Saturday, March 25, 2017

March Musings 25: Celebration Countdown

Weekends are meant for celebrating.

Since my husband's background is mathematical (finance and accounting)and it's his milestone birthday, I created an algebraic formula to celebrate the good life.
x + y= z 
family + grandchild on the way = happiness for years to come

Happy Moment Countdown

1st Night
Traveling to Reston, Virginia

2nd Day  Afternoon
Shopping (thinking pink) and having lunch at Mexican Restaurant 
(Tysons Corner Center Mall)
2nd Day Evening
Relaxing at my daughter and son-in-law's new house over salmon dinner
3rd Day Morning
Best Breakfast Around

3rd Day Afternoon
Cherry Blossom Sightings

Choosing the Right Cake
 for 3rd Celebration

Listening to the Woodpecker, watching the chipmunk, and enjoying nature
(all sights not seen on Long Island)

3rd Day Evening
Birthday Dinner at Dante's Italian Restaurant in Great Falls, Virginia
Cake Reveal
4th Day and 5th Day
More to Come...

Here's to a full weekend of Celebrations!

Today I am celebrating with Ruth Ayres at Celebrate This Week and the March Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. This is my twenty-fifth posting in a series titled March Musings .

News: My Winter Wonder Gallery is still under construction.

Friday, March 24, 2017

March Musings 24: My Day By the Numbers

Do you organize your daily life by the number of tasks there are to do?
I used to have an endless to do list pad but that became tiresome to manage so I limited the number of tasks. Now, I wake up with a positivity plan of what activities I can actually accomplish in one day. Yesterday, my plan was to travel light and arrive safely with my family at our destination.

one long trip by car-
celebrating a milestone-
only a number
two short posts to write
unlocking poetic voice-  
daily exercise

three chats to enter
engaging conversations-
connections matter

four stops for the trip
one destination 
slow traffic on route
late night arrival
five bear hugs to go around-
weekend plans ahead

Today is Poetry Friday and my twenty-fourth posting in a series titled March Musings for Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Please visit both communities of writers to see the vast array of topics and writing styles. Thank you to Catherine Flynn for hosting today's Poetry Friday Round-up.

These communities constantly spark my creative spirit with their free flowing ideas and passion for writing. Today's idea for a new poem came my way from Fran McVeigh who got the idea from Phyllis Sutton.

News: My Winter Wonder Gallery is still under construction.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Musings 23: Phone Poem

Last weekend, fellow slicer, Laurie Pandorf, created a phone poem that she saw at Rose Cappelli's slice, who got the idea for the format from Jo Knowles in 59 Reasons to Write.

The Assignment:
Create a poem using your phone number.

The How-to: 
Pick a theme, then write your phone number down the length of the page. Each number represents how many words you should have on that line. A zero is a wild card so you can choose as many words as you like for that line.

My Theme: The ocean, nature's gift
My Poem: Winter Wonder

5     Ocean splashing against the jetty -
1      Dazzling,
6     Like sparkling diamonds across the sea
7     I stare into its sweeping, unfathomable depth
6     Unable to predict its volume or extent.
3     It's cresting movement
1      Surges,
1      Swells,
6     As winter winds chill the shore.
0    Ocean power takes my breath away.

My Reflection:
I added an original photo to this format to remind me of the sensations I felt when I recently traveled to the beach. Since I had not been there in months, I asked my husband to walk down to the ocean with me, instead of just staying on the boardwalk. There, at seaside, I witnessed the turbulence and beauty of nature's gift  to Long Island. 

While taking photos, the wind was kicking up and my hands were cold but the sun was shining brightly providing a sense of warmth that really did not exist. It was an exhilarating feeling being at the shore next to great, expansive body of water on a cold, windy day

I was not the only one who felt this exuberance. A young man was running shirtless on the boardwalk. While he looked comfortable, I was zipping up my hood to stay warm. At seaside, I came upon a little girl who was merrily walking in the sand with her bare feet. I stopped to talk to her but all she wanted to do was dig her toes further into the sand. A few feet behind her was her mother whom I engaged in conversation. She told me that this was her four year old's first trip to the ocean so she was very excited and probably overwhelmed. I wished her well and then caught up with my husband. Before returning to the boardwalk, we chatted about the shoeless mother and daughter who were delighted with the ocean setting and not at all daunted by the cold winds. Long Beach in the winter provides a different perspective on the beach's appeal.

This post is the twenty-third in a series titled March Musings 
for Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March Musings 22: World Poetry Day

Stories unfold each day as we observe the world around us but do we pause to notice the sounds of life? Yesterday, on March 21st, World Poetry Day, UNESCO celebrated "the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind." 

