Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tom Perrotta's The Abstinence Teacher

I love checking out author pages and as I am really enjoying Tom Perrotta's new(ish) book, The Abstinence Teacher, I thought I would check out his site where I found this gem of a timeline. I can relate to much on this as he was born just a year before me and it is interesting to read of the stuggles he had getting published and all the odd jobs made me laugh.

I always enjoy books with a timely topic and this one is a perfect mix of Christian Coalition/Liberalism butting heads over sex!!! Fiesty!!
I just finished Maxinne Swann's Flower Children, which I felt was bland and not character-driven. This book is a good one to follow it with because already I know and like Ruth Ramsey, the main character and sex education teacher and I am not even a third into the book.
oh, time to go walk the new puppy!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all

What a wonderful day it has been. Santa was good to the girls in the family but sadly, my son was not happy with the choices Santa made for him!!! Santa was tired of electronic, tuned-out toys and made more thoughtful and creative presents for the 13-year-old and the 13-year-old did not appreciate Santa's efforts!!! oh, woe is me that he only feels happy with toys that plug-in/use batteries/zone him out, which is partially his age, I concede. I long for the lego/play mobile years of building, once again, showing me you have to appreciate what you have when you have it. Everyone did love the books that were chosen for them and we have read another version of The Nutcracker today. Another Christmas passes and everyone will go to bed happy and that, my friends, in a family of five is the main goal.
I was able to knit a little today, and read one more chapter of The Lightning Thief. We watched The Princess Bride (a family fav.) on DVD, played a board game and I even snuck in a nap while my husband did the dishes.
Happy, Happy Day!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Puppy

We did it!! My sweet husband and I picked out a lab puppy from Cedar Bend Humane Society and passed it off, at least to our littlest one, as an early gift from Santa!! We have settled on Roxanne-or Roxie-for a name. This took much deliberation with five opinions and my husband is still pushing for Eve/Genevieve. Roxie is 7 weeks old and loves to be held and carried around. Sadly, right now she is suffering from a puppy cold and I will be visiting the vet later today. We thought potty training over the holiday break would be a breeze with all of us home. We did not figure on subzero temps here in Iowa and our poor puppy doesn't want to step one foot out the door. It has been years since either of us trained a puppy so I headed to the library to find some puppy training manuals. I was disappointed on the age of the dog collection, which seemed to come mostly from the 80's and early 90's. I did find a good one by Shawn Messonnier, who is a vet and it includes recipes for making your own dog food as well as homeopathic choices. I do plan on making her food as I think most commercial dog foods are, well, yucko! P.S. the puppy's had a name change; it is now Tarah!

Friday, December 12, 2008

random thoughts

  • Is it weird that I walk around my own home with my black winter hat on my head for hours after i come home from work?
  • Funniest scene in a book so far today...Junie B. Jones hanging from a set of crutches in the nurse's office after hiding in her kindergarten class!! J and I giggled hard about that at story time tonight!!!
  • We read the book Duck tonight and J said, when we finished, "fake, fake" -she went on to explain how while she liked the book it wasn't believable that a carousel duck would be able to walk around. It is hard for 6 year-olds to understand fact/fiction but her response was valid and true.
  • Little Hoot-what a fabulous little gem about an owl who is forced to stay up by his owl parents (another one of those why didn't I think of that story line!) by the author of Little Pea.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

The book blogging club at my school are reading this wonderfully brutal book by Deborah Ellis and they love it! The book has so many things my students don't understand and they just read it and go "read it, it was good." That's it!! How can I get them to explore more, go deeper? I want them to have a greater aha moment with the book but maybe it is okay that they just like it. On their blog I have requested they find out more information yet they continue with one sentence comments, i.e. "why did they take him away when he didn't do anything?" The writer is refering to the father being dragged off to prison by Taliban soldiers. It's not a "bad" question, it is just not a deep question. This group has now read The Devil's Arithmetic as well as this book and I am just waiting for this big amazing moment of comprehension and it may never come. Maybe it is just hidden inside them and it will appear next year when they go off to sixth grade.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Now I feel a little guilty...not over how much turkey I've eaten, because I didn't have any...but that my last post was almost a week ago! I have been having a lovely Thanksgiving at my brother's home in Deephaven. We have had great food, wonderful wine and great company. Our four children have played well. Watching the three little ones chasing each other around outside in makeshift Star Wars costumes was a big highlight!!
We also took a trip into the city to see the Minneapolis Children's Theatre presentation of The lion, the witch and the wardrobe, which was stunning. I love children's theatre!!
ahhh, there is something wonderful about relaxing with close relatives and sharing lots of mashed potatoes!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Story Time

