Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/21/14

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: Last week I read and loved The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. It's an amazing look at writing that I definitely recommend. We also finished Comic Squad: Recess! which was so great. I started reading The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw...just barely, but I love the twist on this book already.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: So...I'm going to try to actually get reviews up this week! I'm going to continue to read The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw and I'll be back at work so I'm going to grab an audiobook to listen to. 

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Teachers Write - Weekly Reflection #3

Welcome back, writing friends! Today marks the end of Teachers Write week 2! I hope you are enjoying Teachers Write and all the great support we receive from Kate, Gae, Jo and others. Thanks for stopping in here to share your progress!

This week I got into more of a rhythm with my writing and was able to write everyday, adding amazing, first-draft-imperfectly-perfect words to the novel I'm drafting. I've noticed that my rhythm this summer means I'm writing and celebrating my writing, but the nature of my life this summer - home with two young kiddos, traveling, being home, squishing in writing time  - means where I'm writing isn't very consistent. For a while now, I've longed for a wonderful writing nook, a little space carved out somewhere in the world just for me. With bright, warm colored walls, inspirational quotes hung tenderly, and a simple wooden tabletop where my laptop can sit, this writing space lives only in my imagination but I'm okay with that. 

Today's weekly reflection question is, "Where do you write?" but I'm challenging you to think outside of the proverbial box and to stretch some of the ideas you might have about the perfect writing space. While I dream of a sweet writing nook, I've done a lot of writing without one and I seem to be doing just fine.
During the first summer of Teachers Write, I read Stephen King's book On Writing and blogged about all the great writing insight he shares in that book. I shared many of my favorite quotes, and three of them are specific to a writing space. Here they are again:

“For any writer, but for the beginning writer in particular, it’s wise to eliminate every possible distraction.” p. 156
“When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you’re writing, you’re creating your own worlds.” p. 156
“I wrote my first two published novels, Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot, in the laundry room of a doublewide trailer, pounding away on my wife’s portable Olivetti typewriter and balancing a child’s desk on my thighs; John Cheever reputedly wrote in the basement of his Park Avenue apartment building, near the furnace. The space can be humble (probably should be, as I think I have already suggested), and it really needs only one things: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business; you have made a serious commitment to write and intend to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.” p. 155

I wrote most of my first draft that summer in my laundry room. It was the best way to shut out distractions. I sometimes still write in my laundry room but have also found a lot of success writing in my closet. For me, cutting out distractions really is what I need. Everything else doesn't matter as long as I can shut out the world around me and zone in on the paper/computer screen in front of me.

Here's another quote, this time from Ralph Fletcher, who has written a lot about writers notebooks (which, incidentally, are amazing and a fantastic place to start with student writers - you can read about his resources in this blog post): 

“When you come right down to it,
you are the place where your words will grow.
But most writers find it invaluable to have
a regular writing place, a physical space,
where they can water and weed a garden of words.”

This week, I read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron where she explains, "Wherever I am, whenever I can, I write." Which got me thinking about how Ralph is right that it's great to have a place that feels energizing, Stephen is right that cutting out distractions helps but that maybe Julia is onto something in the fact that we can take our writing space with us.

On Tuesday, I went to an amazing yoga class led by my friend Lauren (of paddleboard yoga fame) and by the end I was so overcome with emotions that it became a writing emergency. Luckily, I had my writer's notebook with me and I sat down to write while all the feelings were fresh. By always having a place to record my thoughts - whether it's with a notebook and a pen or with a device - I have my writing space with me

On Thursday, I found myself at Starbucks with time to write. I adore Starbucks as a place to be productive. Just walking in and smelling the smells puts me in a mental place to write. The only thing I don't like about Starbucks is the noise distractions. While they play lovely music, it usually varies in style and tempo and doesn't always match my mood or the mood of what I'm writing. Likewise, there are lovely people in Starbucks but sometimes they are chatting away - whether it be to each other or to me - and that doesn't always help me either. I have found that plugging in my headphones at Starbucks or anywhere else allows me to get back to my writing. I have a wonderful white noise with waves soundtrack that works especially well when I'm revising or working on anything non-fiction but I create playlists for when I'm working on first draft novel-writing. By having a way to play music that eliminates distractions and fuels me - I have my writing space with me.

