Reading, Teaching, Learning

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Celebration Saturday and Slice of Life - Day 22 - Horse Crazy

    It is Celebration Saturday AND Day 22 of the Slice of Life Challenge.  I have had such a wonderful time participating in both!  Sorry so long!  Lots to write this morning!
First, the celebrations!
1.  My students give a book talk once a quarter.  Today, I loved that we had a discussion around this quote in Quinn's Google Presentation:
I chose Hatchet out of one of my many choices because, when I read it, I was hooked. There was no stopping me. I literally read it in a day. So many events that made me close the book and think. So many moments that make me squeal with delight and made other people look at me funny.I want to say, “ Only good readers feel emotions in books.”
My other students started joining in about how other kids in their classes or on the bus look at them funny when they laugh, say something aloud, or cry when reading.  In our class, that's perfectly normal, so they're surprised when that's not perfectly acceptable in other places.  We had such a fun conversation about that.  We all understood each other!
2.  My mom and I had a LONG talk last night on the phone about the Slice of Life Challenge posts I'm writing.  I teared up when she said she's felt a sense of relief that all those memories are being written down and recorded.  We talked about memories and what they mean, how they're constructed, and how they're completely unique to the individual.  We brainstormed more memories that I could write about for the next ten days of the challenge.
3.  Speaking of the SOLSC, I have to say it is changing me.  Last night I was thinking, "Is this how it feels to be a writer?  I had so many writing ideas swimming around in my brain, and all I wanted to do was write.  I'm not sure that's ever happened to me before at that level.  Writing has always been a part of me one way or another, but this seems different.  I feel COMPELLED to write.  It's thrilling.
4.  I'm reading Celebrating Writers by Ruth Ayres and Christi Overman and am loving it.  These are my favorite lines so far:  "Every person has a story worth telling.  They stories are worthy because they foster connections, creating empathy for others, and give us a stronger understanding of ourselves."  Yes, yes, yes!  As my students create memoirs, and I write memories of my childhood, I see this so vividly. 
5.  I'm working on a digital literacy lesson right now with my sixth graders and decided to experiment with Tagxedo and Wordle by inserting my own blog.  I loved the words that were created.  These word reflect what I've been blogging about.  And look...WRITING is the biggest word!
Now for the Slice of Life story...
     I started riding horses about the same time I started walking.  This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad and me on Colt.  Dad boarded Colt when we lived in an apartment in Cincinnati, and that's the reason we moved to the country.  He wanted a place to keep his horse.  I was so lucky.  I actually got a pony for Christmas in 1972.  I remember one of our family friends driving up with a horse trailer and feeling completely amazed that the pony inside was for me.  I named her Missy.  She turned into kind of a nasty thing, though.  She would bite and buck.  I was much happier with the horses, Colt and Fancy. 
This picture is pretty funny.  If you look closely enough, you'll see Missy was about to poop.  Yep, she was ornery.
     Colt was just a wonderful horse.  He lasted the longest.  One time I was riding him around the barn, pushing him to go faster, and he slipped and fell, me falling with him.  He scrambled up as fast as he could to keep from falling on me, panicked.  I couldn't believe how he purposefully avoided hurting me.  We were both shaken from the incident, but he nuzzled me right away.  I knew he was checking on me.  I got right back on. Another funny memory with Colt was when he wasn't feeling well and Dad couldn't coax him to get up.  He got really worried.  He called up our friend and equine veterinarian who lived down the road to come look at him.  Dan took a bottle of whiskey out of his pocket, and gave Colt a swig; he gathered his legs underneath himself, shook his head, and got right up!  I was in college when Dad called me up to break the news that Colt had died.  We both cried.  He was special.  My dad hired a guy with a backhoe to dig a hole behind our barn to bury him.
   My dad, me, and Colt 1969
Colt, Dad on Fancy, and me on Missy
     I've been horse crazy my whole life and even wrote a book in 6th grade about a horse.  My favorite series when I was that age was The Black Stallion by Walter Farely.  My teacher that year, Mrs. Parshall, brought us all to her horse farm that year.  We loved her!  I was so sad when I finally finished that series.  Both our daughters took horseback riding lessons.  Katie, especially, enjoyed riding, and we both took lessons while she was in high school.  I'll always have a place in my heart for horses.


Job 39:19-25

New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
19 “Job, do you give horses their strength?
    Do you put flowing manes on their necks?
20 Do you make them jump like locusts?
    They terrify others with their proud snorting.
21 They paw the ground wildly.
    They are filled with joy.
    They charge at their enemies.
22 They laugh at fear. They are not afraid of anything.
    They do not run away from swords.
23 Many arrows rattle at their sides.
    Flashing spears and javelins are also there.
24 They are so stirred up that they eat up the ground.
    They can’t stand still when trumpets are blown.
25 When they hear the trumpets they snort, ‘Aha!’
    They catch the smells of battle far away.
    They hear the shouts of commanders and the battle cries.




