Thursday, July 31, 2008

Boys Team & Girls Team

Here are the boys whooping it up after the grand finale. Whoooooo hoooooooooo!!

Today I chose captains for teams to lead the dance-a-thon number and chose a couple of boys for their team and then a couple of girls to represent their team. Those captains got to join me up front on the stage. Pictured here at the conclusion of the show, the kids have self-selected to be grouped according to their 'team' for the grand finale. The pictures are of the final celebration -- just before they take their big bows. What a bunch of cuties.

Putnam Co. Library Fun.

Pictured above are happy sisters..... they're sharing my quilts to see how they compare to the illustrations in my book. They were already familiar with "You're Wonderful" as it had been used in a big preschool program up here last year!! How cool is that?

Here you see the happy winner of the tantalizing "moon-pie-door-prize" and her big sister.

Here I am with an almost-2nd grade fan ...... she's been telling me about writing a book last year in first grade and how much fun she had writing it.

What a terrific morning for a family concert!! We had lots of eager participants who came to the "library" (now housed in the county ESC building due to last year's flood.) Here's a whole group on a field trip with their 'Around the Clock' childcare group. Their center has my first four recordings and were quite amazed when I performed some of their favorites. Happy day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Day Full of Energy

Join our energized kindergarten teachers in a rousing rendition of my song commissioned by Zaner-Bloser, entitled "SLANT DANCE." Everyone is engaged in making slanting letters, physically..... with their own bodies, all while singing along! (It's just a tad like Y.M.C.A. and the last wedding reception you attended, only sung to the most radical track of 'My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean' that you can imagine.) Pictured here are zealous Y's and 'xcited X's being constucted by our enthusiastic kindergarten teachers.
Somehow I forgot to take a picture of their team building and making letter "A's" together. [***Mental note to self: take that snap at the next opportunity..... also realized I never had any pictures taken with 'me' in them. This blogging's a bigger responsibility than you might realize.] The feedback from the teachers is that the children are very delighted to engage in this physical, upbeat dance, which helps them grasp and visualize letters and then head on to paper and pencil success.

KEYNOTE: New Hampshire

Thru hail and lightening, flight cancellations and additional delays..... the hardy & tough persevere and make it thru the dark of night to arrive in time (WITH luggage) to Nashua, New Hampshire. It's my northeastern premiere!! I'm so exited to rally enthusiastic kindergarten teachers -- eager to spend a portion of their July with dedicated peers, intent on improving their professional lives, on behalf of children.

This is a glimpse into an entire ballroom of kindergarten teachers from across New England. I'm starting our day here with keynote honors and my up-tempo, dance hall sing-a-long "Celebrate." They look ready to get underway.

As the day unfolded I learned that many of the participants were from across the New England area...... I now have followers from NH, but also Maine, Vermont and Massachusettes too!!

I'm so grateful to the muscle power, energy, commraderie, and support of SDE and Crystal Springs, to take my work into whole new galaxies.

"Pretend" & Actual Twins

Here's my sweet niece Kelly and my daughter Sarah. They are not quite 3 months apart in age and have always pretended that they were twins. They loved having matching outfits while growing up, matching blonde locks and orchestrating fashion shows with younger sis, Noelle.

I think perhaps all that wishing to be twins, must have contributed by osmosis to the creation of genuine twins, in the bare-toe, sweet smelling flesh!! It's funny just thinking about how that might have worked.

Speaking of Family...........

Look who came to dinner!! It's my sister Rebecca, here at my house in Ohio -- all the way from Georgia. While the circumstances of our visit are very sad (her brother-in-law Kenny is nearing the end of his battle with cancer) we made every effort to make the most of this unexpected reunion.

While attempting to get caught up on the exuberant lives of our children, we were still able to get out her Mac and dust off our giraffe project that is eeking it's way toward completion. Rebecca is providing LOTS of skill and expertise to craft my second book..... our first joint publishing adventure! Our goal is to have "Tall Giraffe" in print before the end of the year.

My niece Kelly's mission trip to Africa included an opportunity to secure natural photos of giraffes. Rebecca then scanned scads of the African fabrics I purchased from an international quilt show into her trusty computer to create digital borders for the photographs.

We have worked diligently to render the text, which we've decided will appear ee cummins-style, without punctuation. Together we have arranged and rearranged the photos and borders to make tighter designs and more interesting support for my cumulative song.

I've just gotten the music notation manuscript produced. We have a few remaining details to complete. Next up: I need to draw the sign language pages to support the text. Gather a few more quotes of support, write out the acknowledgements....... ummmmm, wellllll, we still have a way to go, but for sure it's been progress this weekend!! Whoooo hooooooo.

