Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rodrick Rules

Most Recently Read Book:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Jeff Kinney

This was another funny installment to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I love the concept behind this book. Most of it is written like a kid writing in a journal and then there are funny pictures/comics inserted between the words. The pictures just make it so funny. I love how the character just goes through regular kid stuff. I can totally see how kids could relate to this book and how the illustrations make it motivating to read. I think this is an especially good series for boys who aren't so thrilled about reading.

The First Part Last

Most Recently Read Book:

The First Part Last
By Angela Johnson

I loved the writing and how the author describes the main character and his love for his baby. It was super easy to relate to the main character even though my situation is very different from his. It is written in a unique style: one section will be "now" and then the next section will be "then" and it goes back and forth until the "then" catches up with the "now". I would definitely recommend this for new moms because of how the character deals with having a newborn, even if you planned to have a baby or aren't a single parent or aren't a teenager with a baby, it's still a touching story about how a baby changes your life.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Secrets of Peaches

Most Recently Read Book

The Secrets of Peaches

By Jodi Lynn Anderson

This book was a sequel to Peaches, which I recently read. I definitely like this book better, but I'm not sold on the ending. This book at least went somewhere, I felt like the first book took a long time to go anywhere but this one really went places...but it still had a slow-cooker feeling to it. Anyway, the ending, don't you hate the books that have a good ending but it's really a bad ending that is good because it has to be that way? I don't know how to explain it. I do like that it at least gave me a complete and whole feeling when I finished it. I hate endings that really leave you wondering, even though you can make up the ending for yourself, I like to just know so I know. So that's part of this being a good ending because I feel like I know what happened to the characters and where they ended up, but knowing what the ending told me, I'm not necessarily happy for all the characters. Not every story can be a happy ending though, right? Just to clarify, this book did actually have a fairly happy ending minus one character, or two, I guess. You have to read it to decide for yourself! And then maybe try and clarify what I've tried to say here!

Overall, this book really reminded me more of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I like to read about girls who are living and learning about life and going through real experiences that other girls can relate to. I definitely felt more connected with the characters in this book compared to the first book. It was worth reading the first book to be able to read this book though.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sleep Sweet

How cute is this picture? I just love this little boy! Both yesterday and today he had fallen asleep in the car on the way home. I scooped him up out of his car seat and got him up to his crib. I love when he just turns right over and just goes back to sleep. So cute! I just want to crawl in next to him and snuggle. I'll have to settle for my own bed. Naps are fun!

Lake County Discovery Museum

We woke up this morning wondering what adventure we could embark on today. Yesterday was fun and we were looking to get out of the house again but not spend too much money.

In the morning we drove over to a bookstore at Prairie Crossing called Under The Sycamore Tree. It's a cute little shop and they had storytime at 10:00. Jordan got to look at the little birds they have and the snake.

We had a nice lunch at home and then packed up again to go visit the Lake County Discovery Museum which is just a few minutes down the road. We had never been here before. It's a small museum with a postcard exhibit and a couple other exhibits that were okay to look at, but they did have the actually lake county history exhibit which was interesting. There were some hands-on areas where Jordan could crawl around and play. We learned some new facts about lake county. First off, there is a middle school near where Chad works called Daniel Wright Middle School....well, Daniel Wright was the first settler of lake county. Who knew? Giant mastadons used to roam lake county. A baby mastadon would be about 3 feet tall and weigh over 200 pounds. The bridal shower scene from My Best Friend's Wedding, starring Julia Roberts, was filmed in Vernon Hills at the Cuneo Estate. There were some other movies filmed in lake county and actors who were born or lived in lake county as well. Most suprising was that Gary Coleman once lived in Zion, Illinois. It wasn't a surprise to me that Gary Sinise, Uncle Dan from the movie Forrest Gump, was born and grew up in Highland Park because I actually saw him eating dinner at the Night 'N Gale restaurant in Highland Park. Very fun!

