Thursday, 23 August 2012

This Week's Books

47/58 Secret Chicken Society
48/58 Off To Class
49/58 What Do Teachers Do After You Leave School
50/58 Wandering Wanda
51/58 The Hat
52/58 Penelope Popper Book Doctor

Gratitude Challenge - Aug 22, 2012

I think I'm failing the gratitude challenge. I keep missing days! *sigh*

Oh well. Carrying on!

1. Peirce got to go to Lethbridge and have some Grandma/Peirce time. He has been wanting to do that all summer. So glad it worked out!

2. I got to drive to Lethbridge with my friend, Patti. Nothing like an entire day of visiting! We even did our walk in Lethbridge. :)

3. We got to go to Edmonton to wish Jill a happy birthday! It was such a great visit. Virginia and Andy have been so great to her. A great summer indeed! Jill has really enjoyed being there, but she is also quite looking forward to finally being home. It's kind of nice to have her miss us!

4. Only four more days until school starts. I'm a nerd. I know. I miss it!

5. This summer has been the greatest weather! I heard today it has been the warmest summer in years. Nice!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Gratitude - August 17

1. The Library - I sometimes worry that they'll announce that they have a new tiered system for library fees, and since I'm a super-user, I now get to pay some exorbatant fee to use the library. It is the best $12 I spend all year!! I seriously love the library and I go there many times a week. The other day Peirce was off at a friend's house and my walking buddy and I were talking about how I should spend my day since I wouldn't have any kids at home. What could I do that I can't normally do with kids?? I know!! I could go to the library for the ENTIRE day and read! Bliss!!

2. Sinks that drain - We have had a problem with all the bathroom sinks in our house. I fixed the downstairs one a week or so ago (packed with hair....sick!). Today I fixed the one off our bedroom. It was just gummed up (sick again!) I'm so happy to have a sink that drains properly again! It wasn't an easy feat either. I had to loosen this nut down underneath the sink that was really hard to loosen, take out the stopper, clean it all out, then put it all back together. Phew!! I am pretty sure I got it all back together properly. I will have to pay attention for leaks the next few days just to be sure. I felt so good to get that fixed though. It made me think maybe I should try and do something every day to make my house a better place....hmmm.....can I add to my goals??

Photo: Sink

3. Safety - After the fire yesterday, I'm sure glad that our home was kept safe and that my family is all safe. Poor Peirce was a little traumatized by it all. He had to sleep in our room last night. Hopefully soon he feels comforted and just as safe as I do!

4. Egg McMuffins - I had a coupon for a free one, so this morning I went and got I like free. And I like Egg McMuffins. Yum!

5. Time - I still have a week! I dropped by the school today. I'm not motivated to do that again too soon. It was a bit of a wreck in there. They've been painting, no bulletin boards are on the walls, there is stuff in my room from the hallways, things were all taken out and then put back (in the wrong spots) .....oh there's some work to do! I think I'll wait a bit before I go back in and maybe someone else will get some of that stuff put where it belongs.

Picture Books To End the Week...and a new blog!

I've been thinking for a while to start a new blog and have all my book posts on a separate blog. I decided it's time. It may be a good way for me to organize books by topic so that when I'm doing something where I think, "I swear I read a book that would work for this" I can look it up by topics. I thought about figuring out a way to transfer all the posts here about books - but I'm not sure I even want to start on that venture. It would be a long to do list!

I'll finish off my summer reading challenge list on this blog though, with links to the new blog.

41/58   There Is A Bird On Your Head (Mo Willems)

42/58 We'll Paint the Octopus Red Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen)

43/58 Just a Second (Steve Jenkins)

44/58 Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes)

45/58 Brothers At Bat (Audrey Vernick)

46/58 Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude (Kevin O'Malley)

You know, I think I just might make it to 58!!

P.S. My new blog is: You should read...

Thursday, 16 August 2012

House Fire Too Close to Home

This afternoon Peirce and his friends were jumping on the trampoline. They came running into the house yelling, "Mom! The neighbors house is on fire!"

I had been reading and I calmly went to the deck to check it out and was suddenly quite alarmed! They were right!! Huge clouds of black smoke were billowing into the sky. I yelled for Allen and he called 911 while we all ran outside.

