Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Good News This Week…April 25

Sharing the good news because there is too much bad.

Sharing a Moment:
When my teens hack my phone, they know I may post to social media. I bet my eldest never guessed I'd put one of these photos on my blog. She'd be wrong.

Oh how I love both my drama queens. And because they are both so shy (sarcasm font), they both are cast in the next Journey Theater Arts Group production, Great American Tall Tales. Get tickets here.

Sharing Stories:

Photos with statues - Epic. Because of course you need photos with statues. Some of these are pretty clever.

Vintage Portland: I love my city. Here's what you won't see on Portlandia. 

Dusty the Kangaroo: Dog stories are heartwarming. But a kangaroo story? Over the top warm fuzzies.

Boosting Self Esteem - a project developed by 12 year olds: Everyone thinks I'm crazy for loving middle-schoolers. This is why I do.

Toddler Without Feet Gets Puppy Without Paw: Oh, man. This one. And how perfect is the name Lt. Dan for this dog?

Sharing a Podcast:

HomePlate Youth Services, the people so close to my heart, are celebrating their 10th Anniversary today. Here is their story, an explanation of who they help, AND plans to expand. I'm so excited to see how many more kids will be served!

HomePlate Youth - Rose City Forum

See? There is good news happening. You just have to look past the headlines.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

19 Ways We've Stayed Together 19 Years

A few months ago, a young woman asked me the secret to a happy marriage. “Therapy”, I responded. 

Yesterday Edd and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. Marriage is hard work. Aside from that, I’m not sure there is any piece of advice I can give another. 

If there is one thing I’ve learned from being with the same person over two decades - it’s that a partnership is just as individual as the two who are in it. Reflecting on our union, I have come up with 19 reasons we’ve been able to stay together:

For us, 19 years of marriage is:

not caring how you look (or smell) when you wake up.

listening to one another.

scheduling time to listen to the other when one is too distracted to hear.

making it through 2 years, 
then 7 years, 
then 9 years, 
then 15 years, 
then 18 years - each of those times thinking the marriage may be done.

committing yourself to one another every, dang day so you don’t have any more years where you think the marriage is done.

going to therapy to learn about breaking down walls.

staying together through sickness - lots and lots and lots of sickness - and in health.

realizing when the other needs space.

realizing when the other is afraid to be alone.

asking and responding in truth when it’s difficult to realize anything.

saying you’ll go to a movie, concert, play with the other even if you hate said movie, concert, or play.

making anniversary plans far in advance.

canceling those plans 1 hour before event because both are in agreement to stay home and comfort their teen instead of leaving her alone for the evening.

knowing the other will always put immediate family first.

respecting the shared calendar

respecting “first come first serve” on the shared calendar

equal responsibility in child rearing

not really remembering how long you’ve been married sometimes because “forever” doesn’t have a number.

loving someone so uniquely in a way not felt by a parent, a child, or a friend - but the melding of these emotions rolled into one. 

That's it! 

I wish I could say it's simple. I can't. 

I can say in all honesty, it's the most
happy way to live and I wouldn't want to do this marriage thing with anyone else.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Good News This Week…April 18

Sharing some of the good stuff online because the bad stuff is depressing.

Sharing a Moment:

Thorr turned 2 this week. I fought against getting a pet for a long, long time. I have to say, this little spaz grew on me. Now I can't imagine our life without him.  (Except when he barks like mad. Then I can imagine it.)

Sharing Stories:

Shoes that Grow: An idea so genius, you wonder why nobody has come up with the idea before.

Duckie's Dance: This makes me all kinds of happy. My friend, Paul, thinks Andi should have picked Duckie over Blaine. I don't understand that choice.
Also -  "Blaine? That's a major appliance that's not a name!"

11 Reasons Librarians are better Superheroes than the Avengers: Yep.

Fresh Prince Pregnancy Announcement: So clever. And they're from Portland, so, of course. 

CEO Cuts His Pay: A good leader will keep employees forever.

