Many Apologies: Reality Therapy

J Tower LogoI am now three weeks into the school year and feel compelled to issue a heartfelt apology. I really wanted to get back to blogging regularly this year (and have even made commitments–like resurrecting Greek and Latin Roots). Already, however, I have found that goal impossible to meet.


Well, I work 32 hours per week coaching student writers in my school district’s GED center. I have two completed novels for which I am searching for an agent/publisher. I am working on a third novel. I am also working on a non-fiction picture book. In addition, I am a wife, mother, and grandmother, and the kind of person who needs to read daily and requires 9-10 hours of sleep in order to feel human. I have also agreed to be the Published and Listed Communications Coordinator for my local SCBWI–an organization that has been very good to me and that I am happy to serve.

Therefore, I have discovered I cannot commit to 3, 2, or even 1 blog post weekly.

Yesterday, I decided I would discontinue the blog completely. However, today I woke up thinking, “Hey, wait a minute! I have a lot of things I want to share.”

And so, while I cannot promise to blog at anything that looks like regularly scheduled intervals, I do commit to continue posting when time and interest allows.

I wish you all happy and fulfilling reading and writing times. The value of both in my life are what led me to accept this latest round of reality therapy. Alas, there are only twenty-four hours in a day, no matter how much I wish otherwise–hmm. Maybe there’s a story in that. What if…


Wonderful Words on Words from Brian Jacques

130001114I love words (and phrases, and sentences, and paragraphs, and books, and…). When I began this blog I opened with a poem that attempted to capture my delight in them.

This summer while reorganizing my office, I found a stash of books I’d set aside from which I wanted to capture some quotes. So here, for today, are some of Brian Jacques thoughts on words, taken from his interview with Leonard S. Marcus, for his book (also a great read) The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy.


I love it that as a writer you work with the poetry and music of words. Words are as wild as rocky peaks. They’re as smooth as a millpond and as sunny as a day in a meadow. Words are beautiful things. Every one matters.

Wild and beautiful words erupted in my heart as my husband and I explored Mt. Rainier National Park this summer. When and how do words make your spirit sing?

Play With Your Words #84: Three Minute Poems

wooded path 7.13The seasons are on the cusp of change. Take a few minutes to savor this turning of the year.

Pack up pen and paper, and a little timer. (Even a little 3 minute egg hourglass will do.)

Go outside, sit in your back yard,take a walk, or go to a park. Look around you. Listen. Sniff the air. Take off your shoes and go barefoot. Touch flower petals, leaves, the bark of trees.

Now sit down and get out your materials. Set your timer and write a quick three-minute poem inspired by what you’ve experiences. Relax a few minutes, then set your timer and write another, and then another.

Enjoy what your brain comes up with when it is pushed to write that final poem. Edit or revise, or don’t. Savor these fleeting days of summer.

Welcome Back, Greek and Latin Roots

Column.ExercisesDespite the fact that I discontinued Greek and Latin root spelling lessons back in 2012, these lessons remain among the most frequently visited of my posts. And, it is easy to understand why.

While Latin has long been regarded as a dead language in terms of modern usage, and the Greek of the ancients is not the same as the Greek of today, English (and French, and Spanish, and many other European languages) is littered with their offspring!

In my teaching, I have found the vocabulary/spelling study of words using classical roots to be a great way to expand usable vocabulary and build word deciphering skills. Over the years, I done my own research, collected roots and words, built lists of my own, and created a Greek and Latin Root Vocabulary/Spelling program.

While I am no longer responsible for teaching spelling, my interest in these words will not leave me alone. Therefore, this school year, I have decided to post (both here and in my classroom) a root, or root pair, each week along with definitions and some words to play with and explore that utilize the root.

Over time, I will share some of the methods I adopted and devised to help my students learn these roots and make them their own.

I hope you will find this little jaunt into word history as intriguing as I do, and as beneficial to yourself or your students as I have. Watch next Monday for the Greek/Latin root of the week.


Coming Soon to Literate Lives

Reading In the weeks to come, look for me to start blogging more regularly. You can expect to find writing prompts and teacher’s file drawer activities, “Wonderful Words” quotes, and of course, more posts about pursuing a literate lifestyle both in the classroom and at home, for both our students and ourselves. After all, if we can’t model it, how can we expect young people to embrace the idea that literacy is crucial to both their bright futures and their humanity!


School Starts Tomorrow: List Your Way to a Happy New Year!

School houseSchool starts tomorrow here in Salem, Oregon, at least for the staff. Most kids don’t actually come back until Wednesday. And for me–first as a student, then as a parent, and now as an educator–the start of school has always been the start of a new year.

I stand on the cusp of the new school year a little sad; summer is truly over, and it rains a lot in Salem during the fall, winter, and spring.

However, I also stand hopeful and a little excited. The commencement of the school year shakes up my routines, creating room for me to reflect on what is working and what is not, and what I need, long for, and aspire to.

My objective this school year is to live a well-rounded life. Balance has been my buzzword for so long, however I think in focusing on balancing my responsibilities to God, family, work, and self, I am missing what I really long for and what I need. This year, I want to live my life fully around the whole calendar, not constantly postponing what matters or what is needed until weekends or the holidays.

How do I propose to do this? Lists!

I know, your first thought is, “Crazy you! Aren’t lists the things that exhaust you and make you feel like a failure in the first place?”

Well, yes, but these lists are different. One set of lists are sane routines tailored to the demands of each day of the week. They cover the basics–like housework and exercise. However, the newest list is my “happy secret.” It is a reminder of what I love, what makes me feel content, creative, productive, alive–things like drawing, reading widely, learning something new, hand sewing, or crafting for people I love.

So with my little 3 x 5 cards of routines and my enrichment list of activities that I will no longer put off, I enter this new year ready to fully live my life day-to-day, month-to-month, throughout the year.

Lg Happy New Year!