Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

We've closed the door (and the math book) on another school year and I'm emitting happy sighs.

When her sisters started college, Ramona and I had adjustments to make in our newly-one-person schoolhouse, but over the last three years we've found our own rhythms and routines. I love our days together.

We're still finishing up our read-aloud of Emily of New Moon, just finished Black as Night, and we have summer plans to read Romeo and Juliet together. (There's never an end point for read-alouds.) Ramona also has plans to work on writing a fairy tale novel this summer, and plenty of other fun, summer diversions await.

Huzzah for summer!


About seven years ago, I wrote this post in which I mentioned that I was bugging my parents to move back to the midwest (after many years of living in farflung places ... Houston, Phoenix, Hot Springs). I'd been bugging them annually about that move, until last year -- Ta Da! -- they made the move! It's been a crazy year for them. My mom fractured her hip just a month before their planned moving date. They still moved on schedule! (They amaze me!) Then she had (her second!) open-heart surgery last October, and in December she got a spinal compression fracture. Enough already! She has recovered beautifully from everything, and both of my parents are inspirational in their positive approaches to such challenges. My mom never wallows in self-pity, and my dad steps up to the plate to be a generous caregiver, and I find myself thinking that I hope I'll be as positive and inspiring when I'm in my 80s. 

The benefits of having them closer are countless. Recently, my dad had the privilege of taking an Honor Flight, and Mom stayed with us while he was gone. The girls and I went to a Mother's Day party with Mom at her retirement community and it was the first Mother's Day we've all spent together in ... how many years? Ever? More birthdays together, more holidays, more trips to the bookstore together, and they want to go see Wicked with us next summer. We love that they finally loaded up that moving van are living in our neck of the woods. 


I'm in Week 2 of my Brave Writer class, Kidswrite Basic, and I am loving it! It's delightful to work with such devoted parents who want the best for their kids and there's nothing I love more than sharing ideas about writing. 

If you've never looked into Brave Writer, I highly recommend checking it out. A couple of great places to start: 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson

I just felt like a little bit of Emily today. 

Go here, to, to read the five perfect lines of "To make a prairie."


The Amazing Jama has the round up this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Poetry Friday: James Hearst

An Atticus pick this week, and a lovely one:

In April
by James Hearst

This I saw on an April day:
Warm rain spilt from a sun-lined cloud,
A sky-flung wave of gold at evening,
(Read the whole poem here, at


The Poetry Friday round up is at Teaching Authors.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Poetry Friday: Wordsworth

Wordsworth always speaks for himself, but I will add that I adore the line, "The Child is the father of the man;" ... happy sighs on this spring day.

Tabatha has the round up at The Opposite of Indifference.

My Heart Leaps Up
by William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold
      A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
      Or let me die!
The Child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

(In the public domain.) 

Don't forget to check out all the National Poetry Month happenings:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Recent Reading: The Year of Living Danishly

I did a double take the first time I saw this writer's name. Helen Russell was the name of my theater professor in college and I didn't think my Helen Russell was still around, much less that she'd just spent a year in Denmark testing the happiness waters. I was right: this is not my Helen Russell in any way, shape, or form. This Helen Russell is a British freelance writer who was living in London, and was married to a man who was offered a job at Lego. (It sounds like the beginning of a storybook: Once upon a time, there was a man who went to work at Lego....) 

Lego beckoned (don't Legos always beckon?) and so Helen and Lego Man, as she calls him, moved. Helen, being a journalist and needing to fill the roughly 675 hours a month that it's dark in Denmark in the winter, decided to write about the adventure. She and Lego Man gave themselves a year to decide if they really wanted to make the Land of the Best Pastries on Earth their permanent home or not. She also set out on her own kind of happiness project to discover why Danes are considered the happiest people in the world. (Something to do with the pastries, was my guess.) 

The Year of Living Danishly was delightful, informative, and witty and it had me debating the merits of moving to a Nordic Wonderland. I told Atticus this morning that the whole time I was reading, I found myself nodding, thinking, "Yes, I could do that. I could live there. I wonder if..." and then I'd have to shake it off, return to reality, and remind myself that moving to Denmark is not an option in our lives. This is not a real thing for me. Not now. Not ever. It's just not. But the pastries...And the pace....

(No. We are not moving to Denmark. We're not even contemplating it. Stop acting like it's a conversation you're going to have with Atticus, Karen.) 

I think if there was a place on earth where I could have the lifestyle of Denmark (minus some of its quirks, because, let's face it, it's majorly quirky*), along with their entire nation's stock of candles for proper hygge-ness, and we could throw in their education and healthcare systems, and experience an average daily temperature that approximates San Diego, and I could be promised a few million more hours of sunshine, I might have a real pro and con list to compose.  

