Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Superman, a Mermaid and two Fairies...

...walked into a bar. 

Not really.  But every Halloween I feel like I could make a bar joke with our costumed children.  But anyway...

Here's our Halloween picture 2012...


...As you can see, Quinn was having a super time taking pictures...while wearing his cape that he kept calling his "dress."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I was Out Parented

The weekend before last, I was, no doubt, out parented.  Does this happen to you?  I think Chris and I take turns with this {I am so blessed, as are our children, that he is such an amazing parent} - some weekends I do fun projects with the kids, other times he does.  And this weekend - it was all him!

1.  He taught the girls to make these super fun wreaths.  They were thrilled!  And occupied for a good portion of the afternoon - on their own!  Woohoo!  They have since made several more.  We are clearly becoming a jewelry and wreath sweatshop.  :)




2.  The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent carving pumpkins.  I don't have very good knife skills and I tend to over-react to things, so I steered clear of this one.  You can tell which pumpkin is Quinn's because he chose to do his decorating with stickers.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Hello Monday!

Hello Monday!  
{staying home with a sick boy...still running a fever...doing an awful lot of sleeping and not a whole lot of eating}


Hello to November!  
I was a miserable flop with October {um hello 31 days posts, what happened there???} and I am ready for a new month.  A new start.  Thank you for bearing with me.

Hello to some new projects!   
{pretty projects hooray!}

Hello to something exciting happening in the shop!
{here's a sneak peek!}


Hello to some new family members!


Casey and Quinn got hermit crabs this weekend.  Quinn named his Bulldogs Go and Casey named hers Mary Pearl.  Seriously.  These children are strange.  We've been having nightly hermit crab races.

I did fall in love with this guy.  But Chris wouldn't let me take him home.  He's a rescue dog at the Discount Pet Supply place in the Kroger shopping center across from Beechwood in Athens.  Just in case you fall in love with him too.  {he's a year old, hound mix, house broken, smallish}




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days::: Thoughts on Book Fair

I could give you a lot of excuses (God knows I have a list of them) of why I haven't blogged, or I could just carry on.  Tonight I feel like going with the carry on route.

As I've mentioned a trillion and one times, last week was book fair and I'm the librarian at the elementary school, so that kind of makes me like the quarterback of the winning super bowl team.  Kind of.

Book Fair can sometimes be a hot topic.  There are a lot of different opinions about book fairs - how they should be run, what kids should buy, how much they should spend, etc, and since I'm in the thick of it, I thought I would share my opinions.

1.  In our family, the kids get money from grandparents or from allowance for book fair.  So I consider that to be their money.  And I let them spend their money however they like (within reason, people, within reason).  We have a billion books at our house, but it isn't very often that I buy them junk - fancy pens and pencils, posters - you know, carp.  So they tend to lean toward that at the book fair.  And I let them.  But they have had teachers tell them things like...
*if they have enough money for a book they have to buy a book
*if they don't have enough money for a book (Chandler has tried to spend a dollar before) then they can't get anything
*they can't buy those items without a parent

And each time, these directions have irritated me.  So, I don't put those restrictions on the students at my school.  (If their teacher does, then that's on them, not me.)

2.  I've had teachers tell students that they have to buy a book on their reading level.  No if, ands, or buts about it.  Are you kidding me???  It made me want to cry - a child with five dollars having to read out loud to their teacher a book that they desperately wanted - but the teacher telling them no because it wasn't a just right book.  Sometimes, kids just feel better about reading if they can carry the popular book around.

My bottom line is that the book fair is a fund raiser for the library.  So that means that the more money that is spent at it - either on books, posters, the junk, whatever - the more money is then earned by the library....for BOOKS or reading rewards or author visits or for participation of Reading Bowl or Battle of the Books. 

While book fair can be annoying - for both parents and teachers - it is important to recognize that good comes from the book fair.  Good that is good for all students at the school. 

