passion? For an hour I listened as he read and recited poetry that speaks to the heart, particularly the heart of a teacher. A standing ovation completed his sharing. Inferring and metacognition were points of passion from Tanny McGregor. John Schumacher (Mr. Schu) exuded passion for books, libraries, apps/websites, but most of all for Kate DiCamillo, I hope every person who attended one of his three sessions, walked away with fire in their hearts for books. If they didn’t, they should not be allowed in schools near children.

Ron Clark was the keynote Saturday morning. Passion does not aptly describe, perhaps fervor or zeal fit this educator. As he moved about the ballroom, jumping on chairs, stepping onto table tops. he relayed his stories of the good, bad, ugly, but also joy of being a teacher. One story told, led to another story, then another until two hours passed. Passion for teaching has taken this man on a journey from North Carolina to Harlem in New York to developing his own academy in Atlanta, Georgia. His life is an example of what can happen when you live your passion.

One of my last sessions sent my brain into overdrive. Six word stories have always intrigued me. This took it to another level. Don Goble presented Six-Word Story, Six Unique Shots: Enhancing Writing Through Multimedia. He has created a free book that can be downloaded on iTunes. High school students created 18-30 second videos for their six word stories. Here is a link to several. Let me recommend you viewing Told one lie, trust was broken. Be prepared to be in awe. I was. But this isn’t just for high school. Click here to find a six word story video from a student from Kristin Ziemke’s first grade class. Scroll down until you see PT 6 word story: This Is School. If you have watched these videos, you will know why my brain was on fire as I drove home. I want to try creating this six word story, but I don’t have the video skill knowledge, yet. (Bonnie, I need you!) Stay tuned one day there may be a six word video celebration.

Passion drives us to heights we can’t even imagine. I celebrate passion for learning!


New Computer Pains

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

I can’t remember when I bought my laptop, but I know it’s been at least five years. How do you tell when it’s time to replace? Mostly it works. There are a few hiccups every so often. For example, it randomly will decide to lose the internet connection. I jump through many hoops to restore that connection. Most of the time it works, sometimes it needs a breather, so I let it sit for a while. One morning, I could not get the keyboard to do anything. Eventually it started working. Hmmm, are these signs that it is dying a slow death?

My husband said, “Get a new computer. You are having issues and the letters are worn off your keyboard. Do it before it dies.” Yes, that made perfect sense. I’ve been a little nervous that it could just quit. Yes, I do have files saved on a backup drive. But, I dread going through the process of getting a new computer up and running. I don’t like tech glitches, my technology knowledge is just enough to let me get by.

Within the next few days, I had purchased a new laptop. The young man assured me that they could transfer all my data from the old computer to the new computer. The desktop would look just the same. (My computer desktop is just like my physical desktop. It is littered with bits and pieces that I can’t decide where to put them so I will remember I have them.) Fortunately, I did not need my computer for a couple of days. (How often does that happen?) The young man said it wouldn’t take long, they were not too busy. So I left my old laptop and my new laptop in his hands. “I’ll call you when it’s ready.”

The wait was painful. Would I get it back in time? I need my computer for work in a few days. Finally, an email arrived that said your computer is ready for pick up. Relief! I dropped everything and went to pick them up.

Once I was at the store, the young tech girl said, “We still need to install Windows, do you have a Microsoft account?” As she began the download, I noticed the desktop was bare. Cue the panic to begin . . . “There is nothing on that desktop, Nate said everything would still be there,” I said in a reasonable voice. “Let’s open a file,” I continued as the panic was creeping in more.

There were NO files! Full blown panic rising! She says, “The work order doesn’t have any notes about data transfer.” What?! That was not true! I think she was sensing my panic because she offered to call Nate to find out the story. He immediately said he would come in and do it now. I could get the computers tomorrow. What choice did I have? I left without the computers.

The following morning, I called to see if it was ready. The head tech guy apologized profusely over the mix up. He’s run into a bit of a glitch transferring the data. This is going to take a bit longer. Finally I get the call, my computer is ready.

