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Monday, April 24, 2017

grace for myself {CELEBRATE This Week: 189}


Typically we celebrate Friday around 10 pm through the weekend. I always leave the link-up open for a few days more, though. I think celebration is an act of resilience rather than a scheduled event. So, today, even though the weekend has come and gone, I'm giving myself grace and offering a public celebration. Thanks, Ramona, for your sweet nudges of love to keep pressing on even when I think it's too late.

*******


I try to write celebration posts early on Friday mornings. I like the organic nature of celebrating in real-time alongside of this community rather than scheduling it several days in advance. This is a noble idea in theory, but sometimes difficult in reality. 

Last Friday, after the kids were in bed and before Andy and I were ready to watch a crime show, I knew I needed to open my computer and set the celebration link-up in motion. I also knew if I did then I would be too tired to watch a show with Andy. I decided time with Andy trumped the celebration link-up.

I woke up on Saturday with excitement for being home. It's been the first Saturday for more than 7 months when we didn't have to go anywhere. I planned to do things like laundry and going through the basket in the kitchen with important papers and washing the baseboards. First, though, I was going to celebrate.

Then I saw the bananas. They had one of two destinies: compost or banana bread. I decided to make banana bread. I also decided not to rush. The banana bread baked and filled the house with the aroma of time. Not-so-little kids found their ways to the kitchen. I made hot chocolate, hot tea, orange juice, and chocolate milk. They sat in the kitchen. I sliced the banana bread.

I poured dark coffee for Andy and sat at the kitchen table with him. The back door stood open and birds sang melodies of time. I didn't rush.

I have to be proactive about not rushing. There is so much I like to do in a day. If I'm not careful, the day is over and I'm tired. We're not designed to be tired.

At some point, I decided it was best not to open my computer. My feelings argue, trying to determine if I should feel ashamed of this truth. I type and delete, type and delete the apology that I feel should follow this admission of deciding not to post the celebration link-up. Yet, by contrast, I'm delighted by the bold move to not open my computer.

Ideally, I would decide to go dark ahead of time. I would have scheduled the link-up in advance. It would have all went without a hitch and no one would know I retreated. I would have been a "good" blogger.

It was pointed out to me years ago that I don't meet the standard of "good" blogger because I'm not always reliable. I've berated myself enough for this over the years; I do not need to do it now. In fact, it's why the celebration community is an open invite with deadlines fashioned in ish terms. It opens on Fridays around 10-ish. It closes at the start-ish of the week. I do deadlines like this because this blog was designed with open arms for all writers in all walks of life. This blog was created so I had space to be myself as a writer. The truth is, sometimes I decide not to write at a scheduled time.

Life is hard enough, we don't need to be belittled for missing a deadline. 

I wrote my very first blog post on March 23, 2006. Since then I have blogged collaboratively and independently on nearly 10 different blogs. I'm not always predictable in my posting, but I continue to be a blogger.

Perhaps it's having more than a decade of blogging under my belt... 
Perhaps it's that I'll be turning 40 in a few months... 
Perhaps it's that I've finally accepted that life is what it is...

But I have finally come to terms that I can be a good blogger and miss a post. 

This is possible because I have a tribe full of grace. You, my dear friends, are my celebration. I write because you read. I write because you care about my story and not about pre-scheduled blog posts. I write because you are there on the other side of the screen. 

Thank you for letting me be more than a good blogger. 

Thank you for the gift of letting me be me.

I can't think of a better reason to celebrate post-deadline than this. One day, when the humans who call me Mom outgrow their teenage years, I will hope to be a "good" blogger. Until then, I'm going to celebrate the impossible -- I have a tribe despite the unfavorable conditions of the way I blog.

[If you have a link you want to share, please add it to the comments. Thanks for celebrating.]

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter. {CELEBRATE This Week: 188}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*******


I'm celebrating courage.


 I'm celebrating dreams.


I'm celebrating faith.



I'm celebrating love.

Courage
Dreams
Faith
Love

I'm celebrating Easter.