The end.  I am now stepping off my soap box.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days: A Guest Post

A Tale of Two Readers

Angie reads faster than I do. I know that seems like an insignificant fact, but it a constant source of tension in the midst of our otherwise blissful marriage. She'll call me over to the couch to show me something funny on her computer or ask me to read an email before she sends it... and then she scrolls. Usually she starts scrolling before I'm halfway through the intended passage, and then she looks up and says "Oh, you weren't finished yet..."

But I know she knows. I think she's just pointing out how much faster she is.

Our differences as readers don't stop there. Angie was an avid reader as a young child while I didn't really become a pleasure reader until high school. She is tenacious with books, sticking with them even when they don't seem to live up. It is not uncommon for her to put down a book having read the last page only to say "Well that was terrible." I, on the other hand, am less loyal. Starting a book is by no means a guarantee that I will finish it, and I have been known to give up on a book mere chapters from the end.

Once I decide I like a book, though,  I am a non-repentant re-reader.  There is a small selection of my most favorite books that I read annually, often in the same season each year. The Grapes of Wrath always seems appropriate for the last few days of summer, while All Quiet on the Western Front is a winter favorite. Angie doesn't understand my need to read books over and over again and silently scoffs at my assertion that I walk away with something different each time. She prefers to spread herself around, finding new authors and genres and falling in love with new characters each time.

We are even polar opposites when it comes to what we want our books to look like. She likes her books to be pristine with stiff spines and unwrinkled dust jackets. Her bookshelves (before marrying me) were impeccably maintained in perfect alphabetical order, and each book might as well have been right off of the press. My books are what you might call world-weary. They are dog-eared and ratty with covers hanging on by threads or attached with duct tape. On the shelf, I have no problem stacking my books flat, and I am as likely to put them in alphabetical order as I am to read Jane Austin. That might be the reason she evicted my books from our front room and insisted they be housed out of site in my office.
{Can you guess which ones are mine?}

My wife and I met in a reading classroom. In the earlier parts of our relationship we would read books aloud to each other in bed at night. And we both secretly enjoy doing the voices when we read to our children. In all other areas of our life, Angie and I are not that different. We are both teachers, we  both tend a little towards being home-bodies, and we both have a deeply ingrained aversion to physical activity. As readers though, the old adage seems to be true: opposites really do attract.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gah! I've fallen of the 31 Days Train!!!

Oh, people, people.  This is just not good.  I've fallen off the 31 Days train!  And I'm not sure if there is a way to get back on it this week.  Perhaps four-a-day postings over the weekend.  Gah!  We'll have to see if I can work this one out.

I do have these little thoughts to share though...

This is random, so bear with me.

You know how you have those facebook friends, those people from your youth...childhood...that maybe even you haven't seen since childhood, but its nice being facebook friends because you like not wondering about them?

Well, I have some of those.  A group of siblings.  We all lived on the same street growing up and I adored them.  I was such incredibly good friends with the oldest boy for several years.  I considered him to be a best friend.  We spent so many afternoons laughing and jumping on their trampoline in the back yard, playing basketball and walking around the neighborhood.  We all went to youth group together at church.  We wrote notes to each other back and forth.

And then sometime in high school we just drifted apart.  I blame driving.  Once you start to drive, your reliance on the neighborhood friends can sometimes wane.

So anyway, we've all been facebook friends for several years now and I like that.  A few years ago their mother died from breast cancer and I cried at my computer over the loss of such a wonderful lady.  She was so kind and welcomed all of us neighborhood kids into their home.  She was the same age as my mom and I couldn't believe that she had died.  It seemed so unfair.  I emailed my condolences.

I smile a little whenever I see something in my feed about them.  They're all doing ok.  And as hard as it is, life goes on.  They remind me of that.

But then on Sunday morning, I was shocked to see postings that my friend's wife had passed away.  I don't even think that shocked is the right word.  She was only 32.  I had never met this girl and it has been a good fifteen years since I have seen my friend, but I still couldn't believe the words on the screen.

