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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rainy Day

I had forgotten how much I love rainy days.

Perhaps it's because we had such a dry summer and autumn. Or perhaps it's because we've had so few days of any kind of precipitation this winter. Whatever the case, I totally enjoyed listening to the rain last night. And it was amazing to wake up to grey skies this morning! I hope it will continue to rain all day! Even the puddles are making me cheerful this morning!

Here is a series of books perfect for enjoying on a rainy day. Jane Smiley's Horse series: The Georges and the Jewels; A Good Horse; and True Blue.

I love the teen main character, and the fact that the author isn't shy about her faith. Great stories! I'm reading True Blue right now, and it seems to fit in well with my morning so far.

"Usually, when you wake up and the day is already sunny, especially after a big rainstorm, you can't help feeling fresh and happy..." Abby Lovitt from True Blue by Jane Smiley

Monday, January 23, 2012

Camp Report

Hooray for church camp! We spent a weekend at church camp, with 15 of our church kids and nearly 40 kids total. It was a wonderful weekend.

I love watching the kids as they learn and experience God in new ways. Some of the highlights? Nature Walk with Travis; group movie night; creative worship experience offering our hearts; learning new songs like "The Word is Alive"; small groups; Skittles game; making prayer sticks; hugs and making new friends. Wow, the list could go on and on.

We took several kids with us who had never been away from home (without parents) before, and they had a great time! I think maybe their parents were more nervous waiting at home for them! We also had lots of sets/pairs of relatives. Seems like everyone was related to somebody... Of course, my kids had been to this event before, and so had a couple of others. So, they all worked together to make everyone, even the youngest, feel welcome and part of the event.

I took tons of pictures, and Christine took tons of pictures, so between the two of us we have two tons of pictures! Can't wait for Sunday when the kids get to tell all about their experience! And they can't wait for summer, when they (hopefully) will get to go back to church camp!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sad State of Affairs

I have recently re-employed an old instrument belonging to the library. This creative (though ancient) gadget is used to apply tape to the spines and binding of books. It has not been used in many years; I had to scrounge for the tape to use in the machine. Last week, I had to order more stock of this special tape.

Why has this old machine come back into fashion? It's due to the sad state of affairs here. Alas, we cannot afford to buy new textbooks. Instead, we must keep using the old ones, no matter their state of disrepair. I have repeatedly taped (and retaped ad nauseum) math, history, and science textbooks.

Now, it's not that these books have been shoddily cared for (in most cases). The problem is just that the books are old. Most of our textbooks have not been purchased new in nearly a decade.

So we are making do with what we have. And that means I will be taping, taping, and retaping. I will probably use more tape than what I have ordered. (And when this is all over, we might not really be saving that much money.)

In the spirit of reusing and recycling, I thought I'd recommend Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong. (I needed a happy face.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Disney Connections

My family is crazy about all things Disney. And most things that are linked to Disney. We really enjoy Star Wars, Star Tours, and that unique connection to Disney and Walt Disney World. (Kids are currently planning their next trip, as if it was going to happen tomorrow, when in reality, it will be a couple of years...)

Anyway, I saw the neatest picture today that really portrays the way my family feels about Disney and Star Wars, and connects to my kids' childhood innocence. Here it is!
Awe! :) I love the simplicity of this picture, and the way childhood innocence is captured. I love the way this picture makes me feel. And I especially like the look on my son's face when he looked over my shoulder a few minutes ago.
"Mom, that is so cool!" Yep, that's my boy. And my daughter instantly got it too, and made the leap to Pooh without prompting.

And may I recommend Peter and the Starcatchers for those readers who, like my family, love all things Disney-related!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Balancing Act

Working and having kids is a balancing act. Often, I wish for more time to spend with my kids, just being their mom and enjoying the precious time I have with them while they're still little. (Or somewhat little.)

Today was a good example of that balancing act. We had the day off from school, but I had many tasks I needed to accomplish at the elementary library, things that had to get done today or I would be even farther behind. And yet, today was a such a beautiful day, it just BEGGED for an Adventure with Mom!

So... we compromised. PaPa took the kids and me out to breakfast this morning! (Yay, special treat!) Then, while I worked in the library, they played outside. They love the playground, especially since it is close to home and my work. When they eventually got cold, they came inside and helped me with my work. When I got tired, we went home for a spell and enjoyed playing computer games and PS3. After lunch together, we went back to the library and worked some more. And the kids got to play on the school computers a bit.
I am not completely caught up on my work. (However, I think being "caught up" is just a figment of my imagination, not a true goal to reach.) But I got to spend some of the day with my kiddos, which is really what a day off should be about! Especially when the weather is lovely and the kids are getting along so well.

What series am I reading with my kids at night now that we finished Lightning Thief? The 39 clues series!

We are starting #11 tonight: Medusa Plot. Can't wait! Love that mom + kids time!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Okay, I admit it. Everyone I know has been talking about Pinterest for several months. I have been loathe to jump on the bandwagon. After all, I reasoned, everybody tells me about the projects, food, hair ideas, decorating, etc. I don't need to look for myself. (I believe I also understand myself well enough to know that I will spend WAAAAY too much time on such a site.)

Well, I broke down and let a student show me how to find it online. Yep, I am now addicted. It truly is amazing! So much to see, and do, and food for thought (as well as real food).

So, do I like Pinterest? Indeed, I love it! (But I still think I never should have tried it in the first place...)

Addicting website -- Pinterest

Series to read (also addicting) -- Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Small Groups and Ivy

I had such a good time yesterday evening, at the new women's meeting at church. Although calling it a meeting makes it seem like a drudgery, it is really fun! I think sometimes I just need to hang out with friends, in this case, no matter what age. Our group may be a Bible study of sorts, but it's also about getting together. It's about the support we feel from being with each other, sharing our concerns, laughing with each other, learning more about each other, and yes, learning from the Bible. And of course, eating snacks. :) We had about 5 at our first meeting, and we had 8 last night. Hopefully, even more will come in February, when the weather is nicer (maybe).