Here are some pictures from the museum. (I forgot my camera so these were taken with Chad's camera phone, that's why they aren't so great.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kohl's Children Museum

Today we visited the Kohl's Children Museum! It was funny because when Chad woke up today he was ready to go to the Kohl's Children Museum. We packed Jordan up and headed out. He slept in the car and was ready to go when we got there. I went to the Kohl's Children Museum when I was a kid back in their old building, but now they have a new and improved building. They still have the grocery store and face painting in addition to lots of other great exhibits that fit a kid just-so.
Our first stop was the newly hatched chicks. What a beautiful sign of spring. They were so fluffy and cute. Jordan liked watching them.
Jordan go to see what it's like to work at Potbelly's sandwich works. He even put on the smock! Sandwich anyone?

One of the aspects of the museum are the little nooks for babies from 0-18 months. They are closed off areas nestled amongst the exhibits where the little ones can play and not get trampled. How fun is that?!?

They have a water works room where there are lots of simple machines moving water around. Lots of kids had their rain jackets on in this room. Jordan had no problem trying to get his feet...I mean hands wet!

We loved the Clifford exhibit! We found a nice little spot where Jordan could crawl and walk around without being bothered too much by the other kids. And there were tons of kids! Here's Mom and Jordan with Clifford and Emily Elizabeth.

I think we really wore Jordan out because he slept for two hours in the afternoon. It was a nice little break for us. I think we'll definitely be going back to the Kohl's Children Museum!

What They Found

Most Recently Read Book:

What They Found: Love on 145th Street

Walter Dean Myers

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but it came as a recommendation so I checked it out from the library. This is a collection of short stories all about random characters who live in Harlem in New York. The characters are very relate-able and the stories are insightful but not overly dramatic or over the top. I had said before that I was looking for stories or a book that my students could relate to and I think there might be a few in here that my middle school or high school students could relate to.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter 2008!

It's been a long but beautiful Easter Day. I was up at 5:30 this morning to get to church on time for the 6:30 mass. It was worth going early though because they had tons of extra chairs set up for later masses and I could only imagine how packed it would get. It was neat to pull into church when it was still dark and I could barely see the faintness of the sun starting to peak out from behind the horizon. As mass went on I could see it getting brighter and brighter outside. How appropriate for an Easter morning mass.

When I got home we gave Jordan his Easter basket and then packed up to go to Grandma and Papa Jack's to celebrate with everyone. I need to start taking more pictures of people besides Jordan...because looking back at today's pictures all I really have are pictures of Jordan and Alex. Although they are cute. Here are some Easter highlights.

More Easter baskets from both sets of grandparents, Jane, Guise and Raul, Lito and Sergio, and Rob, Silvia and Alex.

The Easter table all dressed up in fancy tablecloths, bunnycandleholders, flowers, and chocolate!

Gould and Greg...Olsen

Yesterday we had a wild day running around to get Bears' autographs. We realized we have been in a bit of a slump when it comes to collecting autographs. The last time we got an autograph was mid-July! Jordan has changed a lot since July and the going was much easier yesterday.

We started the day off getting Robbie Gould's autograph at a Consumer Credit Union in Waukegan. Robbie is the kicker for the Bears. He is one of my favorite players. He's just so cute. No, seriously, he actually reminds me of Chad, just a clean-cut, humble, nice guy. This is the 3rd time I have met him and he has always been wearing jeans, sneakers, and a nice shirt. Some guys are not talkative or are on their cell phones but not good old Robbie.

After Robbie we headed off to Woodfield to get Greg Olsen's autograph. G-reg was a rookie tight end for the Bears last year. He is really tall! I didn't know what to expect, usually you don't really see the guys standing up because they are sitting there when you walk up to the table, but we were waiting in front of the store when Greg walked in so we got to see how tall he is. He's tall! He ended up being a pretty nice guy too. This even was great because we bought our tickets ahead of time and we were number 2 in line. We didn't really have to wait at all and then we were in and out. This may sound weird, but Chad and I shook his hand. I don't really think I have ever shaken anyone's hand before, but it seemed appropriate to shake his hand. Random, I know.