I remembered so many years ago, holding my friend's hand when his high school girlfriend broke up with him.  I remember promising him that it would be ok.  He was always such a kind and sensitive soul and the enormity of what he has to be going through - to first have lost his mother and then his wife - is just too huge for me to even wrap my brain around.

On Sunday, nothing seemed right.  I felt like I was moving through jello trying to comprehend it all.  I can't even begin to imagine how he is, how his family is, dealing with this.  Unfathomable to me.

I planned my day on Sunday to put together a few blog posts in the evening {no wiww post this week, I just couldn't put it together on Sunday like I have been}...

...and then our internet went out and we didn't get it back until Monday night.

And then I was just too tired.


Have I mentioned the book fair?

It compounds the tired.

I had parents fight over a child in the middle of book fair this afternoon.  They were each pulling on an arm and the child was sobbing.  They were yelling at each other and finally they took it up to the front office.

I was heartbroken for this little girl.

Heartbroken for my friend. 

I'm thinking that I'll pick back up with my blogging at the end of the week.  I'm cutting myself some slack.  Showing myself some grace and forgiveness.  Giving myself a little time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hello Monday!

Hello to Book Fair!

Hello to Book Fair!

Hello to...book...fair!

That is pretty much what is going on around this week.  It's the life of an elementary school librarian. 

Hello to the wedding of one of my favorite former students!  {so excited and can't wait to see Erin walk down the aisle!}

Hello to Quinn having a weekend at Meme and Pops' house!  {please tell me that sometimes you have to have a break from your little one...he can be so tiring...he talks all.the.time.non.stop}

Hello to trying this recipe {and then I am going to run 10 miles}  {just kidding...10 miles...that would be ridunkulous.}

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Days::: I love plays!

Have you ever read a play?  No, really.  Have you ever read a play?  Just to read one.  Not because you were in one and had to learn lines, but just to read it to enjoy it?

It used to be one of my favorite things to do.  Seriously.

As a child I took dance.  In 8th grade I joined the middle school drama club.  By high school I was seriously hooked and I earned a college scholarship in drama.  Yep, I was a Theatre Major in college before switching to education. 

And one of the things that I loved about it was reading plays.  Sometimes when I read, I would read through the lens of a director, sometimes as a costume designer or make up artist.  Sometimes I would imagine sets being built.  That is the great thing about reading plays, so much is left up to the reader.

Christopher Durang?  One of my most favorites.  But, be warned, not for the faint of heart.  David Ives, either, and oh how I love him (All in the Timing?  Hi.lar.ious.)



Interested in something a little more classic?  You cannot go wrong with The Collected Plays of Neil Simon (vol.1, 2 , 3, or 4).

31 Days::: Geraldine Brooks

I grew up loving the story of Little Women.  How could you not?  I certainly couldn't.  And God help me, when the updated movie version with Winona Ryder, Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst came out in 1994, you better believe that I made my boyfriend take me to see it not once, but twice...and both times the poor boy was the only guy in the theatre.  So when March by Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer, I had to read it.


 And I loved it.  I had never much considered the story of Mr. March since the March sisters were so wonderful...but then when I finished this book, I scolded myself for dismissing Mr. March all of these years.  He spent so many years as a static character and it was amazing to see him brought to life by Geraldine Brooks. 

And because I loved it so much, I immediately went out and and purchased her previous book, Year of Wonders


I brought it with me on my weekend trip to Chicago when I went as my one cousin Jimmy's date to my other cousin Jimmy's wedding.  


I flew in on a Thursday night and while Jimmy was at work on that Friday, I read the whole day in his quiet house.   That book will forever be tied to that weekend trip (and Fleetwood Mac.  We listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac.).

After that, I waited patiently for her next book to be released.  And I was not disappointed.  



But I do belief that my favorite book of her's is the most recent, Caleb's Crossing.


Really, it was another one of those books where I found myself reading slower and slower, willing it not to end, I was so attached to the characters.

