Monday, November 29, 2010

Giraffe "Junkies" Gravitate

Richmond KY: KYECE-KHSA. Yes. I am woefully behind on giving you glimpses into my whirling world. I'm finally caught up to our weekend in Kentucky, whew. November has been so very awesome, on so many levels, with big fun just around every corner. At this rate I may still be 'reporting' on November as the New Year flips its lid. LOL.

What I've noticed about giraffe "lovers" is that they are seriously committed to their animal. Pictured is my ramp-up day for KYECE and I have just gotten my bit of exhibit table organized. The new books are all stacked & gleaming and before I can click my heels, there's a children's librarian tapping me on the shoulder, "I need one of those." I begin to launch into my schpiel about it being a cumulative song, the sign language chart is included to support the text, yada yada, but she replies quite politely, "that's fine, I love giraffes." She's not the first giraffe lover to purchase the book without a second thought about what is included -- they just LOVE giraffes.

Isn't it amazing how the 'flotsom' that we love just jumps out at us? I can be in a crowded department store and from three rows over, in the middle of a bargain rack, stuffed with jumble and chaos.... my eye spots them: POLKA DOTS!!

Editor's note. As I type this post, in our car, headed east at 70 MPH, headed thru the Maryland 'mountains', it is 12:13 and the stereo system is featuring Billy Joel belting out "A New York State of Mind." ****There are times when life's screen play comes up with details that are so delicious that I'd never consider to orchestrate them on my own.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Say Cheese, Please!!

Here's how our morning together concluded. Show and tell, posed still-lifes for each staff that requested one. (I know there were several other buildings represented.) The quilt posing behind us is one from my new picture book, "Red, White and Blue" and represens the little villagfe of 'Ephraim' perched right on Eagle Harbor of Green Bay. I'm holding one of the concluding quilts from my first picture book, "I think you're wonderful."
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Freezing Frozen Faces

With the heat out, it seems only logical to get everyone jumping, making funny faces and balancing to work on our brain hemisphere integration. Choreographed hilarity. Here's the evidence of just how much fun was unfolding. Opposites!! Alliteration!!

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ELEA 2010: Bexley

Saturday morning. Bexley. Christ Church, Main Street: across the street from Capital University. I've been in this building before. Seems like a life-time ago. In many ways, it was a different lifetime all together. When the invite for my CAEYC's SUTQ (Step Up To Quality) approved workshop went round the horn, it resulted in creating the very exact event a second time. Just love when that happens. We arrived early to find that the heat was out in the building, but the electricity in our assigned room was cooperating. So, it was my job to keep those in attendance 'on-the-move' to stay warm. What a fun assignment! The LCD projector only required a committee to coax into suitable purpose, but it all unfolded right on cue. Yippee!! These are some enthusiastic faces -- in my professional opinion.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Texas: Veteran's Day

There are days when I open my email and I marvel. Sometimes I giggle uncontrollably. Other times I gasp in appreciation & admiration of my fellow impactors-of-young-children: teachers, librarians, performers et. al. There are times I have a lone tear slowly make it's way down my cheek. Here's the email were I did a tad bit of D.) all of the above.

"Debbie, I was so thrilled to see your 'Red, White and Blue' book come out..... I've been waiting since I went to your workshop in Austin last summer. We have 286 Pre-K children (military kids from Fort Hood) preparing to sing it as a special Veterans Day celebration for their parents. I've ordered the book, but is there any way to get the hand motions/sign language while we are waiting for the book to arrive? I have tried to remember what I could from your workshop, but my notes are sketchy. I think I was just having too much fun! Thanks for shaing your talent with us! --- Anita, Copperas Cove TX"

Imagine the look on my face when I opened this amazing communique, just as I was packing to depart for Annaheim. Awe. Appreciation. Gratitude. Delight. All rolled into one.

Here's her second email in the train-of-thought unfolding,

"We are working on a little slide show, video piece of the kids doing the signs....... we want to add bits of the kids presentation as well as pictures of the kids with their parents in uniform. A special Veteran's Day presentation. We usually have parents from most of the service branches represented. "

Oh wow!!!! How I wanted to be a fly on the wall for this event. Yet, even though I wasn't there in person, my efforts, my work, my song, my project made it there without me. That's what a legacy is all about.

The third email in the series contained the photo above. Samantha's drawing of her hand saying "I love you" in sign language, colored in red, white and blue as our flag. Samantha is five year old and this is from her journal, before their big celebration.

Some days I just pinch myself and sigh.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

P.S. From UTAH w LOVE!

Well. I saved this picture for the final NAEYC post-script, because it is the foreshadowing for next month's too-amazing-to-be-true saga. Here is one of the actual 'officers' of my fanclub. Sheila works at a Head Start organization in Utah. We first met years ago at a NAEYC presentation -- years back. I can't be held accountable for which one exactly, maybe she knows??? Sheila?? Well for years & years she has come to my presentations, or sent her fellow staff people or sometimes both. Every year we agree that I 'should' come out to her site in UTAH!!!