Here's to celebrating this week!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Ed Collab {CELEBRATE This Week: 187}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*******

Today I get to talk about ENTICING HARD-TO-REACH WRITERS as part of the The Ed Collaborative Spring Gathering. All day long, The Ed Collaborative is offering cutting edge sessions free for educators. Check out the agenda here. I am so excited to be a part of the generosity and learning of The Ed Collaborative. 

Thank you, Chris Lehman and The Ed Collab team. You are what is good and right about our profession.

Also, make sure to scroll to the bottom of the agenda page. You will find the adopted charities for the day. As a way to say thank you to The Ed Collab, feel free to donate to one of the day's charities.

I'm looking forward to sharing the way my storylines as a momma, teacher and writer intersect to help kids -- all kids -- write their stories and use their voices to make the world a better place. The information I'm sharing is straight from my heart and straight from the pages of my new book, which is in production now. 

If you want to join me at 1:00 (EST), I'll be sharing how to get past the behaviors of kids who don't want to write and instead meet them in their hearts and help them to know their voices matter.

Share your celebrations below.


****

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Break Word Count [CELEBRATE This Week: 186]

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*****


This year I've had the special treat to meet with two fifth grade girls who love writing. We meet weekly(ish), talk about working the words, write, and share. They each are working on fiction stories.

They remind me of how simple it is to invest in the lives of others.

I issued a spring break word count challenge. If they can write more words than I do over spring break, then I'll buy them lunch. They bargained to add their words together to beat me. We made plans for writing time and determined the parameters for what words count (notebook writing, story writing, random scenes, articles, and long letters to mail) and what words don't count (text messages, grocery lists, or typing from notebook to Google Docs).

I plan to write 1000 words each day. There will be notebook work, articles, blog posts, and short stories for a new book idea I'm toying with. I also must write acknowledgements and work out the closing thoughts for The Next Book (which is in production). 

Oh! It has a title that is closer to being official -- Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers.

I'll be writing in the early morning hours, sneaking in mid-afternoon articles, and writing before bed. I think this is a good way to spend Spring Break 2017.

Happy writing!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Cactus Living {CELEBRATE This Week: 185}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*****




Last year, when things turned grey,  my friend, Becca, gave me a miniature gerber daisy in a tiny pink pot. I love daisies. They are my favorite. This one gave me much hope. It kept blooming -- over and over. It promised hope. 

I kept it alive through the summer. Then something, probably a chipmunk, snagged it off my front porch. 

A few weeks ago, Sam and I came across miniature cacti in a store. They were lined up in tiny pots. No two were the same. "We should get one for the window sill and for Becca," he said.

"I was thinking the same thing," I said.

Sam picked out one with a bright pink bloom. "This one is perfect for Becca," he said. I agreed.

We picked a plain one for our kitchen window. I wondered if it would be hardy enough for my house.

I dropped it while carrying it inside. It survives.
I don't know how much to water it. It survives.
Jordan knocked it over with a renegade fork while doing dishes. It survives.

realized I might be in a season of cacti living. Hard and hardy. Survival and vitality. Prickly and steadfast.

Then I noticed brown spots, and I wondered if maybe it wasn't surviving. I kept an eye on it and the spots became lumps. I wondered if it contracted a disease. The bumps grew, and I thought maybe it was a fungus. 

I figured the cactus would bite the dust at any moment.

Then the lumps grew a little more. I realized they are buds. I think my cactus might be growing blooms.

Isn't this just how life goes? Just when we think we've come to the end, there's a bud and hope that things will soon bloom. And when that happens, I hope it is better than I could even imagine.


Friday, March 17, 2017

New Writing Buddy {CELEBRATE This Week: 184}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*****


I waver between a love and hate relationship with stacking Friday night words. All day I was looking forward to writing tonight, but when the time finally came it was a struggle.

The boys are putting finishing touches on Sam's Pinewood Derby car. The race is tomorrow. Sam is making adjustments, Andy is his assistant and Jordan is the DJ, selecting heavy metal tunes off Andy's playlist.

