Monday, March 31, 2014

Slice of Life: Day 31 Reflecting

First of all, thank to the amazing team at Two Writing Teachers for the amazing challenge and invitation to all of us bloggers and writers. March came with all its strength and we accepted their invitation to write every day during the month of March. I wrote for 28 days out of the 31. I consider that success since boy oh boy...there are days that you just can't fit everything. And that is OK.
So what did I learn in all this process?

I was reminded...

how important it is to make time for writing

how much I enjoy the opportunity to reflect aloud

that we all need feedback to grow. It's so important to comment on people's blog

how much I respect all these bloggers even if we never met, I feel close to so many

I discovered...

many wonderful blogs and bloggers

great books (and the pile keeps growing)

many of my friends outside of education were reading my blog ( since many of the topics was not related to Education)

I loved

the sense of writing community established

the sense of belonging

the partnership and collaboration

As the Slice of Life challenge comes to the end, other beginnings start opening up.  In the meantime, we savor each other's words one more day. Happy Slicing!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Slice of Life Day 30 Sweet Spring Break

I'm loving so many things about this Spring Break. Slowing down time always has such a renewing effect on all of us especially because as teachers we know we are going to need a lot of energy the next couple of months.

This Spring break I loved...
  • Spending  endless hours on the couch reading

  • taking random naps

  • Working out & dancing (always)

  • Catching up with friends outside the work place

  • Discovering an International Market that has great goodies from around the world!

  • Spending time with some fabulous people (big and small)

  • Enjoying one or too many cups of coffee at my neighborhood coffee shop

  • Watching snow fall one more time. *sigh*

  • Discovering amazing places around Columbus like...

The Crest GastroPub : 2855 Indianola Ave. Columbus 

Native Cold Pressed : Raw & Organic Juice 771-A N. High St. Columbus

Phatt Taco: Address: 50 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215

C'est Si Bon Cafe: Address: 2258 E Main St, Columbus, OH 43209

  • Cooking at Home is always a favorite! 

  •  Attending Film Columbus where short films (all done here in Ohio) where shared with the public. 

  •  Going to my favorite coffee place: Mission Coffee in the Short North. Best coffees and amazing atmosphere

  • Enjoying the time to read, reflect and write....write and write. 

  • Celebrating my bestie's birthday! Happy birthday to one of the most loyal person I know!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Slice of Life Day 29: Sharing my Books for the Soul Challenge

One of new things I'm trying this year as a reader is to become more intentional about reading for my soul. Let me explain. I LOVE reading professional books. I honestly can say that I enjoy learning from others and in our field of education, there are a lot of great thinking and learning! I also LOVE reading children's literature. I love finding great books for the kids and being able to match my young readers with their book of interest. Now, having said that, I have not make time for any other kind of reading genres until the summer comes and then I stretch and expand my choices. However, I feel that as a person who is always looking to live a more balanced life, I need more than my summer reading. So I made a commitment to myself as a reader that I'll choose ONE book per month that has nothing do with teaching and all to do with my own personal growth. I like to call these kinds of books: books for the soul.
In January I read the Law of Divine Compensation by Mariane Williamson. I don't have enough words to describe this book. It helped me understand so many things from understanding what we ask for, letting go of fear, trusting and overcoming obstacles. I read it slowly (as in it took me a while to finish) because there is a lot to process. This is another reason why choosing just one book for the soul per month allows me to dig really deep into subjects that matter to me.

In February, I read Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. I felt like I had a person who understood me as I read this book. The author and her family lived overseas for several years and then when they came back to the United States, they came back with a different perspective and outlook in life. They came back changed. Changes are a blessing but also a struggle especially if you feel like you are running against the current. I felt understood when I read this book and also optimistic as people like myself who travel a lot is always looking for understanding and remaining curious yet balanced. 

For March, my book of choice was The Big Picture by Tony Horton. Some of you know that I completed the P90X challenge for the 1st time!!! I was really excited because I have started the program so many times and never crossed the finish line until now. I got to say  I admire Tony Horton because he truly understands fitness in a way that few people do. His understandings of how our body and  muscles work lead him to create a fitness program that is amazing and produces results. I'm not just talking losing weight but becoming strong. In this book, Tony goes over his 11 rules that apply not only to fitness but to life in general. These are his philosophies and the "why" behind what he does. I've learned so much about him and as much as I hated him while I was doing some of these intense workout, I got to say: the man knows and understands. 