Overall, it was a great day for autograph collecting. Jordan was a trooper and only complained a little bit for having to be in the car so much. Chad came home and was eager to get Jordan's newest pictures added into his autograph scrapbook. What a great dad!

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

Most Recently Read Book:

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

By Maureen Johnson

I wish someone would give me thirteen little blue envelopes! This is a fun story of a crazy aunt who sends her niece a package containing thirteen little blue envelopes after she dies. Her niece, the main character, Ginny, has to open an envelope, read it and complete the task or go where it tells her and then open the next envelope. The envelopes end up taking her on a wild adventure around Europe. She visits London, Scotland, Italy, fun is that? I hope to someday be able to travel around Europe. I think that would be so much fun. Anyway, Ginny ends up learning a lot about her aunt, people/life and herself on her journeys.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cuba 15

Most Recently Read Book:

Cuba 15

By Nancy Osa

I accidentally found this book. I was wandering around Barnes and Noble looking for a book that my hispanic students could relate to. I know the Clique books are popular right now, and manga is popular, but I was hoping to find something written from the perspective of a hispanic young adult/teen that would be easy for my students to relate to. I did find this great book that I ended up relating to!

This is the story of Violet Paz who is a high schooler in Chicago (love it!). Her dad is Cuban and her mom is Polish. She has recently turned 15 and her grandmother, abulea, wants to help plan a quinceanera for her, which is like a sweet 16 party. The writing is really great and it's a nice story of a young girl growing up very American, but at the same time celebrating her Cuban heritage. It was a fun read.

I personally could relate to this book because my mom is from Guatemala and I have never been there but have had to try and learn about the culture from her and other family members. It's hard to really know what it means to be Guatemalan without ever having been to the country but I am proud to say that my family is from Guatemala. In the end, this is definitely a book that I was able to relate to and I think for sure I will be reccommending this to my students.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing

Most Recently Read Book:

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation

Volume One: Pox Party

By M.T. Anderson
I'm going to do my best to give an objective view of this book even though I really did not enjoy reading it. I usually enjoy historical fiction, and I truly respect this author for documenting such an interesting and probably commonly overlooked part of history. The book was very confusing to me, mainly because I really do not think the exposition was very well-written. I can see why the author left the exposition so vague, because the main character himself was very unclear himself where he was from and who his mother was but to me this was far to confusing for the reader. The author definitely took his time in explaining the life of Octavian, and for me it was too drawn out. I think what also added to my dislike is the fact that I didn't really have prior knowledge to what was going on in Octavian's life that it made it hard for me to really understand what was going on. After reading the explanation the author gives at the end it kind of clears things up, but I still wasn't happy to have spent so much time reading the book. I wanted to give it a fair chance by trying to at least finish it, but I would only reccommend this if you truly have an interest in this particular historical time or the experiments that were conducted, and even then I wasn't a fan of how it was written. I didn't really explain what the book is ask me if you are wondering.

The Green Dog

Most Recently Read Book:

The Green Dog

By Suzanne Fisher Staples
This was a quick read reccommended by one of my 7th grade students. It didn't even make it onto the blog, I seriously read it last night. It's obviously short. It's a sweet story of a young girl who desperately wants a dog, gets a dog, and has fun adventures with her dog one summer. It reminded me that I want a dog...but then reading about all the mischevious-ness made me think, maybe I don't really want a dog. Having a pet really is an important part of growing up. I can't wait to get Jordan his very first pet. I'm kind of partial to hermit crabs, having owned several myself...and I have recently taken a liking to guinea pigs, although I've never had one. Doesn't every little boy just have to have a dog though? Let this be a forewarning to Chad not to refer to, "Go ask your mother," because I'll say yes!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jordan's Latest Haircut

Is this kid cute or what? He has a cute new 'do. It's nice and short like dad. He's standing more and more on his own and taking steps and throwing himself at the couch or something to grab on to. He'll be walking soon!

