Sharing Some Blogging Love: The Sunshine Awards

Children's drawing - the sun in the blue skyI’d been looking forward to the days between Christmas and New Years to catch up on blog posts I’ve missed. And in addition to reading several great posts, I was surprised to discover that I’d been nominated for the Sunshine Awards by four fantastic bloggers: Dana Murphy at Murphy’s Law: Musings from a Literacy Coach; Tammy Mulligan who, along with Clare Landrigan, writes Assessment in Perspective; Pat Johnston who, with Katie Keier, is behind Catching Readers Before They Fall; and Heather Rader at Coach to Coach.

To be honest, I knew nothing about the Sunshine Awards until now—and despite a fair amount of surfing, I’m still not sure how they got started. But I’ve learned that they were created to give bloggers a chance to recognize other bloggers, as well as to share a bit more about themselves.  I’m incredibly honored to be acknowledged by such admired and respected colleagues, and I so like the idea of nominating other bloggers that I’ve decided to break my blogging break and follow the award rules, which are as follows:

Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
 Share 11 random facts about yourself.
 Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
 List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
 Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

So first the random facts:

  1. I share a birthday (same day, different year) with Charles Manson & Grace Kelly.
  2. I’m a book abandoner (finishing only about a third of what I start).
  3. My daughter, who’s an illustration major at Pratt, and I have been working on a picture book together.
  4. In every personal narrative or memoir I’ve ever written, I’ve made something up.
  5. My grandfather was a stone carver and mason who helped create the lions in front of the New York Public Library.
  6. I love toe socks (i.e., gloves for your feet).
  7. When my daughter was younger, we had a pet pygmy hedgehog who we buried in our garden in a shoebox covered with hieroglyphics (she was studying Ancient Egypt when the poor hedgehog died).
  8. I met David, my partner of the last nine years, on an online dating site.
  9. My desire to do road trips by bike comes from reading a color-coded SRA reading passage on the American Youth Hostels in 6th grade.
  10. I know how to say the equivalent of ‘eenie, meenie, miney, moe’ in Swedish.
  11. And like Heather Rader, I, too, am a mindless hummer.

And now the answer to 12 of the questions the nominators posed (I added an extra just to keep things even):

Answers to Dana Murphy’s questions:

  1. What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? My current favorite is “What Messages Are We Sending Our Students about Reading Revisited” because I figured out a way of combining a tribute to one of my favorite authors, Alice Munro, with a critique of one of the packaged programs that are taking the heart and soul out of reading.
  2. What advice would you give future teachers? Hold on tightly to whatever made you want to be a teacher in the first place and try not to teach out of fear.
  3. PC or Mac? With the guy I live with, it’s Mac all the way.

Answers to Pat Johnson’s questions:

  1. Tell me something about the grandparent who meant a lot to you. I adored my grandfather who, at Sunday dinners, would always say “Chicken ain’t nothin’ but a bird” before sharpening the knives and carving up my grandmother’s beloved roast chicken.
  2. Name a teacher from your past who impressed you and why? My 5th grade teacher Mr. Holt comes to mind here because he made me aware of what I was unaware of. One day, for instance, after saying the pledge, he asked us to write out the words, which clearly proved that I had no idea what I was saying each morning. (I wrote something like, I plejalleegents to the flag.) And in what seems unimaginable these days, he arranged for another teacher to burst into the room one day holding a banana like a gun and then asked us to write about what we saw. Many were convinced he did have a gun and many swore that he was masked, which led us all to understand that sometimes our eyes are unreliable.
  3. If you could invent a holiday, what would it be for? I second the suggestion of Lena Dunham, the star of the HBO show Girls:

Lena Dunham Tweet

Answers to Tammy Mulligan’s questions:

  1. What are you reading right now? The Christmas present I gave to myself: Archangel by another of my favorite writers, Andrea Barrett. It’s a gorgeous collection of historical fiction short stories that all involve characters who are scientists.
  2. Why did you decide to settle in the town you are living in now? Having grown up in the suburbs of New York City, I moved to Colorado when I was twenty positive I’d never come back. Ten years later, graduate school and a sick parent brought me back to the city, and falling in love with Brooklyn made me stay.
  3. Why blogging? Because I don’t really know who I am if I’m not writing—and blog posts are much more forgiving than a book.

