Ode to the Life Savers

“How are you?”

It’s the familiar rhetorical question we ask friends and family. We’re asking the question to be polite. It’s not that we don’t truly care how the other person is, but it’s just the way we greet each other.

More than likely the response is quite simple:

“I’m fine, how about you?”

And, once again a simple response is reciprocated:

“Fine, thanks for asking.”

Sometimes that becomes the end of the conversation and we move on to the next task on our list or the next piece of business in our busy, hurried lives.

There are, however, those times when you ask and you get an earful of drama that goes on and on and you wonder why you even asked. Was that really the response you were seeking? You’re thinking…geez, sorry I asked. Or, you find yourself at the heart of helping, showing compassion because yep, their life really does suck right now. The tears flow and you’re in the midst of a mini-therapy session.

Then there are those times when I’m asked that rhetorical question. I look up, smile politely, and share that all is well. Inevitablity followed up with that little voice in my head that says,

“You liar, life isn’t fine right now! You know you’re dealing with x, y, and z and you’re sick and tired of this and that. You’re stressed to the max, you couldn’t sleep last night, and you didn’t even want to get out of bed this morning.”

The string of negative thoughts that I wanted to go away have just resurfaced! We’ve all been there at one time or another. But my question to you is what if we stop! We stop asking people, “How are you today?” But rather we ask them,

“What brings you happiness today?

Or, better yet, let’s make it an “open-ended question”,

“Tell me what brings you happiness today!”

Now I have to admit that this sounds a bit awkward. I’m sure it would catch people off guard, but it would channel the response to the power of positivity. I mean how wonderful would it be to allow others to focus on the insignificant or significant aspects of their life that brings them happiness? Truth be told, we more often than not rehash the not-so-positive aspects of our day.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If we really take the time, the time to think, the time to look, we will find that happiness is all around us, even if it is something that we may deem insignificant.

So, without further ado, here is a mini list of what is bringing me happiness…what is saving my life right now.

  • My One Little Word (OLW) for 2018 —> simplicity. Since 2014, I’ve had a OLW to guide me through the year. Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, but yet also have felt like I’ve accomplished very little. For 2018, I’ve streamlined several aspects of my life and have been reminding myself to keep. things. simple! So far simplicity has served me well for the month of January. It has bought me a focus and sense serenity, both of which in turn make me happy.
  • The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking: Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA) is a book about the secrets to Danish living. I stumbled upon the book way back in September and wanted to embrace the hygge lifestyle right away. I bought a copy of the book for my daughter and my husband read it too. Some of the aspects of a hygge lifestyle are good food, candles, fireplaces, and cozy blankets. The food aspect…well, we’ve got that covered, but if you happen to stop by my home you’ll notice candles, dim lights, and the best hygge blanket ever that just happens to be hand knit for me by my daughter, Maddie. Hygge makes me feel calm, relaxed, and happy!
  • The wallpaper on my iPhone. This past summer we took a family vacation to Europe. We captured tons (1,000+) of photos! Some of the best ones my husband took in the wee hours of the morning when all was quiet and calm. One of my favorites is of the Eiffel Tower. It’s now on my iPhone and it is a silent reminder of the vacation we were so blessed to be able to enjoy together.
  • My gratitude journal. I know I’ve mentioned my journals before, but I have really taken to my gratitude journal. It has honestly refocused and channeled my daily thoughts and feelings. I’ve developed a new format, because I’m focusing on simplicity, that allows for a focus in the AM and a reflection in the PM. I don’t write in it everyday, but I do write in it most days. I often catch myself rereading my entries and this too brings me moments of happiness.

Ode to the life savers! Regardless of how insignificant, these are just some of the things in my life right now that I can count on day in and day out to bring me happiness.

And while we might find it odd to greet people by asking them what is bringing them happiness or what is saving their life, I ask that you at least start with yourself.

Ask yourself what brings you happiness at the beginning of the day, throughout the day, or at the end of the day. Before you know it, your happiness list will get longer and longer! As you become more comfortable with the saying, perhaps you’ll find the courage to ask others, spread the power of positivity, and embrace the gratitude.



Believe it or not, the midpoint of the winter season is Friday, February 2nd! On this day blogger Anne Bogel encourages her readers to share what is saving their life right now. You can read about what is saving her life here and here.


nine celebrations for the month of september

Balance, serenity, and focus…that describes my September. Overall it was a quiet month for me, but I have much to celebrate. In no particular order, here’s why I’m throwing some confetti as I say good-bye to September.

