Wednesday, May 6, 2015


AUTHENTIC Art: "Aliens" Collage and Multi-Media Construction by Preschoolers at RainbowsWithinReach

Have you felt appreciated this week?
I certainly have. 
I am the recipient of a group hug.

Where do I start? With the Aliens that are AUTHENTIC? 
Or the power of a group hug? 

Or some sort of reflection on what it is that I do for a living? 
Or my thoughts about life at the moment?
Or just how blessed I am? 
Or how WONDERFUL my life really is?
Or the rest of the story?
This next image is what I work over-time to project to the world:

My face is always smiling. 
The colors are happy razzle-dazzle.
I share my over-sized heart with others 
and every hair is in place. TaDAH!

After all. I get to work with children. 
I am appreciated for doing so. 
I get to share my unique spin on fun heavy duty learning: 
singing, signing and reading along the way.

I am indeed a fortunate woman. 
I get to do what I love and get better at doing it, 
through the opportunity of doing it, because I love it. 

Murphy has his laws. {Just sayin'.}
That's kinda profound, what I said, just above, up there. 
I know that I'm easily entertained, but I think there's a kernel of karmic truth 
in that thought my fingers just typed. 
I may need to quote myself. 
Yes. Yes, I do need to quote myself:

The power of having a blog? 
You can quote yourself if you want!

Truth be told. If you could take an internal photo of me right now? 
It would look more like this.
There is no sun in sight. 
Things look a bit dark, in fact. 
And I forgot my shoes! 
Don't get me started about my hair. 
Looks like a great empty spot inside, where my heart used to be.

Many of you know that we are in a 'train-wreck' portion of life. 
No. We were not on a train-that-wrecked. 
More metaphorical than passenger-steel-bullet crashing.
Just seems that much of what we thought to be true was not.
But the show must go on! 

*We can talk later as to the wisdom of delivering the keynote on Saturday for the Space Coast in central Florida and a school visit starting Tuesday morning in Detroit, with a drive in between to connect the dots, that also allowed for family hugs, because the state of Georgia is between the two.

A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! 
So I put one foot in front of the other and search for my smile....
And attempt to get my buttons lined up.
I am not above safety pins and duct tape: take as needed!
Fake it till you make it.... and all of that jazz.

I am beyond blessed.
I get to look into the eyes of purity. 
I get to hear the uncensored thoughts of four year olds.
Yesterday I got to spend my day with about 222 preschoolers.
It may have seemed like 7 times that many, but I asked.
I'm sure I was told less that 250. 
Oh that I could bottle their responsiveness. 
Their delight. Their eagerness.
Instead I just let them power me.
I let their zest power me for the moment.
Moment by moment. 

I let their laughter, their belly laughs 
and their incredulity of delight -- fill me up. 
That's why I know it was Teacher Appreciation Day-week-month. 
They gave me the gift of their whole-hearted JOY:

Most of the cherubs sitting on that rug had no idea 
that I have too many tabs open in my brain. 
I found it very interesting that one of the insightful sweeties was able to document exactly what I see in the mirror.

As you can see, my heart has undergone a rebuild.
This is not my first metaphorical train-wreck.

I know at the top of my brain that I am a star. 

And as I focus on that star power, 
I can continue to contribute.
That is the power of authenticity. 
That is the power of open-ended materials. 
Even those that are four can convey the truth as they know it. 

I have a guy that stands beside me. 
He delivers me to places where I can contribute.
His buttons are in a row and his two hairs are combed.
We make an awesome team!
Right now, he is keeping us moving forward.

His character and steadfast devotion has stood the test of two decades plus. 
Train wrecks or Hawaiian bucket list adventure? 
You can count on him. He delivers. He's a man of his word.
What you see is what you get. 
He goes to the wall and back for family.

Yes. That is what children want. 
They want the adults in their lives to be honest and trust worthy. 
To tell the truth and then deliver the goods. 
To walk the talk. 

I'll always remember Dr. Pam Schiller 
say to her crowded keynote audience, 

It is our first responsibility to be trustworthy.
Children need our steadfast honesty and consistency. 
They can spot incongruity a mile away.

