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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hearing God

Another amazing weekend with the youth from the church. We took 8 young people (grade 6-12) to MidWinter. It was great to see so many kids devoted to Christ and to each other. And it made our own kids grow closer to each other. As one of them commented, "I didn't really know what you guys were like before!"

The best moment of the weekend for me was during the Nature Hike led by my husband.

During the nature walk, we were to be thinking of ways that God's love is expressed in nature. Especially how nature reflects the attributes of love expressed in 1 Cor 13. ("Love is patient, kind...") We explored the grounds of the camp, some places the kids had never been before. At the last stop on the hike, he took the kids to his favorite spot on the camp's grounds. It was a sheltered area under a huge tree. We all sat down in a circle, and got quiet. Then we all shut our eyes and listened for the sounds of God's creation. After a few moments, we talked about what we had heard. In those moments, we all felt closer to the Creator than we had for a long time!

If we are quiet, we are more likely to hear the voice of God. Sometimes I think we are so busy rushing through the day, we don't have time to listen to that still, small voice.

So many things make the camp experience worthwhile. Thank you, God, for moments of quiet to listen for You!

I'm a huge fan of the Clarice Bean series, as well as the TV show Charlie & Lola. The author, Lauren Child, has written several books, all of which are great for preteens who need a little humor and who are tired of Wimpy Kid.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Missing Mammaw

Today, our family celebrates the birth and life of an extraordinary woman. She was more than just a mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. She was head cheerleader, principle planner of all things, and encourager (even when she sounded rough).

We miss her. Many days, I still think, I wish I could tell her... She would be so proud of her son, what he has accomplished in his career. She would be beaming at my "almost" finished masters degree. She would hug the kiddos and love watching them blossom and grow into amazing preteens.

So, today we remember Mammaw. My daughter started the tradition of picking up daisies at the flower shop (MUST be real flowers, she insists) and balloons. The flowers we leave on the headstone, the balloons we release to send to Mammaw.

I believe she is smiling down on us from Heaven today, and watching us with love. Lord, help us to make it through the day!!

The Remembering Box by Eth Clifford

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Rant

I don't want to be too fussy. I love that kids come to the library. I love that they have access to books and magazines. I even love that they compete for AR points and work hard to achieve their reading goals.

But I do have one big issue. My biggest problem is that they are not respectful of the library. They constantly leave messes behind them. I'm not talking about one book put in backwards. That, I could handle.

No, I'm talking about books on the floor, stacks of books in the wrong area, left behind randomly. Books stuffed in wherever the child decided to stuff it in -- never mind that there wasn't room on that shelf, or that the cover was ripping, or pages getting crushed and mangled. I even find books in the CRACKS BETWEEN SHELVES! Really?

It must be terribly difficult to put something back in the same place where you found it. And honestly, most kids are not even in a big hurry to pick out books. They are just not concerned with treating the library respectfully.

I can understand the Kindergarten's trouble with this. I forgive them. They are little, and just learning, and for the most part, they do pretty well. The ones I do NOT pardon are the 2nd and 3rd graders.
They attack the library shelves like rabid wolves, push and shove to get to the "best" books, and leave a path of destruction behind that would embarrass an F5 tornado.

I have several shelves that I have completely taken all books off, replaced them in correct order -- and I still battle to get things back neatly! I have two shelves that I have given up on. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I organize and replace the books in the proper order.

I have tried speaking to their teachers about this. I have tried limiting the number of students in the library at a time. I have tried asking the teachers to come with their class. Even with my part-time assistant, the chaos is more than I can handle!

I will be relieved when the year is over and I can put everything back to rights. But what can be done about next year? Somehow, they must learn to take care of the library and library books! I will have to get some good ideas over the summer if I'm going to get through next year!

Hmm, so what library book goes with this conundrum? Maybe Twister on Tuesday by Mary Pope Osborne. It's part of the fabulous Magic Tree House series, and deals with tornadoes and books! And, incidently, is also on the reading level of my frequent-shelf-offenders!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Winter Jam

We went to Winter Jam on Saturday! What an amazing experience!! I can't stop talking about it, it was so awesome!

All the bands were great. Our junior high boys fell in love with Kari Jobe. I LOVED G1C, of course. I realized I knew more Sanctus Real than I thought. And Skillet was out of this world!!

I could just go on and on for days about how wonderful the Skillet concert was! It was loud, pulse-pounding, beyond cool. Pyrotechnics? Yes, please! And violin and cello? Yes, thank you! I sang along with every song, knew all the words. Except for one song, which hubby kindly looked up on his phone for me later.

Best part of the night? Well, besides seeing all of our youth group together and happy and enjoying the presence of God in a new and unique way... I got to meet my favorite DJ from my favorite Christian radio station (TheHouseFM) Janelle!! Got my pic taken with her; posted it as my fb photo.