Well guess what folks?? This is the year that we make it happen. I am flying out to Cedar City, Utah on Dec. 9th to present to their entire staff for their staff development day on the 10th..... that's a pretty awesome pre-birthday present to me, don't ya think??

Sheila and all her pals have been an amazing island of continuity in the great rush & din that is NAEYC. It's been so delightful to have some familiar faces in the crowd. This summer they ordered a gazillion of my "Tall Giraffe" books. They just placed their order for a couple dozen copies of my "Red, White and Blue" so those have already arrived in anticipation of my arrival.

Are you ready for yet another bizarre twist, in the Debbie & Sheila story? She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer between last year's NAEYC hug and this years. Can you imagine the stupor on my face when she called to tell me that news? It's one-in-eight-women. So it's bound to effect some of my dearest friends as well. (I asked her if it was 'ok' that I 'out' her publicly & she agreed -- in the effort to remind all of our friends to be advocates for their well-being and health.)

My Utah whirlwind will unfold in a blink, as I have to get back here for a wedding, but folks keeping track -- that adds another state to my total of professional presentation sites, another notch to my belt. Sheila, get the state of Utah ready. I'm soooooo excited!!!
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Final NAEYC Shots

I'm attempting to 'finish' off these variety of shots from NAEYC, because life has marched on with several new & wonderful events since then, but I wanna be certain to get all of these pictures up before I move on. In this series, I have the Phillipines, Mexico, Nigeria and both Dayton and Columbus represented. How's that for diversity? From my various outfits captured here, it appears that at least three different days are reflected in this grouping: LOL. I had fun, a great deal of fun. A great deal of inspiration. A great deal of support. A great deal of seed planting. A great deal of opportunities on the horizon. A great deal of gratitude to my official sponsors at Zaner-Bloser. A great deal of thanks to my unofficial sponsors ZB's parent company at Highlights. A great deal of thanks to both Lois and Deborah for allowing me to share their moments in the spotlight. A great deal of thanks to Zak for his energy and enthusiasm in our own workshop. A great deal of thanks to Connie for getting me on the agenda to begin with. A great deal of anticipation to Redleaf for the project that's hatching as I type. A great deal of thanks to Mar for introducing me to new Floridians. A great appreciation for the hugs of fellow presenters, Mary Jo, Dr. Thomas and Lisa Ooey-Gooey in the elevator. And finally, a great deal of thanks to NAEYC for pulling it all together. Until next year!!!!

[WHEW!!!! A new personal blogging high-light. I just linked to an even DOZEN brilliant links -- into a bigger & brighter day for children..... thru the efforts of these individuals and their companies!! Not too very long ago, I didn't even know how to post a hot link. LOL. Look at me now!!]
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Second Sat Spotlight Share

Now rewind. Back to Sat morning. Have you been keeping track of how many people I owe a great deal of gratitude? Here's the story of yet another. In the first picture are two Deborah Jo's. We also met for the first time last year at DC-NAEYC. We were carried away with the concept of our sharing the same name. We're both from Indiana originally. Deborah Stewart is dazzling in so many arenas. She's a sweetheart for sure. She's beautiful. She brilliant. She hosts an amazing blog/fanpage/website combo that brings together THOUSANDS of early childhood professionals in her conquest to share ideas from around the world, making the life of the teacher easier/broader and happier/brighter..... all while improving the lives of the children they serve.

She happened by the ZB booth Sat morning and realized that somehow she'd 'missed' the release of my second picture book last year. There were still a couple copies of "Tall Giraffe" on the table and so we proceeded to sing it together. (The woman's got serious groove.) She took a copy home to her Hoosier peeps. I mentioned that I was planning to treat myself to attend her workshop presentation late in the afternoon, as the exhibit hall would be closed by then. She giggled graciously that she would be intimidated if I were in the audience. We laughed together.

The exhibit hall closed. I got all of my gear back over to my Hilton campground. I picked up a few of my remaining fliers and went in search of her presentation. She drew the last slot of the last day. I was going in an effort to offer 'support'...... concerned about how many participants would be staying to the bitter end. I arrived to the over sized, extra large room, to find that there were no available chairs and very little remaining floor space either. LOL. No need for concern. LOL She had them captivated.

I was enjoying Deborah's never ending supply of warm hearted, child friendly rhymes and songs along with everyone else. She then suddenly said, "We have a celebrity in our midst" beckoning me to her stage. I was truly flabbergasted. Leaping from the back corner's floor space where I was squatting, Deborah says, "Let's sing your Tall Giraffe." Could have blown me over with a feather.

Acapella. (Never done that once in my life before, let alone in front of hundreds of people...............)

I say I wish I had the book to show...... and up pops Rebecca (who I'd just met at Lois workshop in the morning) with a copy of my book. Then I look to my right and Sheila from Utah is sitting there & I happen to know that 'TG' is her personal fave. So they each come up on stage to offer assistance. We end up with a quartet, outta the clear blue.