I feel like my Monthly Book for the Soul is helping me stay grounded and balanced. I'm not waiting until the summer to do all these readings. Honestly I never had the time to apply what I've learned because I was absorbing too much in such a short time. I feel optimistic about my goal as a reader for this year. I already feel great because I'm processing things slowly and let it sit with me for a while before I attempt changes or challenges. What about you? What are some of the challenges you face as a reader? What are you actions plans? Again, all it matters is the journey. That's what lead us to growth. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Slice of Life Poem Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems

I'm so excited about this book in so many levels. First of all, I love J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. And the fact that both of them combined their mad talents to create this book is just such a gift to all of us. First of all, if you think only boys will go crazy for this book? My friend, you are wrong. Yes. Boys will LOVE LOVE LOVE it. But so will girls. This book is for everyone. This will be a fantastic read aloud but you can't miss the pictures done by Jeremy Holmes. It completes the book in a fabulous way. The first poem you will find is a Bookmobile Poem. Seriously? How amazing is this? I dream of owning one. But this bookmobile is so special especially because it's the Gingerbread Man the one who is driving it. And among the many books, you'll find The Wizard of Oz. Classic. 

There are car poems for everyone: The Paper Car, 23rd Century Motors, Hot Dog Car and The Egg Car of course. One of my faves?  High-Heel Car. 

High Heel Car

There was an old woman 
who lived in high heels
She loved one so much
that she gave it three wheels. 

That's how the size-84
shoe-car was born
She wins every footrace, 
Then honks her shoeborn. 

Is there a new poetry book out there that you love? So many books, so little time. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Slice of Life Day 27: Marvelous Picture books!

I've been a Maira Kalman fan for a while now. I just love her style as an artist. Now, she is combining history, her beautiful art work and unique writing styles to write amazing books for children. Her book Looking at Lincoln was one I loved and used it quite frequently in the classroom as a mentor text. She does a great job engaging the audience through her writings and I want my students to explore all kinds of styles.
Her latest book is entitled Thomas Jefferson Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything. Maira has a way to combine fun facts with serious facts in a way that entertains and engages at the same time like..."His favorite vegetable was PEAS. Peas are really wonderful and fun to count." or here's another great example: " As Jefferson got older, he spent more time outdoors. He no longer cared for Fancy Clothes. His torn jacked was repaired with socks."
So much of Jefferson's life is shared in authentic and engaging ways. I can see my students being totally fascinated with this book just because of the way she writes. Maira always include a Note section on the back of the book where other historical moments or figures are further explained.
I hope Maira continues writing more books like this. It's such a fun way to engage in history, art and writing all at the same time.

It was a wonderful morning of picture books, of Maira Kalman's art and always a good cup of coffee for extra company. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Slice of Life Day 26: A Snicker of Magic

If you could only see how my copy of the book A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd looks like, you'll understand so much. This is one of those rare books that have it all. Let me explain. This book has great characters, amazing relationships, it's sad and happy reality, it has magic (tons of that!) and lines that are completely unforgettable. The combination of all this ingredients makes A Snicker of Magic an unforgettable Spring Break read. I had to text my former co-worker at my last school who is a children's book lover and fanatic like I am and share it with her! ( I miss talking to you about books Jess!)

What is this story all about? Well, first of all, Felicity Pickle is a girl you will just love. She collects words that people are thinking about, or words that describe their feelings or who they are. In her mama's van, The Pickled Jalapeño, she has traveled everywhere. But all this traveling is starting to wear her out. Her soul and heart needs a place she can call home. Now Felicity's family is passing by a magical town "Midnight Gulch" that not only have enchanting stories but it also has an explanation for Felicity's past, present and hopefully future.
Natalie Lloyd has mad talents! Her writing is simply amazing. I have so many amazing quotes to share but I'll pick just one:

"It's so weird how life is so full of moving around-people coming and going, people passing by each other all day long. You never know which person's going to steal your heart. You never know which place is going to settle your soul. All you can do is look. And hope. and BELIEVE."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Slice of Life Day 24: Being Present

I'm on Spring Break and as many of my friends know I've been craving and needing the ocean badly. But I made the decision to stay in Columbus this time, be present and enjoy the small moments. I'm glad I did because my mind and soul needed resting in a big way! So, the first step for a successful Spring Break is to make sure my books are all ready. Some of the are from the library, others I've purchased from bookstores or book fairs, and others I've downloaded on my Kindle.

Next I have my wish list of places I'd like to see in the city this week. By places I mean mostly restaurants and coffee shops. Columbus offers so much and it is just a matter of exploring a bit and you'll always find something new. Something is always happening here.

So yesterday I discovered a great place in Clintonville called the Crest Gastropub. Wow! The food is amazing and the ambience of the place is just outstanding. On top of great atmosphere, there was a live band playing great songs. Being on a pub late on a Sunday night was such a treat for this girl. Sunday nights during the school year means getting tons of things ready for the week. So, it already felt different being out and about. Here are some great pics to capture an awesome evening.

Another highlight of my Spring Break was discovering an awesome International Grocery Story in Columbus.  Once you enter the store, you can see clearly that it  represents so many cultures. As I roam the aisles of the story, I see people from everywhere doing their grocery shopping. I honestly felt like I was overseas. Everything around me was different and unique yet so much felt familiar. I love watching pieces of cultures represented here and there. I know the other customers were as excited as I was to be able to bring a piece of home to my new home in the States.