I might be procrastinating. Finally I pull out my computer and settle on the couch. Sam brings me a Lego creation he built last night. "Here's a new writing partner to keep you company," he said, walking the husky pup across my keyboard and setting her beside me.

"Kids at school are giving me free build Lego challenges." A husky was last night's challenge.  Then Sam said, "I know finishing things can be hard, so this guy will keep you company as you finish your book."

It must be a little magic, because suddenly I have a few paragraphs. Writing always gives more than it takes. We just have to make space.

I hope you make space to celebrate this weekend. Share your link below.



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Inventor's Brain {CELEBRATE This Week: 183}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*****


Sam hijacked my Instagram feed this week with this photo. Andy and I were cooking dinner in the kitchen and he said, "I'm inspired by all of the wind. All I need is two old belts and five paperclips, and I'll be able to put the idea in my head into the world. "

He took his supplies and went to the basement. (It's his workshop. Every inventor needs a workshop, according to Sam.) It's not very easy to get winged arms up the narrow basement stairs. We heard him before we saw him. 

The first run didn't go so well. "It's a good thing I have my helmet on!" Sam laughed as he hurried back to his workshop.

Sam deemed the second run as successful as possible given that he'd ran out of duck tape. Sometime after dinner he hijacked my Instagram account. The caption read:
This is how I spend my Wednesday evenings: inventing.
Correction: every evening I spend inventing.
I'm trying to "fly." This last run gave me 2 seconds of air time!
If only I had duck tape, I could flyyyyy!
#hijackedbysam
Sam is in 5th grade. He tells us often, "I don't have a school brain. I have an inventor's brain." Sam scores high on standardized tests, he loves to read, he thinks about numbers in unconventional ways. He is a spacey, brainy, witty kid.

School isn't on his favorite list.

Right now he's working on a train layout. He called Papa yesterday and asked for a piece of foam installation board to build a "vertical layout for his trains." He wrote a sticky note reminder and put it on my steering wheel so I wouldn't forget to stop at Papa's house for the styrofoam.

He met me at the door last night. "Did you remember the foam installation board?"

"It's in my car."

Sam and the styrofoam were heading down the basement stairs into the workshop before I put my shoes and school bag away.

Sam comes up the workshop stairs and says, "You might not think a vertical train layout will work, but I think if I figure out the right angle it will."

I nod and keep writing this post.

"I like inventing, Mom. I get to use math in creative ways. I like to make up stories or think of advertising jingles for my inventions. It's not really playing, it's just fun."

I look at him. His eyes are wide. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to stop inventing so I can get better grades at school."

Sam is sensitive and his eyes get watery. "I don't want to give up my inventor's brain, but I don't know any other way to get better grades at school."

I want to tell him not to worry about grades, but he is concerned about his grades. (His concern is valid.) "Maybe you can work on focusing in school. When you're at school you do school work. When you are at home you invent."

Sam is sincere when he says, "An inventor's brain doesn't work that way, Mom. When I'm at school and we're talking about finding area of triangles, my brain begins to think about my train layout, I think about how I need more tracks, and I could figure out how many new tracks by using parameter instead of area. Then I start wondering how knowing area would help me. That makes me start thinking about painting my layout and then I think about the pond I want to add. I probably need area for that because you need to get the special gel to make it look like water. Only I don't need to know area of a triangle, I need to know the area of an oval. My brain starts thinking about filling the pond with triangles, but that won't really work either. I probably need a different formula."

I nod, unsure of what to say.

Sam continues, "See what I mean? I have to just turn off my inventor's brain." He blinks back tears. "Then all the fun will be gone, but my homework will be done."

I take a deep breath and say, "You know, Sam, it's Saturday. I don't think we need to figure this out right now. Saturdays are a good time to just be who you like to be. Don't worry about being something else."

He worked a little more on his vertical train layout. Then he moved on to a Lego creation. Now he's talking with Andy about fishing. I hear him say, "When I get home from bowling, I'm going to ride my bike over to the river and put in a line."

And I'm left wondering how will his inventor's brain survive school? 

Share your celebrations...


Friday, March 3, 2017

Relax {CELEBRATE This Week: 182}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*****

image found

I'll be writing my celebration later this weekend. Until then, share your celebration below!


Friday, February 24, 2017

It's Really Real! {CELEBRATE This Week: 181}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

*****


I launched my first course from the Discover. Play. Build. PD School. Less than 12 hours later and 68 people have enrolled!  I can't wait to hear your stories. Will you share them with me? Leave a comment and let me know how conferring with student writers impacts YOU. There are a ton of ways it impacts children, but I'd love to hear the ways it impacts you.

I'll go first.

Conferring changes me because I hear children's stories. I realize there is so much more to a child than learning the academics. When they share their stories or interests, I remember the reasons I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to make the world better one child at a time. It starts with knowing their stories. From there, I help them tell their stories better. I teach them to use their voices to change the world. And in some small way, it makes me know stories matter. Every story matters.

Thanks for celebrating with me. I can't wait to hear your celebrations about how conferring impacts you.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Special Extras! CONFERRING NOTES 101 is OPEN for Registration

I just sent this out to my Email Pals. My zany writing group convinced me to open the cart early for CONFERRING NOTES 101. There's a special bonus that's open for 12 hours. Read on!



Hi everyone!
The FB LIVE event was SO MUCH FUN! My writing group was true to form -- zany and fun. They talked me into opening the cart early for CONFERRING NOTES 101.
That's right, the full version of CONFERRING NOTES 101 is open! Just click the link!
My writing group insisted on a special bonus. So if you join the course before 9:00 am (Eastern), then you will get:
  • 15% off registration
  • A 10 minute online coaching call
  • A copy of CELEBRATING WRITERS
Make sure to use the coupon code: FBBONUS
The course has instant (and lifetime) access. You also get all of kinds of awesome encouragement and ideas for conferring. Check out the details on the course page. Here's what you get when you register:
  • 5 course sections to organize the complex topic of conferring with student writers into manageable portions.
  • 20 step-by-step video lessons that will help you establish a personalized note system, develop your skills during a conference, and analyze your notes as data.
  • Videos of primary and intermediate writing conferences with the thinking behind each move highlighted, along with how the conferring notes for those conferences were written.
  • A 40 page handbook filled with ready-to-use conference records, notes and quotes, and cheat sheets to help you put this to use tomorrow!
  • A private Facebook group just for course participants so you can get the encouragement, feedback & extra help you need.
  • Instant access to everything right away at a "go at your own pace" schedule to fit what works for you.
  • Forever access to everything because sometimes summer is the best time to dive in.
  • Unlimited email access to Ruth for one month.
  • Discussion questions for teams at the end of each section so you can discuss ideas deeper and create a culture of encouragement and support.
  • Earn up to 15 Professional Growth Points for professional development.
Remember: FBBONUS
After 9:00 am (Eastern) all the FB bonuses go away. (Although, there will still be a FASTMOVER discount of 15% for 24 hours.)
Thanks again for the FUN on FB Live!
Shine on,
Ruth

Friday, February 17, 2017

Let Us Eat Cake! {CELEBRATE This Week: 180}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

***


I made cake on an ordinary Thursday. It was an old recipe, handed down through generations on Andy's side of the family. I sifted flour. I baked the Old-Fashioned Red Velvet Cake in heart shaped pans, just like my mom used to do. 

I put it on a fancy cake stand, the one with a pedestal and dome lid. It was waiting on the counter when everyone came home. They smelled it before they saw it.

Martha said, "I am so excited! Please tell me that's for us!" I didn't know cake is her favorite. 

This is how I fight the lie of busy. I sift flour and bake cakes in heart shaped pans. I make a two-step frosting, the kind with boiled milk, and I spread it pretty. I let them sneak-swipe their fingers in the icing and cherry pick the chocolate savings. I act surprised when I hear the glass dome clink and tattle on the culprits.