The day after "May-the-fourth-be-with-you" 
is Teacher Appreciation Day. 

I will never take the hug of a child for granted. 
It amazes me to no end that children will risk the penalties of getting out of line, 
to rush over and give me a parting hug.
You can almost see the hug bubbling up inside of them. 
Do I or don't I? 
Then the little feet come rushing.
Once the Genie is out of the bottle, 
it is not a very far leap to a full on, whole hearted GROUP hug.
Having a wall to support the crowd is a good thing. 

And just how does an entire BUILDING of EXCELLENCE emerge? 
An entire program? 
A staff willing to go the extra mile? 
Teachers well versed in best practice -- 
with evidence on every bulletin board of open ended process Art? 

It is NOT by accident. 
Good places emerge from GOOD people. 
Great places emerge under the leadership of GREAT people.

I would like to publicly profess my appreciation to this rainbow-maker. 
Amy has opened her heart and her home to the two of us vagabonds. 

She has baked us an apple pie in a paper bag. 
She has crafted chicken noodle soup to replenish and nourish. 
She has listened and she has hugged. 

This is NOT our first rodeo together. 
We think it is our fourth. 
There's something to be said for a port in the storm. 
A port in the storm that bakes and hugs? 


* I have written about Authentic Art on more than one occasion. This is the lengthy culmination of several earlier articles.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#TeacherFriends Tuesday Twitter Chat: Reading Success Stories


#TEACHERFRIENDS This is your week! 
Teacher Appreciation Week!!! 

What better way to spend your Tuesday night, 
than with your tweeps and chatting about: 
"Reading Success Stories." 

Our weekly 'practice' chat continues with yet another author. 
This time we welcome Rita Wirtz, author of 

Five of our lucky participants will be winning a personalized copy! 
To be eligible to win, you've got to get your name and email on our Google Doc. 

The Google Doc will be tweeted out, beginning at 8:30 until about 9:50. 
You only need to enter once to win! 

Our official chat begins at 9 PM EST, 
but we have long had an Early Birds gathering 
that starts at 8:30 in an effort to support newbies. 

I am the official 'moderator' of the chat. 
Be sure that you follow me on Twitter, 
so that you're certain to SEE the questions that I ask our guest every week. 
Once you see the questions, 
Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, and Q5.......

then jump right into the chat and respond with your thoughts. 
The only "RULE" is to remember to use our hashtag in every tweet. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Teacher Appreciation End of Year Sale + FREEBIE Download Poem

Teacher Appreciation Week! 
The finish line is in sight! 
Coming down the home stretch! 
Time to say thanks to those working so hard on behalf of learning!!!

Teachers are my Heroes Bumper Sticker via Debbie Clement

I wrote a little End of Year Poem that you can download for FREE! 

I have it in pdf format over at our Early Education Emporium. 

I have two songs that are each used for End-of-Year Performances. 
I have YouTube videos to introduce you to the sign language that supports the song. 

This first one is "You're Wonderful" and is available in a digital download at TeachersPayTeachers.

My song, "Red, White and Blue" is especially appropriate to add patriotic flair. It too is in a zipped file and available for digital download at TpT.

I have put my store on sale at 20% off 
in time to have you take advantage of the site wide sale! 

Remember to use the check out code: 
THANK YOU to save an additional 10% off!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Praise Report and Water Lilies Galore!

Gratitude. Thankfulness. Blessings. Praise.

As I sit at the end of a memorable week, 
I am brought back to the very essence of appreciation. 
In the midst of agitation, tumult and turmoil, 
I am attempting to learn to stop myself in my tracks.
Breathe. Look for beauty. Exhale.
Count my blessings.
Back to basics.

The technical term for this sort of week is: cra-cra.
When every aspect of life starts to clamor. 

I've been saying, "things are all clamored up.' 
Another technical term.

This has been a MAJOR week. 
So many developments, nuances, the unexpected and even the deplorable.
A soup. A stew. A royal muck-up of ingredients. 