Answers to Heather Rader’s questions:

  1. What is a great read aloud book? I read The Doll Bones by Holly Black over the summer and think it would make a marvelous read aloud for a fifth or sixth grade class.
  2. What are titles of compelling documentaries or foreign films you’ve enjoyed? A few weeks ago I saw the Italian film “The Great Beauty,” which I thought was magnificent. It was the next best thing to being in Rome (which, in my book, is just about the best thing there is).
  3. What color is on your living room walls? Do you love it or hate it? Having lived with colored walls for some time, I went back to basic white a few years ago—but I did do an accent wall in the living room I love that’s like the Sherman Williams Goldfinch.

And now for the fun part: I’d like to share some blogging love with some of the wonderful education bloggers I’ve had the privilege to meet through this blog, who in post after post share their thinking, their questions, their minds and their hearts:

Jan Burkins & Kim Yaris at Burkins & Yaris

Tomasen Carey at ConversationEducation

Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading (which she writes with Franki Sibberson)

Steve Peterson at Inside the Dog

Julieanne Harmatz at To Read To Write To Be

Fran McVeigh at Resource-Full

Matt Karlson at the Opal School Blog

Colette Bennett at Used Books in Class

Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Carrie Gelson at There’s a Book for That

Tara Smith at A Teaching Life

And here are 11 questions, which, if you’re tempted to bend the rules, feel free to pick & choose from:

  1. What book would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?
  2. What did you learn from your mother?
  3. Where do you write?
  4. Where do you find joy in your classroom or work?
  5. What do you do to recharge?
  6. What was your favorite book as a child and why did you love it?
  7. If you could have dinner (or coffee or drinks) with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you want to ask him or her?
  8. Do you have a quote that you keep (in your mind, a notebook, a pocket, your desk, etc.) that captures something that seems important to you? If so, what is it?
  9. What are you afraid of?
  10. How do you feel about being the age you currently are?
  11. If you could go back to one moment in time, when & where would that be & why?

And now, it’s back to my my blogging break . . .

Holiday Break

26 thoughts on “Sharing Some Blogging Love: The Sunshine Awards

  1. Love the idea of this award. You learn so much about the blogger. Fascinating. I Ioved reading that your grandfather worked on the lions of the NY public library. That is quite an honor. I have a post pending, just like this one, that I will publish after the New Year. Cheers!

    • Funny, how the grandfather story resonates. He also worked on St. John the Divine at Amsterdam and 112th Street and while I was at Columbia I lived on 112th Street, which was another strange but wonderful connection. Will look forward to learning more about you, too. And in the meantime, Happy New Year!

  2. Vicki, I too am so interested in learning about your grandfather carving the lions that guard the NY public library. That was where Simon and I met for our first date in 1964! It’s a very special spot for us now!

    • I love how when we scratch the surface, we find all these connections between us—now you & me & Simon & the lions. David & I had both of our daughters over for dinner Saturday night and I made them try to answer some of the questions I posed to the bloggers I picked. Keila said that one of her favorite children’s books was Hilary and the Lions, which was a picture book where the Library’s lions come alive at night, so those lions are in her heart, too. And what she learned from her mom was how to make a good roast chicken, which I learned from my mom who learned it from her mom, whose chicken made a cameo appearance in the blog post!

  3. As always, it was a treat to wake up to a new post in my in-box. As much as I love your writing, it’s the image of the holiday toe socks that made my day. I look forward to partaking in some of your blog love this afternoon, although I’m certain my toes won’t be as cozy as yours while I’m reading.

    • Always so nice to hear from you, Mary Gage. I’m going to be back in touch with Matt soon about visiting Portland next school year—and I’ll try to remember to bring a pair of toe socks with me since David gave me a life-time supply for Christmas.

  4. VIcki,
    I throughly enjoyed reading this. So many interesting tidbits: your grandfather, memoir and reading confessions. Those random thoughts are also random connections! I have a bunch of books I have gotten a third of the way through and then for various reasons make the decision not to finish. So honored to be a part of your “nominees”. Fortunately I know some of the answers to your questions and if I don’t yet, I’ll get to find out! This blogging world is quite a wonderful place.

    • It’s funny how writing that and the heart poem posts reconnected me to parts of my life I’m not always so in touch with. It’s a lovely thing to happen as we move from one year to the next. So I hope the experience is fun for you, too. I also adored your Game Changers post! What a marvelous year you had! Hope the new one is just as exciting & fruitful!