A Hopeless Romantic

Most Recently Read Book:

A Hope Romantic

By Harriet Evans
This was definitey the chunkiest book I have read lately...but I got through it! I really liked it but it took a long time to set up the fact that the main character was dating a guy who was in a relationship so she ended up with a broken heart when he never left his real girlfriend. After that, Laura, the main character, was able to go off and not intentionally fall in love with a new guy. Unfortunately she spends more time without him, not wanting to let herself be in love and happy. Well....can you figure out how it ends? I loved the writing when Laura got to be with Nick, it was very cute...but, for me, there was too much non-loviness.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Horton Hears A Who

Last night I went to see Horton Hears A Who with my sister, Jacquie. The movie just opened last night and we were excited to see it. For a cartoon, I was entertained the whole time. Jim Carrey does the voice of Horton and he did a great job. There weren't any parts that were too-Jim-Carrey for me so that was good. It was about an hour and a half long and I didn't get bored at all. It actually seemed to go fast. The animation was really cool and there were lots of Dr. Seuss elements that were fun.

How To Be Popular

Most Recently Read Book:
How To Be Popular
By Meg Cabot
Meg Cabot is one of my favorite girly authors. I have listenened to all but the most recent in the Princess Diaries series, Teen Idol, and All-American Girl. I started with the Princess Diaries because I loved the movies. Now that I have read more books by her, I'm noticing a major theme to her books. Usually there is a girl who's not very popular and who is looking for love. Most of the time she has the love of her life right in front of her but just doesn't see it until the end of the book. They are still fun reads, especially perfect after reading a long or intense book. I love the way she writes because it is so easy to relate to the characters and to what they are going through. Perfect if your in the mood for an easy, hopeless romantic kind of read.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Silo Pizza!

We met up with Billy and Leslie for pizza at The Silo in Lake Bluff. Let me warn you that if you plan to go to Silo on a Sunday, they do not open until 4:00 p.m.! This was a little strange, but we had drinks at Starbucks while we waited for it to open. The Silo is a Jones and Vincent family favorite. Jordan enjoyed the thin crust and the pan pizza as well as the entertainment, a balloon artist. We are happy to report that we dined peacefully and made it home safely.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Raul!

Last night we went to the New China Buffet for dinner to celebrate Raul's birthday. Jordan could not get enough to eat. He had peaches, melon, watermelon, egg whites, chicken, and noodles. He was loving it! He also liked to look at the raised paintings/artwork. Chad learned how to eat crab legs and really liked them. It was a fun celebration!

Wilmot Ski Trip

Chad and I went skiing at Wilmot on Friday night with his school. They go every Friday night and ski and snowboard. We still aren't adventurous enough to try snowboarding. This is really only our third time even skiing. It was definitely easier this time around. We did fall a couple of times though. It would be a success to not fall, maybe next time. It was pretty cold but it was nice because it wasn't really crowded. Chad and I did some new hills that we had never tried before. Some were pretty steep but we survived. There were some little little kids there. It will be fun to take Jordan when he gets a little older. I definitely think it's a sport that you would benefit from doing when you are young instead of trying to learn when you are older. We may try and go again, but hopefully it will get really warm and we won't even have a chance. I'm so ready for warm weather!

At The Mall Again

We met up with Kathy and Maddy at the mall again on Wednesday. Jordan loves to play in the kiddie area. He feels like a big boy. Maddy had fun hanging out in the boat and chasing Chad. Jordan got to ride in the car stroller.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Most Recently Read Book:

