Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Friday, July 31, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week XCIII (93)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.



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My celebration will come in the early hours of Saturday morning. I hope you'll check back then.

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September 19 will mark our 100th celebration! I'm cooking up some ideas for this milestone. Won't you please invite your friends to join us?
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Have you signed up for the {Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter? TThey'll come around the end of each month. Register in the sidebar ----->.
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Teachers, I hope you have time to check out the {Discover. Play. Build.} website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube channel where they are all housed.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
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Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres

Twitter: @ruth_ayres
(I still don't have this platform figured out!)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: XCII (92)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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September 19 will mark our 100th celebration! I'm cooking up some ideas for this milestone. Won't you please invite your friends to join us?
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Have you signed up for the {Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter? The first issue went out yesterday (woo-hoo!). They'll come around the end of each month. Register in the sidebar ----->.
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Teachers, I hope you have time to check out the {Discover. Play. Build.} website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube channel where they are all housed.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
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My cup overflows with celebration this week. As I think about my celebrations I thought it might be fun to pair them as opposites. I'm coming to believe when our celebrations are diverse we are mastering the art of living joy.

  1. The kids were at sleep away camp last week. I celebrate the quiet that crackles in an alone house. And now, I celebrated the hustle and bustle of an active home.
  2. I celebrated everything in its place and a tidy home that stayed that way all day and all night and the next day too. And now, I celebrate the shoes by the steps and the bowling pins at my feet and the pile of Legos and the trains on the dining room table and the sketch pad and pencils at the end of the couch and the books sprinkled all over. I celebrate the stuff that comes from happy, active kids...each finding their own niche.
  3. I celebrate eating out. Andy and I zipped into town and avoided dishes at home. One night we stopped at the farmer's market and brought home a bounty of fresh tomatoes and corn on the cob and purple potatoes to make a summer meal with grilled chicken. Another night we ate out with friends. And now, there's 28 pounds of beef and 21 pounds of chicken ready to be made into 30+ freezer meals today. I celebrating cooking at home.
  4. I celebrate dictating my own schedule, deciding how I spend my time, and allowing the day to lead me. And now, I celebrate getting to invest in four lives, learning to empower and encourage and support them. 
Mostly, though, I celebrate learning to find the joy in the moments of the day. This is what sustains me. Thanks for celebrating along with me!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: XCI (91)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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September 19 will mark our 100th celebration! I'm cooking up some ideas for this milestone. Won't you please invite your friends to join us?
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I'm learning to name surprises in my life. There was a choice I made a long time ago and the response of the person this choice impacted was hurtful and unexpected. It kinda shook me and made me question a lot about who I am and what I do.

I'm realizing part of the reason it rocked me was because I was surprised by the reaction. Life is full of surprises. When I recognize this, then it's easier to go with the flow.

My first celebration post of the summer was a surprise to me: I decided to follow the path of professional writing with my whole heart. Since then I've been thinking about what I have to offer this field. I shared this notebook page at the beginning of the summer...


And today I'm celebrating some of the ways this list has leaped from my notebook to become a dream in ACTION.

{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter.
You can sign up in the sidebar over there ---> for my official newsletter. I'm so excited about this. Ever since I've been blogging I've wanted to offer a newsletter. Now it's happening! The first issue will go out at the end of July.

{Discover. Play. Build.} Website
My website has been hanging out for about 18 months, but this summer I've made it into my offering for teaching writers. I really love this space. The art is mine. The words are mine. Plus, I think I finally captured a little bit of my heart and sent it out in cyberspace. This is exhilarating and scary all rolled into one little soul. I think the Resources page and Lessons for Writers page will be the most useful.

Video Mininlessons for Elementary Writers
Last school year, I began creating video lessons for writing workshop. As a coach, this is a great way to support teachers. I make a video lesson and share it with teachers. Then they either watched it and recreate the lesson or play the lesson as the minilesson. I think these lessons are useful to hear how to talk as a writer, as well as how to make a teaching point concrete.