Here is a playlist I created in iTunes when working on my first novel:

And this is the playlist I created on Spotify for the novel I'm drafting right now:
I love thinking about an ideal writing space and at least finding a place where we can be comfortable to write but I also think it's worthwhile to be open-minded to the idea that we are the writers and that, ultimately, we bring the writing to the space.

My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
My goal for this week was to write for 25 minutes every day. I also wanted to add 1,000 words to my draft everyday so that I would be at 9,000 words today...and I half made it. I did write for at least 25 minutes everyday but I didn't get to 1,000 words everyday. My word count is at 7,759 which is still progress so I'm happy with that.

This week, I did my best, most productive writing when I woke up early and was able to write or when I went to Starbucks in the morning or middle of the day and was able to work. I can definitely write at night but it's harder to move fast and feel fully engaged, my head just feels tired. My goal for this upcoming week is to keep on drafting but to look for space to write early on in the day as much as possible and to take into account that I might need to write more on the days when I can really only squeeze in the 25 minutes. I also need to stop thinking so much and just spew out all the first-draft words...and hopefully I can get to 13,000 words by next Sunday.

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments section:
Where do you write?
What about the atmosphere or the background noise or music helps you write?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Let's Celebrate Piggyback Rides and Melting Ice Cream!


It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

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This week I'm celebrating piggyback rides and melting ice cream!

*throws confetti*

There's something about four- and seven-year-olds being just-right for piggyback rides! Lately, it feels like I've been giving a lot of these but thank goodness for them. As soon as a hint of crankiness seems like it's about to overcome either Peanut or Little Bean, I recommend a piggyback ride and it completely turns their mood around. (On a side not, I'm so in love with that little face peaking over my shoulder! Gosh, I love that kid.)
My nephews were in town last weekend and while we were at the park, an ice cream truck came around. My younger nephew turned to me and said, "Is that an ice cream truck?" When I confirmed that it was he said, "I thought those were only real on TV." Well, you know that meant we had to buy an ice cream from an ice cream truck after that.  
My sweet Little Bean loves the ice cream/popsicles with the gumball eyes - whether it's Sponge Bob, Spiderman or a Ninja Turtle, that's the kind he always wants. He's still figuring out how to eat it fast enough so that it doesn't melt down his arm but I'm happy to cherish these days of being messy and sticky and loving a treat so much that it doesn't matter if it ends up all over the place.
What summer fun are you celebrating this week?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Poetry Friday

 Today Poetry Friday is with Tabatha Yeatts and The Opposite of Indifference! Be sure to visit and check out all the great poetry posts!

My friend, Lauren who did paddleboard yoga with me, is working on her yoga instructor certification so I attended two of her yoga classes this week (on dry land). She is a Spanish teacher and it was neat to see how many of her colleagues from her school supported her by attending her classes as well. One woman had a special request for her current favorite song, On Top of the World, by Imagine Dragons. I happen to be a huge Imagine Dragons fan and I really love this new song. I've been listening to it since: had it on repeat all day, danced in my car, in Starbucks and in my living room (where my kids might have thought I was out of my mind...). 

What I really love about this song as it starts is the reminder that life is precious and that we need to remember to tell people how important they are to us. Last night, we (finally) went to see The Fault in Our Stars and I watched, I was also thinking about how lucky we are for the time we have and that it needs to be cherished. 