Before leaving the store, I turn on the new computer. Yes, the desktop has my myriad of little icons. Everything looks all right.

However, when I get home, I check the old computer. I will need to use that computer for my work this week. The new computer does not have the VGA connection for the LCD projector. I will need to get an HDMI cable for the new computer. I open up the powerpoint I plan to use. To my horror, the graphics are gone! Only the text remains and there are dotted-line boxes where there were graphics. I had scanned pages from books to discuss, they were gone!

At least I had saved the powerpoint to a jump drive before the data transfer. I should be okay, right? I put in the jump and pulled up the powerpoint. The data is gone here too! What’s happening? Back to the store!

The tech guy believes it is a matter of file ownership. I leave the old computer in his hands. I purchase an HDMI cable to use with the projector. After my day at school, I go to check on the computer. When one problem is solved another crops up. They are running a diagnostic test on the old computer. They think the hard drive is dying. This test may put it over the edge. I still don’t know the results of the test.

Did I mention, I hate getting a new computer?





Simple Celebrations

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How awesome is it to have days in February that are sunny and warm! I celebrate the temperature from the past few days. We have reached the seventies! Unfortunately, there were also 40-50 mph winds to accompany the warmth. Those fierce winds made me appreciate my haircut on Monday. There was less hair to blow. 🙂

The mornings were frosty, but not unbearable. The backyard sparkled in the sunshine. What a joy to step out but not be chilled to the bone! The hurricane lantern on the picnic table was quickly losing its frosted appearance in the rays. As I moved from one plant to another, a new sound made me scan the yard for the source. High up in the maple tree, I spied a red-headed woodpecker. Pecking on the tree was not the mission, it simply wanted to sing the song of a bird’s eye view of the glistening landscape. Immediately other birds joined in and began a dance of flight. What a sight!

Frosty morning beauty

Frosty morning beauty

When I went to download the backyard photos, I discovered more photos from our January trip to California. What?! I had forgotten the photos on the camera from our last night there. Each one put a smile on my face.

jGranddaughters on the last night of a visit

Granddaughters on the last night of a visit

This week I celebrate photos, frost, and not freezing in February. I hope your week brought you simple celebrations too.

Did You Know . . .?

nf10for10The world is filled with wondrous facts and we are so lucky that authors are bringing those wonders right to us through marvelous nonfiction books. Who knew? is a phrase I think every time I read nonfiction. These books landed on my bookshelf during this last year. I’ve also included a photo from one (or two) of the pages from each book, so you can get a sneak peek into the text.

First up, You and Me Together, Moms, Dad, and Kids Around the World by Barbara Kerley. This book shows how families do the very same things all over the world. In the back there is a world map and a thumbnail of the photo in the book with more explanation.


Spectacular Spots and Stripes of All Types are both by  Susan Stockdale. The text is sparse but that does not mean these are easy texts. The vocabulary is rich. Additional information is included in the last pages.



Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith shares the many ways seeds travel and take root to create a wild garden. The illustrations are soft colors and in a collage of many little boxes to study.


 Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner would be a great book to contrast with the wild garden.


We discover that mama is not the only one who builds a nest in Mama Built a Little Nest. Jennifer Ward entertains as she teaches the reader all about birds’ nests. Did you know that the cowbird, whydah, and cuckoo lay eggs in nests and let the nesting bird raise their young?


Steve Jenkins and Robin Page continue to develop books with a unique perspective. Within the pages of this book you can learn not only How to Swallow a Pig, but also how to woo a ewe or decorate like a bowerbird.


Hippos Are Huge, but they are also one of the most deadly animals in Africa. Jonathan London has filled this book with fascinating facts about hippos.


“Nature excels in the least things.” A quote from Henry David Thoreau was the inspiration for Least Things, Poems About Small Natures by Jane Yolen and photos by her son, Jason Stemple. Each “least thing” has a haiku plus an additional snippet of information.


Are you intrigued by whales? If the answer is yes, find The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond. Every page delivers. This has become one of my favorite books.