This has been a week of learning.
A lot of learning.
{Yup. I'm still learning.}
I've been asking myself a LOT of questions. 

Is this latest 'something' under my ability to 'control' or not? 
As I determine that something is NOT under my control, 
I need to learn to 'let-it-go.'
Cue: Disney sound track. 
No matter how upsetting or deplorable.

Easier said than done. 
Trust me. These are skills that can be honed. 
I have had more than sufficient reason to continue to practice.

And just how does one let 'it' go?

Here's one possibility.
Take a walk. 
Yup. I recommend taking a walk.
Profound. I know. 
The faster the better. 
Though a very slow walk is pretty awesome as well. 

Where you walk is up to you, but if at all possible get outside. 
Walking in the great outdoors has so many benefits: 

Fresh air. Oxygen. Pumping-those-ENDORPHINS. 

LITERALLY a change of scenery itself is beneficial.
Choosing a place with a known wow-factor is a no-brainer. 
And when I'm upset, a no-brainer is what I need. 

The clickity-clack of walking, pacing and moving  
all allow the mind to change channels.
If you are within proximity of a park or garden, 
head in that direction. 
Then start counting your blessings. 
Literally 'watch' your breath coming and going.
Slow down your breathing. 
Take your camera. 
See if you can capture something delightful.
Be on the look out.
Look for the smallest of details.
Look for the sweeping vista.
Look for color. Value. Shape. 
Just look. 

Focusing on beauty takes the fore front of attention.
The frustration, even agony can then recede. 
Perspective is available. 
Breathing makes it all easier. 
Perspective is what you need in that moment. 
Nothing has changed, but perspective has been gained.

I reported last week about our recent purchase of a membership to our McKee Botanical Gardens. We ended up splurging and opting for an annual family pass. I promised you that I'd get my water lily pictures downloaded, and cropped. I'm back today to make good on my promise. Water lilies as therapy. Water lilies as appreciative fodder. Water lilies as meditation. Water lilies as perspective. 

Taking photographs of these beauties is not especially challenging. 
Even when you're upset. 
There are a ton at McKee. 
They sit there, posing.
Look for a splash of sunshine.
Point and capture. 
In this land of digital, take a bazillion. 
Something is bound to be in focus. 
Then crop. 
Thank you Creator. 

BTW: the color of the bloom below, was a TON more outrageous.

Seeing the photograph conjures the feeling of the color, 
but from the place in my brain where I attempted to store it. 
You get a glimmer from the photo, 
but probably not the feeling of total JOY that exploded in my heart,
upon seeing it float there suspended as though by angels.
I don't know that there is such a color outside of nature.
If so I don't know the name for it. 
My photography skills are not sufficient to convey the depth. 
But the photo is in the ballpark.
Getting into the beauty-ballpark is a WIN for the home team.
I am determined to rise above.
If you're keeping track? 
I'm claiming this as a victory.

This week there has been plenty to balance. 
Plenty to appreciate. 
Plenty to consider. 
Plenty to practice. 

Since we have an annual membership. 
We have returned. 
MORE photographs. 
More taking-of-the-breath-away beauties to capture.
More reason to focus.
More gratitude. More appreciation. 

How many water lilies can you appreciate in one article? 
Do you marvel at the variety? 

I don't "know" a thing about these. 
I don't know a water lily from a lotus. 

I'm excited at the prospect of learning.

What I do KNOW is their amazing capability to calm me. 
To focus me. 
To excite my senses and calm my nerves, 
all at once. 

I will prescribe NUMEROUS visits here when we return. 
Yesterday we said goodbye.

As I sit here typing, we are in the car. 
For the first GREAT snow-bird migration of 2015. 

Our critical worldly belongings are packed into a variety of containers. 
My sewing machine. 
His golf clubs.
My guitar. 
Clean undies for each--
and plenty of polka dots for the duration. 
The week leading up to our migration is fraught with lots of details. 
This year more so than ever. More on that at another time.

