Sunday, June 22, 2014

Escargot ... OH NO!

I didn't wake up today thinking ... "I should do a blog post about snails!" Nope -- this one just came knocking on the front door ... well -- almost. I walked out of the house on this dreary, rainy, chilly, Sunday morning to find hundreds ... well not hundreds -- but LOTS of snails hanging out on the cut log right by my front porch.

I went to grab the camera and told Steven and he said "cool -- something for your to GOOGLE and learn about today!" He knows me too well!!!!

You truly NEVER know what you are going to see when you step outside each day!

I love how the wood looks in these pictures -- it had been raining so the reflection from the water makes interesting patterns on the cut log!
They like to eat fungi and algae, so I'm sure there is some growing on the old logs.
I thought this one was super cool -- he was really on the move (for a snail) and I thought his antennae looked cute! 
He may also be "going to the bathroom" in this shot!  lol!
If you look to the right on the stick, where it looks like the stick is chomping down,
 there is a BABY snail!
Well HELLO there! He is like - stop taking pictures of me--you're blinding me!
These two could possibly be mating - which involves some sort of
dart stabbing and doesn't sound very romantic. They fertilize their own eggs, which they bury under old logs and stones.
These are younger snails because their shells are more translucent ...
Pretty neat little creatures hanging outside today!
If you want to learn more about snails, click on the link below and find out ALL about SNAILS!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Facing Your Fears!

Ever since Kindergarten, I knew I was not very good at Art Projects. I got a RED Star in cutting (for those of you who now grade in S, N, or U's ... that is a U). And in REAL grades ... it's probably a D!Every time I pick up a pair of scissors, I think of that RED Star!

Being a Kindergarten Teacher has helped me gain some confidence in coloring, cutting and Art Projects, but I still think of that RED Star when I show the kids how to do something! I'm pretty certain that my projects never come out better than the kids projects and that helps them feel more confident in their artistic abilities! And many times I learn something from them.

My cutting & coloring skills have gotten MUCH better -- but my drawing skills still need some work! You know you can't draw when you try VERY hard to draw a Horse on the board for "H" week and the kids come in from lunch recess and ask you why there is an Anteater on the board! TRUE STORY!

So ... I was a bit nervous this year when I knew that the Kindergarten classes at my new school do an author / illustrator study of Eric Carle each year and that the WHOLE class (teacher included) pick an illustration and re-create it for our culmination project. The other three classrooms started their pieces of art and I kept putting it off.

Well -- I didn't put off having the kids paint the tissue paper ... that was FUN! If you've never had 5 and 6 year olds paint tissue paper ... it is really something to try ... We did "cheat" a little and painted on some colored tissue. But, the children learned that you could not PRESS HARD on the paper or you would end up with LOTS of holes and be painting on the table! They even said it looked like a caterpillar had eaten their tissue!

 The children looked at the illustration and chose the colors of the paint they felt would best represent different parts of the picture. They collaborated and decided how much of each color to use and took turns putting on either strokes or dabs of color to make their tissue paper just right!

NOTE-when painting tissue, do it directly on the table do not put any paper under or it will stick to the paper - the paint and tissue dry in about 15 minutes and should lift directly off the table.

  Okay -- we painted our tissue paper! And ... the kids had a blast - they were really ready to start the BIG project! Now, I was really panicked because I had to sketch out the illustration. The other Kindergarten classes were about ready to frame theirs and ours was still in this VERY rough form - painted tissue! And our Insect Showecase was drawing nearer and nearer. Finally, one day after school I decided it was time to Face My Fear ... so I closed the door to my room, took the big poster board, a pencil, and a copy of The Very Lonely Firefly, sat on the floor and started to sketch. After about an hour ... I felt comfortable with what was on the posterboard, but what would the kids think?

The next morning I showed the children and they were ecstatic! They said that I persevered and DID IT! They also said that I drew pretty well and they could not wait to start adding the tissue paper and paint.

