Simply, Thank You


When Kurt and I set out to categorize our spending for our family budget, we had a lengthy discussion about where “reading purchases” fit. I thought they went with the grocery category; after all they were the staples of our lives. He preferred that they’d go with family entertainment. Entertainment? Books are so much more than entertainment in our family. I was reminded of the role reading plays in my life just this morning while opening presents. Uncle Gene teased me for having such a practical wish list. I opened a box containing running socks, journals (lined and bound) and books: Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott and The Patron Saint of Liars and The Magician’s Assistant both by Ann Patchett. I can’t wait to dig into my practical gifts. Reading, writing and exercise keep me going. They are necessities and luxuries.

In all the different ways we celebrate the season, I love the gratitude that surrounds us. Last July I started a blog and wondered, would anyone read it? Eight thousand views and hundreds of followers later, I have my answer. You’ve read, you’ve encouraged, you’ve shared, you’ve commented, you’ve suggested blog topics and I’m entirely grateful. My writing and reading world has expanded.

Thank YOU.

Recently I received the Sunshine Award from Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan’s Assessment in Perspective blog and I’m carrying on the tradition by acknowledging my gift with several gifts of my own, eleven in fact.

I’ll share eleven facts, answers Clare’s eleven questions, recommend eleven blogs and then ask eleven questions of my own.

Eleven Random Facts About Me

1. I would eat an avocado every day if I could.
2. I love giraffes because they have the biggest heart of any land mammal.
3. I’m afraid of bears and sharks for no apparent reason.
4. I hide $500 monopoly bills under my leg while in play so I can make a big, unexpected move.
5. Both my parents were teachers.
6. I hum pretty much constantly throughout my day. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is my most frequent tune.
7. I was diagnosed with Celiac at age 25 and have eaten gluten free ever since.
8. I got a tattoo at age 35.
9. I’ve been known to say “Ooo-ooo-ooo,” when I have an idea in a meeting.
10. I talk with my hands.
11. I’m a night person, not a morning person. I’m an introvert who married an extrovert. I love the color indigo.

My Eleven Answers to Eleven Questions

1. What is your favorite board game?

Party Playoff. Totally loud, totally fun, lots of arguing. Party Playoff Game

2. Where is your favorite vacation destination?

Kona, Hawaii. It represents an important turning point in my life and has the most vibrant colors of any place I’ve been.

3. What is your first school memory?

My dad made me pancakes with fruit cocktail and I threw up right before catching the bus to kindergarten.

4. If you have an iPad –how do you use it?

I enjoy it as an ibook reader, I use my Common Core App and my Grammar Pop App

5. When I am stressed, I relax by….

Moving, dancing, running. Anything active helps things make more sense to me. Also “Doing Nothing” helps too.

6. What is your best tip for balancing your work and family lives?

I integrate them. I write about my kids. I read what interests my spouse and kids. I talk to my kids about work. When I travel to present, my husband and kids travel with me. I’m learning there is very little I have to do alone in this life.

7. How do you plan for writing on your blog?

I write down my ideas when they come to me. After a shower, after a run, after a meeting–I don’t judge it. I just get it down.

8. What motivates you to write?

Just about everything motivates me to write. I feel more myself when I’m writing.

9. I love to spend Saturday…

Dancing in the kitchen to loud music and making a memorable meal with family and friends.

10. What is your favorite meal to cook?

Eggs Manzanita and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes (it’s our Christmas morning tradition).

11. The one thing I cannot live without is…

Obvious answers are breathing and heart beats. Other obvious answers are friends and family, shelter, food water. Beyond that? Music. I struggle through my day if I don’t have music.

Eleven Blogs and Websites Worthy of the Sunshine Award
In no particular order (and I’d recommended many more if I could do more than eleven).

Gluten-free-girl and the Chef
When you have to eat gluten free, a writer with a positive spirit, beautiful pictures and a wonderful life is a gift indeed.

Two Writing Teachers
This blog has smart teacher advice. I love the variety of voices.

Nerdy Book Club
When I’m wondering what to read next. I go here.

To Make a Prairie
I was first drawn to Vicki’s work through a quote I’d read of hers. I appreciate her reflective thinking.

Nonfiction Detectives
I turned to the nonfiction detectives when I started building my informational text shelf.

Grammar Girl
Mignon Fogarty helps me grow as a a writer and editor in simple, easy-to-understand ways.

Mike Birbiglia
In addition to music, I’d have to say that I can’t live without comedy. Though Mike isn’t as funny as my teenage daughter, he’s pretty hilarious. And smart and kind.

Burkins & Yaris Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy
Burkins and Yaris have me thinking about interesting parts of the Common Core State Standards.

Diane Sweeney, author of Student-Centered Coaching
I’m a big fan of Diane Sweeney. Her words constantly take me back to the students.

Enjoy and Embrace Learning
Mandy Robek’s kindergarten classroom is inspiring and so is her writing about the wee ones.

Teach by learning. Learn by Teaching.
I heard Christopher Lehman talk at NCTE about research reading and writing and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Questions for Sunshine Award recipients to answer if it brings them joy to do so:

1. What is your favorite cocktail or mocktail? (Ingredients and directions, please)
2. How do you donate your time and/or money to charity?
3. What’s the most unusual job you’ve held?
4. What is a great read aloud book?
5. Which comedian makes you laugh the hardest?
6. What are titles of compelling documentaries or foreign films you’ve enjoyed?
7. Do you have a bumper sticker? What does it say? If you don’t, what would you have?
8. Which pair of shoes is your favorite and where have you been in them?
9. What are you most likely to doodle?
10. Who is your favorite author in your favorite genre?
11. What color is on your living room walls? Do you love or hate it? Tell us.

Feel free to join the conversation! Which blogs inspire you? How would you answer the questions? How are you affected by the gift of reading?

4 thoughts on “Simply, Thank You

  1. Your reflection on how to budget the books made me smile. We’ve had the same conversation at our house. I’m looking forward to exploring some new blogs that you mentioned above. I, too, read most of the teacher blogs you mentioned, but there are a few new ones. The others that are not necessarily educational blogs are new and I’m looking forward to checking them out. Happy New Year Heather!! I’m glad you started this blog. I don’t always leave a comment, but you always leave me with something to think about. 🙂

  2. Just wanted to thank you for the Sunshine nomination and wish you a Happy New Year. And FYI, your random fact about humming made me come out of the closet and admit that I’m a mindless hummer, too. Just hope it’s not the first step toward becoming a bag lady! All the best, Vicki

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