Poetry Teatime: Flood Edition

We had an unusual and varied Poetry Teatime. There was flooding in Houston, so my husband, Gary, stayed home from work. The gym was closed, so the big boys were home. With everybody home, I declared a special edition of the Poetry Teatime.

Poetry Teatime: Flood Edition

The creeks were flooded, the streets were rivers and our home was filled with soul-filling poetry and tummy-filling yummy treats. And lots of boys.

No-bake cookies flooded our table.

The boys dominated Teatime this day.

Gary read a poem about bats while drinking Peace Tea and petting the family guinea pig. All while working on a technical manual!

Morgan read his usual pleasantly morbid selections from his favorite book of poems.

Shawn read entertaining epitaphs and limericks that made us laugh.

Patrick read an original poem he had written during our Teatime.

Christian, our friend, braved the flood waters and arrived just in time to join our Poetry Teatime. And to eat some no-bake cookies.

I read Winnie-the-Pooh poems to bring some dignity to the occasion.

Fiona Grace graced us with a poem from her favorite poem book all her own.







Our family has come through some rough waters recently. Our vessel was in danger of cracking up. We were splintered into cliques and enemy camps.

We needed something to unify us. Especially something with my husband involved. Who would have thought a flood and a Poetry Teatime would help us make strides toward the unity we have been trying to recapture?

I guess you could say this Poetry Teatime helped us get back on course. My husband commented later that it helped him to see the importance of gathering together around the table. He is now trying to make it a priority over other activities to call everyone together for meals, Bible Study, and prayer time.

My cup overflows!

This poem came together as I was writing this letter.

The Poetry Pirates

Despite pouring rain
And tumultuous weather
We gathered for tea
And read poems together.

A band of pirates
just come through a storm
Sailing through poetry books
Safe, dry and warm.

Poring over poems
Searching for treasure
To share with our crew
Who cares about the weather!

A Beautiful Poem by My Son 400 Years After Shakespeare’s Death

This is from my Shakespeare, my son Shawn Cameron Douglas.

Shawn has been participating in our Poetry Teatimes lately. I can’t help but think that his poetry has gotten even better since we started doing them.

My Heart, His Garden

I planted a garden today.

My new flower bed

I helped Garrett plant his garden a couple of weeks ago.




Garden is the theme of the hour.

God is telling us to go back to the garden.

As I said before, so many things can be compared to a garden that I became overwhelmed with the enormity of the task of writing about a garden. I felt that the Lord was leading me to write about a garden, but I didn’t know which aspect of a garden He wanted me to address.

I think I have gotten some clarity on that now.

God delights in gardens and views each of his children as a garden.

My heart of hearts is a garden. It is God’s garden.

I meet Him there sometimes when I worship wholeheartedly.

When I enter into His presence.

Do you know what I mean when I say that I feel God’s presence when I worship?

Have you experienced a peace that passes understanding, a love that encompasses everyone around you and all that you know, as you focus on the Lord and His majesty, as you picture Him seated on the throne and the angels bowing before Him in worship and feel His holiness and power emanating from the throne?

There is a song by Misty Edwards that beautifully describes the secret garden inside of each of us where God will meet with us alone, if we will meet Him there. This takes some time, effort and Holy Spirit-inspired and empowered prayer to really enter into. If you are not aware that it’s even a possibility, you may never attempt to meet with the Lord in the secret garden of your heart.

Here is that song with some pictures of gardens to help inspire your imagination of what a garden inside of your heart might look like.

Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the coolness of the day in the Garden of Eden.

They lost access to the garden when they sinned. Hence, all of mankind lost access to it. But after Jesus died and carried our sins away, He gave us access to the Father again. We can have relationship and fellowship with God, His Father – our Father – because the veil that separated us from Him is no longer there. The veil was ripped from top to bottom when Jesus was crucified.

Now we can walk with God in the cool of the day again.

We can meet with Him in the garden by worshiping Him and praying. We stay there until we sense His presence. We listen for His voice. We get revelation from Him. Then we carry that revelation with us as we go into our daily activities.

But we never really have to leave His presence. He lives inside of us, so we take His presence with us wherever we go.

We must do our part. If you have the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you must really exercise your spiritual gifts that come with that and pray in your prayer language. Often. Every day. Not just every once in a while.

In this way, we can war from the garden, from the inside out.

And we can take the land or territory that God has told us to as we spent that time with Him in the garden of our heart of hearts.

Poetry, Teatime, Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday, Shakespeare and More!!!

April is National Poetry Month!

So many good ideas, events, occasions and special themes are all converging in the next couple of weeks.

We have been enjoying Poetry Teatimes every Wednesday for the last several months. We have used children’s poetry books I got at the library. I enjoy “The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh” by A. A. Milne the most and read poems from it each time. I have a little book for Abby called “A Small Child’s Book of Cozy Poems” that I let her choose a poem from, then I read it aloud. She is not reading yet. Fiona has a favorite Poetry book called, “Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn By Heart” by Mary Ann Hoberman that she chooses poems from and reads aloud during our teatime. The boys have chosen darker and more complicated poems from The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems.

I am excited because I found some new poetry books at the library, and I’m anxious to set those out today to see what the kids choose to read from them. I have some by Jack Prelutsky and some books that have “reversos” in them written by Marilyn Singer. If you haven’t heard of “reversos”, you really need to check out “Mirror, Mirror” and “Follow, Follow” by Marilyn Singer.