I'll be honest, I read a lot of kids books.  I read a lot of Nicholas Sparks and Danielle Steel and smut books.  But reading Geraldine Brooks makes me feel better about all of the junk reading in my diet.  I really do feel smarter just holding one of her books in my hands.  :)

{Gah!  I missed posting yesterday!  When I threw all caution to the wind and decided to do this, I completely didn't think about the craziness that is the middle of October for me - book fair and all the exhaustion that comes with it!  Yesterday I set the whole thing up - unpacked over 50 boxes - by myself except for my sweet former clerk who came in to skillfully hang the poster wall.  And then I had to stay for the Fall Festival at school.  And then I just wanted to put my feet up and turn my brain off when I came home.  I promise I'll make it up to you!}

Friday, October 12, 2012

InstaFriday


We tried out some spikes this weekend.  When we left the house he asked if I had brought the gel with us - just in case his spikes went down.

The girls spent the weekend with my parents (yay for meme and pops!) and we met them halfway for the drop off - at the Varsity in downtown ATL.  I had a chili cheese burger, fries and an orange frosted.  It was every bit as delicious as I remembered it being.

We spent the afternoon at home, then fed Quinn dinner and went out to run some errands.  Since Chris and I hadn't eaten yet, we decided to go by the Grit in Athens.  And since Q already had dinner, he got a fabulous slice of cake.

 I had this plate of deliciousness - broccoli with lemon dijon butter, collard greens, mac and cheese.  I would take this over cake any day of the week.  ;)


One of my favorites - a necklace by my sweet friend, Crystal B


Quinn had a hard time deciding on a costume.  It was between this, the hot dog and the banana.  He decided Superman was the easiest to walk in.

This was a much deserved Sunday afternoon snack.


Chris made an amazing chicken pot pie for dinner (pioneer woman style!).


Happy Mail!  I have been desperate for a #5 sign and searched for one all summer long (remember all the antiquing that we did??  this was on my list.every.single.time. and couldn't find one) But I got this one from Sparrow Mercantile on etsy (and a fair price too!)


I really love it when kids complete these sorts of things.  This one is Chan's...I love the favorite foods, sports and things to do at home...too funny, that kid!

Casey on her way to dance class - yoga pants and boots...big sigh.


Notes like these from students kind of make my week!

 More happy mail!  I was completely on a roll this week!  Some early Christmas shopping done and a note from sweet church friends letting us know that they were lifting our family up in prayer this week.


Score!  Chris came home with these two this week.  I almost cried last weekend when our Publix was sold out of them.  I love them toasted and topped with pumpkin spice cream cheese.

Whew!  So this actually posted on Friday...only half way finished.  How that got away from me I'll never know!  :) {I'm @ang4332 on instagram!}



life rearranged

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Days::: Matching Readers with Interests

Let me give you a little hint about something that took me longer (than it should have) to figure out.

You want kids to read, right?  Reading = end goal.  So let them read...without judgement.

I cringe when kids check out Captain Underpants or Goosebumps or Spongebob, Disney TV show books...cringe.  But I keep that cringe on the inside.

And to be honest, the Disney Fairies Books and High School Musical, iCarly chapter books - are usually written around a 4th grade level or so, but often appeal to younger kids...kids that watch those shows, that have the background knowledge, that can be more successful with the text because they can predict what is going to happen - they are so familiar with the characters and the outline of the shows...

I have also found that often (especially with boys) they aren't drawn to fiction.  But they like hunting and football and dirt bikes and dinosaurs and snakes and big foot.  And I have those books in the library - and they will read them.  They look for them.  They are excited about them.  And here's another secret...nonfiction (unless its a rookie reader type book) is often written at a middle school level or so.   But they have the background knowledge and the interest...

I have also found over the years that if you honor their interests and help them find what they want, they will come to trust you, to see that you care about them, they will be willing to take a risk when you make suggestions later.

I want every child to read award winning books, books that provoke great dinner conversations, books that will stay with them forever and ever...

But my true bottom line is that I really just want every child to read.  To enjoy reading. 