So we talked about the illustration some more and the children chose paints that they would use on the background. They also decided that everyone should get a few swipes of the colors and that they would all mix together if they all worked together! I LOVE Expeditionary Learning! So I picked sticks and the kids came up and swiped or blotted or did what they felt would help make the background look like a "nighttime" sky.

They also started to cut and place some of the brown tissue onto the abdomen to see how the colors would look together.
The next step was to cut the tissue paper and fill in the picture. The children did all of the cutting (except for the stars and the legs) ... they decided an adult should do those! (Little did they know I got that RED star in Kindergarten for cutting!!!!)
They added the eyes and mouth which made the Firefly come to life!
We took a gel pen and all signed our names - discreetly - around the lower part of the wings and abdomen.
 We framed it and hung it on the wall in the hallway for Everyone to see! We even hung it a week EARLY! Yay for us!!!!!
 Manara Academy 2013 - 2014
Mrs. Eckroat's Kindergarten Class
Eric Carle Project - A Very Lonely Firefly
It truly is amazing what can happen when you face your fears!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


"Each day, the summer sun was lower in the sky, Daisy felt that an important change was coming -- but what?"  Excerpt from DAISY - A Life Cycle Series
As you know, I love nature. It is always changing and beautiful to look at. Even the most powerful storms are fascinating to watch. When we plant seeds and watch them grow it is amazing at the transformation. Here are a few pictures from my ever-changing garden.

After the rain showers from last week, I found these small treasures -- both pictures are of mushrooms -- I did not plant them (of course) but they sprung up overnight! Which is really cool! They are both really beautiful ... but after the afternoon sun shone down on them ... they were gone ...

Almost every morning a NEW passion flower blooms!
I love all the colors and detail - the middle almost looks like a small sea creature!
I also love how flowers look when they have small droplets of rain clinging to them!
It looks so refreshing!
And I'm pleased to show you that I have Strawberries AND
sprouts have sprung up!  YAY!!!!!
I've gotten 4 strawberries off of this plant and they have been pretty sweet and tasty!
Every day is a new adventure 
 make sure

don't miss it's BEAUTY!

Sunday, June 15, 2014


On Saturday - June 14 -- I traveled to Duncanville, TX to participate in the Best of the Southwest Bookfest -- the Book Festival was hosted by the Duncanville Library and also part of the Juneteenth Celebration in the town of Duncanville.

As soon as I arrived there was a feeling of family and camaraderie in the air! I overheard one of the authors talking to one of the volunteers and thought I heard East Chicago, IN ... well, when they were finished talking I went over to him and said "Did I hear you correctly? Are you from East Chicago, IN?" and he said ... "Well, yes ... yes I am!" I told him my dad was from that area and that I'm from Whiting ... WHAT A SMALL WORLD!

His name is Warren Landrum and he has several books published -- one of which is a book of poetry!

If you are looking for some really interesting books to add to your collection about Black History then these are books for you! Instead of studying people you know about ... these books will take you to another place and time and delve deeper into Black History.

If you are interested you can click on this link to learn more about Quineka Ragsdale's series Demarcus Jones and the Solar Calendar .

I love when children come to my table and ask me questions about my books and also read them while talking to me! This little reader had many questions about Muffin & I hope she is a new FAN!

One of the guest speakers was Mary Monroe, who is a New York Times Best Selling Author.
Her speech was heartfelt and funny! She told us that when she was growing up, everyone told her she would NEVER have a book published -- she had received over 150 rejections -- but kept going! She now has 17 books out! and is doing quite well.
She told a VERY funny story about going back home to a family reunion and was "eavesdropping" on some cousins who were talking about her sister -- they said "Suzy is doing pretty well -- her and her boyfriend are off of drugs again (for now)."  Both cousins agreed that this was wonderful and they were proud of Suzy. Then, one cousin said "what's Mary doing now?" and the other cousin replied "oh she's just sitting around writing books!" Both thought she could be doing something better.
Well ...I think Mary is doing pretty well for herself now!
If you'd like to check out her latest book click on the link below.
Also speaking at the event, was Ilyasah Shabazz, she is the daughter of Malcolm X.
She told some really cool stories about growing up as his daughter and I thought I would add one of  her books to my collection to share with my students for Black History Month.
Here is the link to Ilyasah's book Malcom Little - The Boy Who Grew Up To Be Malcolm X