This was taken from the end of my driveway:

The wind was blowing our way and so we could really smell it. I had heard some pops earlier that sounded to me like gun fire, but didn't do anything about it (oops!). I'm sure it was the fire. The news says it started in the detatched garage and spread to the house. The houses on each side and the one across the alley all have melted siding now too. So scary!

They said on the news two firemen were hurt when the roof collapsed. A beam fell on them. They were treated at the scene and are apparently okay. It was scary to see all the ambulances and firetrucks and police cars there!

I had to remember what the house number was because I have friends who have a rental just down the street. I called her and it turns out they are away in Nova Scotia. She was a little alarmed and said she'd be sure to call her tenants right away.

Apparently no one was hurt in the fire. I will try to find out who lived there and see how we can help.

A fire broke out Thursday evening at a home in Beddington.
Global TV took this shot from the alley.

A shot from our Skyview camera shows smoke billowing from the fire.
The view from the CTV skyview camera

Smoke from a garage fire fills Bedford Drive N.E.
This picture was from the CBC news website. The smoke was overwhelming! This is the street the house with the fire is on.

A garage fire in Beddington has badly damaged at least one house.
CBC photo of the house at the end of my street. The fire was behind this house

You can watch a video of the fire here and a news story about it here.

Gratitude Challenge - August 16

1. Photo: Checking out injured dragonfliesToday on our bike ride to Park and Play we found an injured dragonfly. Peirce wanted to stop and check it out and ended up taking a picture of it. It is so nice to have summers off to be able to do things with my kids like this. I'm grateful to have time to stop!

2. I'm grateful for bunny songs. I got a call from Jill yesterday that went like this:
J: Mom, what's that bunny song?
M: Bunny song?
J: Ya. Raina and I are singing bunny songs
M: You mean the house in the middle of the woods one?
J: Ya....but how does dad sing it where he kills the bunny?

I had to laugh. What a funny phone call. I sang it for her, plus a few more. While we were talking they must have been bike riding or walking, judging from the side conversation. It was just a fun conversation.

3. I'm grateful for goals! I decided that from now on (like, for the rest of my life!) I have to read my scriptures and exercise before I can get on that time sucker, Facebook. Today I did it! It felt great to get those things done quickly. With Facebook I can stretch out exercise, reading and housework to 1:00 in the afternoon! Time to change that.

4.I'm grateful for rosy cheeks. Yesterday Allen asked me if I have started wearing more make up. I haven't. It's just the exercising. Too funny!

5. I'm grateful for rice flour cookies for my non-wheat eaters. Yum!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gratitude Challenge - August 15

1. Lazy has been one of them!
2. Goals....I'm excited to be having a new start this September
3. Getting Set Apart....haven't been set apart for my new calling yet. I should talk to someone about that.
4. Washing machines and dryers...gee they make life easier!
5. Summer holidays.....I can't believe it's almost over! I have 11 days left. Eeeek!

Goals for September and on....

I tried to go back in January to see if I had posted about my goals for 2012. I didn't! Weird!!

One of my goals this year was to wear lipstick. I can't say as I am a regular lip stick wearer at all. I can't even say I'm committed to that goal. Allen wants me to wear lip stick. I still need to work on this habit.

My other goal was a load of laundry a day. I have to say that that goal has happened! I did make a few adjustments as the year wore on by making my kids do a load sometimes. They became responsible for doing their own laundry this year, and it's been a wonderful thing. I just couldn't keep up with laundry while working. The best part of having them do their own laundry is now and then when I fold a load for them they're soooo grateful!

This summer I have a goal to read 58 books...a book a day. I think I just might reach the goal too! I also had a goal to be an exerciser. I have made good strides there.

So, now I've been thinking about what goal I should set for when school starts. I should have a school goal or two, but I think what I really want to focus on is menu planning. I have tried to plan our menus out for a whole month at a time. When I do that life is so great! I only have to think about what's for dinner once, and the rest of the month I just follow the plan. I don't always follow the plan perfectly, and that's okay. Sometimes I move things around. Sometimes we go out for dinner. If that happens I just forward plan the meal we were to have that night. Sometimes I find we have so many left overs that we have a left over night.  I actually get more than a month's worth of meals from one session of planning.