That's my two cents.  You can take it or leave it.  :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Days:::Sweet Valley High

When I was little, I had a step sister that was 6 years older than me.  As a six year old, I had a lot of heroes, but Lindy was at the top of the list.  In my mind, there was nothing this girl couldn't do.  She was a cheerleader.  She had super cool friends.  She had the longest hair I had ever seen (aside from Crystal Gayle, of course).  She taught me how to make Barbie doll waterbeds.  She loved to play school with me.  Lindy was pretty spectacular.  I worshiped her (as I should have).

{lindy and angie circa 1982}

Before we moved to the South, Lindy came to our house every other weekend.  We shared a bedroom.  I loved telling the kids in the neighborhood that I shared a bedroom with her.  I felt that perhaps it made my cool points move up a notch or two if people knew we slept near each other.  

And one thing that she did for years in that room was lay on her bed and read.  She loved the Sweet Valley High series.  I was barely able to read and was so in awe of everything that she did anyway, so, we spent many Saturday afternoons on her bed together - she, stretched out reading, me - sitting at the foot of her bed watching her.  She wasn't reading to me, just letting me watch her read.  And this made me love her even more.

I have vivid memories of her reading this book in particular...


At the end of 2nd grade, when I was 8 and Lindy was 14, we moved to Georgia.  She stayed up north, living with her mom and brothers.  My every other weekend with her became scattered holidays and visits over the summer - ones that had to be carefully arranged because I had to visit my dad too.  

One day, when I was in the middle of 4th grade, I came home to a large box on our front porch...addressed to me. It was from Lindy.  After years of reading Sweet Valley High, she had outgrown them.  And even though she was 16 - in high school, cheerleading, having friends and boyfriends - and we lived 750 miles apart, she thought of me...her annoying little step sister who would have given anything to read one of her Sweet Valley High books...and she sent them to me...thirty of them or so.  

Those books changed the course of my life.  Really.  Not Sweet Valley itself, but the act of kindness.  The books became a thread from her life to mine.  I knew that she loved me...the box on my front porch told me so.

Not long after that,  her dad and my mom decided to get divorced and these people who I considered to be my siblings - two stepbrothers and my beloved step sister - were no longer my family.  But Lindy made sure that we kept in touch.  She wrote letters to me and I would write back to her.  We always signed our letters to each other, "Love, your sister -."  Even as a college student and a young teacher starting out, Lindy continued to call and check on me.  She made sure that we kept in touch when I was too young to know how.

Those books?  They're on my bookshelf in my front room.  I consider them to be one of the best gifts I ever received.  I see them everyday.  Everyday I am reminded of her and I am reminded of how special that box of books made me feel. 

What I Wore Wednesday

{linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy!}

1.  blue and gray floral shirt - banana republic
curvy straight jeans - gap outlet
caramel skinny belt  - loft
caramel wedges - report (nordstrom's)

2.  print tank - target
boyfriend cardi - target
khaki capris - j.crew
brown ballet flats - old navy

3.  3/4 sleeve sweater - banana republic outlet
 cords - bass outlet
snakeskin/coral flats - loft

4.  snakeskin print top - loft
black capri pants - loft
black snakeskin ballet flats - gap outlet

5.  green top - banana republic outlet
jeans - gap outlet
birkenstock sandals

 earrings - ike and co 

 earrings - tied up memories
all is well necklace - crystal b
long mother of pearl necklace - ike and co 

 just a little something earrings - ike and co 
necklace - lisa leonard

necklace - ike and co 
bracelet - poor robin


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 Days:::Bring Me a Unicorn:::Anne Morrow Lindbergh

During the summer of 2006, I was putting the final touches on my wedding...getting ready to marry Chris - this amazing man who loved the girls and I like no one else.  I had just finished grad school.  For once, everything in my life was perfect. 

And I spent that summer (my first summer in two years that I was not a graduate student) reading the diaries and letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Chris and I lived in a tiny house house - one where you could clean everything in a morning - and I vividly remember laying on the freshly made bed, in the freshly cleaned room with the vacuum marks still intact - the soft glow from the bedside lamp, reading these books.  At some point Chris would come into the room with a hot fudge sundae for me and I remember feeling so loved, so well cared for, as if everything in my life was finally in place. 