My favorite line is this one, though: "I take it in but don’t look down". I'm happy to consider myself an optimist. I try to look at the good in the world, in people, in any situation. There definitely times when I'm enjoying an event, a day, a trip and I think of how sad I'll feel when it's all over. I'm not sure why I do this. I try not to linger on it, but at some point it crosses my mind that I'll be sad when it's over. I like the reminder to not look down because it seems like a great way to soak up and live in the moment. Keep moving forward, keep looking up, keep living in the moment.


On Top Of The World

If you love somebody
Better tell them while they’re here ’cause
They just may run away from you

You’ll never know quite when, well
Then again it just depends on
How long of time is left for you

I’ve had the highest mountains
I’ve had the deepest rivers
You can have it all but life keeps moving

I take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

I’ve tried to cut these corners
Try to take the easy way out
I kept on falling short of something

I coulda gave up then but
Then again I couldn’t have ’cause
I’ve traveled all this way for something

I take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.


I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do! 

Do you have a favorite song you are listening to and loving this summer?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The One With SUP PaddleBoard Yoga!



Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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I'm always up for a challenge but the thought of falling into Lake Michigan in June when it's still a chilly sixty-some degrees did sound a little nerve-wracking. The instructor assured me that only 30% of people fall in during stand-up paddleboard yoga and I was hoping I wouldn't be part of that 30%. Lucky for me, I wasn't and I had an amazing time during both paddleboard yoga classes I took with Royal Pigeon Yoga at 31st Street Harbor in Chicago. 

The first two pictures below are from my first class. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the weather was completely perfect. We had a small class, there were only three of us. I was nervous but amazed by how in tune with the board I felt by the end. At the end of the class, it was so relaxing to close my eyes and listen to the water as I floated there on my back. It made me think of all the visits to the beach when I was growing up and how I much I love the water.

I wasn't sure how it would feel to try wheel pose on the board but I tried and I didn't fall in!
These next set of pictures is from the second class I took. It was a foggy Sunday morning and we had a much larger group. My friend, Lauren, went with me to both of the classes but this time, I convinced my husband and my mom to come down to the beach with my kids. I'm such a fan of 31st Street Harbor. Early in the morning, it's a really easy drive for us, the parking is like street parking, where you just pay the meter, and the beach and the clubhouse is beautiful. There is a great park where they kids can play and the Lake Shore Drive bike path goes right past it. 




I'm on the right...I wanted to get a feel for the handstand on the paddleboard but I need more practice!
Paddleboard yoga is a completely different kind of experience compared to yoga on land. I feel like my core is engaged the whole time I'm on the board so it challenged my muscles in such a unique way. There were times when I felt like I could move more fluidly because the board moved with me instead of being stagnant underneath me. I love the serenity and peacefulness that comes with yoga practice but I've found it to be even more calming to be on the water while doing yoga. I'm sure I'll be headed out onto the water again...if you're ever in town and are up for a SUP class, please let me know!

What have you done recently that challenged you in a new way? 
I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's Monday What Are You Reading? (7/14/14)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: Last week was such a great week spent at nErDcamp and then back at home with family. My nephews were in town to visit and we celebrated my aunt's 70th birthday party. I did listen to Kelly DiPucchio read Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet and Aaron Zenz read Hiccupotamus at Nerdcamp Jr. I also started reading Comic Squad: Recess! with Peanut and Little Bean. We've read the first story twice and the second story once so far. I'm completely in love with it!

Just a quick reminder that you can visit all the blog on the Schneider Family Book Award 10th anniversary blog tour and be sure to enter the giveaway! Also be sure to check out all the Teachers Write fun at Kate Messner's blog, Jo Knowles' blog, and Gae Polisner's blog

Reviewed Last Week:

Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm sure we'll finish Comic Squad: Recess! this week and I'm planning to get back to The Right to Write which I checked out of the library forever ago. It was mentioned in Teachers Write comments so I'm excited to check it out. I'm also very eager to read El Deafo by CeCe Bell and to finally dive into the final League of Princes book I've been meaning to read, too!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!