Sharing a Podcast:

The best part of hosting a radio show is all of the fantastic people I get to interview. This week I talked with Rachel Held Evans about her new book, Searching for Sunday. I loved the book. I loved the talk. I hope you love both, too.

Rachel Held Evans on Rose City Forum

I pray you have a week full of good news!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

How I Got Rid of the Gremlins

Last weekend I participated in the annual Faith and Culture Writers Conference. Friday afternoon, we separated into smaller groups for a writing intensive. I followed in with blogger, Micah Murray's, entourage.

Micah challenged us to confront our gremlins. (The fact Micah was not even born when the movie Gremlins was released is not lost on me. Bygones.)

Gremlins, using Micah's definition, are the voices inside our head who taunt and lead us to believe we're no good. 

You'll never be a good writer.
You're boring.
You'll never be as good as ________.
Your story has been told one thousand times.

We all have gremlins, no matter our profession or hobby, right? 
Please tell me I'm right.

After we jotted down our gremlin jeers, we were, in theory, to combat the negativity with positive statements. This was tough. My list remained blank. I just didn't have the emotional energy to fight back. Great. I was already failing the second assignment.

I finally found my groove in the last task. Micah asked us to write letters to ourselves. My original plan was to zone and leave this page empty, as well. After sitting still a moment, I began to imagine "Andee" as a friend of mine. What would I tell her if she shared her destructive gremlin thoughts with me? From my soul (and very much un-edited), this is what I wrote:

Dear Andee,

You are real. There is no doubt. You say things like they are. No, not everyone appreciates that. But there is no question on what you believe, what you stand for, what you think your purpose is in this world.

You have 2 daughters and a husband who are so proud of you, who brag to their friends. Yes, your daughters praise you to their friends. What is that all about?!?

This writing hasn’t brought you to where you thought it would. But it did bring you to a place you’d never thought about before. God knew. And looking back, it all fits into place.

Keep writing. You don’t have to have the next great American non-fiction best seller. But you do inspire people. Keep that. That is what you love more than anything else. You be proud of what you’ve done. You be proud of the girls you are raising to become women. You are showing them to take put themselves out there.  Write for those who do connect. Just keep being real. Never stop being real.


After the radio show yesterday, I received feedback from a listener who was worried my views didn't align with his. Normally, I would have attempted to smooth over the concern. (Thankfully, the fantastic station manager handled the call.) Instead of worry, however, I was at peace.

I was real. I didn't offend anyone. I didn't put anyone down. I was true to myself and my heart. Anyone listening with a careful ear can gather how I feel about certain issues and without a doubt, I will stand true to my convictions.

This time? Those monsters couldn't touch me. As long as I am true to myself, I notice the truth around me. 

Gremlins have disappeared.

Then again, if being real doesn't work for your gremlins, this will work for sure:

Don't bring them into the light.
Don't get them wet.
And whatever you do, don't ever, EVER, feed them after midnight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tips from "Guybrarian", Paul Warner, for National Library Week

April 12-18, 2015 is National Library Week. If you've known me longer than five minutes, you've probably guessed: I love libraries.

Particularly School Libraries.

And even more important to me - School Librarians

Last week I interviewed my friend and school "guybrarian", Paul Warner, on Rose City Forum. Paul shared the importance of Teacher Librarians and how our students suffer when library resources are not available. 

I asked Paul to share resources and ideas with my blog readers. I'm learning his brain actually does contain more than 80s hits and Star Wars trivia. Who knew?

Where you can find information/research/statistics about libraries, librarians, their impact on education, and what you can do to help:

Contacting Government Leaders

Where to go for Book Recommendations & Reviews: 

On-Line Learning Tools I recommend to students, teachers, & parents:
Scholastic Apps called "Book Wizard" or "BookFairs App" allow you to look up books, or scan covers/barcodes to find out all about a book, its reading level recommendations, book trailers and author interviews, reviews, etc.

Goodreads:  Join for free and start keeping track of books you read, get recommendations, & write reviews.

Prezi & Glogster: Instead of always presenting with Powerpoint, try one of these instead for making cool tech presentations to demonstrate learning. 

Animoto: For teachers & students to create educational videos

Pixton: For teachers & students to create their own Comics

Edmodo: A Learning Management System (LMS) for students, teachers, and parents to communicate, share work, comment and question (like an educational version of Facebook).

Databases (trusted collections of professional information rather than just Googling): 
    • ​​Worldbook On-Line Encyclopedia for a tremendous amount of articles, historic documents, and engaging videos
    • eLibrary and proquest for professional articles and websites for students
One-Click Digital for ebooks & audiobooks (Vancouver Libraries use it)

Reading Strategies I use to help kids:

  • ​Talk to the Text: Stop while reading to mark in the book (if you own it) or write on post-its in the book (if it's a library book) to keep track of what you are thinking
  • Stop-Think-Write-Share: Same as above but also share with another person.
  • Personal Connections: Text-to-Text (how does what is happening in this book connect to other books or movies), Text-to-World (how does what is happening in this book connect to what is happening in our real world or nation), Text-to-Self (how does what is happening in this book connect to your own real life).
  • Chunking: Large overwhelming sections or chapters in non-fiction books should be "chunked" into smaller sections that you can read one at a time, stopping to Text Features: Notice the visuals, captions, text boxes, headings & sub-headings used by non-fiction writers.
  • Paraphrase: Put it in your own words so it makes more sense to you.
  • Main Points & Supporting Evidence: What is the writer mainly trying to say or teach you in this section and what evidence does he/she use for support?
  • Evaluation: Look for writer's Bias. Do they include Multiple Perspectives? Do they have evidence or only Opinion?

Powell's Books
Photo:Patrick Haney Flickr

Connect to the movies:
Read Allegiant to find out what happens after Insurgent (by Veronica Roth)

Read Mockingjay to find out what happens after that cliffhanger ending (Suzanne Collins)

Read Marvel’s Civil War(Graphic or Chapter book) to see where these films are headed

Read rest of Maze Runner series before Scorch Trials comes out (James Dashner)

Realistic Fiction:
Wonder by RJ Palacio (boy born with a deformed face is going to public school for first time—middle school—great book with anti-bullying message for developing empathy, and tells story from different points of view too)


NERDS series by Michael Buckley (National Espionage Rescue & Defense Society): A group of students some might think of as nerds are actually well-trained spies working to save the world.

Origami Yoda Series by Tom Angleberger (very funny series as a weird kid with a talking origami Yoda puppet influences everyone at school in a positive way, and as the series goes on more & more kids get to know and like him and create Star Wars origami puppets of their own)

Stranded series by Jeff Probst: Yes, the host of Survivor has cool books about kids stranded in the middle of nowhere trying to survive for real!

Roland Smith’s cryptid books: Great adventure stories involving creatures like Sasquatch, chupacabra, giant squid, and dinosaurs

Books by Will Hobbs: Great realistic outdoor adventure stories

If your teen can handle it, there are some great YA Zombie books out: The Enemy series by Charlie Higson, or Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry, Dead New World by Ryan Hill, and Max Brooks (who wrote WWZ) has a non-fiction book called Zombie Survival Guide.

For lighter spooky stuff that isn't as horror-like as zombie books are, tryNightmares by Jason Segel (actor from Muppets and How I met your Mother).

Series of Unfortunate Events and the newer All the Wrong Questionsseries by Lemony Snicket are very well-written, engaging, entertaining mystery adventures with humor as well.

The Compound by SA Bodeen for a mystery/thriller about a family whose dad rushes them all into an underground bunker to survive nuclear war, but the son discovers Dad may not be telling the truth.

If you like Sherlock Holmes but wish the writing was more accessible for middle school level: Enola Holmes mysteries by Nancy Springer, or Young Sherlock books by Andrew Lane or Shane Peacock

Graphic Novels:
Many Classics of literature are now available in graphic novel form for kids, and the visuals really enhance the understanding of the text:  Examples include Beowulf, The Odyssey, Poe, HG Wells, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austin, Louisa May Alcott, Jules Verne, George Orwell, Herman Melville, etc.