  • This Is Us is back on NBC on Tuesday evenings! I don’t watch much television, or should I say television series, but I do completely enjoy this series. I was like a child anxiously awaiting for 9:00 PM to arrive so I could catch episode #1. It did not disappoint!
  • K-cups! I purchased some K-cups just for me. I don’t drink coffee, but I do enjoy Cafe Escapes Chai Latte. It’s oh-so delicious! It’s my guilty pleasure in the morning as I begin my day at school.
  • Books! There are some new books on my radar for the month of September: The Little Book of Hygge (hoo-ga) and Braving the Wilderness. Both books speak to me on different levels. That’s the thing about books, when they connect to you, you just devour them!
  • My Fitbit! I continue to be just a wee bit obsessed with my Fitbit. It’s a good obsession though! I’ve gained control of my hydration and my overall sleep has improved. The sleep issue is HUGE! I’m so happy that more times than not I am finally gaining control of my sleep patterns and the amount of hours I rest each night. There are other perks to my Fitbit, but I’ll spare you the details for now. Truthfully, I could do an entire post just on my Fitbit!
  • Journaling! I received a journal last Christmas from a dear friend. It’s titled Fit Happens (wink, wink!) It’s a gratitude journal and it has proven to be a great way for me to reflect on my day. I’ve been journaling in it in the evening and I think it is a nice way to wrap up my day. I heart the way it touches upon various aspects of my day and it has a well-rounded approach. I just haven’t been able to keep up with my “morning pages” so this allows me to keep up with my writing and reflections at the end of my day.
  • Caps off to new pens! I have another obsession —> my Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel pens. They write oh-so smooth, come in a nice variety of colors, and do NOT smear for this left-handed girl! I heart them too!
  • 1/2 Marathon training! I’m excited for my upcoming 1/2 marathon in October. During September I was able to complete *all* of the training runs that I scheduled on my new plan. It goes without saying that I’m proud of this accomplishment. After the race, I’m looking forward to mixing my fitness up a bit. It’s time to get back into my cross-training routine.
  • Fall is here! The temperatures are finally cooler! This is fabulous for the runner in me. I certainly enjoyed the sunshiny days, but the heat and humidity definitely made my running a challenge, an enormous challenge! The cooler temperatures are so much more conducive to withstanding a 10, 11, or 12 mile run!
  • #mustreadin2017! I only have two more books to read on my #mustreadin2017 list. They are Two Naomis and Wonderstruck. Wonderstruck will be out in the movie theaters in October so it’s down to the wire that I finish it ASAP.

And that’s a wrap for my nine September celebrations!



 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!

This & That

March was the month of
all on the BLOG!

Then it came to a sudden halt, STOP! And April arrived.

No longer am I wondering what do I write. No longer I am wondering which rough draft do I dust off. No longer am I wondering what post to publish. No longer am I frequenting my favorite blogs or discovering new ones. What to do with my time, what to do! Then I realized I missed a little of this and a little of that!

I missed this One Line a Day journal.


In theory, I am to add one little line a day in the journal over a period of five years. In March, did this happen? Not so much. My line a day turned into 15 lines on one day to make up for the deficit. ~sigh!

I missed these training journals.


This cute little Fit Happens journal is where I jot down what I eat and how my regiment of cross training is going. So, how’s that working for me? It’s not. I’ve been eating way more junk than I should and my cross training has drifted away. On a good note, I have been tracking my training runs in this Believe Training Journal, but I haven’t been filling in any of the other areas of the journal. ~sigh!

I missed this catch-all journal, my personal journal.


During March I only used this journal for planning blog posts for the Slice of Life Story Challenge. It was a dumping zone of randomness that captured my ideas for the blog. I’m ready to resurrect this journal and get back into my daily writing and doodling.

I missed that reading I would do at the end of the day.


Two books have been somewhat patiently waiting for me. One Amazing Elephant has been quietly slumbering on my night stand while The Sun Is Also a Star was summoned back to the public library. I’m happy to report that the latter is back in my hands.

April is here and I’m finding a new balance. I’m learning, however, this is how we roll in life. A little of this, a little of that, and everything in between.



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#MustReadin2017 {Update 4.6.17}

The books just kept piling up. The stack grew higher and higher. New releases, older releases, books for my students to enjoy, and a sprinkling of some adult titles for me.

Sixteen books in all!

“You need to stop,” I told myself. “You’ll never have time to read all of these books.”

I needed, I craved a focus.

A plan, or perhaps a challenge! No, not another challenge!

In January of 2017 I joined fellow readers and created a #MustReadin2017 book list. You can read the initial post here.