In addition to my menu planning goal I plan to continue exercising an hour a day and I plan to do a better job of daily scripture study. And here's where I'm upping the ante! From this day on, I am not going to let myself get on Facebook until I've exercised, studied scriptures, and have dinner on the go (or at least figured out). I'm really addicted to Facebook, so it's going to be hard at first, but I think it will make my life much more productive.

Here's to new goals!!

And more amazing picture books!!

Hooway for Wodney Wat (Helen Lester)

I love this book! I had a good friend named Rod when I was a teenager. I remember driving home from church one day. He was in our van as was our little cousin Ryan. Ryan was poking Rod and saying, "Wod! Wod! Wod!" when suddenly Rod turned to him and said, "What Wyan??" We laughed and laughed. Never forgot it! The other reason I love this book is one of the characters is a capybara. When Jill was little she had a thing for capybaras. I have no idea where it came from, and at the time, I don't think I even knew what a capybara was....but when I read this book it reminds me of when she was little.

Wodney Wat is a wodent who can't say his Rs. He is embarrassed about this and so tries to stay out of everyone's view as much as possible. A mean old capybara moves in and torments everyone, and somehow Wodney Wat saves the day. Hooway Rodney!!


Courage (Bernard Waber)

Often times we label ourselves or refuse to believe that we are smart, or beautiful, or brave, or some other adjective. This book is a great reminder that there are many ways to show courage. It will  be a great book to read for a character discussion at school! When a child needs to work up the courage to do something new it would be a great way to remind them that they are courageous in many different ways!

One (Kathryn Otashi)

Another story that adds personification to colors, just like Yesterday I Had the Blues. Only this time some numbers come along and kick red in the butt. :)

My Heart Will Not Sit Down (Mara Rockliff)

What a beautiful story! This is a true story about a girl in an African village who hears of the suffering people in New York are going through during the depression. She cannot rest until she does something to help them. Her village gathers up  $3.77 and sends it to those suffering. $3.77 was a very generous offering from her village, and would have done very little to help anyone struggling during the depression. The sacrifice was much greater than what it could do to help. I loved it! The book I got from the library has the last page torn out. It starts another story of a little town in Guatemala that doesn't have enough to eat and wants to help children in Malawi....never got to read the end of the story though. I think I have to go buy this book! It will be a wonderful book for teaching compassion when we do that character virtue in school!

One curious thing: The author writes under four different names. I've always wondered why people do that! Hmmmmm.....It might satisfy my schizophrenic tendancies to be able to do something like that!! (er, or perhaps it is my tendancy towards multi-talking) :)

Weslandia (Paul Fleischman)

I love love love this book. It's about a boy who doesn't really worry about  fitting in with the crowd. Summer is a great time for him because he can really get into something that interests him - so he creates his own civilization called Weslandia. He has a staple food crop, food, clothing, shelter and even recreation. Pretty soon all the other kids want to come check out what he is doing.

I like this book because I think almost everyone at one time or another feels like they don't fit in. And who couldn't be inspired by a kid who just goes about doing something great, rather than worrying about "having" or "being" or "doing" just like everyone else. If you ask me, when you quite worrying about everyone else that's what you can really find your own real happiness.

One funny little quirk....inside this book a child had left some sticky notes. Whoever that kid is, I love him/her!
Photo: Book note 1Photo: Book note 2

I have really been looking for some great picture books to kick off the school year. This one might be one - but even more, I think it would be a great one to read at the end of the school year as kids are embarking on summer vacation. Although, because this book is so good, and the illustrations are great, it might be a great one to kick off our year's book club discussions!

Ish (Peter H Raynolds)

Another great self-esteem book. I think there are some great teachable truths from this book! I found a great blog with some ideas for that too! Check it out here.

You can't always do it all perfectly, so do it -ishly....draw pictures that are peace-ish, silly-ish, etc. Writing poem-ish poetry

Love the ending: ...and Ramon lived ishfully ever after.

The Junkyard Wonders (Patricia Polacco)

I wasn't totally comfortable with this book...but then again, sometimes great books DO make you uncomfortable and make you think about things like how people treat each other. I couldn't quite get over the idea that a bunch of kids were put into one class because they were odd or didn't learn very well. I guess I'm a fan of inclusive education, deep down inside! I also couldn't stand the label - the Junkyard, that was given to the class. So hurtful!! The teacher has a positive spin on it, but I wonder how many kids really bought it, or bought it soon enough to not be damaged by the label.