So cool! Can't wait to go back next year!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flightless Birds

Sometimes, I read a book and think, Well, that was pretty good. But sometimes, I read a book, then get to the end and reread it. Then, I attach sticky notes in the really good parts. And then, I simply have to tell everyone about it!

Girls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler is such a book.

From the minute I opened the book, I was caught up in the story. Chandler takes her main character, Myra, through many twists and turns. Through it all, Myra remains a believable character, one that you just want to root for!

A fascinating aspect of the novel is Chandler's use of extended metaphor. Throughout the book, the author connects characters and action in the story to birds. Never mind that one plot focus is on Myra's study of birds. Myra's whole teenage struggle is connected to birds, bird facts, flight imagery, etc. Chandler uses neat bird-related terms at the top of each new chapter, which introduces new ideas about Myra's personal struggle as well as topic of Myra's research.

Myra is studying flightless birds of Galapogos. And often, she views herself as a flightless bird. This image crops up all through the novel. For example, Myra wonders if she will be stuck forever in her "pathetic, flightless life" (p 82), and questions whether she is "flightless, forever grounded, marooned in Landon" (p 73). Even one of her part-time jobs is as a flightless bird advertising fast food on a corner! That particular incident is heavily laden with foreshadowing!

Another neat trick Chandler uses to move the plot is Myra's storytelling. Every night, Myra makes up bedtime stories for her little brothers. The cool part of the stories is that they are really Myra working through her personal issues. (Maybe she doesn't even recognize this, herself.) Readers will understand that the "scullery maid" in Myra's tale is really herself. And Myra's sense of self, and value of herself, gradually improves in each bedtime story. My favorite moment is when Myra uses BIRDS in the bedtime story! (p 193)

I ended up with 6 sticky notes in this book. I could have put even more, but near the end, I just got caught up in the story!

I highly recommend this book! In fact, I think it would make a great book circle selection. Or maybe a novel to study in class. Any teen struggling to find herself should pick up this book. (Or anyone, frankly.) The ending of Chandler's book is powerful, poignant, and purposeful. (And unexpected.) You simply must read to the very last line! Chandler takes the bird metaphor to the last word (p 300).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Any Encouragement

Poor little boy is sick... again. I was so excited when he didn't have to miss ANY days during first semester. And now the poor little guy has missed a total of 5 days this month! I thought he was going to be all better this week, but no such luck. He woke up with an earache this morning!

I wish I was a nurse and could tell what to do to make him well. He just needs to stay well, more often!

And now, he hates to even tell us that he's sick! He thinks we'll be mad at him! (Honey, I'm not mad at you, I'm upset that you're sick again, and I can't fix it!)

Any encouragement for the poor little dude (and his parents)?

Wonderstruck, from Brian Selznick

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sincerest Form of Flattery

Most of the time, I read primarily literature for young people. Lately, though, I've been enjoying the public library and their inexhaustible supply of "real" literature.

By chance, I picked up a novel by a great author that I must share with the world! Melissa Nathan writes superb novels based in modern London. However, she creatively wraps them around the classic stories of Jane Austen.

For example, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field is about a journalist in London who oddly gets chosen to act in a play based on Pride and Prejudice. The amazing part of the book is that it follows the plot (twists and characterizations, all) of Austen's original P&P! Once I started looking for similarities, Nathan had placed them everywhere! From the description of Jasmin's best friend and flatmate to the somewhat flat description of Jasmin's parents, Nathan has mirrored Austen in a fresh retelling of the original.

I've read one other of Nathan's novels, but it wasn't so blatant to me what she was doing with the novel. I'll have to reread it, to see which Austen classic she used for it. And she has four novels, I believe, so I'll have to see what she's done with each.

Jasmin Field admits that Jane Austen is one of Britain's favorite authors, and if "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", then Austen is indeed well loved.

By the way, I absolutely LOVE that the author included a reference to Anne of Green Gables! Creative genius!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Personal Accomplishment

I just wanted to share a most amazing personal accomplishment.


For anyone who has known me for any length of time, this should be noted as a tremendous milestone!

Yay me! :)

Recommended book regarding city driving? Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, by Jon Schreiber

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Homecoming Spirit Week

This week is basketball homecoming week. Our school is BIG into homecoming activities. We have special "dress-up" themes each day. For example, tomorrow is "camo day", when everyone is going to wear camouflage.

Today's theme was my favorite: "Fake an Injury" Day! Lots of kids have used braces, crutches, bandages, and painted bruises. My daughter and I got really creative! I have a broken heart -- two red heart pieces pinned to my sweater and glitter-glue tears on my face.

My daughter's idea for a fake injury is even more creative. She is wearing a big fuzzy white sweater, fuzzy bear slippers, and we painted three long red "gashes" on her face. Then, we pinned a sign to her jacket -- "Polar Bear: 0".

Spirit Days are so much fun! To me, it doesn't really matter if our teams win or lose. We have had fun celebrating our school spirit nonetheless.

A great book for middle grade kids about friendship and learning more about your community:
The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar.