Wednesday, March 22, 2023

My Springtime Pile of Good Things

Everyone has a pile of good things in their life. Granted there are times when the pile is filled with weeds mucking up life's garden. Now that spring 1is here so we need to pause, reflect on what is, and immerse ourselves in the ritual of spring cleaning. Gardeners remove what is not needed and enrich the soil. With patience, we need to assess our pile of good things so it can grow, spread, and become a thriving garden. In addition, like our spring garden, our souls need nutrients to grow a positive and grateful inner garden.


Thank you, Carol. I know that when you write your pile of good things poem, it will glitter like jewels on a string 

With thanks to Stef Boutelier for the “pile-poem” form and Canva template on Day Two of Ethical ELA’s Open Write.

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge Day 22

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Slicer Party #SOL23 RSVP

Slicer Leigh Anne Eck is an exceptional hostess. Once again, she is hostessing an online slicer party during the last weeks of the 16th Annual March Slice of Life Challenge. Below is the beautiful invitation that was posted on Leigh Anne's blog, One Day in the Life, on March 16th. 

This year, Leigh Anne is inviting slicers to think about our best colors. In 2021, she found a slice by a fellow slicer, Deborah Dillon, and decided that her thought, "The best colors are everywhere because they are in the things I love.. would become our RSVP to Leigh Anne's party. 

to the party, I will bring:
a poetic bouquet of springtime colors
scented in lavender
against nature's fields of green-
twigs of cherry blossoms
from Virginia's trees-
delicate forsythias to
add to a funnel-shaped vase-
spring adds colors to
liven earth,
freshen each heart,
offer renewal
©CVarsalona, 2023
Photos from Unsplash

Robin Williams stated, "Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party." Yes, thank you Leigh Anne for suggesting a party of colors. May the colors of the earth provide a joyful experience for all at your party.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Pennsylvania Welcomes Tourists

As we traveled to Pittsburgh for a framily wedding, I saw this sign and knew I had to photograph it. It became the opening of the photo album I created for the wedding couple. It is an inspirational slogan created by the Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership. Karen Winner Sed, Co-Chair of the PTP stated, "Happiness is a universal aspiration. Whether you are looking to explore the outdoors a historical attraction, or an urban setting the overarching motivator is happiness." Happiness flowed throughout the wedding weekend. Smiles were everywhere but it did not take a sign to bring out the sunshine that lit up faces. Happiness is an inward emotion that does bring smiles.

 What made me happy this weekend in Pittsburgh?
  • The Priory Hotel was a beautiful setting for an elegant wedding. It was built in 1888 and was refurbished beautifully.
  • It was such a joyous moment when I was able to hug all my framily friends and enjoy special times with them. There are now several new little ones to bring love and laughter into our group.
  • The wedding was a beautiful celebration of a dear couple who were embarking on their own pursuit of happiness journey.
  • We took a brief walk through a part of Pittsburgh's history, the Strip District filled with boutique stores, larger shops, and restaurants. While it was cold outside, it was still fun seeing what Pittsburgh shopping offered. The long street reminded me of shopping in China Town in New York City.
  • The drive home was pleasant and we had a delicious meal in a restaurant we love that is only an hour away from home. 
Because we were busy all weekend, I missed a couple of slices. Tonight, I am joining, Two Writing Teachers for their Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 20.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Pack Our Bags and Go

Am I an organized packer of our bags when traveling? Frankly no. I have been working on this for years. I think I am getting better at this but my son is not and always needs assistance so nothing is left behind. A case in point is the year we were going to my mother's burial and my son left his dress shoes at home. Thank goodness that my husband had his hush puppies. Proof number 2 is that his toiletry bag is missing from our Disney trip in late January. So you can see why packing for a trip regardless of how long it is makes us all worried that something will be left behind. I checked and double-checked the trunk before taking off to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a framily wedding. 