  1. I like COMPELLED in capital letters. It's a powerful feeling. The thrill of writing shows in your words too. Tie it together with envisioning, experimenting and revision - you are on a super exciting journey.

    1. Journey is my OLW this year, so that's perfect! :-)

  2. Holly, This is a wonderful celebration! I'd love for you to read my slice-celebration about my student reading Hatchet. It must be the book that is the hook! I am really enjoying your home stories about growing up. What a rich childhood you had!

    1. I loved your post today! We can celebrate Gary Paulsen! :-) Yes, I had a blessed childhood! I"m glad you're enjoying reading about it. :-)

  3. Seems like you've become a Writer with a capital W, Holly. It's wonderful that your mother loves your pieces too. (Love the wordle.) I too grew up with horses, although they were always at grandparents. My daughter and I rode for quite a while, but had to give it up when she went to college & I was working full-time, just too much time to take care of them! I've taught a group twice reading Hatchet this year, & it never fails to touch the kids, starting so many good conversations. Thanks for sharing so many good things!

    1. Horses do take up a lot of time! We gave it up after a couple years, too, because of our schedules. At least we got to ride together for a little while!

  4. So many wonderful things to celebrate. You definitely got the writing bug through doing SOLC. :) It's a good feeling, isn't it? I love your horse stories. I am not much of a horse girl, but our oldest daughter is. She owned and boarded horses when she was in high school. She'd muck stalls to earn their keep. She did hippo therapy during high school and undergrad school. Now that she's in grad school, there are no horses in her life, but I'm sure there will be again once she's settled into her new life.

    1. You never know what seed is planted - she definitely may return to it someday!

  5. I am celebrating every moment with you.Wonderful reading moments with students, conversations with mothers, feeling compelled to write, reading an inspiring book (mine is Mary Oliver's Thousand Mornings), and writing about childhood memories (some of mine might make it into the SOLC Tuesday post). Keep writing.

    1. Oooh - I love Mary Oliver! THank you for the encouragement! :-)

  6. Holly,
    I loved reading about your horse adventures. Could this be a topic for a children's book? Also, when I read your celebrations, I connected with what your student said about reacting to the book as you're reading and how empowering that your whole class was sharing about the idea...

  7. Oh Holly,
    i loved every bit of your post from your reader celebrations to your horse-filled life to the verse from Job, which I was totally unfamiliar with. Thank you so much for your post. What a wonderful feeling to be COMPELLED to write. Love it.

  8. You've always been a writer, but now you've tapped the well inside you. Your student's comments are what I live to hear. My granddaughter is a horse girl. She got to go to Chincoteague last summer to watch the running of the horses. What a time that was!

  9. Your horse pictures remind me of my cousin. She rode from the time she could walk. I would go to horse shows with her and we had so much fun! I loved reading Celebrating Writers too. So much to take away!

    1. That's so neat about your cousin. I love horse shows - I didn't do any lessons or showing when I was a kid - I was just happy to ride for enjoyment, but I think showing and competing is a great experience, too!

  10. Wonderful celebrations and an awesome memory about Missy and Colt. My daughter and I have both loved looking at the pictures--you really were lucky! I also had a horse but always boarded--it was my dream and still is my dream to live on a farm or at least on a property that is big enough to have horses. Maybe some day... You are right that SOLC changes us as writers. Last year, I wrote memories like you are doing and I still cherish them. This year, I have found my inspiration in daily living and I always find myself with too much to write.

  11. I am tearing up at the thought of your Mom tearing up at the fact that you are recording these memories. So special! I bet your family is all appreciating reading these posts! You had an amazing childhood.

  12. I love that your Mom is reading your pieces and that you are saving your memories --so important. There is nothing like the feeling of being compelled to write. Ideas bouncing around in your head is exactly how it feels for me. Thanks for sharing

  13. Holly - once again your posts are bringing back so many memories for me and my own family. While I didn't have horses, I have enjoyed your memories of your family memories. How wonderful for your mother to be reading these and knowing the history of your family is being preserved through your words. I love that this experience has sparked the writing fire in you! I go through periods like this - when ideas swirl and fill my brain to the point I just HAVE to get them out! It is a relief when they are no longer taking up spaces up there where my grocery list belongs! Thank you for sharing your stories.

  14. I love the picture of you on your horse because it reminds me how much fun it would be to own a horse and get to ride it every day! I don't think I would like to ride a horse that bucks though.