A book is a friend for life. The words stay with you, even when you put the book down.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


What fun Christmases my family has had this year! We've gathered with nearly everyone. Can't wait to see my Kansas family this weekend! That will be a blast!!

It's been hard, losing my husband's cousin so close to Christmas. In fact, the funeral was just days before Christmas. My kids asked if we could have just one year without any funerals.

All the gifts are wrapped and ready to go, all the suitcases are getting packed up, and I'm ready to roll in the morning.

Wow, I can't believe how scattered my thoughts are today! Can't seem to put together any thoughtful sentiments. Oh, well! Merry Christmas!

Here's a book I got for Christmas: The Story!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I took the kids to shop for each other (and for mom and dad) today. It's one of the special moments I love about Christmas! I love watching their thought processes. Hmm, what can I get for my sibling that s/he will absolutely love? Each one went with me individually while the other waited in electronics. They each had a good idea what they wanted to get for the other, but it was fun to watch them search for just the right thing. Then, they had to make a big production out of hiding their gift from each other. No peeking!

The most fun part about shopping today was taking them into my favorite store to shop for me! I went to the store next door while they went in with their own money to scout out and shop for the "perfect" gift. I popped back in a few minutes later, and mentioned to the sales clerk what those two ten-year-olds were up to, wandering around the store. She went to offer them some assistance, and they were really impressed by how helpful she was. They were totally convinced that they knew her (they didn't) and that they got a special discount just because she liked them (they didn't). Can't wait to see what they bought for me! And it will be fun to watch their dad open his gift too.

A fun read for fans of Sherlock Holmes and Jack Sparrow -- Pirate King by Laurie R. King.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tree Ornaments

The kids picked out ornaments to give to each of their teachers. (With 8 teachers between them, this was a monumental task!) It was fun to watch them carefully looking at each option, deciding which teacher or coach would like a Christmas tree, or a cupcake, or a candy cane.
So cute! And though I thought some of their choices were a little odd, they were excited to take their precious gifts to school to hand-deliver to their teachers today. (Teachers, hope you're ready for this!)

The kids at church made ornaments for our sanctuary tree this year. It was a fun project, and the finished products looked so pretty!
We took clear glass bulbs (the sturdy kind, since we have several Pre-K kiddos), and poured craft paint inside. Each child got to pick two colors to use. The pastor got to make an ornament, too, but he got three colors! Then, during the Hanging of the Greens service, the kids placed their ornaments on the tree. The church tree looks lovely with the new additions. And the children were glad to have a part in decorating the tree!

While I'm on the subject, I found the coolest pictures of Christmas trees made of books!
How fun is that!! Maybe I'll try it next year. It looks pretty time-intensive, but wouldn't that look amazing in the library! (Although I think the idea behind it was to use old but colorful tomes you weren't reading anymore.) Hmm, maybe that's a good use for all those dusty encyclopedias that are out of date and never used...

How about a great Christmas book to read? Try "What Child is This?" by Caroline B. Cooney! Not her regular style, but an amazing read, nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Book to Read


I just finished a powerful, wonderful book. Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races. Please, do me a favor, and read this book!

The plot is a beautifully crafted work of art. The story weaves together two main characters and the mystical legend of water horses. The key here is "horses". This is such a creative twist on the Scotch/Irish mythology, that the reader somehow forgets anything she might have read before about water horses. Somehow, the plots twists and turns enough that the reader is forced to concede that the story might not end in a "happy ever after". And then -- it does. Masterful storytelling at work here.

The teacher in me loved this book, as well. I found myself wanting to underline passages, leaving yellow sticky notes tucked in the pages, going back to reread periodically. Many literary elements combine to make this a teacher's dream! If I was still teaching Pre-AP English, I'd be using this powerful book with my sophomores.

How about this example of powerful setting (and the English teacher-voice begs me to add "simile" and "imagery"):
"There's no one on the second floor of the tearoom at this time of day. It is only me and a herd of small, cloth-covered tables, each bearing a purple thistle flower in a vase. The room is long and narrow and low-ceilinged; it feels like a pleasant coffin or a suffocating church. Everything glows in slightly rose hues because of the pink lacy curtains in front of the small windows behind me. I am the darkest thing in the room." (Chapter 22)

Or this sampling from Chapter 10:
"It's been a long time since I've been in Skarmouth after dark, and it reminds me of the time that Dad cut his hair. For the first seven years of my life, Dad had dark curly hair that was like me -- in that he told it first thing in the morning what he wanted it to do and then in went and did pretty much whatever it wanted to do. Anyway, when I was seven, Dad came back from the docks with his hair close shaven and when I saw him walk in the door and kiss my mother on the mouth, I started to cry because I thought he was a stranger. And that's what Skarmouth has done, after dark: It's turned into an entirely different Skarmouth from the one I've known my whole life, and I don't feel like letting it kiss me on the mouth anytime soon."

But then, sometimes, the story moves so quickly and powerfully, I forget that I want to underline or sticky-note anything. I just read, gobbling up the words on the page, running the races with the characters beside me. There are times I can't put the book down, even though I need to!