Wonder what new titles I will find next?


Plans Change

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

A busy week approached: make-up days in a school, birthday celebrations, tickets to Wicked all crammed into a few days. Each event was falling into place, and there was still a bit of breathing space between events. That’s what I thought . . .


Lunch prepared, heading to the office to collect my supplies for the day when my phone dinged, signaling a message. It’s the principal of the school. “Just checking to see if you got the email with the schedule.” I respond, “I hope you mean the one where I am working in your building today.” She responds with, “Yes, but we have a half day today.”

Oh no! is my reaction. I had checked the Google doc, but it didn’t indicate what grades on what days. We usually do half days on Wednesday/, this was Tuesday. My whole scheduled crumbled.

In my perfect world, I would would work all day with two grades, go to see Wicked in the evening. Sleep in the next day, but still have time to take my mother out to breakfast for her birthday before returning to school for a half day. Finish the week out with another full day of working with teachers. This schedule did not happen. Instead . . .

I spent the morning reading/commenting on slices before leaving for my half day of school. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Wicked that evening. Pulled my tired self out of bed the following morning to work all day. Barely made it to eight o’clock before falling asleep. Another early morning, but at least I was more rested. Finished my make up days. Friday was a day to step back and take life slower.

It wasn’t the week I mentally planned, but it all turned out in the end. Wonder what surprises are waiting for me this week. 🙂

Birthday Celebrations Abound!

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It’s been a week of birthday celebrations!

On Wednesday, my mother celebrated her 85th birthday! But she was not the only one celebrating. One year ago, my great-nephew, sweet Asher, came into the world to share his special day with his great-grandmother. They were able to celebrate their shared

Two birthdays on one day. Happy 85th mom and 1st Asher!

Two birthdays on one day. Happy 85th mom and 1st Asher!

birthday at my brother’s home, but today I get to celebrate with them at Chuck E Cheese. I can’t say I celebrate the location, but I know I will enjoy the company. Celebrating two birthdays of special people on one day!

My friend, Tiffany,  had a birthday in January, but circumstances prevented the annual girlfriend celebration of her birthday until this week. The stars aligned and we were able to meet up for a delicious burger and shake dinner in a new restaurant.

I arrived first (after spending fifteen minutes looking for a parking place 😦 ). I could barely get in the door, it was so packed. This did not bode well for our plans. Forty-five minutes to an hour was the wait time. The girl at the desk asked if that was all right. She was surprised by my answer, I told her no that wasn’t all right (I was hungry!). I spied three seats at the counter bar, could I take those? Yes, they were available. My friends arrived and we began the celebration.

This restaurant serves interesting burgers. My burger was called Jamaican Me Crazy (jerk seasoning, ghost pepper jack cheese, jalapeno date mayo). Tiffany went with Hippie Jen (spinach lemon quinoa patties as buns, filled with cucumber, avocado, onion, basil, and hummus). Janet opted for the Ugly Cheeseburger (a typical burger with white cheddar cheese). Not only are they known for the burgers, but shakes also. These shakes are made with frozen custard from a local stand. Yum, yum, and more yum! Several times during our meal the bartender would plop down a sample of the the shakes he was making. Wise choice is seating! This will be a birthday celebration to savor!

One final celebration (although not birthday related) .  . . I finally got to see Wicked! I loved the show!

What a week filled with celebrations! I hope your week was filled with celebrations too.





Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Something done automatically, without much self-awareness” is one definition of autopilot. 

I enter into the autopilot stage when my mind is occupied by a variety of thoughts. Some of those thoughts may involve tasks to complete, groceries to purchase, routes to plan to get home, etc. My mind is multi-tasking as my body switches to autopilot mode which allows me to accomplish those tasks. All this is said to explain my actions yesterday.

Gray painted the sky. The wind whipped and tugged on any loose bit of clothing or hair exposed. Temperatures did not invite one to linger outside. I pulled into the parking lot of the educational supply store, noting that only one other car was there. Surprise registered in my mind since school was still in session, I didn’t expect that anyone would be there. I knew exactly what I needed to purchase and where it was located. Quick in, quick out.