This week I came across two fabulous books that are my new story time favorites!! I read The Night Pirates by Deborah Allwright to Kindergarten classes this week and it just has great language in it. I love the idea of the little girl pirates!!! And that they borrowed Tom's house to steal treasure. I love that the big pirate guys ran away. This is a flolicking, non-scary read for all pirate fans. The second book is Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk. This book could be used for all ages to teach genre as well as writing skills. Library Mouse lives in a busy public library and he reads at night. At some point, he decides he should write a book and he writes a biography of life as a mouse. I used this to introduce fiction/non-fiction to 1st and 2nd graders.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Magician

Yeah! I just finished The Magician by Michael Scott, the sequel to The Alchemyst. It was wonderful and I am ready for the third one to come out!!! It really left me hanging and wanting more. I was so worried that Josh was going over to the "Dark side" ahhh but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. It is a thrilling read though.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I love what I do...

Ya know, celebrities are always saying "I can't believe they pay me so much to do what I love..."

For me, it is more like I can't believe they pay me so little to do what I love!! As a public school teacher/librarian we really don't make enough. I plan on the weekends for my classes during the week. I plan all summer for the upcoming year. The rewards are plentiful though. Some of the time I get to sit in a big comfy chair that used to be my Grandmother's and read to young children. I just started Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (love her) with three third-grade classes. I just finished a Kevin Henkes unit with 1st and 2nd grade and an Eric Carle unit with my kindergarten classes. Reading, what a great way to get through the day! Lilly would say "Wow".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Five books

I am juggling so many different books right now especially when I get tied up (so easily) in this online world of blogging and commenting!! I am reading The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen for a 5th grade blogging book club I am working with at school and reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan with another 5th grade book club-both great books and very, very different. I am, also reading The Magician by Michael Scott, a follow-up to his book The Alchemyst. My son and I have read this series together and we love this sequel as much as the first one. I am trying to read The World is flat by Thomas Friedman because I'm interested in his new book and thought I should look at this one first and Little Heathens byMildred Armstrong Kadish, an Iowa farm story.
Wow...I should shut off the computer.

Things I love...

Okay, it is not environmentally-friendly but I love taking a bath...a bubbly bath w/ patchouli bubble bath! i know all the statistics about how taking a shower uses less water but there is very little comfort in water drizzling over you. Something about a hot bath soothes all that is wrong in the world and tonight after a very hectic day I had to have one. It is amazing and I usually am able to read a few chapters this way until I'm all shriveled like a prune.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meg Cabot

This is a great little video of author Meg Cabot talking about the writing process while talking about her new book character, Allie Finkle. Can't wait to show it to a 5th grade student at school who is reading this book!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It is a new day!

At 10:05 this evening Barack Obama has just been declared the next president of the United States of America...I am so proud of my country right now as well as all the people who have worked so hard to make this happen. Only the second time I have had the pleasure of voting for the winning candidate.

Barack Obama

Oh, my the world is so exciting right now!!!  I cannot believe how anxious and thrilled I am!  Everyone's hard work for Obama hopefully is coming true right now.  I cannot imagine how thrilled I will be to wake up in the morning to a new day in America.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Laughing during this time must be healthy!!

I read this article from Huffington Post, which I love and it really, really made me laugh, which made me feel good at this time of high stress. I thought I was the only one who looked at how well their suits fit and lo and behold, Nora does too...and she says it way funnier than I could!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Anne Lamott

This is a great article. Please read and she is right-we need to talk everyday about Barack Obama and the good things he stands for in his run for the biggest job America has to offer.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Junie B.