Acapella. It works. Rebecca is fluent in sign language. It works.

From there I am thronged with people who want the book. I tell them that I have 3 remaining copies but they're in my hotel room & three of the participants walk me back to my Hilton campground to purchase those last 3 copies. Wow. Writing this out 10 days later still makes my head spin. Lois, Mar, Deborah all in the space of less than 24 hours. Kindness, consideration, inclusion, support. I've always known that I LOVE the children that we work with, but if truth be told, I also love my professional peers. This week I've had orders for Tall Giraffe from Wyoming, California and New Hapshire to name just a few. Thanks team!!
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Famous Florida Friends

Saturday. NAEYC. Whew the big home-stretch. These pictures are of my brilliant 'new' Florida friends. Where do I begin to tell you about their acts of kindness?? First of all let me start with the first picture. That's me with Lois Wachtel of Creative Beginning Steps: the mastermind...... the marvel. I went running through the exhibit hall in order to get this picture accomplished. (How serendipitous that we were captured under the Redleaf banner?) Last year at NAEYC DC I met Lois in the midst of the crowded exhibit hall and we instantly 'bonded.' In the year since our spontaneous initial hug-fest, we have come to know each other -- thru thick & thin. She has gradually been getting introduced to my work & I to hers.

This year, we planned ahead and sculpted our crazy calendars to have some quality time together. Here's the amazing part of the story. Lois invited me up on 'her' stage on Saturday morning to share my song/book "You're Wonderful" with her packed house audience. How incredible. She was speaking to the subject of squishable, open-ended art. (Just one of her gazillion favorite topics.) She used the text of my song to address the doubts that every child/artist encounters in the course of their creativity. (How insightful was that concept? Wow, Lois!) It is a unique person who is willing to share their spotlight. Lois is a rarity.

Then in the second picture you must fast-forward to the end of the day. That's the two of us joined by the ever talented Mar Harmen of "Music by Mar" fame, also of Florida and long time Lois fan. We were gathered together for an entertaining meal, but absolutely sublime conversation. Mar was thoughtful enough to invite me to the FL AEYC round-table (the night before) and introduce me to the movers & shakers from the sunshine state. Another genuinely kind act, insightful & strategic all wrapped into one.

Just imagine the conversation -- the three of us talking non-stop, hugging intermittently, laughing continuously..... causing just a bit of an uproar in front of Bubba-Gumps, when we encountered Lois' fanclub from Canada that had been given a glimmer of insight into me. There's nothing quite like walking down Anaheim row and being flocked by enthusiastic, international early childhood educators at the end of a l-e-n-g-t-h-y conference. Recharges the battery, on the spot giving enough juice for me & Mar to begin a marathon conversation over fondue, comparing notes on our first lives: sigh...

Next year is Orlando. Can you imagine? Florida with these powerhouses? Oh, that I might ride on their coat tails just a little further. Better than a magic carpet ride. Mark your calendars now.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Fun Continues!!

A variety of happy-happy, joy-joy supporters from across the country and beyond! The delightful, news worthy note is that the first picture in this series includes a fellow Deborah Jo, (the tall and distinguished dearie in that first shot -- to my right.) This 'new' Deborah Jo is the Outreach Services Director at Fort Irwin in CA. How awesome is that on how many different levels?? They took two copies of my new picture book, "Red, White and Blue" back to their Army base early childhood center to share with the children in their program who have a parent active in the military. They were introduced to me by Kathleen Hayes of the previous set of pictures (remember? she's the editor of High Five.) Kathleen had heard me enumerating my goal & wish for the conference: to meet those who serve children from our military bases and so she brought Deborah and Veronica over directly to introduce me. (Are you following how all of this fits together??) Thank you Kathleen!
The last picture includes two striking beauties from Mexico..... so that's how we get 'beyond' this country of ours. They are old fanclub members and have wished me to their school before -- at previous NAEYC encounters. [It may really be time for me to get my passport updated.] In my experience, it takes several years of 'wishing' to get the ducks-in-a-row to make these big adventures come true!
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Monday, November 15, 2010


It's party time! There's even cake!! Lots & LOTS of cake for this kind of party. "It's time to celebrate. We are great. It's time to educate. We are great. Let's all appreciate. We are great!!" It's times like this that I'm really glad that I have a celebration song. The lyrics were absolutely perfect for this occasion. The four year old magazine, "High Five" received the award of preschool publication-of-the-year. What an honor!!! Before the cake got cut, we were singing and dancing in the aisles of the exhibit hall. Cake, cake and more cake!!

Meet Kathleen Hayes, editor of the award winning magazine. Here she's acting the part of lead back up singer as evidenced by the photos.... she's encouraging the crowd in their call back response. Can you tell that she's was pretty excited? Wait till next year, when High Five turns five!!! I think that calls for a golden birthday party: cake and party hats, noise makers and party favors. Watch out Orlando! We're hatching a plan!!
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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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