The best place to begin is the Lessons for Writers page on {Discover. Play. Build.} Website.

It's taken a little bit of time (and a whole lot of conversation with generous colleagues) to figure out an organizational system. I'm still stumbling around and thank you in advance for feedback.

If you begin at Lessons for Writers you will find a link to a Google Drive Website with the Master List of all the flipped lessons. On this table you'll find links to materials and resources for each lesson, as well as a YouTube link to the video. The materials and resources include charts, as well as materials for students.

{Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel
Here is where I'm housing all of the video lessons. Honestly, I'm really loving the way this channel is growing. Start with the playlists to find the lessons to fit your needs. (Just remember to go to the Lessons for Writers page to find the materials & resources for each lesson.)

If you're interested in these lessons, you'll want to follow the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel so you will be notified when I add a new lesson each week! (Yes, I plan to add one lesson a week. HappyHappyJoyJoy!)


Choice Literacy Online Course
July 29-August 9 I'm leading a Choice Literacy Online Workshop called Supporting Teachers in Writing Workshop: A Course for Literacy Coaches. For more information about the course structure and content, click the link. If you sign up you also receive the Side By Side book and On the Same Page DVD. If you are not already a member at Choice Literacy or Lead Literacy, you will receive a trial membership to each site.

So there you have it, the way my notebook whims are being put into action.

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Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres
(I still don't have this platform figured out!)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: XC (90)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.


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I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
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September 19 will mark our 100th celebration! I'm cooking up some ideas for this milestone. Won't you please invite your friends to join us?
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I wrote these lines on my latest writing project:
My living story has three main plot lines. I’m an educator, writer, and momma. I’ve tried to figure out how to keep these stories tidy and organized, each staying on its own path. In a single word, I’ve been trying to get it right. The quest for getting things right almost suffocated my story...

I’ve learned story survives the mess of life. This is part of the beauty of living stories – they are constantly rewritten. No matter how determined I’ve been, I’m unable to keep my three storylines from tangling...

This week I celebrate that my are stories learning to coexist. For the past few years I've been walking this path, trying to figure out the kind of writing life I am meant to live. The path has been unmarked and uncharted. It took time to find my way.

All this time I thought I had to figure out if I am writing as an educator or a momma; writing professionally or fiction; writing about adoption or teaching. It turns out that maybe it's not an either-or decision.

At the Choice Literacy writing retreat, I found my writing voice again.  As my editor said, "You seem to have your writing mojo back." I couldn't stop smiling. I was relieved to still be able to make words line up into something meaningful. 

I had the privilege of delivering an ignite talk to kick off nErDcamp. Seven minutest to talk about whatever I deemed most important. For the first time, I allowed my three storylines to whisper to one another. I shared the importance of having a bounce back spirit.  Later in the day I led a session about enticing writers, helping students write even when they don't want to write. Again, I allowed my storylines to mingle. 

The kindness and appreciation of nErDcampers has been overwhelming. The tweets and blog posts and intentional conversations have helped me recover my writer self. I will always be grateful.

This week Brenda Power sent me the poem, "Maybe We had to Come this Far" by Douglas Worth
It is beautiful and fitting, a timely reminder that I can't rush life. I can't rush writing. I can't rush learning. And I definitely can't rush the unfolding of story.





This is a picture of me, kicking off nErDcamp with a story. This is me, celebrating the way things always come back around to story. 

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Edited: I was having trouble getting the Inlinkz to work. I think it's up now. Please check the comments for more links. Thanks!

Friday, July 3, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week LXXXIX (89)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.


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I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
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One.
My one goal for the summer is making all of the difference. It's made me slow down, reminding me of my One Little Word for the year -- unhurried. I've held their hands in the car and walking to the skate park. I've held their hands in the grocery store and on the couch. I've held their hands saying goodnight and good morning.