    • I cannot tell you how many great books I’ve discovered on your blog—and now I’ve learned that we share the same suspicions about the sneakiness of squirrels! And I loved to join you for coffee with Linda Baie to exchange all the secrets we’ve learned from books!

  5. Hi Vicki! Love this blog post, but then I love all your blog posts. I learn so much from them –and you. I’m with you on the toe socks and Andrea Barrett. I have Archangel waiting for me on my Kindle, both new for Christmas. Thanks (I think) for the list of blogs to read..so many, so little time. Happy New Year to you and yours. Hope to see you soon.

    • Happy New Year to you, too, Ellen! Keila (current spelling) turned 23 on Saturday and, having coincidentally seen Molly Clifford that same day, you were on my mind. And so funny that we also share a love of toe socks & Andrea Barrett! Let’s try to do coffee again this semester!

  6. Thank you, Vicki, for including me on this list of amazing bloggers! I feel so honored. Andrea Barrett’s book is on my shelf, waiting along with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which I imagine is a lovely color for a wall. Now if we could only figure out a way to get that 8th day for reading 🙂 Right now, I’m off to work on my response to your questions. Happy New Year!

    • I’m so glad I’m part of this web of connections, Catherine. And the Sunshine Awards, which I originally thought of as a kind of online chain letter, has turned out to be so much more. I actually wasn’t sure what book I’d want on a desert island, but Proust, who I’ve only read a bit of, would be perfect. And it’s so nice to know that we share a love of Florence. This was a great way to start a new year!

  7. Just coming out of my blogging break to read this, Vicki. Thanks so much for the kind mention – your blog and your books so inspire me, so I was honored to be thought of. I shall never forget those lions at the Public Library, which I remember encountering one snowy winter day several decades ago, when we first visited New York City. I fell in love with their majestic grandeur, and it was such a delight to bring my children there years later, and watch how they had the very same response. Now, I shall think about your grandfather whenever I pass, what an amazing connection you have to the city! And, hooray for teachers like Mr. Holt – “he made me aware of what I was unaware of” – that is what I hope to do, each and every day I unlock my classroom and turn on the light to begin a new teaching day.
    Happy New Year!!.

    • This Sunshine Award has added a whole dimension to the start of a new year, Tara! I’ve so enjoyed reading about all the bloggers and love having this web of connections, which really helps me recharge (though, perhaps, I should give vacuuming another try). I confess that I dodged the What are you afraid of question when it came my way, but your fear is my fear and the Mary Oliver quote is one I will add to the stash of quotes I use to recharge and stay grounded as well—as well as the idea that perhaps we only avoid that fate if we recognize the possibility.

  8. Vicki,
    I just looked back at this post and was sure I had left a reply. Knowing me I forgot to hit the post comment button. I wanted to Thank you for your nomination. Was humbled and honored to see my blog on your list! Love learning more about you…although the toe socks are a mystery to me. I had multi-colored striped ones when I was in high school, knee socks they were and as much as I tried I hated having my toes separated. Even the thought of it now kind of makes me feel a bit claustrophobic! LOVE the lion story. Wow. What amazing history. Now I am off to attempt to finish blog entry that I have been working on. (Clearly I have been on a bit of a break myself!) Will also work on answering your questions. Again. thank you for the sunshine!!
    Tomasen

    • This sunshine thing has been so much fun—though I’ve spent so much time reading blogs, I’ve fallen behind on mine! But you’ve reminded me that I want to read the Tony Wagner book. And downloading great reads on your iPad isn’t cheating. I think it’s innovating. Now we’d just have to solve the problem of recharging devices on a desert island . . .

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  10. Hello, Vicki.
    I’m so late with a thank you for linking to my blog. It’s a huge honor to be listed on your page and amongst such a stunning list of writers and thinkers, which adds another layer of deliciousness. I’ve learned so much from them and from you.

    “A chicken ain’t nothin’ but a bird”; a blog ain’t nothin’ but electrons, but I’m looking forward to carving off a big helping of thoughts and conversations in the upcoming year. Good food, indeed.

    PS. The socks look terrific. During a recent trip to northern Minnesota (-50 wind chills), my footwear was much less elegant. 🙂

    • This web of connections we’re all creating is such a wonderful thing—much more, in the end, than electrons & computer chips. It definitely adds another layer of deliciousness to life. So here’s to keeping that conversations going!

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