Ilyasah is REALLY tall! I felt so short next to her!!!!
FINALLY -- I have started a GoFundMe project and have teamed up with KIDS NEED TO READ . Please consider donating to this project -- I will be purchasing children's books to send to KIDS NEED TO READ for them to distribute to disadvantaged children all over the country.
Thanks for your support with this project!
Here is the link to the GoFundMe project


Thursday, June 12, 2014


I would like to personally invite you to my next Event. Please stop by and say HI if you are able to attend.

Best Southwest Bookfest

 Saturday, June 14th 1:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Hopkins Senior Center
206 James Collins Boulevard
in Armstrong Park
Duncanville, TX 

 I recently took part in A Walk in the Park for Homeless Animals
Brenda Brown Rotramble coordinated this event and is a great way for
pups and kittens to find loving homes!
Me and the PUPS
Shadow went home because it was so HOT
Muffin is used to events and laid by me in the shade!

Leroy Golden and his flying pitbull pups! They were super cool!

Johnny purchased his 2nd Muffin book at this event!
Muffin LOVES her little FANS!

 Me and Muff on the way home

Muffin about 10 minutes after we got home.
The life of a famous pup!

Last Saturday, I traveled to Shreveport, LA for the
I met some great new authors and got to spend time with
some old friends!
Beautiful library!

 Ready for the event

Patty Wiseman giving a talk at the Event
Visit Patty's site at Patty Wiseman - Author
to find out about her award - winning series!

Patty, Eddie and I
The dynamic DUO!
Check out Eddie's first book Mourning Reign
available on Amazon

Thanks everyone for all your support over the last 5 years!
I love going to events and meeting new people!!!
If you would like me to speak at an event or school function
please feel free to contact me here or

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


First, I want to thank EVERYONE who donated to help fight cancer! I appreciate all your support ... I received $511.00 in donations, my goal was set at $300 this year--I am humbled by your generosity! The walk was from 1pm - 1am and I walked most of the time -- I did take a break around 4:00pm -- it was SUPER SUNNY AND HOT and stopped again about 6:00pm to eat my Subway Sandwich Steven brought me! But once the sun started to set, I was in full walking mode! I missed my walking buddy from last year -- ASHLEY. But I had a new little walking Buddy this year -- LILLA; my friend Stacie's daughter.

Me & Lilla

I've known LILLA since she was 4 years old and now she is 8! We decided that we are BFF's -- probably because our birthdays are both in January! She truly energized me, we had fun eating snow cones, finding her freebies and just talking! She even got Stacie and I to RUN a lap (if you can call it running!!!)

 The start of the Relay is always exciting -- and I don't know about you ... but I still get goose bumps singing the National Anthem ... we live in a place where we can walk free and proud and raise money for causes that are close to our hearts ...

The Relay is a time to make NEW friends
and it's nice to see that people from a Galaxy Far, Far, Away also are helping
to raise money to help fight cancer here on Earth!

It appears the DJ and I are the only two walking!
Believe it or not .... I'm actually doing the WOBBLE!

 The theme for the Relay was Dr. Seuss  “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax    

My most favorite time during the Relay is the Memory Slideshow
and the Luminaria Lap -- I wish we could do more laps in the dark and quiet
It's a time to reflect on the loss of loved ones and is just so peaceful.
It is a beautiful tribute and is a very special time for me.

Our AWESOME - Walk This Way - For A Cure TEAM!
We will continue to WALK until there is a CURE!
Together we raised almost $2500 to help FIGHT CANCER!

THANKS again EVERYONE for your support!!!!!