I've thought about what it means to hold their hands in the figurative sense. So I've taken an extra breath and listened more. I've ran upstairs for them to grab a forgotten item. I've taken them to the library two extra times.

The most remarkable thing has happened.

They've started holding my hand first.

And I'm reminded of the truth that allows me to believe that just maybe I can be the momma they need. Children need fans. They need people to invest in them. They need to know they're capable and loved and worthy of someone's time.

I hold their hands and somehow it turns into something so much bigger.

Two.
This is the perfect anniversary memory.

This conversation from earlier today.
Jay: Wait a minute! Aren't you guys going to go to do something for your anniversary?
Me: We're hanging out with you guys. Swimming in the rain, riding the boat, eating cake before dinner.
Jay: No, I mean aren't you going to do something just for you guys?
Andy: And miss tubing with you?
Me: And miss the jokes and the fun on the dock?
Jay: You don't wanna go do something grown-up fun?

Andy and I laughed. Nope. We don't wanna be anywhere but right here.

And it reminded me how I waited for this, how we used to imagine summer days with our kids. I expected a little girl with my curls and a son with his eyes. This is not our reality -- nor my dream anymore. Instead, we have so much more than we could have ever imagined.

A daughter who is becoming herself and another who has bold confidence. A son with an extra dose of creativity and another with an extra dose of all-things-boy. We don't know the endless diapers of having four kids within a year of one another, nor did we weather the stress of sleepless nights and rocking them to sleep.

Instead we know how to build forever and how to weave threads into the fabric of a family. We know the how to weather the ugliness of being scraped by the world. We know how to make a family safe.
We know we're in this together. Forever.

I can't imagine a better anniversary gift than this.
Share your celebrations below. Happy Independence Day!

Friday, June 26, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week LXXXVIII (88)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.


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I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
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 My summer is slipping away and when I look ahead on the calendar, it doesn't seem like it's going to slow down. I had the privilege this week of reading a draft by Christy Rush Levine. In it, she reminded readers of the power of a single goal.

One goal.

Period.

Obviously, it got me thinking. Since summer is going so quickly, I really should choose one goal to hold tight. It's tough to choose just one goal, one action that will make a summer. Usually these things come quickly. Last year there were three.


I've been thinking how to boil down and sum up this summer in a single goal. I think it comes down to this...


This summer, I'm going to hold their hands. Feel free to check in with me later and see how it goes.

Thanks for finding time to celebrate. Share your links below!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week LXXXVII (87)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
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My family had the privilege of hosting 8 friends (slicers, teachers, writers) from 7 different states for dinner.  It is one of those moments when you know as it's happening it is affirming  you, changing you, and positioning you all at the same time. We laughed and cried and laughed laughed laughed.

Perhaps you don't recognize them from the photo. You will recognize them from their blog names. From left to right in the photo, you will find...

Ramona from Pleasures from the Page and Washington State
Linda from Teacher Dance and Denver, Colorado
Becca from Nguyen's Prairie Home Companion and Indiana
Christy from Read Write Inspire and Illinois
Mary Helen from Book Savors and Indiana
Kim from Write Kim Write and California
Lori from Colors of My Life and Memphis, Tennessee
Elsie from Elsie Tries Writing and Springfield, Missouri

Andy grilled for us. He'd do just about anything for these women. They handed back pieces of me when my writing life was fragile.

It is a risk to open our worlds to others. I place words -- honest, raw, beautiful, messy words on the page -- and build a story. Bit by bit my story unfolds in notebooks and articles and books and blogs (traveling through time from Inspiring Readers and Writers and Two Writing Teachers and now here).

I have a lifetime collected in scraps of stories, always turning to the page to gather words.

I look at this photo and it anchors me. It reminds me that I always get more than I give when I clack words and open my world.