But until I find that place, I'll have to content myself with living Midwesternly. It's not quite the same, sigh. Though happily I can say that we at Casa Edmisten are all about the hygge. And books. Witty books like The Year of Living Danishly

*Adding a brief caveat: be aware, if you are sensitive to such things, that Russell does explain the generally casual approach many Danes have to certain intimate things, just fyi. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

On Relevant Radio tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.

I'll be talking to John Harper on Morning Air Tuesday, April 11, at 6 a.m. central time. We'll be talking about Holy Week, and "The Triduum: Kidterrupted." 

Go here to find out what we mean. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

Poetry Friday: Things to Do by Elaine Magliaro and Catia Chien

Just look at that cover. 
Isn't it delightful? 
Now, open the book. 
(What? You don't have it? Go get it now! 
In the meantime, you can take a peek inside 
by visiting this post on Elaine's blog.) 


In Things to DoElaine Magliaro (the poet) and Catia Chien (the artist) have created a thing of beauty. The poems are whimsical, the illustrations are both simple and rich, and the combination makes for a thoroughly satisfying read-aloud experience.

Today I'm sharing one of my favorites from Things to Do, along with its gorgeous illustration:

Things to do if you are the Moon
by Elaine Magliaro

Live in the sky.
     Be bold...
     be shy.

Wax and wane 
     in your starry terrain.

Be a circle of light,
just a sliver of white,
         or hide in the shadows
         and vanish from sight.

Look like a pearl
          when you're brim-full
           and bright.

Hang in the darkness.

             Dazzle the night.


Things to Do was published by Chronicle Books in February. After reading about it on Jama's Alphabet Soup (how I love Jama and her Alphabet Soup!) I put it on my "must get" list. Then I was lucky enough to win the drawing Jama held. Huzzah! 


Irene Latham has the Poetry Friday round up this week at Live Your Poem.

And be sure to visit Jama Rattigan's 2017 National Poetry Month Kidlitosphere Events Roundup for a list of all the poetic goodness going around the blogosphere. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Exciting Brave Writer News: I'm joining the team!

Julie Bogart's Brave Writer is an extraordinary writing program. More than that, Julie has always, through her method of teaching language arts, encouraged what she calls, "the Brave Writer lifestyle." That lifestyle has always resonated with me, an unschooly, Charlotte Mason-ish, John Holt-ish, But-I-Still-Like-to-Plan-ish and Writing-(Like-Life)-is-a-Process-ish kind of homeschooling mom.

So, when I heard that Brave Writer was looking for a few more teachers, I jumped to apply, though I didn't dream I'd actually have a shot at joining such a wonderful team. I'm happy to report that I'm on board, and I'll be teaching my first "Kidswrite Basic" class next month.

This link tells you more about how and why Brave Writer works, and this link explains the structure of Brave Writer's online classes.

Kidswrite Basic will run from May 8-June 16, and you can register here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Poetry Friday: "A bird’s cry, at daylight or before, In the early March wind...."

When I muse aloud, "What should I post for Poetry Friday?" I can usually count on Atticus to suggest some Wallace Stevens. I've actually posted a fair amount about Stevens, as I find him pretty fascinating, so when Atticus said, "How about 'Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself'?" I said, "You're a genius."

Without further ado, here is the genius of my husband, Wallace Stevens, and spring:

Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself 
by Wallace Stevens

At the earliest ending of winter,
In March, a scrawny cry from outside
Seemed like a sound in his mind.

He knew that he heard it,
A bird’s cry, at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.

(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.)


The wonderful Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has the round up today at The Poem Farm.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Whoosh! Where does the time go?

I've been AWOL for a number of reasons, most of which have to do with simply being busy, busy, busy. Some of the busyness was dull and dreadful. (Taxes are done! And I cooked dinner on the same day I finished the taxes! I feel like a superhero!) Some of the busyness was welcome brain exercise, such as an online class of sorts, which kept me busy for a couple of weeks. One other new thing I'm doing is handling the monthly "Celebrate" column for Catholic Digest. It involves the delight of some quote-gathering, and I'm all about that.


Ramona and I are reading L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon and we are loving it. I'm annoyed with myself that I've lived this long without having read this book. At least Ramona won't have to say the same. 

Can I love a heroine as much as I love Anne-with-an-e? An emphatic yes. Ramona agrees. 


Instagram snaps: 

Ramona is still helpless for Hamilton. (So am I.) 

When a future Kindergarten teacher lives at your house, you find things like Origami Yoda on your dining room table. 

When your other daughter works at the library, and said library is weeding its collection and selling off old books to get ready for the library renovation, you find things like bunches of new, old books in your living room. 