The story is about a girl who is excited that she will be going to a new school where no one knows about her issues, only to find out she is in the class with all the kids with issues, and everyone knows it. They have a great experience together though that binds them and that they never forget (and the author writes a book about it). It's kind of heart warming, especially as an adult, but I'm not sure it'd be a great one for kids. Then again, it might bring about some great discussions about inclusion and friendship!


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

My Exercise Revolution

I watched this great You Tube video today about exercise. He starts off talking about a antedote that helps almost everyone. He states all the benefits and lists percentages of people whose health improves with the antedote. He says the single best thing we can do for our health is EXERCISE!

I set a goal this summer to become more of an exerciser. I knew I needed to. I hurt my foot this year. What did I do?? Well, nothing. I was just walking down the hallway at school one day when it started hurting. I really think the root of it all was inactivity. I was starting to really fall apart!! Dr. Dottridge says it is achilles tendonitis and will take months to recover from. I decided I needed to change that this summer. I am embarrassed to say that even walking at first just about did me in. It was totally exhausting!! After a few weeks though I started to get stronger, and now I have even been going for bike rides with Peirce after I get home from my walk! (Then I come home totally exhausted) I'm really glad I could work on this over the summer though because you can't work out and then be a wreck for the day while teaching....I can do that in the summer though!! :) And now I'm not even totally a wreck after exercising. I was looking at some 5K races today and I think I just might enter one somewhere in the fall (still undecided). My goal is to become a day. In the meantime I will continue exercising an hour a day. I plan to ride my bike to school in the fall for as long as the weather holds out. Sometimes I think, "Who am I kidding??" But then again, I really want to be a success story. I also keep hearing lately about how exercise is a great way to ward of cancer. I have a bit of a fear of getting cancer, and so I am motivated to do what I can to stave that off.

I'm serious enough about this that I'm even going to make a new label: Fitness.

I'm really going out on a limb here!!

Gratitude Challenge - August 14

1. Shelter from storms! We have had some doozies the past few days...and we have come through them unscathed.

2. Visiting Teaching One of the sisters I visit had a birthday on Saturday. Our Saturday was crazy and I couldn't go see her that day, so today I took her a bowl of sticky popcorn. She was so gracious and so grateful...warmed my heart. I likely would have never got to know her if it wasn't for visiting teaching.

3. Life After Death Today our friend, Pete Estrabrooks, passed away. I was just talking this morning with my walking buddy about how real the plan of salvation has become to me after losing some people close to me - namely Destiny, and my dad. When I learned today that Pete had passed away last night I wondered what he and my dad are doing right now. I'm sure they're debating the score of some team somewhere!

4. Sleepovers Peirce gets to go have a sleepover at a friend's tonight. He has looked forward to it since Sunday. So glad he has such good friends!

5. Bikes Peirce and I have been biking this week to Park and Play. I have had moments where I think it might kill me. Luckily, my exercise goals this summer work well with my reading goals. I go exercise in the morning by walking for an hour and then riding with Peirce, and by the time we're finished I feel as though that is all I can do!! So I shower, and then get into a book. It's perfect!! I just realized today too that I no longer think about how much my bum hurts when I ride. I guess I'm getting tougher!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Gratitude Challenge - August 13

Wow. Missing a day of Gratitude Challenge is like missing a day of exercising. Suddenly one day is three (well, usually with exercise if I miss a day suddenly it seems to become a week...but that's another story)

Time to get back on track!

1. Visits Jill came home this past weekend. It was so fun to see her. She tried to pack in as much as she could in the few days she was home. I'm not sure it was long enough, but I'm grateful for what time we did have!

2. House Parties One of my favorite people, Jenni, had a house-warming/Olympics party. Love!!

3. Interviews Allen has had plenty of people in for interviews. I'm so grateful he has been able to set up those interviews and find some good people. Here's hoping it turns into some new prosperous team mates!

4. Movies Peirce got to go to two movies this weekend. On Friday, after the house-warming/Olympics party they went to the drive-in at Deerfoot Mall. Then on Saturday I took Peirce and his friend to McMahon stadium to watch a muppet movie. They had invited everyone who works at the football games to a movie night on the turf. Fun!! It was a great place to watch a movie!!