The People of Sparks

By Jeanne Deprau

This book is the sequel to The City of Ember. It's kind of hard to explain this book without ruining the whole plot of The City of Ember. I'll try not to divulge too much! These are definitely science fiction books, they remind me of The Giver by Lois Lowry and the books that go along with it. Both books introduce us to two different civilizations. It definitely makes you think and take a closer look at human behavior. If you liked The Giver I would suggest The City of Ember and The People of Sparks. And if you read them, let me know what you think!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Most Recently Read Book:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
By Jeff Kinney
I saw this book at one of my schools' book fairs. It is hugely popular. I had no idea what it was until I started reading. It's kind of like a diary but there are pictures that go along with what is being written kind of like a comic strip. It is sooo funny. I even had Chad reading it and he was getting a kick out of it. The main character is just a dorky middle schooler and the book chronicles his life as a kid just wanting to fit in. It's a fun read and goes really fast. I'm excited for the sequel!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Who Will Make The Top 12?

Don't worry, I know Blake Lewis was from last season, but he's performing tomorrow night! I miss Blake. *sigh*

Back to this year, tomorrow we'll find out who the top 12 will be for this season of American Idol! Overall, I definitely see improvement across the board. Everyone has gotten way more comfortable on stage.

Okay, as far as the boys go, I still love David Archuleta, but I wasn't a huge fan of this week's performance. Did you hear Simon say he'll probably be one of the final two?!?! He kind of reminds me of Jordin Sparks from last year, just really cute, innocent but really great at singing, too. I like David Cook more and more. I'm not sure he can win it, but I think he's really good. Can Danny Noriega please go home? Please? And I think Luke Menard is on his way, too. He's pretty cute and kind of reminds me of Orlando Bloom, but I can't take his performances (the singing OR the dancing) any more.

Now, the girls are all really good so I'm not sure who will go or who I really want go to. Chad has a thing for Kady Malloy...I just think she's gross. Tonight she impressed me vocally so I'm not sure she'll be the one to go but...I think she's gross. I actually liked Brooke the most now that I think about it. I think she did a good job of making her song unique even though the judges wouldn't necessarily agree with me.

I was kind of lukewarm about this year's Idol contestants but now I'm starting to come around. They are all, for the most part, talented singers. We'll see tomorrow.


Most Recently Read Book:
By Jodi Lynn Anderson
This book is about three unlikely friends who actually become the best of friends while working at a peach orchard in Georgia. It seemed like it took a really long time for these girls to actually get together and for anything climactic to actually happen in the book. And then when it did get interesting, it wasn't all that interesting. I like the girls' friendship though and how they become loyal to each other. I know there is a sequel where the girls go off to college, maybe that would be better now that their friendship is all set up and we don't have to read so much about that. I did like the author's descrptions and can't hardly wait any longer for summer to get here. It's on it's way!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Everything On A Waffle

Most Recently Read Book:

Everything On A Waffle

By Polly Horvath
This was a very cute book about a young girl named Primrose whose parents are lost at sea during a storm. She feels in her heart that they are still alive and knows they will come home, but in the meantime she meets and spends time with various people who try to help her. My favorite parts are the ends of the chapters where there is a new recipe. It makes me feel like I could cook any of the recipes she gives in the book easily just because of the way she presents them. They aren't like a normal recipe with exact measurements, it's more like a friend telling you how to make an old family recipe. I think this book would be very fun to read a chapter a day and make the recipe she suggests. It had my mouth watering for waffles!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Our Cute Little Squeaky

It's good to be home again with our drooly Squeak Martin. We bought a roasted turkey at Target today and he just gobbled it up for dinner (pun definitely intended). He also had some Yo Baby! yogurt, which Chad sampled and said tastes really good. The cutest part though, after he had been eating for a while he started twisting his little hands to say, "All Done!" Chad and I started doing it and saying, "All Done!" and he was so happy. We are convinced he totally has figured out to tell us he is all done. He hasn't done it for Patty, our babysitter, yet. I think he's catching on, though. He has his sleepy sign mastered. When Jordan is tired, he will put his right thumb in his mouth, and at the same time use his right hand to pull his little left hand into his sleeve. It's adorable. As soon as we see that, it's upstairs, read a book, lights out, kiss, two seconds of rocking and down to sleep. It's a beautiful thing.