I have read two Junie B. books with Japhy and have been really enjoying them with her. I mentioned this to my dear friend, Verda today and she reminded me that I have been negative about this series in the past. Well, now I take it all back. The last time I read a Junie B. was when Tristan was younger and they seemed to be a baby-ish chapter book and I didn't think the language in it worked. Of course, Tristan now 13 came out speaking in full adult-like sentences and never sounded like Junie I have a 6-year-old, Japhy who is quite similar to Junie b. so to all those I have not recommended-I have changed my mind and love Junie B. now. That does not make me a flip flopper...just someone who can intelligently change my mind!! So cheers to Barbara Parks!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

book shopper

The very best part about my job is picking out books. Oh, I love to work with children I really, really do but still the best part is "shopping" for books for them. I get to thumb through Booklist, Booklinks, and LMC copies circling my special choices. I get to look through Titlewave, Bound to stay bound, or Baker and Taylor to choose my selections. My Mom would laugh because I always liked circling things in catalogs when I was little-I guess I never grew out of it!
I have so many books in my back room waiting for me yet I still am busy circling, choosing, picking the right ones for students and teachers. Now I have a new source to add to my searching: blogs! There are tons of blogs out there from addicted readers like myself giving me more and more and more suggestions for great books to add to my collection. It is mind-boggling and yet thrilling!! There is not enough time in my day to read all the reviews and magazine articles I want to read and now blogging sites. Real teachers work all the time...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obama, Obama, Obama

Now that school is in full swing I have less and less time to read even though my job requires me to read and be current. Plus I am spending all my other "extra" time working for DMC/the Obama campaign making phone calls, drumming up support for this once-in-a-lifetime intelligent candidate!!! It confuses me when I get such angry people on the phone. If someone called me to talk about John McCain I would simple tell them how much I like my candidate. The people I call seem angry about their candidate. They don't want to discuss him or their own views they just are mad, which is too bad because a good debate could follow but instead they close themselves off to any new light coming in. I want to say to them (these angry people on the other end of my phone) "don't be so angry-I didn't call and yell at you" Common decent human feelings seem to escape the opposite party at this time I guess. Still the work continues and we will all rest after November 4, we hope with all of our hearts.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

red flag Olympics

I am over the Olympics already and really, they have barely begun. I realize this is a slightly un-American viewpoint-but that's part of the problem to me. I am mad because it is China, saluting China and all their human rights errors. I am mad because it gives G.W. Bush a platform to be all "he, he, he, I am the president of the greatest nation in the world and if those Chinese would just get religion all would be better for them!! and shame on Russia for all that naughty violence...!! more he, he, he's" I even think Bob Costas couldn't believe rambling Mr. Bush. And my third complaint against the Olympics is that it really isn't an even playing field. Some countries can afford to pay their Olympic athletes, some cannot, some practice under extreme condition like the swimmer who has been training without an Olympic size pool. I just don't think the smaller countries come out ahead. Well, and the fourth thing is what a lot of money for pomp and look-at-me fireworks...the money spent on the opening ceremony alone could have brought good feng shui and food to many Chinese workers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

These is my words...

I must be on some kind of history kick this summer. After reading Hattie Big Sky my mother-in-law (another book lover) recommended These is my words by Nancy E. Turner. It is done in a journal format and really explored what it must have been like for a woman in the Arizona/New Mexico Territories when Tucson was just becoming a town. I loved the book but hated all the anti-Apache sentiment that goes with this time period. Like trying to read Little House on the Prairie to your children and all the horrible "red-faced Indian" conversations that take place between Laura and her family. In These is my words though I really loved how the main character, Sarah Prine grows as a character. After many run-ins early in her territory history with angry Natives (and we know they are angry for good reason!!!) she grows to trust a particular Indian that has helped her husband. Even when she is the recipient of prejudice because of this friendship she sticks by it and welcomes the man into her home and misses his help when he is gone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

mmmm good books

Just finished an amazing YA (Young Adult) book by Kirby Larson recommended by my friend, Tina. Hattie Big Sky made me cry, real sobs at how the book ends because I was so involved, I loved her character. I especially loved how it mirrored our societal problems of today. WW II is in full swing and prejudices are running high against Germans living in the United States at that time. Anything German is considered anti-American...hmmm...seems so current with our lovely US after 9/11. Funny how history continues to repeat itself over and over when we don't learn to be more accepting of the world. Bless the whole world and especially Barack Obama and his family in their continued efforts to raise the bar on dignity and grace.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Iowa -2008Children's choice