My day ended by finishing reading the amazing new book by Natalie Lloyd entitled A Snicker of Magic. My copy of the book is all highlighted and filled with post its everywhere showing how much I enjoyed the words hidden and captured in this book. I'm going to write about this book on a separate post because it deserves it's own space.

Spring Break how I heart you. Thank you for the gift of time.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Slice of Life Day 22: Firefly July

First day of Spring Break and I'm in love. Having the time to read my pile of books is just one of the things that make me so happy and grateful. The weather is not great but the coffee's great flavor makes up for it. I thought a poetry book will be the perfect book for my 1st Spring Break reading.

My choice: Firefly July A Year of Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I'm in love with every page of this book. Not only the illustrations are amazing (but I knew that before opening this book! Come on, it's Melissa Sweet!) but the selection of poems were perfect. This book takes us through the four seasons and all our best poetry friends are found in one place, one location, one book. I love the fact that The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams is included because it's such a great classic. But I love it even more when I see Ralph Fletcher's poem: Water Lily also made the cut. I'm a fan of his work, his philosophy in teaching and of course, his writing. 
The poem Firefly July by J. Patrick Lewis makes you anxious for those glorious summer nights. 
The book is so gorgeous and I can picture a child's hand running through the pictures as they try to make sense of the words in the book. What a beautiful gift to us poetry lovers!
Happy Saturday of Celebrations and Books. What are you reading that you feel grateful for?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Slice of Life Day 21: Spring Break

Spring Break started today at 4:00pm when I packed my bag, closed my classroom door and headed out to meet friends. It began with a patio and it continued with laughs and conversations. Even though I'm not traveling (whaaaat???!!!), I have several things I'd like to do during this break. I thought about creating a list but then making one sounds like a "to do" long list and I would rather approach Spring break with an open mind, leave room for impromptus get together and the lazy afternoons. On that note...I can't wait to JUST BE.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Slice of Life Day 20: Looking back: a Winter Reflection

"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." John Lennon 

Today is March 20th, 2014. To me this mean one thing: the beginning of a new season: Spring!!!! Welcome Spring. I've been waiting for you for quite a while. When I came back from sunny and summer Paraguay (in January), I quickly realized that our winter was going to be a l-o-n-g one. I dreaded those cold, icy days. I desperately needed to focus my attention into something positive, otherwise, I was going to become one grumpy lady (and really, who wants that?). So, I've decided to start a countdown to Spring on Instagram. Every day, for the past 60 days I posted a daily picture of something great that happened that day, something small that made me smile, or a life detail that was just worth capturing (in my opinion). 

As I look back on those last 60 days of winter through my pictures I see some amazing beautiful moments. Some of them were small and some were bigger. But they were life moments anyways. Through the lenses of my iPhone, I see...

  •  nights of quiet and solitude that I adore: a book, a glass of wine, and the view from my couch
  • how much of a foodie I am. (I mean, I already know this but so much fun to see the green, the desserts, trying to perfection my crepes, and Jeni's ice-cream, of course
  • my friend Christina getting married (I love weddings!)
  • my P90X challenge (recording it for accountability)
  • Listening to the Columbus Symphony on a chilly February evening
  • Kings of Leon's Concert 
  • Celebrating birthdays and friendships
  • Meeting Will Allen at the Evening of All Stars
  • Meeting my new nephew Maxlo
  • Reading amazing books that feed my soul
  • An unforgettable art exhibit at Franklin Conservatory
  • Pizza Nights with my boys: a new & beautiful tradition
Oh life, sweet life. "It's what happens when you are busy making other plans," Thanks John Lennon. Great reminder. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Slice of Life Day 19: Bittersweet Farewell to Winter

Hard to believe we are one day away from Spring. After what seemed like a very long and difficult winter, I'm more than happy to say my farewells to a winter that seemed endless at one point. 

Bittersweet Farewell

It was a winter of love and words
Traveling with a new passport
My heart wished to be in two places at once
Wondering, pondering and waiting

It was a winter of love and words
Some words were spoken and others forgotten
Some were carried by the sea of hopes
And some were abandoned in an open mind of faith

It was a winter of love and words
Of closeness and distance
Of two worlds trying to understand how
You can win and lose at the same time

It was a winter of love and words
Of encounters and farewells
As our souls adjust to the life
Where our words are not spoken anymore

As the petals open up to the possibility
Of love and new words yet to be spoken
One can’t help but feel like the new season
Brings a new wave of hope to our beating hearts

It was a beautiful winter because I met you.
It was a beautiful winter because I loved you.
It was a beautiful winter because I knew you.
It’s a beautiful winter because I grew. 

©StellaVillalba, 2014