Initially, I was a bit hesitant to participate, but today I am certainly glad that I am here, participating. I’m accomplishing much more than I thought I would, even though my reading took a back seat to my daily writing during the Slice of Life Story Challenge in March. In case you missed it, here is my #MustReadin2017 list:


There are sixteen books on my list and here is what I have read so far:

  1. small great things by Jodi Picoult
  2. The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Llody
  3. How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields
  4. The Playbook: 52 Lessons to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander
  5. Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh
  6. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
  7. Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

They were all EXCELLENT! (Yes, I am shouting.) You must read them now, share them now! It’s also time to throw some confetti and do a happy dance! I’ve read seven out of the sixteen books on my list!  🙂

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

  • One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Oh no! Books, books, books! I’ve added more to my #MustReadin2017 list:

  • Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Written In the Stars by Aisha Saeed
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

Well, it’s about time I wrap up this post so I can get back to my reading. I’d like to send a special thank you and hats off to Carrie at There’s a Book for That for uniting us. And of course, I’m wondering what you have recently read or what you plan to read soon.

Please share!

I (heart) comments!


What Works Wednesday: Book Bins & Beyond

For the past several years I really have been placing an emphasis on Independent Reading. This year it has gone to an entire new level thanks to the addition of book bins. I first read about book bins in a post from Franki Sibberson on the blog A Year of Reading. I knew immediately I needed to implement them in my room.
You see, it’s not enough to discuss what my readers are currently reading. I now ask them what they plan on reading next and if they have a book or two in their book bin. Precious reading time has been lost due the readers telling me they are looking for a book, still looking for a book, or can’t find a book. Gone are the days of “I don’t have a book” or “I can’t find a book.” So let’s talk about book bins and beyond.
Get the books:
First off, I’m a “bookmonger”. While I would love to be able to purchase the newest and hottest releases, that just isn’t possible.  I case the public library and check them out on my library card. I then sprinkle them around the room for my readers. We have a magnificent library in our building too, so I also snag books from our school library.  I think about what my readers enjoy and I comb through the popular books. Then I check those books out under my name and shower them around my room. My readers have actually found it easier to chose a just right book when the selection is smaller and more focused to their liking.
Put the books in the bins:
Here’s the honest to goodness truth, the power comes from me talking about the book and suggesting it. Once I talk about the book and create a frenzy, the readers are all clambering for the books. The book then goes in their bin. I simply write the reader’s name on a post-it note and they drop it in the appropriate bin. If multiple students are interested in the book, then I add additional names on the inside of the book.
Share the book love:
I begin every reading session by quickly asking my students what they are reading now and if they have a book in their bin. If they do not, they use the last five minutes of the lesson for book browsing. They enjoy seeing what books are sprinkled around the room, as this changes almost daily. They also like to see what other readers have in their bin. Last but not least, they *adore* the LOVE THAT BOOK recommendation wall. It’s one thing if their reading teacher recommends a book, but it takes it to an entire new level when they see what their peers are reading. FullSizeRender
Book Bins & Beyond, it works, it really works.


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What Works Wednesday: Book Vines

What Works Wednesday!

It’s all about what is working well in my classroom.

Today I’d like to focus on…

Book Vines!

I work with readers in grades 4-6 and my readers have been doing a fantastic job with independent reading. They have been devouring books and challenging themselves to read more and more. Luckily, books in a series provide them with opportunities to reach their reading goals. Some of the most popular books they enjoy are I Survived, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (of course), and graphic novels galore! My mission though is to encourage them to reach out and supply them with books to break their book binging habits.

But there has been a void.

A void in reading and enjoying picture books.

Honestly, I can understand because most often picture books are associated with younger readers. Picture books are overlooked even though there are so many great picture books out there that are certainly appropriate for readers at this level.

It’s left me in a quandary!

How do I promote the love of picture books to my readers to ensure that they are enjoying the beautiful illustrations and to be sure they are engaging in the text in a meaningful fashion? The answer…

Book Vines!

A Book Vine reminds my of a book club, sort of. The reader selects a picture book of interest from the Book Vine options and then reads it independently. Along the way, they jot down what they are thinking on a Post-It note. Here are the six thinking strategies my readers use to demonstrate their thinking:


The “book club” aspect is that the reader has the opportunity to see the Post-It note and the thinking of the previous reader. They can react to the original thought or add their own thought, hence creating a vine, a book vine, of thoughts.

When the reader is finished with the book, they keep their Post-It notes in the book for the new reader to enjoy. Then they add the Post-It notes from the previous reader to the book vine chart. Now the chart can be shared by all, those who also read the book or even those who may be interested in the book.