P  acking 
A dd only what is needed
C hallenge myself to
K eep it simple
I  nclude toiletries and makeup
N o extra clothing
G et on the road with the hope all is in the bag
©CVarsalona, 2023, designed in FotoJet


 It's time to join Poetry Friday RoundupThank you poet/Kidlit author and friend, Laura Purdie Salas for hosting Poetry Friday this week. Click here.

Logo by Linda Mitchell


Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge Day 17.

  • This post/slice is an extension of my Day 16 Slice of Life that can be accessed here.
  • We are almost at our destination so I will respond to comments throughout the weekend.
  • Happy St.Patrick's Day-We will celebrate with the framily tonight at the Welcome Party for the wedding! It's at a Pittsburgh pub. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Packing Dilemma

Are you an organized packer? My husband, son, and I are packing for a weekend trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I started helping my son organize his clothes yesterday and thought that I would not have too much of a problem. Well, that thought was incorrect. Since we are going to a wedding there are several events that need different clothes. With the way the weather has been lately, I have been hesitant about what to bring. It's puzzlement so wish me luck. Follow my path during this weekend because we have never traveled to Pittsburgh.

 It's time to join Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 16.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Slicer Meet Up

The power of a Zoom meet-up is the conversation, exchange of information, and comfort of talking from home. 

Late yesterday afternoon, I read that Two Writing Teachers offered teacher workshops on Zoom. I missed the afternoon class but signed up with the thought that the windstorm would cease and my husband and son would be able to chase down the cushion to my patio chase lounge before the meet-up began. So at 8:00 pm, I turned on Zoom but the strangest thing happened. I could hear Tammy Evans and Erica J. speaking to each other but the video kept going on and off.  I tried the restart and the update buttons but that did not resurrect the video. After about 5 minutes of trying to Zoom with the slicers, I finally accomplished the task and had a wonderful hour of constant talk. It was like being with friends I have not seen in a very long time. 

It was great chatting about new formats we found at other slicers' blogs, how we get our ideas, and slicer blogs that we enjoy reading. I started to use the "Currently" format then changed my mind. I decided to use a simple poetic format, the hay(na)ku, that I shared at my recent professional development keynote address on Zoom for RSCS- Reading Specialist Council in Suffolk County, Long Island.

A new format for writing challenges: the hay(na)ku
-PD slide I provided for classroom or personal use-

Other samples for student use during  
SOLSC for students and National Poetry Month:

small poems
celebrate students' thoughts
lifts spirits
beyond printed pages
slicer stories
gifts to friends
Hay(an)kus written by ©CVarsalona, 2023

 It's time to join Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 15.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

March Winds

As I made my way to my exercise class this morning, the winds of March blew throughout our community.  A Christina Rossetti poem reminded me that she, too, felt the strength of the wind in the 19th Century. She asked an interesting question at the onset of her two-stanza poemWho has seen the wind?

I may not have seen the wind early this morning, but my friends and I certainly felt its chill and force. In the late afternoon, the March wind continued to roar even louder while I sat in the house. My patio became dishshelved and the top of the table umbrella broke off.

Yes, the wind was forceful today so I say, HANG ON to your patio furniture, dress in layers, and WONDER what's next.

Pinterest Winter Art

Who has seen the winds of March
come rummaging by?
Picking up furniture, as if
he's the strongest guy.
His strength and power
swoops everything in sight
within one single hour
he soars into the night.
©CVarsalona, 2023
Parents, Teachers, and Librarians: 
As the winter winds of March come roaring in like a lion, have some fun with children. Read Wonderopolis - Wonder of the Day #1407 and check out the fun activities for a science lesson.
Write a poem like I did to get ready for April's Poetry Month, or listen to music(see below).
You are my child
You came like the winds of march
With all the love in your eyes
You are my child
You came like the morning lights
With all your love, in your eyes.

Stanza three of Winds of March, a song by Journey. 