The best thing about this book is that it doesn't let up. The author keeps the reader guessing right up until the end. The denouement is perfectly written -- we don't feel let down after the race ends. We feel the need to know more! And the author gives us just enough more at the end that the reader feels satisfied at the end of the story.

Chapter 65 is the best denouement chapter I've read in a long time. And it's not even the last chapter of the book! I'd like to share the entire chapter with you, but I think I'll just share this tidbit:
"I stand up, leaving the notes sitting untouched on the table, and head out into the yard. The breeze runs long and low across the ground, sweeping up the sea and the island grass and the hay and the horses. I think it's the best smell in the world."

If you pick up no other books this next year, please try this book!


Okay, I found my Christmas spirit again!

It was all thanks to the elementary children and their Christmas program. Yesterday was just a bad day. But their bright, shiny faces made my season bright. From the littlest Pre-K kiddos (including my adorable niece) saying their parts so loudly and proudly and singing "Jingle Bells" at the top of their lungs (even when they didn't remember all the words) to the 4-5-6 graders "Candy Cane Lane" message of peace during the Christmas season, my heart was warmed by the outpouring of joy and the miracle that returns (whether I'm ready or not).

The message of the night was surrounding ourselves and our families with the things that remind us of love. So I'm determined not to let the grey weather (which continues in the form of rain today, thank you) steal my Christmas joy.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weather Weary

I am growing weary of the weather. It is growing closer to Christmas, but all I am feeling is down. I'm blaming all of that on the weather. It is cold, grey, and dreary. Nothing but grey clouds, fog, and drizzle all the time. I miss the sunshine. I would welcome snow! Just no more of this ho-hum grey!

Forgive me for sounding whiny, but how can I possibly get into the Christmas spirit when the weather refuses to offer any cheer? I haven't even decorated at my house. I'd thought once that I might bring some cheerful Christmas decorations to the library, but I just feel too tired to do it. What's the point, when school will be out in a few days, anyway?

I'm understanding Scrooge these days. It must be this London-esque weather. Grey, grey, and more grey.

I really want to recommend a cheerful Christmas book. Really, I do. There are lots of wonderful, cheerful, joyful Christmas books. But I'm too weary. The grey weather has overwhelmed my ability to recommend something merry and bright. So, I'm going to go with a fav author, Jane Austen, and one of her less-well-known novels, Mansfield Park.

Hmm, imagine my surprise to discover they've made a movie of Mansfield Park, that I haven't seen. Let's just add to the grey gloom. Ba hum-bug.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Nod to the Great Idea Guy

The guy who created Google docs deserves an award. Seriously.

Using Google docs allows you to write, edit, post, turn in, print, whatever you need to do to a document. Need to write an essay, then send it to your mom to read? No problem -- use Google docs. Wrote a research paper and need to send it to your professor? Use Google docs. Computer froze during the typing process? Just head to another pc and get it from Google docs!

I was afraid. It was new technology, and I didn't think I could run it. Guess what -- it was so easy, even I could use it!

So, a nod to the guy who created Google docs. And a nod to the great idea guy who helped me learn to use it!

On the same note, a nod to a book about a great idea guy -- Conor Kostick's Epic series.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Internet Coolness

I just found the coolest site on the internet!! No kidding! It's called "Human Calendar", and it changes all the time. It uses individual boxes of photos of people holding little cards that indicate the date. And it moves all the time. Amazing technology! Super coolness!

I also found another really cool site. It's "Literature Map". You type in the name of an author you like, and the screen swirls around (cool effect, by the way), and leaves you with names of similar authors you might like. What a neat way to find an author to try next time you visit the library!

I just love the internet sometimes! (Don't like it when it isn't working, but that's another story for another time...) I've found some of the coolest sites, just by accident. The lit map I found doing a search for my grad class, looking for technology related to libraries. The human calendar I found today just flipping through random blogs -- which is also a fun thing to do!

A great series combining lots of things I love (fairy tales, technology, mysteries, and family) is the Artemis Fowl series. Great fun!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Middle of the Night

Did you ever notice how big problems appear at night? Why do problems get bigger in the middle of the night?

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and even the smallest things seems larger than I can possibly overcome!

Then, by the light of day, things don't seem quite so bleak.

Why is that, I wonder?

And how can I remind my middle-of-the-night-self that things will look brighter in the morning?

(Here's my fav book of all time, my go-to book for my can't-go-back-to-sleep moments.)

Walden, H.D. Thoreau

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Carol

I am babysitting today. As usual, the 7th graders don't have a substitute teacher, so I am watching them in the library. Unable to stand just watching them sit around and talk and causing trouble, I put in a movie.

This is the second time in two weeks. So we are watching A Christmas Carol. The George C. Scott version.

Amazingly, the kids seem to be entertained. Enough that they are not causing too much trouble. One commented that it is "scary"!

Perhaps everyone should watch A Christmas Carol during this season -- even better, read the Dickens novel!

In fact, people should know the history behind the novel's writing! How Dickens wrote it just to make money... Interesting irony, I think.