Still only two cars in the parking lot. I moved quickly to the car to escape the frigid wind. My thumb hit the unlock button twice. The car responded with its usual “beep, beep.” I pulled the handle of the door. The door swung open, I’m preparing to step in, but this interior was brown. My car’s interior is black. Confusion clouded my vision as my brain sorted out this information that did not compute. The next message sent to my brain said, “This is not your car! Abort!” Quickly I shut the car door.

Autopilot turned off. Realization set in. Both cars were white and similar in shape and size. (Side note: I am car blind, I don’t see differences in many cars. Much to my husband’s dismay.) I looked around, but there was no one around. Oops! I hustled to my own car and slipped out of the parking lot before the owner of the other car appeared.

Autopilot can be useful, but in parking lots it could cause me some problems. Guess I’ll have to turn it off in the future.

Small Celebrations of the Everyday

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

What have I witnessed or created that deserves celebration this week? Hmmm, not much has happened. My life was pretty quiet. Each day looked a lot like the previous day.

I would get up, make coffee, sip it while watching the Today Show and enjoy the sunrise colors crawling up the sky. Eventually I made my way back to the bedroom to shower and dress for the day. Warm fleece, stretchy knit pants, cushy socks, and slippers were the uniform of the day, every day. Next stop, my office. Flip on the computer, reread the notes from the previous day and begin clacking the keys to plan for the working days coming up. Watch the world outside my window. Oh look, the chihuahua has escaped and running free with a buddy! Hmmm, FedEx is delivering a box across the street. Wonder what they ordered? Breaks from the computer involve wandering into the kitchen for lunch, or perhaps a snack. Soon it’s time to turn off the computer and turn my attention to dinner. After dinner, I read on the computer, listen to what’s on the TV, chat with my husband while being warmed by the fireplace. Soon it’s time for bed and the day is over.

  • I celebrate the ordinary-ness of these days. No frantic rushing about, no panicking that time has run out for preparing my PD days. Each day settles into a comfortable rhythm.
  • I celebrate that I have warm, comfy clothing to wear when it is cold.
  • I celebrate my home that is warm when temperatures dip low and it is cool when the sun shines a bit too long.
  • I celebrate that I have enough to eat and it is not an arduous task to find food or prepare it.
  • I celebrate that when I lay my head down to sleep, I can rest. Evil is not sitting outside my door.
Same flowers but the pink turned into purple as the days went by.

Same flowers but the pink turned into purple as the days went by.

Remember the flowers from last week? As they aged, their color changed. It was like having two different sets of flowers. Flowers are always  a celebration.

Today, it is the small things I am celebrating.

Don’t Change!

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Why do the words new, improved, easier on WordPress strike fear in my heart? Could it be that after five years of blogging, I am more or less comfortable with the mechanics of posting? This journey of writing and posting has been one of trial and error. Might I add more errors than trials?

A couple of weeks ago, I opened up my WordPress to write a post and nothing looked the same on my dashboard. I clicked here and there trying to find my comfortable page to write my post. It was not happening. So I set about learning this new look. Typing words was not an issue, but inserting a photo was a disaster. I could not even locate my file of photos! I wanted to save my work, but the “save draft” button was not active. Click here, click there, still not active. Panic is starting to set in. I’m thinking my blogging career is at an end. I step away to clear my head.

A little later, I return. No grand plan has emerged. I looked to google to offer some help for my situation, but somehow my search words don’t yield the answer to my problem. Hmmmm . . .  I am stumped as I stare at the screen with unfamiliar language. I decide to start again, so back to my original page. What if I open up WP Admin? Maybe that is my way to find the dashboard I’m used to using. Oh look, there’s an option for add a post and it will show all posts. Click . . . it worked! Things look normal! I’m back to my comfortable dashboard where I know what to do. 🙂

There’s still a banner at the top of my drafting page that says: There’s now an easier way to create on WordPress.com! Switch to the improved posting experienceI’m just not brave enough to try it, yet.