As the wind continues its willful path of making the tall trees sway and

bushes shimmy, I wave goodbye and join

 Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 14.

Monday, March 13, 2023

In Vogue

What's the buzz in the fashion world today? If you did not see Oscars 2023: The 95th Academy Awards last night, you missed the en vogue fashion trends of the year but you could certainly see photos of the best-dressed celebrities on the news and in the newspapers. Fashion has always been " a major reflection of the times and a big part of Ameriacan history. Since the inception of the fashion industry, womenswear trends have always been driven by culture, events, popular music, and celebrity influence." ( Since my teen years, I have been highly interested in fashion trends so what can be more exciting than watching the Oscars? 

This year, both women and men were dressed in trendy, chic outfits. Gowns with underlying corsets dazzled the crowds. Sequins, crystals, and feathers adorned designer gowns with plunging necklines, dramatic diamond jewelry, pouffy embellishments, and long trains abundant. Men looked dapper in light-colored, dark, or textured tuxedos. What struck me was the confidence each star exuded. Their fashion statements were particular to their own style.

It is no surprise that celebrities have always set trends in the fashion world for years. Who remembers the pillbox hat made famous by First Lady Jackie Kennedy? But let's go back further in time to the mid-17th Century. 

Upon Julia's Clothes
by Robert Herrick

Whenas in silks my Julia goes.
Then, then,(methinks) how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!
So where do these thoughts on fashionable wedding-guest attire take me? I've searched for a couple of months for a stylish dress that I will wear at a wedding this weekend. I've researched the trends and decided on what appeals to me beside asked for opinions on the dresses I chose. Color counts, jewelry, and accessories are needed to enhance the look. It's not about vanity but style and comfort. There are three new dresses in my closet waiting for my final decision.  I choose one that fits without needing tailoring, meets all my requirements, and is both stylish and comfortable. The envelope, please... 
Bronze sequin cocktail dress with gold-toned accessories and rose-gold jewelry.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Museum of Happiness

Today I read a fantastic blog post written by Jama Rattigan for Poetry Friday.  Jama ended her post with a question based on the poem, "Happiness" by Stuart A. Paterson.

What does your Museum of Happiness look like?

What an exciting query to ponder. I know that happiness exists in different stages of my life but have I paused to shine the light on it? Where does it exist? I love to visit museums but would mine be filled with artifacts of life that others would be interested in viewing? Questions and thoughts fill my head at the beginning of this day. I need time to reflect on Paterson's poem.

come, visit my
museum of happiness.
the show starts now.
in boxes, in an attic
memories spill out-
artifacts of time-gone-by 
found and resurrected,
Wait, for the pitch, "just be".
Wait at the roaring ocean,
at galleries of artistic expressions
lining walls of internet space.
a new show opens.
in these sacred places,
silence brings peace.
writing flows freely.
take a ticket, find a seat.
share the experience.
happiness awaits 
as the pen flows 
a state of mind grows
a slice of life penned,
new poems ascend.
©CVarsalona, 2023, draft


Day 12

Hetk-a moment in time (found poem)

During the month of March, Two Writing Teachers offers the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Educators around the globe gather to write small narratives, Slices of Lfe. My colleague in Estonia, Terje Akke, and I have been reading each other's slices for many years. Terje is an accomplished educator leader/teacher, writer, multicultural blogger, and photographer. On February, March 3, 2023, Terje wrote a descriptive piece that flowed like a prose poem. I was moved by her title, hetk- a moment, and decided to write a found poem. Below you will find the paragraph I chose to create a poem with her words about a moment in winter.