I'm not complaining. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What a perfectly lovely book

"Reason, beauty, poetry, and excellent conversation were his preferred tools for settling disputes." 

-- The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill 

Monday, March 06, 2017

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Late last month, Betsy, Ramona and I went to see the filmed version of the Broadway show Newsies. They're big fans of the movie (which I've never seen) and they couldn't wait to see the stage version (on film, that is.) It reallly was a lot of fun, and we had a great evening. 

For more than a week I couldn't get some of the songs out of my head. On Ash Wednesday, "Seize the Day" was still pulsing through my brain but as I fasted that day, my hungry, addled brain kept changing the lyric to "Feed the Day." 


I took my writing group girls to a coffee place last week. Our Brave Writer freewrite prompt was:

Imagine that the different kinds of food on your plate are angry at each other. Write a scene with dialogue so we can hear them fight!

Ramona wrote about the drinks we had all just ordered. Addressing the peach and cherry Italian sodas, 
Mom's coffee scoffed. 
"I will not trouble myself with such petty disagreements. I am the most mature, most robust, most sophisticated drink out there." 
Cherry Soda guffawed. "Yeah, right. You're bitter, and you stain teeth." 

I had no idea my coffee was so snooty.

She said she was channeling Jane Austen as my coffee wouldn't trouble itself with petty disagreements.

I love our writing group.


I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Discussion, anyone? (Tamara, I'm looking at you. Expect to be brought into an email loop for discussion.) Anyone else who wants to discuss it here? Leave a comment. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Billy Friday

Photo courtesy of: Marcelo Noah, of D.G. Wills Books
and WikiMedia Commons

Heidi Mordhorst, this week's Poetry Friday host, is having an all-Billy Birthday Extravaganza. It's a Collins-fest, an All-Billy-All-The-Time post, a Billy Collins Friday...Huzzah!

Heidi encouraged everyone to post a favorite Collins poem. Of course, it's impossible to choose just one favorite Collins poem. I am practically paralyzed by the proposal. I was going to share that painfully cute little boy reciting "Litany" because that's definitely one of my favorites. But Heidi had the same great idea (do go listen to him), so I am on to something else. Should I choose "Marginalia"? "Passengers"? "Today"? What about "Aimless Love"? Or maybe "Books." What about "Morning"? I love that one so much.

(Don't make me choose!)

Deep breath.

Okay, so, this one is not necessarily my favorite Billy Collins poem. Really, naming a favorite would be akin to saying I have a favorite child, just impossible. But I love this poem almost as much as I love my three favorite children. (That's hyperbole, by the way, for anyone scandalized by the idea that I love a poem as much as I love my offspring. Hyperbole is one of my favorite words -- don't ask me, though, to choose just one favorite word.)

I think I forgot what the point of this post was.

What was it? Oh, yes.


I had forgotten how much I love it.

by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

(Read the whole thing here, at


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Poetry Friday: I'm Hosting! (And getting this post up on Thursday evening for you plan-ahead types.)

We're anticipating a snow day tomorrow as Winter Storm Quid (really?) makes its way across the country. Personally, I'm tired of Winter Storm Fill-in-Silly-Name and I'm ready for Spring-Day-That-Is-Insanely-Lovely. 

Oh, wait. We got that on Tuesday of this week when it was 70 degrees. Quota met for February, I guess. Moving on to another revolution of snow. At least we have Billy Collins to keep us company. 

Snow Day 
by Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.)


I have the round up today!

Mr. Linky is handling the links for me:

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"My beloved copy of the book began to crackle when the cover was lifted."

I recently mentioned that we do a freewrite every week at our writing group. I'm sharing Ramona's from last week because I just loved it so much. The prompt came from the Brave Writer blog:
Think of something that started out new then gradually wore old. It might be a clean softball, a bike with no rust, a fresh coat of nail polish, or a brand new year. Tell the story of how it began bright and shiny then grew worn and well-used.

Here's Ramona's response. She wants me to include the disclaimer, though, that I am not the mother she mentions, as the following is a dramatization. What's true, however, is that she deeply loves Little Women. And we do indeed have old copies that are falling apart.  💙

Is there anything better than a new book? I picked a book off of the many shelves in the store. The title was Little Women. I got home and read the whole thing. A few months later, I read the whole thing again. I read and reread my favorite parts over and over. It quickly became one of my favorites of all time. My beloved copy of the book began to crackle when the cover was lifted. With every turn of a page, a cozy popping sound emitted from the binding. One day, my mother asked, "Wouldn't you like a new copy of Little Women? This one is falling apart." I replied, "Yes, I would like a new copy, but I will not part with this one." 

If you want your kids to love writing, keep reading, reading, reading. Keep writing (for fun, without pressure.) Keep it joyful, focus on delight. Love your books until they fall apart.