5. Saying No Sounds weird. But we had someone ask if they could come stay with us. I did not feel good about the prospects at all. So not good in fact that it made me cry almost intantaneously when I talked about it. So weird. I made a few calls and talked to people who knew this person and still didn't feel any better. I'm so grateful for the whisperings of the spirit. I'm grateful I was able to say no and that it was that simple. I'm grateful that Allen was supportive of that! I's a weird thing to be grateful for, but I am!

Picture Books Galore

Here's what I've been reading the last few days:

Yesterday I Had the Blues (Jeron Ashford Frame)

This is a cute story that uses great language. The main character in the story talks about how everyone in the family has different moods, and it compares those moods to color. It would be a great way to talk to kids about different ways to use language. Color isn't just something you see, it can be something you feel!


What Do You Do With A Tale Like This (Steve Jenkins and Robin Page)

This is great sit-with-a-kid-and-read book. I can imagine a child carefully looking at all the pictures and listening as you read, and having lots of questions! It has tails, mouths, eyes, ears, noses, and feet of different animals. So interesting!


Drumheller Dinosaur Dance (Robert Heidibreder)

This is one of those books I wish I had read to my kids! It would be a great one to read for a few days prior to going on a trip to Drumheller. It's rhythmic and fun and would make for some great bed time reading when you're looking forward to a trip to Drumheller! I need to remember to do that when we're planning a trip somewhere!


Raven and River (Nancy White Carlstrom)

This book has beautiful illustrations and rhytmic language. It is all about animals in Alaska. It inspired me to find books set in the countries we will study in Social Studies this year. There's so much to learn about a country even just be reading stories about life there.


Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (Margaret Atwood)

The more I read this book the less I liked it and the less use I could think of for it - except that you could give a kid a sentence and have them use the dictionary to find out what most of the words meant and see if they could figure out what the sentence means. Ugh. The story uses the letter R all through's amazing in that sense! But not very readable for kids, I think. The inside cover says it is a rare and rewarding treat for readers of all ages - but I don't think it's for many of the younger ages. Odd.


Thursday, 9 August 2012

More Picture Books!

Here are some of the books I've been reading this week. I've been reading a big fat book called The Forgotten Garden, so I've needed to add some pictures books each day.

Missing Math - A Number Mystery (Loreen Leedy)

This is a rhyming story about a day when all the numbers disappeared. It has a great rhythm and you easily get caught up in the lists and lists of things they now cannot do since all the numbers are missing. Cute story!

Timothy's Tales from Hilltop School (Rosemary Wells)

This is kind of a chapterbook storybook. There is a story about a science fair, a birthday party, a project on birds, lunchroom problems and learning your own strengths, learning about measuring, and a bug study.


My Big Brother (Valorie Fisher)

I love this book! It's very simple, yet a wonderful view on a baby's perspective of his big brother. It would be fun to make a replica of this book for a big sister or a big brother I know and love!


Zoe and Beans: The Magic Hoop (Chloe and Mick Inkpen)

This is a cute story about a girl (Zoe) and her dog (Beans). In this story she has a magic hoop and she teaches Beans to jump through it. When he jumps through it he turns into something different. This might be a fun story for teaching the magic of three when the Gr 3's learn about how to create suspense in their stories.


Little Polar Bear ans the Big Balloon (Hans de Beer)

The author of this book is Dutch and apparently he has a series of books about Little Polar Bear. It is a cute book. Little Polar Bear meets a penguin whose wings have been covered in oil from an oil spill. He helps the penguin out and they end up helping the penguin find its way home by taking off in a hot air balloon they come across.


The Skeleton in the Closet (Alice Schertle)

The poor boy in this book has a skeleton come into his room in the night!! It is a cute story with rhyming and a funny twist at the end. A great book to read in October!


The Goblin and the Empty Chair (Mem Fox)

I read a book by Mem Fox once called Reading Magic: How Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, so when I saw this one I had to take it out of the library.

This is a great story about compassion and doing kind things for each other. A gobling, realizing how scary he looks, hides himself from the world. But then he comes across a family who is sad and he helps them.