Our parents are so excited to see the finished product come to life. Can you hear them cheering?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reading Family Time

Do you have sayings from your childhood that come back to you when you least expect it? I grew up hearing this old favorite: "We'll just have to make a silk purse out of that sow's ear" or this one: "poor as the church mice." Of course there were many others: "Make hay when the sun shines" or the ever popular: "A stitch in time saves nine." I don't even need to finish them for you. "When life gives you lemons..........."

I remember much growing up 'as poor as the church mice.' I remember that my very favorite place in town was always our public library. Back in the day, as we moved from hamlet to village in Indiana, one of our very first stops in our new community would be the closest library -- to get our new library cards. Having my card in hand always made me feel at home. Settled. Welcomed.

I remember reading together. I remember reading under my comforter with a flashlight and the occasional ruckus that created. I remember reading on long car rides across the country. I remember reading in the twilight, by gasoline lantern or campfire's flicker. I remember reading on snow-filled winter days. I remember being engrossed in wagon train rides and underwater submarine adventures. I remember all of those mysteries -- from the Nancy Drew series on to the Hardy boys and then making the leap to Agatha Christie novels, at the recommendation of a librarian. I remember traveling to foreign countries with my library card.

When you take a look at our family scrapbook you find evidence of that rich heritage of reading. It's a black and white photo for authenticity, featuring a mom, a dad, three children gathered together in laps and an open book. That's what I remember from my childhood. For some of today's children that's just as extreme a concept as space aliens landing down the street, just as quaint an idea as the horse and buggy. Let's get back to those basics. The time has come for parents to take action. Let's turn off all the screens in the house and declare 'Reading Together Night.' I can't wait to hear where that adventure will lead.

Fast Forward 50 Years

Now hit your fast-forward feature. Move ahead approximately 50 years or so, give or take. Those reading parents have suddenly become reading GREAT Grandparents!! I took this shot of my mom and dad with my grandchildren, on their last morning before they flew back to their home. This is one of Wonder Boy's favorite books, which just so happened to be a Christmas present from his 'greats' last year. He still loves all forms of undersea creatures. He's pointing to one of his favorites, just before they open the hidden flap. Some things just never go out of style!

Read to those children -- whatever their age, whatever your age!! It's a habit that lasts a lifetime. It's the very best legacy we can give our children, our grandchildren, or when abundantly blessed, our GREAT-grandchildren. A disposition for the written word. A love of language. Delight in word play, it's rhythm, the poetry of language: alliteration, rhyme, onamotopia, syntax, hyperbole.... all the goodies in the language toolbox of fun. Read. Read. Read.

(This picture was taken over Mother's Day when my parents were up & dad baptized the twins. They were about 3 weeks old in this picture.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wonder Boy's Airport

What a gorgous day in central Ohio. Let's go on a field trip..... let's start at the airport. Welcome to Wonder Boy's own personal runway, terminal and airplane hangars. He loves his daddy's big transport plane for the Air Force, but his absolute favorite is the blue helicopter at the head of his bed. It's fun to hear him say "helicopter" because he works so hard on all of those syllables. I painted these walls as a complete surprise for the kids, after they closed on the place last fall, but before they returned from their station in Mississippi. It was a BIG surprise!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Private Blog Lessons

Meet my new friend Maria Banks, fellow presenter for SDE. She heard the big news about my having a blog and I had to show her how easy it was to put up a new post..... so here's the VERY close close-up that we were able to capture for our little experiment. Too bad my arms weren't any longer. LOL!! We're having fun now!

We had a lovely dinner together and then listened in on the band at the pool. Who says we old-timers can't have fun on the fourth day of a conference?

One more Vegas Peek

In looking back thru my Vegas -- I TEACH K pictures I found this one that was just too cute to leave in my laptop. I'm obviously dressed in my original lion's mane/tutu and we're getting all carried away and campie-like, learning the sign language to support my song: "Lion Prowl." Mrs. Henry, is that you with the biggest smile?
[****Brian, you've got some mad-photo skills.****]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

GeeGee & Da Babeez!!

All dressed up and waiting for daddy to come home.......... Can you tell that Trevor is really excited? McKenna is so eager to show off her bright sundress to her papa. They've grown so much in these three months that he's been away @ the Air Force base in Oklahoma.

Homecoming & Handwriting

Today's a HUGE day!! My son-in-law Scott is on his way home as I type. As we wait eagerly for the big arrival, Sarah has been having Keegan color on a huge banner for the past week. At exactly 2 years and 3 months of age -- he is a MAD colorin' kid. He's loved his crayons for months and months, but this project has really allowed him to blosom.

My friends at Zaner Bloser would love to see this toddler's three finger crayon grasp.