At dawn I was awakened by the noises around me. I listened, fell back into a dreamlike state, and when awake, created a poem in tribute of poetry being an everyday celebration of the wonder of life. May this poem become a "catalyst for dialogue and peace" in your lives. 

In the dim light of morning,
sounds break the silence.
Humming roars awaken life.
The wind in the trees howl
the coming of springtime.
Cars passing, rush on by.
Chirping birds rouse us
from sleeping states to
announce a new dawn.
The sounds of daybreak
move in ordinary patterns. 
do we, as purveyors of life,
pause in silence, recognizing
the calmness of early morn? 
Do we listen to the calling
of each whispering murmur?
Do our living breaths merge
with our souls, breathing in 
the positivity of daily life? 
Listen to the sounds of stillness
that frame each spring morning. 
Be open to what lays before you.
Become one with nature as an
agent of harmony and peace. 
Let the noise become your 
catalyst to reflect in quiet. 
©Carol Varsalona, 2017

This post is the twenty-second in a series titled March Musings 
for Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Story Challenge


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March Musings 21: Amplifying #StuVoice

What happens when you hand the reins 
of an educational chat over to a group of student moderators? 

Student voice surges
the hashtag, #KidsCANteachus, becomes, a reality.

Last Night:
An amazing event occurred last night on Twitter. It was a first of its kind for #NYEDChat, the voice of New York State educators and beyond. Six student moderators, @CurranCentral, @thelivebits, and #BowTieBoys: Joe O'Such, Spencer Hill, Doug Unger, and Ryan Hur led a group of educators, parents, and students in a spirited conversation about #StuVoice. (Our seventh moderator, Sam Fremin, was detained due to an unexpected soccer practice but he was actively involved as the leader from the #BowTieBoys.) While I oversaw the process, I clearly noticed early on that the students needed no prompting during the chat. Their voices were strong, clear, and they efficiently maneuvered the ins and outs of a very fast-paced convo that trended early on Twitter (#40 on Trend USA Now).

Prior to the night's outstanding, epic event, Curran from #DigCitKids, Liv from #thelivbits, and Sam from the #BowTieBoys spent time preparing for the Twitter conversation via the Google Docs I set up for them. Each wrote 2 questions for participants' responses. Back-up support was offered by the moms, Marialice BFX Curran and Cynthia Merrill. Buncee provided the digital online tool to create the flyer and Participate, an active #NYEDChat partner, let us know that its online service would archive the chat and resources at the end of the convo. 

Q1 Why is it so important to honor student voice? #StuVoice #NYEDChat
Q2 What role does establishing #StuVoice play in building positive rapport with students? #NYEDChat
Q3 How do you foster a classroom environment that encourages #StuVoice? #NYEDChat
Q4 How do #StuVoice opportunities connect and empower students to develop empathy for causes & movements outside of their comfort zone?  #NYEDChat
Q5 What role do parents play in monitoring and empowering their child’s #StuVoice? #NYEDChat
Reflaction (Reflection with Action) What can you do this week to promote more effective #StuVoice in classrooms, schools, or on social media? #NYEDChat

Mother & son #digcit story at 
Spencer Hill A1- Honoring student voice is one of the most crucial things 
in the classroom bc, in the end, Ss choose what they want to learn #NYEDChat 

Kids need to be empowered, not engaged. @danieldmccabe

We need active classrooms guided by teachers who empower students.-Carol Varsalona


My goal is to promote student voice and digital
citizenship for kids, by kids. -Marialice BFX Curran

Thank Yous:

At the start of the chat, Doug Unger said "Make sure to join in tonight's #NYEDChat. You won't be disappointed." He was right so I thank everyone who joined in the conversation last night. We amplified #StuVoice and trended early signifying that #KidsCANteachus

This post is the 21st in the series titled March Musings for Two Writing Teacher's March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

March Musings 20: Ode to the Moon

Have you ever had a day when your inner voice wakes you with a long list of tasks? Quick response: drift into a dreamlike state; take a deep breath; write.


This morning, I am dipping my pen into Michelle H. Barnes' Ditty Challenge that evolved from her interview with poet, Helen Frost. 

Choose an object (a seashell, a hairbrush, a bird nest, a rolling pin). It should not be anything symbolic (such as a doll, a wedding ring, or a flag). Write five lines about the object, using a different sense in each line (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). Then ask the object a question, listen for its answer, and write the question, the answer, or both.
You can see additional poems and my first ode poem at Michelle Barnes' padlet.

Ode to the Moon

This post is the 20th in the series titled March Musings for Two Writing Teacher's March Slice of Life Story Challenge.