A beautiful story! Definitely one to read when we're doing compassion as a character virtus.


Barnyard Banter (Denise Fleming)

The words in this book are very simple - more a toddler storybook than one for Grade 3, but the pictures are AMAZING!! They're bright and simple. It would be a great example to show kids about the beautiful illustrations they could do in their stories.


Dream Away (Julie Durango and Katie Bell Trupiano)

This is a beautiful, lyrical book that I would feel great about reading to my sleepy child....the illustrations are beautiful and I believe they would bring sweet dreams to any child! Not sure how I'd use it in the classroom. I'm sure there's some application for it though!


When Dinosaurs Came With Everything (Elise Broach)

I've blogged about this book before, but when I saw it at the library I just had to get it. It's a hilariously whimsical story about a boy who hates doing errands with his mother, until one day, while doing errands, people keep giving him dinosaurs. How exactly will he get all these dinosaurs home?? His poor mother is having birdies.

The illustrator for this book is David Small, who also illustrated one of my favorite books: The LIbrary by Sarah Steward. I must get some more David Small books! He's amazing!


Gratitude Challenge - August 9

1. Olympics: it's so inspiring to watch these amazing people complete! I love having the time to watch it.

2. Muffins: I made banana chip gluten free muffins today. Yummm!

3. Anthony: Peirce has a really good friend named Anthony. They have played more together this summer than they ever have in the past. Peirce has had a great time with him.

4. Moves: Storybook Theatre Calgary is moving to my community. Yea!! When we go on a Friday after swim practice it is always a stress because there isn't quite enough time. Now that won't be an issue, I'm sure! Plus, they have theatre programs I've always wanted to put Peirce in, but didn't want to drive so far for. Now those programs are more of a possibility in our life!

5. Shakespeare in the Park: So glad to be able to introduce my children to Shakespeare. They have enjoyed it for years! It's just a little toe dip for them, for it is good exposure, and I love the plays too!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Gratitude Challenge - August 8

1. Cousins: Peirce is having a playdate with cousins today. I'm so glad to have some cousins near by. We love them!
2. Facebook: I spend enough time on it. I should express gratitude for it!
3. Freezer meals: I made some this month. I love freezer meal days!
4. Showers. Nothing feels better than a lovely cool shower after a hot walk!
5. Time for housework. During the school year time is short and not as much housework gets done. I'm really glad to be able to spend some time catching up this summer!

Today my note of thanks and appreciation will go to my sister!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gratitude Challenge - August 7

1. Blueberries. Yum!!
2. Walks. I have been walking in the mornings with a friend, and I think it's making a difference in my life! (In more than one way) :) I appreciate the company, the conversation, and the push to exercise more.
3. Bikes. We found an abandoned bike today! We will do our due diligence to try to find the owner...and if none is found (as I suspect), then we will give Jill a new great bike!
4. Coincidences. Allen was just wishing he had some guy's phone number, and who does he run into in the mall? Yup. Appointment set!
5. Cool evenings. It hasn't been quite as hot in the evening today. Phew!!

And today my little note of thanks shall go to my sister-in-law.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Gratitude Challenge - August 6

1. I'm grateful my husband takes his role as a dad seriously. He works hard to make sure he has a good relationship with Jill and Peirce. Peirce and he have a "Boy's Club" and they go do fun things (like camping this past Saturday!). Jill often goes to him first for comfort when she's frustrated or needs help figuring out a problem in life (especially with swimming).  He is a great dad.

2. I'm grateful for laundry machines! I probably have the oldest washing machine that isn't a wringer washer. It just keeps on ticking!

3. I'm grateful I have three weeks left of summer! So much to do!

4. I'm grateful that my achilles tendonitis is getting better. My doctor didn't think walking would cure it, but it sure seems to help!

5. I'm grateful school will start in three weeks. I miss everyone!

Today I will write a note of thanks to my mom. She's had to learn to move on in life after dad died, and she has learned to live a happy live despite the sadness. She has LOTS of interests and talents and can do pretty much anything! She continues to be a great example and a great mom. I love her!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Aug 5

1. I'm grateful I learned to sew. Today I got some curtain rods from someone on Freecycle. I will make some new curtains for our living room.