Max Axiom series (comic-style non-fiction books teaching kids all about science topics)

Dystopias are very popular: Legend series by Marie Lu (elites and slums, a girl & boy from different areas, a military government force up to no good), The Testing series by Joelle Charbonneau (post-war messed up world & the Gov’t runs annual Tests to determine who gets an education and chance at having a career and becoming a leader)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (take a Cinderella-style plot, put it in a futuristic time with some people living on the moon and others on earth, and make Cinderella a cyborg)

Margaret Petersen Haddix's The Missing series (Time Travel with adventure and historical fiction too)

Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans (a teen boy discovers he and others have powers, kinda like a teen version of the Xmen)

Star Wars books: Ian Doescher’s Star Wars Shakespeare booksJedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown

Ranger’s Apprentice series by Flanagan (rangers protect the realm from evil, main character is a young apprentice ranger)

LAUREN IPSUM: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things, by Carlos Bueno. A lost girl travels through a fantastical Alice in Wonderland–esque world filled with Phantom Tollbooth–like computer-programming metaphors.

False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen (3 boys competing to become the new prince & therefore king, but is the man helping them up to no good, and big surprises at the end)

Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer (brother & sister pulled into storybook world where fairy tales are real—similar to Once Upon a Time TV show)

Rick Riordan’s books, including not only Percy Jackson but also the Kane Chronicles and his upcoming books connected to Norse myths.


All Tim Green books. Newest is Lost Boy (baseball playing kid whose mother gets in a serious accident and he wants to raise $ to help her and/or track down his long lost father who is also connected to baseball)

All Mike Lupica books. Newest is Fantasy League about a football-loving kid whose uncanny ability to make football decisions gets noticed by an NFL team, making him a media celebrity.

All John Feinstein books: mystery and sports combined at events like the superbowl or world series.

Sports books with female protagonists: Pretty Tough series by Liz Tigelaar is about girls soccer & sibling rivalry, or The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen is about a track athlete who gets in a car accident and she gets a prosthetic leg.

Historical Fiction:

DASH by Kirby Larson. WWII era. When her family is forced into an internment camp, Mitsi is separated from her home, her classmates, and her beloved dog Dash; and as her family begins to come apart around her, Mitsi clings to her one connection to the outer world--the letters from the kindly neighbor who is caring for Dash.

Deborah Wiles' Countdown & Revolution are about the 1960s and are a great combo of fictional characters with real history (facts, photos, documents).

Chris Lynch's books are all about soldiers in WW2 and in Vietnam.

Dear America diaries & journals (and world history books in the same diary style such as Royal Diaries about people like Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, or Queen Elizabeth)


Nick Vujicic books: Motivational Christian speaker born with no arms or legs.

Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America. By Russell Freedman. The fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama is brought back to life in a detailed and moving account of this pivotal event in Civil Rights history.

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines. Paul Fleischman wrote it specifically to help kids find info on their own about the environment and become active members of society instead of just listening to what media & politicians have to say about it.

Simon Basher books (using great visuals with fun cartoons & diagrams to teach science, history, math, language arts, geography, mythology—everything)

Adult Books I Recommend:
When Books Went to War by Molly G. Manning (while Nazis were burning books, the US Gov’t worked with librarians and publishers to get millions of books in the hands of American soldiers)

Devil at my Heels (Louis Zamperini’s own story of what you read or saw in Unbroken)

Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21s t Century by Cathy N. Davidson (for educators, business people, and anyone who wants to know more about how our brains learn and work in today's society)

Jim Henson Biography by Brian Jay Jones (all about the man who made The Muppets)

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, May 15-17, 2015

Paul will be presenting on May 16 from 2:00-3:00: The Hero's Journey in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. 

The event looks fascinating. Will I see you there?