Start early with those crayons. I can't wait to see what he's capable of doing a few years from now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Furthest-from-Home Award

In today's workshop I taught my multi-cultural greeting song entitled "JAMBO" which is from my very first album. As we were going thru the various greeting words (Jambo, Hola, Guten Tag, Bonjour and Konichiwa) I learned that we had international teachers in our midst!! Silly me, I was unable to get their names mid-song, but meet my furthest-from-home-award winners....on the left my happy seasoned K teacher from Bangkok and on the right, our sweet young teaching peer from Switzerland!! To think that my ideas could travel globally.... hey!! I could go global myself -- follow them home and sing my songs in their buildings, too!
I'm willing. Have passport will travel.

FAN Club Prop Fun

Who have we here? Stephanie, Raeleen, Cacen's mommy, Amber & Kate! This workshop was just absolutely too much fun, due to their hunger for teaching through music and movement, their enthusiasm and their energy: a good time was had by all! I couldn't get them to leave until we had a chance to play together with all of my props and costumes. What happens in Vegas....... hmmmmm.
I wanna come back!

Crystal Springs Book Signing

Here we are together at today's luncheon 'author signing' of my book. How incredible to have this special opportunity. These are my early bird teachers from Las Vegas -- some had met me last winter at their district's training event where I spoke to their PreK & Title teachers.... they were the very first in line. Now they have their own personalized copies!!
[****Thanks Brian for your fantastic photo skills!!****]

Left, Right. Left. Right.

Just for fun. I wanted you to see what a roomful of happy kindergarten teachers looks like at the end of day #3 of the four day conference. We are getting ready to sing "Top to Bottom" which is my absolutely favorite song from my newest recording with ZB Zaner-Bloser. This is from the final workshop of the day called: "Get a Grip, Handwriting in Song" or something like that. It's too late to remember the exact title. LOL!

SDE National I TEACH K

Viva Las Vegas. Viva Las Vegas. Viva Las Vegas. Wow. This is my first national convention for SDE: Staff Development for Educators....... and it's in hot, hot Vegas -- but it's a dry heat. In fact it was a dry 106 degrees in the shade today.

I'm just done presenting 4 differing workshops to enthusiastic participants from across the country. It's a fun exhaustion. My power point contraption held together throughout the day. My AV/tech guys were really delightfully supportive. My voice held up and a fun and informative day was had by all!!

Last night we had a welcome reception in the penthouse on the 64th floor. What a genuine party. It was a unique opportunity to meet other presenters from across the country, catch up with some growing friendships and to celebrate with the staff folks who work so hard -- for an entire year to pull this together. The food was really tasty too.

Pictured above, I'm fresh off the plane and getting a Jim Grant hug. He's the founder of SDE and author of over two dozen books for teachers. He remembered meeting my parents and brother at the luncheon held in Orlando last winter during my first FL professional presentation at the SDE Kindergarten confererence there. What a sweet heart.

Now honestly-seriously, no kidding for real. Just after this picture was taken I was returning to my room and there at the elevator was ELVIS!! Full sideburns and duck-tail combed over-slicked back dark hair. How did I not seize that photo opportunity? I've been kicking myself all day.

My book, DVD and CDs will be traveling into kindergarten classrooms across the country. I remember signing them for teachers from Wyoming, Utah, Louisianna, Delaware and Nebraska -- all states that I have yet to present in. Isn't that awesome? Today felt like such a day of "arrival" ........... hard to put into words, but like all of the dues paying for years has paid off.

Like being in the elevator attempting to figure out this HUGE site and a young woman squeeling: "You're Debbie Clement!!" I was completely flabbergasted by her knowing. She'd seen me in Atlanta and went on about loving my Lion song..... and searching for her own tutu costume.

Or being greeted with an early morning hug today from Brenda, the Las Vegas Head Start Director from my visit to them this past winter. She had stories and stories to tell of how my work has impacted her teachers and made a difference in classrooms..... impacting the lives of children.

It's a fun exhaustion..... tomorrow 3 workshops plus the author's signing at lunchtime. How fortunate am I?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lexington You're Wonderful

The GRAND FINALE, of the final program, of the amazing week of fun.... we're just getting organized to serenade our audience of mommies, daddies, grandmas, teachers, librarians and patrons with our big, colorful extravaganza conclusion. We're about to 'perform' my book "You're Wonderful" for all those supporters -- who have been responsible for our having a disposition for reading -- a love and appreciation for books, stories and all things in the land of literacy. Thank you friends of the library!! Thank you children's librarians!! Thank you Richland County Library System!! It's been another incredible tour of learning for all. What a gift you've given.