And just like that, there is much right in the world as we eat cake.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Conferring Notes 101 LITE

My son Jay L.O.V.E.S. football. He is a hardcore football player. We love this about Jay, because he spent more than 7 years of his childhood bumping around the foster care system. So many kids from hard places don’t know how to follow their passions. Not Jay, though -- he has football.



Last summer Jay went to football camp for the first time. At football camp, Jay participated in many drills. In fact, most of the time at camp was spent in drills. Jay came home with a series of drills to practice. (He still practices them, in fact.)


I’ve never seen Jay run a drill during a game. The drills aren’t part of the game plan, but they are essential to becoming a better football player.


I’ve been putting together a course to help teachers lift the level of their conferences. It is called Conferring Notes 101. I am so excited about this course, that I wanted to share it. So I’m taking some of the best content and putting together a three session Conferring Notes 101 LITE version.



What does this have to do about Jay's football drills?

You can think of Conferring Notes 101 LITE as an intense camp to lift the level of your conferring. Just like Jay ran lots of drills at football camp, we’re going to set up a simple paper system so we can “run some practice drills” as teachers of writers.  I offer a step-by-step guide to setting up a trusty go-to conferring note system.

Will you do two things?
  1. Sign up for the CONFERRING NOTES 101 LITE course. It is free and some of my best work in supporting teachers to lift the level of their conferring. Just fill out the form above.
  2. Tell a friend! Share this with the teachers across the hall or in your department or in your school. Or post about it on social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat (whatever your preference). Here is the link: http://bit.ly/con101LITE and the hashtag is #conferringnotes101. Feel free to tag me, just get the R before the E in my last name! [@ruth_ayres]


Once you sign up, you’ll be on the list to get the Conferring Notes 101 LITE sessions as they release. You don’t want to  wait too long, though, because they are only available for a short amount of time. I’d hate for you to miss it!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dreaming Big {CELEBRATE This Week: 179}

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 hereCelebrate 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.

***


Oh boy!
Have you ever had news that feels so big that you're a little nervous to say it out loud?
I think this is a sign of a dream coming true.

It only makes since that I whisper the news to you, this sweet community of people who celebrate.

It's been a big dream of mine to offer online course for teachers to help make teaching writers manageable. I've been dreaming this dream for awhile. Sometimes dreams feel more like wishes. Sometimes dreams feel impossible.

And every now and then dreams come close to coming true.

Lean in, my friends. I'm not sure I can say it above a whisper yet.

I'm getting ready to launch my first online course from Discover. Play. Build. 

The heart of writing workshop is conferring. Not surprisingly, the hardest part of writing workshop is conferring. If we want to make teaching writers more manageable, then we tackle conferring.

I've walked alongside hundreds of teachers who have learned and refined the art of conferring with writers. Strengthening conferring skills transforms writing instruction from vague ideas to clear teaching points and precise differentiation.

The fastest way to make this transformation is to learn to keep solid conferring notes. Conferring notes expedite the process because they hold us accountable to lifting the level of conferences, and they support more growth in students as writers.

Soon I plan to open a free 3 session mini-course to give a taste of the bigger course, Conferring Notes 101. It's been super fun to put together. For the free mini-course videos, I'm wearing some of my favorite writer shirts and sharing the best content from the course. I want it to have the feel and mindset of Saturday morning. No hurries and time to reflect. (We can ignore Andy who says if I really want to look like a writer, I'd be in yoga pants, a worn sweatshirt, a ball cap and wrapped in a quilt. That Andy -- he *thinks* he's funny.)

You might want to pick up my free training, 3 Secrets to Powerful Conferences, by filling out the form below. (This is different than Conferring Notes 101.) It's a good taste for how the sessions will go. Plus, we'll be Email Pals (if we aren't already), and you'll be among the first to know when the mini-course goes live!

Thanks for showing up each week and celebrating. It's nice to know that no matter the week, we can find reasons to celebrate.