Here are the picture books for the first round of book vines. They are all excellent books and the readers are thoroughly enjoying them.


My readers are asking if they can sign up for more than one book and they are already asking which books will be in the next round of book vines.

They are enjoying!

They are thinking!

They are reading!

Mission accomplished!

Book Vines!



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Visit There Is a Book for That to see what else others are reading.

Setting goals is something I do all the time in my running world, but I have never set any reading goals for myself. I have to admit, I find it kind of overwhelming. Truth be told, I’m a ~~slow~~ reader. But that’s okay, right? (say yes, or nod your head here!)

When I came across the hashtag #MustReadin2017, I certainly had no difficulties compiling a stack of books. I mean what reader doesn’t have a never-ending list of books they want to read, right?

But, I’ll tell you that creating this stack really gave me a focus for what I want to read next. I’m usually grabbing at books here and grabbing at books there and that too gets overwhelming. Creating the list and having a focus, now that’s a good feeling, for me anyway. I’m also keeping an open mind and accepting what I do complete from this list as a success.

Regardless, I thought it would be fun to see what else others are reading and enjoy some great books along the way. And, perhaps the best part is that I get share the books with my friends, readers, colleagues, and PLN. So, here’s what my #MustReadin2017 stack looks like. Drum roll, please…

On my reading radar now:

  • small great things by Jodi Picoult: Wow, intense and certainly thought provoking! I’m wondering when the small great things are going to make an appearance in this book. I love Picoult’s writing so I’m anxious to see how she pulls everything together or not…
  • How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields: This book is in the self-help genre, which is a favorite genre of mine. I have found so many wonderful wise words in it and it is also where I found my One Little Word for 2017 (more details about my OLW for 2017 in another post).
  • The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd. I received this book when I went to the Scholastic Reading Summit and somehow it got pushed to the side. Then my partner in crime, Katie, told me I must.read.it! I would.love.it! So that’s what I’m reading next.

Happy reading!

Thank you, Carrie for hosting #MustReadin2017!



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A Magical Tasting of Books

There were books!

There were raffle prizes.

There were more books!

There was white & grape sparkling juice cocktail served in champaign flutes.

There were more books!

There were macaroons, brownies, and crepe cookies sprinkled on silver platters.

And there were more books!

Yes, there was magic in the air! It was a Book Tasting hosted in the Literacy Lovers’ Lounge by two book enthusiasts ready to share their love of books with their colleagues.


Your hostesses: Amy & Katie

Two weeks before the Christmas break began Katie & I hosted a book tasting for the fellow book lovers at our school.


The book tasting was a huge success and the buzz of books was eve-ry-where. So perhaps you’re wondering what a book tasting is or how you can host one in your school. Well, read on to see how it unfolded.

Katie and I first decided which books and which categories/genres we wanted to highlight for our tasting. Boy was that difficult! There were so many books. We kept adding books to our list and kept adding books to our list! We came up with the six genres we wanted to share: realistic fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, poetry, picture books, and professional books.

Then we made “library cards” for each book (cute and fun). The library cards were talking points and highlights of the fantastic features of the book. We attached curling ribbon and added them to the book in a bookmark-like fashion. And, of course, we added the books to a Padlet so teachers could reference them after the tasting.


displaying the books

We invited the teachers to join us and for anyone who RSVP’d we sent them a free downloadable resource on how to host a Book Swap before the Christmas break. This was a great way to make sure everyone had a book to read over the break.

On event day, we set up a raffle table and handed out raffle tickets to teachers who showed up, wrote a book recommendation, and visited both rooms of the “literacy lovers’ lounge”. The raffle items were everything from a reading survival kit (fuzzy blanket, cozy socks, and a box of tea bags) to picture books to chapter books. Who could resist such wonderful prizes!


drop your raffle ticket here

And, of course, we weren’t just tasting books! We had small treats sprinkled here and there to enjoy while book browsing.


macaroons, brownies, and crepe cookies

But the best part of all…

the book platters!


realistic fiction


poetry/books in verse

Last but not least, our book friends arrived and Katie and I talked, chatted, shared, and babbled about the books we had selected.

The atmosphere was magical!

We shared some of our favorite books and teachers were “eating them up”!

It was a magnificent morning sharing our book love.

But the magic didn’t stop that morning. The excitement continued as teachers in our building hosted their very own Book Tasting with their readers. I was honored to attend and talk about books with a group of 5th grade readers.

And that my fellow readers is what it is all about…

You can find magic wherever you look.  Sit back and relax all you need is a book!”

~Dr. Seuss


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