Lexington Branch Farewell

Back this morning to my friends in Lexington, for my final performance of this week's tour of 13 library programs. Happy day!! I made it!! Here we've got the boys and girls up and leading the audience in a rousing rendition of singing, dancing, and signing. They're all following directions. And I'm so happy to have their enthusiastic leadership & active participation. Where did the time go?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Here we are in glad smiles, warm hugs and celebration after the evening family fun at the Lexington Branch Library concert. Pictured from left are children's librarian, Janet Madden, happy me, exactly-one-year-old Isaac-who-looks-incredibly-like-his-daddy, and beaming mommy Kate (Janet's daughter and grandson.)

I owe an absolutely ENORMOUS debt of gratitude to Janet for her support through the years, ingenius ideas and for connecting me to her extremely talented family. It was years ago that Janet started putting the ducks-in-a-row to introduce me to her son-in-law, the talented Shawn Likely. It turns out that Shawn directed my DVD, "Kweezletown" following Janet's introduction. Kweezletown is my first national award-winning project -- having received the Dove Foundation award for family viewing. Shawn is husband to Kate and daddy to Isaac and was busy at work at his TV station this evening.

It's incredible to have people that believe in you. It's amazing to have a cheering section. It's astounding to have people recognize your potential and direct you to making a quantem leap forward, beyond your own imagining. These people in my life include Janet, Kate and Shawn.
Thank you friends.

Lexington Branch Evening

Here we are ....... me with my captains, leading the big all-audience dance number, "All Together Now" and we are all swinging and swaying. The boys are leading their team...... and the girls in purple are leading the competition. Everyone's a winner when we sing 'Everybody, all together, now!' The ultimate in following-directions: fun, and an aerobic workout all at the same time!! This is absolutely one of my favorite songs for a mixed-age group -- It gets everyone involved, whatever their age.

It's Just a Costume

I'll take you on a prowl through the jungle. I promise I will not turn into a real, live, genuine lion. I'm just pretending and that's just my costume. Use your imagination.

Bellville Branch: Afternoon

There's a lot of excitement at our afternoon storytime, library fun. What do you think I've just removed from the surprise box? Can you guess? I'll never tell. You'll have to use your imagination. I'll give you one clue: metamorphosis...... meta-mor-phosis!! Come find me at a library and find out for yourself.

Lion Prowl at Main

We're on a very big, preschool reading adventure. These children are engaged in actively using sign language to add to my "Lion Prowl" dittie. We're leaving the savannah and heading into the jungle. See our whole PRIDE. A lesson in delayed gratification..... we must be patient in tracking the lion. "Listen for that roar: ____________"

Final Morning @ Main

This morning was my final performance @ the Mansfield Main Library. What incredible enthusiasm. What energy. What zip!! I've bottled some for later. Stellar participation from each and all as we sang and danced with glee.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Main Branch Warm-Up

Here are the 'early birds' and we're taking a picture for the worms. The shadows are just beginning to fall as we prepare for the evening show. One set of happy brothers. (Look carefully: he's just added to his collection of bubble pipes -- from the reading incentive box and he's extremely delighted.....) One set of happy sisters. Bring on the rest of the kids............

Lucas Branch Afternoon

Here we are "Freezing Frozen Fantastically" .......... this crew really knows how to follow directions. We worked on making funny faces while balancing on one foot. What do you think? Sure looks like fun to me.

Polly the Pollywog

Plymouth morning fun!

We gathered a fantastic group @ the Plymouth branch this morning. Little ones, big ones --everyone worked together for the grand finale. The moms and dads took pictures of our big performance. FANTASTIC!! [Did you notice the super incredible "buggy" mural in the background? Created earlier by the summer readers in craft time.]

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hugfest led by da Boys!

No. Despite his appearance in this picture. Barak Obama was not in attendance tonight. That's him on the magazine cover on the display rack. And yes. I am just about to fall over -- from all of this love and affection. We all landed happily in a big pile -- just moments after this snap!

Evening fun: Madison Branch

The pips: my favorite crew!!

More Unbridled Enthusiasm

My Sweet Preschoolers

Can you see the orange shirt friends in the back ground? These preschoolers are my usual fanclub friends. Smiles very shiny.


An enthusiastic group of mature kiddos came downtown!!

Big Kids @ the BIG Show!!

What a crowd at the downtown library. A fun time was had by all! Warming up the crowd before all the fun really gets underway. Who's ready to start singing?

Richland County Libraries

Extravaganza of fun!! Yesterday began my weeklong tour and celebration of liberacy concerts for the Richland County Library System. I've now completed my first three of the thirteen scheduled family, summer reading programs for my whirlwind tour this season. Lots of fun for my little pips and their older, reading sibblings. Pictured are Adam and brother Gavin at the inaugural concert after the Crestview program.
Then in the afternoon I was in Butler, featured here with the beautiful visiting grandchildren from Evansville -- after their big trip to Panama!

And a few of my evening fan club members at the Ontario branch. Stay tuned for more fun. This morning I'm going to the BIG downtown show!!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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