I loved reading memoirs and diaries, and especially loved reading these letters and diaries during that time of my life.  And I love remembering, looking back on that time period and having these books so very intricately woven into life.




Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead








Monday, October 8, 2012

Hello Monday! {the calm before the storm}

Hello Monday!  For weeks I let myself think that I had three day weekend...the kids are off today, but it's a teacher workday...which means Chris and I are at work.  I didn't come to the full reality of it until yesterday.  Seriously.  This is how I had planned my weekend...
Saturday - run, take girls to mom, fall clothes shopping for Q, dinner out
Sunday - plant mums, grocery shop, run
Monday - laundry, jewelry, relax

Um, yeah.  It's hard to accomplish Monday's list while at work.  And this week is really just the calm before the storm.

 {Quinn trying on new fall clothes.  I think I'm in love...with the outfit...not the weirdo face}

Next week is book fair week.  Which, when you're a library, it is kind of the equivalent of Super Bowl Week.  Absolutely crazy.  And exhausting.  And draining.

{I'm telling you, this boy is the silliest!}

And Happy, Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother-in-law!

ps -have you checked out my 31 Days series?  I think it is coming along nicely.  :)

31 Days::: Scary Books...for kids...

So I know I said that I hate scary, but I think there is a difference between a wonderfully crafted story that has scary elements (where the ending brings closure to all things scary) and fright fest type scary.

When I was in upper elementary/middle school, I spent a lot of time reading Christopher Pike and RL Stein (pre Goosebumps) but there was one scary book that was my favorite...


...I loved, loved, loved The Dollhouse Murders.  Seriously.  The right amount of mystery and creepy with a happy ending...absolutely perfect for my 10 year old self.  And even though this book is almost 30 years old, I still recommend to readers looking for scary and they still love it!  Betty Ren Wright is definitely one of my go-to scary authors for kids. 

My other go-to author to recommend is Mary Downing Hahn...


I first read Wait Till Helen Comes almost 10 years ago (although the book is much older than that) and having been reading her books ever since.  I just have to make sure that I have a day set aside for it so that I can start and finish in the same day (I need to resolution to the scariness before bedtime, thankyouverymuch.)

I have made sure to have these books well stocked in my libraries...and they are almost always checked out!  I love that these authors have many titles to their name - easy to hook a reader and then KEEP them reading! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 Days:: Halloween Stories:: Elementary School

I'll be honest, I really, really dislike Halloween.  I am a GIANT scaredy cat!  I stopped trick-or-treating when it was no longer cool for your mom to walk with you.  I think that was 4th grade maybe.  I don't like to be scared.  I don't like scary sounds.  I don't like masks.  I don't like walking my kids around because I don't like to be out in it BUT staying home is almost worse because then I feel like a sitting duck for all the scary things out there.  Big sigh.  It's a conundrum, I tell you.

BUT, I do recognize that the majority of kids LOVE Halloween, and I have come to realize that books for Halloween really grab their attention.

So, with no further ado...

Not Halloween in theme, but I usually read this one with preK students - they love the "scare the tuna salad out of him" part and they love it when Sam rattles off all the reasons why he was crying.  And, of course, I do love some Mo Willems... {Leonardo the Terrible Monster}


There Was an Old Lady That Was Not Afraid of Anything - I love that kids can participate in this story and I love the repetition!  This book is one of my favorite read alouds and I really look forward to it every year.


I Need My Monster and Jitterbug Jam are kind of reverse in nature...A child who needs the monster under his bed to go to sleep and a child monster convinced that there is a boy hiding under his bed.  Both are very cute stories.



With the older kids, I usually pick a story or two out of this oldie but goodie... {Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark} You know, the ones that I don't find to be too scary...


Did you read that book when you were a kid?  I did.  But I always had to cover the illustrations with a piece of paper.  Because that was just too much for me.  :)