Today is the last day of my winter holidays. My husband is at work and daughter in choir practice. I sit in the morning silence on the living room sofa I love this warm and soft nest where I enjoy texts that others have written and collect my life slices and thoughts. The clouds rush along the blue sky and the world is full of hurrying people. Even though the clock is ticking away in seconds, I sense that here and now the time has stopped and allows me to breathe in peace and contentment. The sun peeks through the clouds, tickles my cheek, inviting me to play outside. Maybe later. Let me stay in this light moment of being. -©Terje Akke, 2023
Winter Moment
winter at work
practicing silence.
a warm nest
collects thoughts.
clouds rush.
hurrying people
sense time stopped.
breathe in contentment.
sun clouds invite play.
stay in this moment.
©CVarsalona, 2023 (Found Poem)_Terje Akke, 2023, (Photo of Estonia)

Stop for a moment to watch the video, "Science of Silence - Hetk.

Day 11

Friday, March 10, 2023

Everybody Counts!

Diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness. - Ola Joseph 

While the word diversity may be difficult for children to understand the talented author/poet Matt Forrest Esenwine shares a simple way of understanding with his newly released nonfiction picture book, Everybody Counts.


This fabulous children's picture book was launched on January 1, 2023. 

Everybody Counts! is a creative effort by the author to blend mathematics, art, story, and content together in order to emphasize the concept of diversity. Each page offers toddlers to Kindergarten children the opportunity to count in English and early elementary children to learn their numbers in foreign languages or perhaps their own language while gathering fun facts about different international countries and types of food.  

This book is an imaginative departure from the typical counting books created for young readers. The author's decision to include foods around the globe and numbers in different foreign languages adds to an immediate appeal for children and adults. Illustrator Emma Graham brings the book to life with bright colors and delightful images of animals enjoying foods from different countries. Everyone sits together at a large table and shares their country's foods. This image highlights the concept of diversity while honoring the words, "Everybody Counts".

Prior to the publication date, I asked Matt to respond to a few questions to unveil his backstory.

1. Matt how did your book come to be? 

I wrote the original rough draft way back in June 2013 and began sending it out on submissions a few months later, so it's been a while since I've thought about what inspired me to write it! As I recall, the phrase, "everybody counts" popped into my head for some reason and I immediately noticed a double entendre: that everybody matters and that everybody literally counts numbers. So I think the concept came about pretty quickly, once I figured out a way to have children of different ethnicities teaching the reader, which was using food.

2. What age group are you targeting?
I hope parents and educators recognize that it can appeal to a broad age group! Young children who are only 4 or 5 can understand the process of counting and can begin to see how others in the world do something they themselves do:  count, eat food, and spend time with family. Meanwhile, older elementary readers, 6-9, can read the book on their own and study the numbers more closely and practice memorization, if they choose.

3. Have you had experience reading the book to children yet? 
I hope to share it with at least a few schools in a couple weeks for World Read Aloud Day on February 1st. 

Throughout the book, each page shares a rhyming introduction and informative content about the country being featured beside numbers 1-10 in the foreign language of each country highlighted. Due to Matt's research skills, we find out what is the luckiest number from one to ten in the Chinese language and what is a favorite drink in India. This book could be an incentive for older children to research on their own and create their own booklet with researched facts, a poem similar to Matt's ending poem (see below), and their favorite numbers. Matt originally created this poem as a summary emphasizing the double intent of the book, that everybody counts.

Come join your friends and make some new;
eat up and have a drink!
The world is just outside your door
and closer than you think.

You might see foods you’ve never tried,
hear words you can’t pronounce,
you might meet kids you’ve never known, but…
everybody counts!

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Teachers, Parents, ESL specialists, and Children:
This nonfiction picture book is sure to be a unique crowd-pleaser!

Come sit at the international table for a dazzling array of foods from different countries while counting in English and various languages because everybody literally and figurately counts.

What better way to learn numbers in English while honoring other countries, their language, and foods, than through this imaginative picture book! Thank you, Matt, for your incredible talent and The Little Fig company for the publication of this delightful book. experience. I can see why Matt would choose this book to read on World Read Aloud Day.


Today is the Poetry Friday Roundup at Heidi Mordhorst's blog, my juicy little universe

Join the fun of reading a range of poetry.