2. I am grateful for Sundays. I love having an excuse to take a break from the regular weekly work. I need it, and I'm a bit of a zealot about it because I know what a difference it makes in my life.

3. I am grateful I get to play the organ on Sundays.

4. I am grateful for my SS class. Today there were only 3 kids there. I was a little nervous about how it'd go with such a small crowd - but it was just fine. They're great kids.

5. I'm grateful for the Olympics! We have been having a great time watching.

Today I shall write a note to my son to tell him I great I think he is. He started out shy and quiet, but sure didn't stay that way. He does enjoy a good day of caving though after being out having fun. He is a good boy. He is an amazing reader and writer (writes his own talks!) and very crafty. I think if I can work it right he might turn into someone who is good at fixing stuff and making stuff with tools I can't use. :) Sure do love him! The fact is, I'm plain ol' crazy about him!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Gratitude - Aug 4

I realized today I'm supposed to be listing FIVE things I'm grateful for!! Oops. At least it only took me four days to get on track.

1. I'm grateful for solitude today!! Jill is gone to E-town and Peirce and Allen decided to go camping. They left around 1:00 and will be back early tomorrow so Allen can still get to his meetings and Peirce can give his in the meantime I'm enjoying the solitude. Some people don't like being alone. Now and then, I relish in it. My normal routine is clean the house and then sit and watch it stay clean!! I also added a bunch of reading to my schedule today, and some work on my SS lesson.

2. Freecycle!! I love freecycle. Today I got rid of two bikes in our garage, and have two potential takers for our big big big TV!

3. I'm grateful for books. So grateful! Today I spent HOURS reading. I haven't done that for a long time. It does something good to my soul. So grateful for time to read!!!

4. I'm grateful for reading while lying on the couch with the fan blowing on me.

5. I'm grateful for hot weather! The last two days have been rather cool and rainy. I almost considered putting on long pants...but the hot weather is back. Phew! Love it!

And today, my note will go to my own dear husband. Who could ask for a better man?! He is such a good dad. Our kids really love him and have a special relationship with him. I love that. And I am crazy about him!! I hope he is having fun in the mountains. I am so grateful for all he does to be a great husband and great dad. I admire how he is always trying to do better. He has big goals, and works hard. I love him to bits!

Graphix Novels

Further to my plans to read at least one book from series that are popular with the kids I teach, I decided to read some graphix novels. Truthfully, I was a little confused about what they even are. I thought they were all Japanese cartoons (manga??) - but they aren't. There are graphix novels for all sorts of books. They're like a comic book, but they don't end with cliff hangers (usually). I was surprised, when I perused the graphix section at the library, the wide range of graphix novels that exist! I will definitely be taking some of these out of the library for my class to enjoy this year.

Reading these novels, I thought about how it could be a good way in my Sunday School class to go over the reading for the week. It would be a good exercise for me too, to have to translate the reading into a summary in comic form. I wonder if I could do it?? It would be interesting in my class, too, to have them re-tell some stories in the form of a graphix novel! Hmmmm.....

Today I read Stickman Odyssey by Christopher Ford. I actually got two of them out of the library. I couldn't stomach both of them though. I figured one was enough.

The good thing about these books is they would help kids who are struggling readers, feel like they are becoming really good readers. If a kid is more visual, the pictures would be really helpful (I found I had to force myself to stop and take time to look at the drawings as I usually just run through the words really fast). Also, this one has lots of typical thigh-slapping humor that kids love. I would imagine too, that kids would enjoy reading these more than once as the stories in this one were quite intertwined.

I really liked the review on Kirkus:

In the first six pages of this graphic meta-goof on The Odyssey, our stick-figure hero, Zozimos, nearly drowns, gets lost in a jungle, is captured by golems and gets thrown in jail. The pace never really lets up over the 200 pages of the book, as he tries to find his way home to Sticatha. Readers may feel as though they’re flipping channels on a remote, and every channel is showing an action movie. There’s too much medias, too much res and not enough time spent developing the characters. Ford almost seems afraid to let them sit down and just talk. Some readers may need to page through the story a second time to realize that Zozimos is sort of charming, and a few turns of phrase are quite funny (“By Hades’ pajamas”). It would be easy, though, to get distracted by Zozimos’ many selfish actions and his refusal to listen to anyone else. Early in the book, King Marnox says, “The way I see it, everything that happened was your own fault for being a shortsighted jerk.” It’s hard to disagree. A few leisurely pauses here and there might have given readers more opportunity to sympathize with the main character.