I just finished the lovely book, Singing Hands by Delia Ray, an Iowa author. This book opens up the world of Gussie as she struggles with two deaf parents and the difficulties of growing up as a preacher's daughter as well in the 1950's. The book catches Gussie at her most vulnerable as she tries to find her path out of living always on the straight and narrow. She hums during her father's service, she spends money meant to go to the church and she hungers after a friendship that brings her nothing but misery. Of course, she finds her way out with the help of her parents and the two ladies who room with the family. You will have to read the book to see the delightful manner in which she begins to figure out who she really is...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

sweet daughter

What do you say to your child when they just want to eat dinner naked!!!
I mean it is a great expression of freedom and I love that my five-year-old loves
to be naked but suddenly I might have a thirteen-year-old boy wanting to do the same and
I think dinner might turn into anarchy even for our family!!
So I pose the question again, What do you do when your 5 year-old wants to eat dinner
naked??? Because my answer caused a huge flood of tears, luckily she recovered in about 15 minutes.

Peace like a river

This is a book I've been meaning to read for several years and I loved the characters. Leif's tale just trots along taking his reader on an unexpected journey through one moment in their lives. Life is like that where one incident can overshadow all other expectations for a person. We see it today in the crazy debates about Obama's patriotism, wearing a lapel pin or not.

South Dakota

We've already taken our one big summer road trip vacation and it was great. We traveled across the state of South Dakota, site-seeing along the way. We saw the Corn Palace in Mitchell, a great Sioux museum in Chamberlain and of course, Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse carving, which was fascinating even though it wasn't finished. Even as a work in progress it has an extensive museum attached and was very informative and the kids loved it and well, isn't that what we are aiming for when we set off on these long voyages in the station wagon!! It certainly isn't the fancy motels or the screaming in the back seat. At the Crazy Horse museum I purchased a book called Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog. Combining work with play I read it throughout the rest of the trip. Very good read about how our ancestors continued to be cruel to our original Native population through the 60's and 70's. Of course, most of us really smart people already knew that but this book helped me see just how senselessly cruel we were and are still probably. I of course grew up wanting to be a Native American...I wanted to belong to a tribe...I loved our family trip to Pipestone. And now I know that at the same time I was wanting to be an Indian, Indians were being subjected to awful abuses on their own small reservations. I recommend the book for anyone who wants to learn more about the Sioux Nation history including Leonard Peltier.
With all my ramblings I didn't even get to all the fun we had in Denver, CO for the second leg of our journey!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


We had an amazing trip to Madison, WI for Memorial weekend. We explored the large Madison farmer's market Saturday morning, which was amazing-so much local food in one place!! I was in some kind of shopper heaven yet I couldn't really make any grand purchases because i didn't have a portable ice box with me. We had a great brunch at an Irish pub with Sean. We shopped on State St. and found a lot of hippie stores. We met up with Sean and Jared for dinner also and had a fantastic Indian meal. And that was all in one day!! We did spend some quiet time in our cozy super 8 motel, which had a heated and open outdoor pool. We spent Sunday in the famous and very campy "WI Dells" and were blown away by the size of the hotels and water parks!! We did play a fun game of miniature golf.
Tristan and I both really loved Madison and will be excited to go back.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


It is really difficult to be a parent today. It is a wonderful experience and I cherish my children but they really can drive me crazy!! We seem to be in a negative, cranky mode right now and I need to find a way to lift us all out of it. I wish there was a magic food for that. Maybe it is time to put quiet meditation into practice. Last night before I feel asleep I visualized turning cable off for the summer so we could build with legos and dance outside.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Very first post

I'm excited to begin this blog...something I have been wanting to create for two years and haven't done!! Tina's blog today was the catalyst for just doing it!! It also makes me feel behind...time to catch up! The latest adult book I read and loved was The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood! It was amazing to love it so much because it is such a sad book and made me shed tears, really cry, cry, cry!! The book made me focus a bit more on appreciating my wonderful children. I finished Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, which has been on my "to read" list for a year. I finally read it and thought it combined fairy tale themes with the Holocaust very well. I am excited to take home the Iowa Children's Choice books for the summer and read those. My after-school student book club is reading The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. I didn't think this book was going to capture my attention as much as it does. It brings up many themes for our girl's group to discuss, such as forced marriages, the desire to learn, money and how it makes the world go 'round and prejudices on many levels.
That's all for now-