I've got to plan for ALL of the various events on the calendar from here to November. 
If I always did the 'same thing' it would be a lot easier.
Plus I have to select so that he can get it ALL to fit in our car. 

Sometimes I'm with itty-bitty wee ones. 
Sometimes I'm with big, mature, insightful ones. 
Sometimes I'm speaking to teachers of wee ones. 

You get the idea. 
Variations of Debbie Clement require different props.
Packing. Details. Focus. Packing. Details. Focus.

That's not 'all' that has been clamoring for focus. 
So back it was to McKee Gardens. 

Saying good-bye for the season.

Walking the paths at the gardens, 
crossing the bridges, 
coming around the bend, 
to see these fireworks of color?
They are a reminder of purity. 

There is purity in this world.
Find that purity and focus. 

All of the other nonsense will get taken care of in time.
How long does a single water lily bloom?
The things I don't know are astounding. 

What is it that creates those little ripples around the edge of some of the lily pads? 
I'm fascinated. 
Incredible detail. 

The flower blooming is fascinating, 
but attempting to capture it with nuance makes it more of a game.
The curl of a petal. 
The bud yet to bloom in the same frame?
Requires squatting lower.
The pooling of some water on the lily pad. 
Must be noticed first. 
All while conscientiously breathing.

Today was a seven hour drive. 
From our home in FL to my parent's home in Augusta...... 
with a stop to deliver a keynote in between, 
{thank you Space Coast AEYC for that reception!}
PLUS having a late luncheon send off after that
with a beloved sister-in-law and fam.
Are you keeping up with all of these blessings? 

So now to the cropping and the pondering. 
My mommy gets concerned about my balancing act. 

She knows some of the 'rest-of-the-story' 
and other cats-in-the-bag, yet to be told. 
That's the life-long job of mommies --
to show concern and support, even in the midst of the juggling. 
Eternal cheerleading: 
"I think you can, I think you can, I think you can."

*I took this next picture to be able to add a quote in the corner. 
Seriously. I thought that through. 
While I was selecting THE bloom and posing it.
Darkness of background, lends itself to quote insertion.

Tomorrow is a nine and a half hour drive. 
We will join my parents for breakfast and then on to church together.
Then hugs and a probable few tears. 
I'm already imagining the brevity of that visit, 
as we push on to the WonderPeep Central, 24 hours from now. 
The end goal is Detroit on Monday evening. 

The point of that digression, 
is to share that I will search for a quote to add to the photo above. 

This next one also has room for quote adding. 
Upper left hand corner. 
You'll have to return to see what I come up with.
So now I attempt to snap the photo with background for quote adding.
Bloggers will understand.

Look at this next incredible juxtaposition of bloom against floating polka dots.
I get giddy looking at this one. 
Makes me giggle.
Out loud. 
Did a committee of angels conjure this sensory delight?

Mommy. I told you that I had some photos you would appreciate. 
I took them for you. 
I knew you'd enjoy them -- 
 which would allow me to be enthralled all over again. 

Your word-smithing over their preening for me, 
would be the perfect circle of completion. 

I can hear your descriptive consideration. 
You can start with this next one. 
I think it is my favorite. 

Who knew you could have such variations on pure white petals? 
Or maybe you can use white-ish in your poetic consideration. 
What rhymes with white-ish? 
I'll await your insight. 
As you conjure rhymes for white. 
{Couldn't resist.}

What is that over-sized podium in the middle up above? 
It looks Dr. Seussian. 
No idea. 
Did I not take high school biology?
Shouldn't I have some lily terminology retention?
Doesn't matter. At all. 
Maybe better that I am so utterly without terminology.
Still calms me.
Makes me marvel all the more. 
Enthralls and delights. 
Which is the win! Yes. I am keeping score for beauty.

As I attempt to learn from pondering the lilies, 
as I attempt to balance the sorrow and the sweet,
I conclude with this final image.  

It is the reflection that first captured my attention. 
The reflection. 
Our actions in this world travel forth. 
Emanating outward. 
Rippling beyond our immediate influence into the wider world. 
Beauty and truth beget further beauty.

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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