The best part of the evening, I think, was just being with other women. So often, the groups I'm with are either groups of both men & women, or groups of children. It's nice to just be with friends who know and understand you, and love you for who you are.

One thing we do at the end of the get-together involves an "invisible trinket". It's something that we imagine taking with us from the meeting, to think about for the rest of the month, until we get a new "treasure" at our next session. The trinket from last night was an ivy cutting (completely imaginary, but substantial). It's to remind me that a life of love is like an ivy: take care of it and it will grow, and you can share it with others. I totally love that thought!

We are studying a book, but I don't remember the name of it. The thing is, that part isn't really that important. The most important thing is being in the moment, knowing that you are loved and understood. And trust me, that's a God thing!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Or perhaps this post could be called deluge...

The elementary library is drowning in a pile of unshelved books. My part-time aide (who comes just two mornings a week) was unable to help last week. My high school aides were AWOL last week. And I was unable to catch up.

Let me put it this way -- it was the week after Christmas vacation, and all the kids brought back the EXTRA books they had checked out over break.

So, the avalanche (deluge, tidal wave, maelstrom, mudslide, tornado) of books has overtaken the elementary library.

Please, step carefully.

With a wink and a nod, I suggest "Help, I'm a Prisoner in the Library!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Pairings

I just found this great article, and I know I'm going to forget where I heard it just as soon as I close the windown on my computer. So I'm posting it in the only place I know I will remember to look: the blog!

It's all about reading poetry with other literature (novels and short stories), and how to pair them. Kind of like wine pairings, I imagine. Can't wait to see if this works!

New Ideas for Old Books

Right before Christmas I found a neat idea to use old books to make Christmas trees. That was pretty awesome.

Well, today, I found an artist who uses old books in another amazing way.

Wow! Amazing sculptures by an incredible creative artist!

So, to go with this incredible artwork, I'm recommending a book by another incredible artist! Lost and Found is by Shaun Tan, and is an incredible picture book for teens. My library has it cataloged in the graphic novel section, but it is really so much more than that!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I Recommend...

One of the most difficult tasks I must do as an educator is write recommendation letters for students.

Since my first year as a teacher, I've had students come to me to request recommendations for a number of things. I've written more college application recommendations than I can count. And it doesn't get any easier.

It's a weighty problem. I want to write a glowing letter of recommendation so the student will be granted the money, accepted into the program, or given the internship. However, I also want to be honest about the students. It's a heavy burden: to say exactly the write thing that makes the person's character shine yet doesn't leave holes in the person's total picture.

I worry about how much or how little to say. If I say too much, the people reading the letter will probably just throw it down in disgust. If I say too little, the applicant may not look as good as s/he truly is!

At one point, I made a form letter. That way, I could quickly and easily just change a few words here and there, and the letter was finished. Now, that just isn't going to cut it! (How would I feel if the person writing a letter for me did that?!) So I agonize over every word I put on the page, weighing my vocabulary options and limiting the verbose verbage spilling onto the paper. (Just because a page is blank, that doesn't mean I have to fill it up!)

I am proud to recommend these students. And I hope they would be proud of what I say about them.

Oh, and two similar books I'm proud to recommend: The View From Saturday by EL Konigsburg and The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer. Both are similar in theme and writing style, portraying middle school students and their struggles to fit in. Fabulous books!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Teenagers, Meet the Future

Sometimes, I worry about the future.

I wonder, will our children grow up to be responsible adults? Will they carry on the traditions we treasure? Will they care about the small town where they were raised?

Watching, I wonder. Surely, at some point in their adult lives, they will come to understand the importance of family, community, and tradition. Perhaps. Right now, they seem to care about so little. (It's difficult to tell what they really care about, since they hide under layers of rudeness and spite.)

Somehow, they will surely have a teacher or parent or mentor who will get through to them. Crack their shells. Open their eyes. But that person isn't me -- at least today.

I'm trying to be optimistic. I'm trying to believe in the teenagers. But it's hard. I know, I need to read books that are a bit more optimistic, perhaps that show the positive side of teens. Perhaps that show that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I've recently finished three teen novels, all of which should make me feel hopeful. After all, they all take teens in crisis and show how they pulled through.

Two of them, however, just didn't get positive enough. Those two were This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff

and Stay With Me by Paul Griffin.

I would certainly recommend both of these books for teen readers. They were realistic fiction, and dealt well with the problems typical teens may face. The characters were believable, and the writing styles of each author made the books hard to put down. However, the endings of both books lacked the sort of optimism I really needed.

I will highly recommend the third book, though! It ended extremely well, considering the wacky, extreme situations faced by the main characters (teens) in the story. Trumpet fanfare: the book is How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr. (Please, not to be confused with the song by The Fray!) This novel's positive spin on teen problems make me want to reread it. I could use some positive inspiration about now.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Beginnings

A new year has begun, and today is the first day back at school after Christmas Break. I'm eager and ready for the new day, and all the challenges that probably lay ahead of me.

In the new year, there are several hurdles ahead. My first Book Fair; finally attaining my master's degree; cleaning and arranging shelves; upgrading to new technology; learning how to run the new technology. Whew! But I'm also very excited about the challenges ahead. Can't wait to see what's around the next corner!

So far, the most interesting things happening are the seniors wandering around lost, looking for a spot to alight since their college classes haven't begun yet, and the janitor replacing the bulbs in the library ceiling. (Thinking about light, a recommendation of reading material is First Light, by Rebecca Stead.)

Happy new year, everyone!