The Royal History of Oz (Tommy Kovac and Andy Hirsch)

  THIS book is what I imagined graphix novels to be like....written by a non-comformist type, with violence and a statement about society. That being said, don't worry, it isn't a book that I wouldn't let my kids read. It's just fine. And actually, I learned a lot from it. The author of the Wizard of Oz, Richard Baum, apparently wrote a number of Oz books, 13 in fact! Who knew! The publisher tried pumping out some more after the author's death, but they weren't a great success.   This stody is about a 15 year old boy, Frank. His dad is a writer, but not successful at all. The story is set in the future and he is writing an Oz story even though there has been a cease and desist order on Oz stories.

It all gets very interesting when the dad discovers that Oz is actually real...and that is exactly when the real trouble starts.

Definitely an interesting read! I'd recommend it, for sure!

    Then I got quite excited about graphix novels when I read this one:
Page by Paige (Laure Lee Gulledge)

This one made me stop and look at the pictures. They were amazing!!  It is a story about a girl who moves from Virginia to New York. She, like any kid who moves, has a hard time feeling like it's home. She buys a blank book and starts to record drawings in it, and they're simply amazing! Like this one:

I tell myself that everyone else feels alone, too.

(not sure why this one is in color...they're all black and white in the book)

There are tons of pictures I can see a kid taking out of the book and putting on their wall - or at least sitting and looking at them and thinking about it. They're really great! And the writing in this one was much better - something I'd be happy to encourage a kid to read! I would love to read and discuss this book with kids Jill's age. I think it would be a big hit! I hope there are more of these to come. The author has a blog (wellk truthfully, when I got looking I discovered she actually has TEN blogs! ....but that link will do) and she says that she is working on her second graphix novel - but it is a different character.

I read a few reviews other people have written and it seems other people were equally taken by the drawings. Check out this review, and this one too.

I will definitely be on the look out for more great graphix novels. Love them!


Picture Books!

I've been reading a bunch of picture books lately. I really love picture books and plan to use them a lot in my classroom this year. Here are some of my favorites:

The World Champion of Staying Awake (Sean Taylor and Jimmy Liao)

Stella needs to get her toys to go to sleep. Imagination and storytelling finally does the trick. Really cute book!


Little Ant, Big Thinker - or - Where Does the Ocean End?
(Andrew Usatschow/Alexandra Junge)

I love this book. The little ant, and his elephant friend are trying to figure out how they can see the end of the ocean. Along comes a fish who tells them that it ends right here. Talk about perspective!! It's a simple book but could be a great starter for interesting discussions about thinking and perspective.


How Rocket Learned to Read (Tad Hills)

Rocket is a carefree little puppy who happens to run into an old bird set on being a teacher. (okay...that's my the book she's really just called a little yellow bird...but I think of her as an old bird because she's so bossy!) Rocket finds it hard to argue with her and eventually does become her student. She hooks him by reading stories to him! Rocket does learn to read, and he learns to love to read books again, and again, and again!

Zoom (Tim Wynne-Jones/Eric Beddows)

This picture book is for kids with a good attention span! It is 100 pages long. It would be a good way to encourage attention and celebrate being able to read a book that is 100 pages long.

I think this is part of a series. I found a number of Zoom books on the internet when googling for a picture. I loved the illustrations in this book - black and white and great detail. Beautiful!

This book made me laugh right from page 1 where Zoom, the cat, straps wooden spoons to his paws so he can play in water. A cat playing in the water?! I love it! This book is full of different adventures Zoom gets involved with - traveling to the sea, to the North Pole, and ancient Egyptian ruins.

As I was reading this book it suddenly struck me that this would be a great way to introduce Book Club to my Grade 3's this year. In each of Zoom's adventures he actually doesn't leave home (you'll have to read it to see how that happens!) And in his last adventure he gets there through a great staircase of books - great symbolism! I could read this book, talk about Zoom's adventures, and how reading lets us go to all sorts of places. I could talk about where the Grade 3's went last year, and then invite them to join book club. makes me excited!