Well, we had the Poetry Teatime yesterday, and Gary got to read some Jack Prelutsky poems with us. They were funny, and we had a good time with them. Shawn read some poems from a book I found at the library called “The Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry”. They were really funny. We all really laughed out loud and enjoyed them. I was so happy to have Gary and Shawn join us. It made the occasion even more special and fun.







Another exciting occasion that I plan to celebrate is Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday on April 12th. I have checked out the audio books of her books about Ramona and her books about Henry Huggins. I plan to have the kids listen to them in the next couple of days. And then Read Aloud Revival is observing Drop Everything and Read Day and has a book club kit that you can download here: D.E.A.R Day

We may do a teatime to celebrate her birthday and listen to the audiobooks of Ramona or Henry.

And then, we will probably do a Shakespeare-themed teatime soon. I will have to figure out how to incorporate the other children besides Morgan into this.

A new website called Poetry Teatime has just launched, and it contains lots of good ideas for how to celebrate National Poetry Month. There are lots of other good ideas for how to have a Poetry Teatime at this website, too.

I have several other books ready to read aloud to everyone. We need to read some books to be ready for the next author event at Read-Aloud Revival. I have books by Candace Fleming that were highly recommended by Sarah Mackenzie at RAR. They are “Boxes for Katje” and “Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!”. The next Author Access Event is scheduled for April 17th.

I listened to the Author Access Event from March featuring Laura Purdie Salas. I found out about some really nice books and got them from the library, too. “A Leaf Can Be,” A Rock Can Be,” and “Water Can Be”. They are very imaginative and well-done. The illustrations are a good match for the words. This author is very good at thinking of common things in unusual ways and finding rhyming words to describe them in phrases that consist of only two words. Another good book by her is called “Book Speak” which is full of poems about books. Very creative and imaginative, these books are a joy to read aloud to children.

I also have books for children about spiritual warfare from Frostie Hall. She sent them to me when I asked for suggestions of something to read aloud on Facebook. She wrote a trilogy called “Dread Champions of the King”. I read them to the older kids several years ago when my neighbor let me borrow them.

I also have the audio adventure about Alfred the Great by G. A. Henty called “The Dragon and the Raven”.

This is not so much a wrap-up as a planning post. But I wanted to get everything in one place so that I will be more likely to get it done.

A Sweet Teachable Moment

I was lying in bed listening to a podcast by Sally Clarkson. Emma came in and out of my room a couple of times, each time telling me something about watching a mama bird feeding her babies in a nest.


I turned off the podcast each time so I could listen to her. Finally, I turned it off and fully engaged with Emma about the mama and baby birds.


I’m so glad I did.

She told me that she watched the mama bird coming to the nest over and over again and how the baby birds kept chirping the whole time the mama was gone.  She sat outside and watched them all day yesterday (that explains her sunburn). I said something about her making good observations. She said, “Maybe I should write this down.”  “Yes,” I responded, “maybe you should.”

She quickly began searching for a piece of paper so she could write it down. I asked where her notebook was. She got excited and said, “Oh yeah,” and started looking for her notebook. She found it and then went to find a pencil. She was all excited. I gave her some ideas about how to organize her notes.

She started writing and asking how to spell different words. She wanted to write the word “babies”, so I got to teach her the rule about making a plural by changing the Y to I and adding ES.

I asked a few guiding questions to make her think more about what she had seen. I asked where the mother bird went to get the food. Emma said “north… west…” Then I asked her if she knew which direction north was. I showed her and then explained to her about the sun coming up in the east and setting in the west and pointed to those directions while explaining. She said that the mother bird went to her little friend Fama’s back yard a lot because they have lots of grubs and bugs.


Then she said she was going to put a period. I didn’t look at what she was writing. She did almost all of it on her own. I only helped her with spelling when she asked for it. She expressed one sentence as a question, so I told her to put a question mark at the end of that sentence.


I didn’t look at what she wrote until she was gone. That keeps me from being critical and discouraging while she’s working on it.


After she left I looked at what she had written. Here it is:



First day: Baby bird chirp untill mother bird brings food for her babies.


Second day: Mother has to work all day to keep her babie’s satisfied.

Where does the mother bird go to get food? West south east or north


She probably go’s to Fama’s yard for food

I loved that this was all her idea. She was extremely interested in the subject. She wanted to do it. I didn’t push her at all. I didn’t tell her what to write or how much or anything. She enjoyed it from beginning to end. She was proud of her work. She wants to add more to it as she observes more.

She also drew a picture of baby birds in a nest, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

I will talk to her about proper use of periods at another time. I will also talk to her about proper use of apostrophes later. I was very proud of her work.

I think this is the best way for a child to learn – for anybody to learn, for that matter.

That’s my learning theory in a nutshell. Let them learn about what they are interested in. Show interest in what they are learning. Make some helpful suggestions here and there with no pressure. Let the project be theirs alone so that they have complete ownership of it. Let them figure out how to organize it, but give some tips and pointers and help them as they ask for it. Act interested and make yourself really take interest in what they are excited about.

This has worked well for us many times.

I haven’t done any more than this sort of thing with any of my kids, and several of my older kids are very good writers. I have never used a writing curriculum or even a language arts curriculum. I just wait for opportunities like this one. Teachable moments that naturally lend themselves to learning new skills and concepts. And I read good books to them – lots of good books.

I just thought I would share it here so that others may get some ideas that may be helpful to them, too.

Does this help you at all? Please share similar experiences here or leave feedback if this generates ideas or helps you to take advantage of teachable moments, too.