Home is where I get to be wholly me.  It is an honor to host these women who have helped me believe my story matters. They call themselves the Ruth Ayres Fan Club. It makes my cheeks rosy and my heart tingle. Andy claims presidency of the club. This makes me laugh.


I used to worry about getting the story right.

Now I know Story refuses to have anything to do with getting it right. Story defies perfection. Story refuses stagnation.Story laughs at being controlled.

As a writer the only right thing is to catch the story as it spins.

I celebrate finding this truth because I'm surrounded (in my home and around the globe) by people who write their stories because I write mine.
I'm pretty sure this is the best gift anyone can give.





Saturday, June 13, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week LXXXVI (86)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
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One of my standard pieces of advice for young writers is this: Write what you know. Write about events that have already happened, not the things you are looking forward to happening. For example, if you have a party coming up next weekend, wait to write about it. Don't write about it before it happens.

This is solid writing advice.

I'm going to break it.

Next week is the annual All-Write Summer Institute. I love this conference. (It's not too late to register! Just click on the link.) It's like a party in my backyard. Top-notch speakers and educators come from all over to attend. It's one of the few times when my online world and real world blend. I like this. I like to sit in a session with friends from across the map and friends who teach in the classrooms of my school. I like to have coffee with teachers from a  menagerie of states and backgrounds.

I have all kinds of favorite parts, but I especially like the small connections, the conversations happening in the crevices of the day. I like the way our writing wraps around one another and holds us tight as friends...even when we our visits are few.

There's a group of women who have been reading my writing for years. I think they might know me better than I know myself. It's become a tradition to eat together at the end of the conference. I'm amazed each year how this time restores me as a human and a teacher and a writer and a friend. It is almost magical.

We each need restoration. Friday leads into Saturday, and this particular Friday, with a table of friends from more than 5 different states, will lead into an annual writing retreat for Choice Literacy contributors.

I'm going to the retreat a day early, with a handful of people who invest in me as a writer, who restore me as a human. Andy encouraged me to take the extra day for the writing retreat. He knows about investment and restoration too.

So here I am, once again shaking off what I think should be doing and embracing who I am. I am a writer who needs restored. It is a process and I celebrate being surrounded by people who believe the best in me and are willing to sit in the quiet to give me space to figure out it is much more important to BE rather than DO. And once I'm settled in who I am, the spilling of words will follow.

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I hope you'll post a pic of your writing spot and tag it with #iwritehere. Thanks Jennifer Laffin (@laffinteach)for the conversation starter & inspiration that follows as we share our writing spaces.

I write anywhere. Here are some of my usual haunts.



Share your celebrations below!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week LXXXV (85)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
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Not everybody gets to be an aunt. Long before I wanted to be a momma, I wanted to be the best aunt in the universe. I got to be an aunt to these two before I was even officially married into the family.
 
Their mommy let me be their aunt. It's not something I take lightly. You have to be allowed to be involved in lives. Being an aunt soothed my soul when I didn't get to be a momma.

At age two, they were the world's cutest ring bearer and flower girl. (Andy and his sister, Abbie, are in the photo too...not that you really notice them for all the cuteness of Madison and Cole. Note the bag of Cheerios in Cole's hand. Madison was more discreet with her flower girl basket full of Cheerios.)

 
Of course, the fun was just beginning. 
 
 
A couple of blinks and a handful of ballgames and parties and holidays and recitals and suddenly they are all grown up, dressed in caps and gowns. You know it's going to happen, but when it does, when it really happens, you can't help but catch your breath by the sheer awe of it all.

One moment you're there --
Then the next you're here --

And I find myself completely overwhelmed by all of the emotions. No one ever told me that being the best aunt in the universe means they grow up faster than you expect and they'll tower over you and then they go on to live these beautiful imperfect lives that just make you love them more.

No one ever told me that their hugs get better the older they get. They don't just hug you just because you're the best aunt in the universe, but because they love you back.


Cole and Maddie, your resilience amazes me.
Share your celebrations!