The Thief Lord

Most Recently Read Book:
The Thief Lord
By Cornelia Funke
I just finished listening to The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke in the car today. I love when you don't quite expect books to be all that good, but then they surprise you. Something about the cover intrigued me, but I wasn't really overly excited to start this book. It is a story of a group of orphans who live in Venice. Their leader, the Thief Lord, steals objects that they, in turn, sell to a shopkeeper in order to make money to live off of. Everything seems to be going well until Prosper and Bo's aunt comes looking for them. She hires a detective to track them down. In the meantime, the Thief Lord is commissioned by a strange old man to steal a wooden wing from a woman's house. The wooden wing belongs to a winged-lion from a famous merry-go-round. There are lots of secrets that are revealed along the way. My favorite part was reading about and remembering the streets, bridges, and canals of Venice. Overall, two thumbs up.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

We're Off To See The Millers!

...the wonderful Millers of Bloomington-Normal!

Knowing Jordan was safely in the hands of Grandma and Papa Jack, we headed off to visit our friends Emily and Derek Miller. Emily was one of our roommates in college. Her and Derek just got married last July. First, we drove to pick up our friends, April and Tom, and from there we all drove together down to Emily and Derek's. It was a nice, short road trip but we still felt like we were far away from home.

We headed straight to Emily and Derek's house where we were greeted by their dog Millie...who's picture I didn't take! Wait, I do think I have one picture of Millie. We got a tour of their new house (they moved in in December). My favorite room was the book nook. It was so cute and cozy. There was an oversized armchair and ottoman and two windows. Perfect for snuggling up to read.

For lunch we had chili and a yummy cake for dessert. After that the girls wanted to find some boutiques downtown. We wandered a little through the shops and then made earrings at a bead store. The boys hung out at a bar while we designed earrings for ourselves. It sounds easy, but it does actually take some time to come up with just the right beads. Next, we ate dinner at an Irish bar called Maggie Miley's, on the Victorian side, if you were wondering. Who knew leek and potato soup could be so good?

After a quick stop to relieve Millie, we were off to watch the Bloomington Prairie Thunder hockey game. We took our picture with the mascot, Chip, who April seemed to take a liking to. We saw the world's most flexible man wiggle his way through a tennis racket. We got our weeble wobbles signed by random-hockey-player, Parsons, although Emily doesn't quite remember. We tried to throw our pucks into the sunroof of a car to win it...but we didn't make it. We tried to win the 50-50 raffle...and Tom really did!!! That was highlight of the night. He went home $119 richer!

Sounds like a busy day, but the night was still young. Back at Emily and Derek's we played Kemps, a card game. We played 3 games to 5 and each couple one one game. I really do think luck is a huge part of the game, but there is a strategic side as well. We had fun trying to signal our partners when we collected four of a kind.

Finally, it was time for bed, we all retired to our respective sleeping areas. For some reason I was up at 7:30. What to do when you are the only one awake at 7:30 in the morning? Read in the book nook, of course!

When everyone else woke up we made a killer breakfast of waffles, bacon, eggs, and toast. In honor of the book I am currently reading, Everything on a Waffle, by Polly Horvath, April and I piled our breakfast onto our waffles. It was very tasty.

Before we left, we played one more card game: Mow. I learned Mow in high school at camp. It is such a wild but fun game. Basically, you can't know the rules when you start. The Mow starts by saying, "Play goes to the left of the dealer. John, Paul, George, Ringo. The game is Mow, it's starting now." And then everyone has to play and figure out the rules as you go along. There are tons of variations to the game, but that is how I know to start it. We just played with basic rules but it was fun.

Then we were off. Back on the road we played "Name That Tune" with Chad's iPod. Overall, it was a great weekend. We took lots of pictures so I could post them on my blog. I chose the most blog-worthy pictures for this post, but I am going to hopefully figure out how to make a slideshow. I can't seem to figure it out...check back later!