Sunday, May 31, 2009

Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day

Most Recently Read Book:

Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day

By Teri Crane

I'm ready!  I read the book and I can so do this!  I'm really excited.  I think because Chad and I are teachers we totally get the idea of positive reinforcement and the ideas in this book are all about positive reinforcement.  Somehow I'm going to have to make Chad at least read the chapter all about what exactly you have to do and say, but I think we can totally pull this off.

The main question is, is Jordan ready?  I think he actually is really close.  I think mentally he will grasp the concept and then it shouldn't be too hard.  I'm a little nervous about when we'll have to be away from home and everything but we'll make it work.  I can't wait to have the potty party actually!  Basically, Jordan will wake up one day and we'll just have a major potty party.  He'll get a doll that can pee and we'll start by teaching the doll how to go to the potty.  Then, after lunch, he'll practice going to the potty.  What really cracks me up is that we're supposed to just pump Jordan full of juice so he'll pee all afternoon basically and so we can practice going on the potty.  And what cracks me up even more is that at the end of it all everyone comes over and Jordan gets to throw his diapers away while we all watch.  It's gonna be a blast.  So, who's in for the potty party?  I'll be sure to post when we actually try and see if we can potty train Jordan in one day!

A Writer's Notebook

Most Recently Read Book:

A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You

By Ralph Fletcher

This book is one of Ralph Fletcher's many books about writing.  Having gone through school being taught with the reading and workshop models, when I heard about this book at a school inservice, I thought I would like it.  I finally ordered it through inter-library loan from the library and read it this week.  I really like Fletcher's ideas about keeping a writer's notebook.  It is so true that in order to be a good writer you have to be a good reader, but you also have to look at everything with a writer's eye.  If you read a lot you can immediately recognize an idea that would easily fit into a book and then you have to write it down.  He spends most of the book talking about how to use a writer's notebook.  Already, after reading this book I had myself noticing things to write down.  Here's my favorite so far: 

At the Third Eye Blind concert, the group Low Versus Diamond was opening for them.  The lead singer to LVD introduced the song he was going to sing and said something along the lines of, "I knew this kid who had a Yoko-Ono-kind-of-girlfriend.  He had this Yoko-Ono-girlfriend and he just needed a song written about him."  And then he sang the song, but all I could think about was the way he introduced the song.  

I am super excited to set my students up with writer's and reader's notebooks next year and to see what a difference it makes.  

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Westing Game

Most Recently Read Book:

The Westing Game

By Ellen Raskin

Literally, just finished this book and sat down to right my review because it was awesome.  I love this book!  I can't believe I have never read it before.  It was such a sneaky mystery.  I'm not really good at mysteries to start with so I'm not sure I can really gauge if it would have everyone fooled, but I enjoyed it.  I love the resolution.  This book kind of reminded me of the movie "Clue" and it also reminded me of the new series called The 39 Clues.  Basically, there is a murder and the man who is murdered calls 16 people together to tell them that whoever can figure out who murdered him will inherit his fortune.  They are all paired up and they call get clues to try and decipher.  Of course, I can't give away the ending!  You HAVE to read it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How Reading Changed My Life

Most Recently Read Book:

How Reading Changed My Life

By Anna Quindlen

Well, I basically devoured this book in one day because it's so short...but, I'm not sure I actually got the point!  I liked her revelations about reading and that we read for so many different reasons.  I liked how she pointed out that the real life books aren't going away just because we have online books or those new book reader things.  I also liked that she concluded that we read to take us places and that we can be nomads inside our own heads.  I'm not entirely sure how reading did change her life, except for that she feels grateful to have reading be a part of her life.  Unfortunately, there wasn't too much factual/research support even.  Oh well, I liked reading about someone who loves reading at least!


Most Recently Read Book:

By Tony Abbott

I did a book talk for my students on Friday and we were talking about Jerry Spinelli who wrote Stargirl and Love, Stargirl and they mentioned Firegirl.  Of course, I had to go and get it from the library!  Firegirl is actually completely different from Stargirl and yet somewhat similar actually.  Firegirl is about a 7th grader whose class gets a new girl one day, except this new girl has suffered severe burns all over her body.  The main character, Tom, is so interested in this new girl, Jessica, but not really sure how to be friends with her.  No one feels comfortable around her and they all come up with crazy reasons to explain how she got all the burns.  Tom ends up distancing himself from his friends because they are so immature around Jessica.  He becomes friends with her and finds out the truth about her burns.  In the end, Tom accepts Jessica and learns what it means to be a friend.  

This book reminded me of Stargirl a little bit because Stargirl is about a girl who completely walks to the tune of a different drummer and she ends up shaking up the high school that she moves to because she is so eccentric.  Both of them teach a lesson in accepting others despite their differences.  (Stargirl is still one of my favorites, although I'm not sure I would say the same about Firegirl.)

Monday, May 25, 2009


This weekend we went out to lunch with our friends Chris and Nikki and they gave Jordan a bowling set for his birthday.  He had fun playing with Chad when we got home.  Here he is with his bowling ball.
Here he is trying to set up the pins.
Getting ready to knock them down!
Woo hoo!  Looks like a strike!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chicago Craft Social

Last night, Kathy and Silvia and I went to the Chicago Craft Social.  It was an ingenious event and I would totally go again!  It was so simple but so perfect at the same time.  Basically, it was a bunch of crafters all gathered in a giant room with tables to work.  Some people graciously brought other projects for people to work on and there was great food.  One crafter made extra sticky rice krispie treats with little toothpick cards with labels on them!  It was awesome!           
Here is Silvia working on one of the projects!  It was her birthday!  Happy Birthday, Silvia!
Here are Kathy and I!  My pictures uploaded as "small" so it's hard to tell, but I'm holding my clothespins (scroll down!).  

This was the first project we chose and it was so simple but so much fun!  I'm so going to frame this and put it in my office at school.  I'm going to add the letters r-e-a-d in the yellow squares!

This is a magnetic bookmark.  It was so simple and quick to make but it was sooooo cute!  Can't wait to use it on all my new library books!  I had fun meeting and chatting with Cindy who provided this craft.  She was really nice!  I just checked out her blog and I love the crafty ideas!

This kind of gives you an idea of what the tables looked like.  This was the table for our "Paper-embellished Clothespins".  You can see our clothespins hooked onto the sides!

And here are the clothespins in action on our fridge!!!!!  Gotta love it!  I am definitely going to make more bookmarks and clothespins!

I was definitely inspired to do some simple but fun crafts and even just to get together with friends to craft again.  We all had our sights on duct tape wallets we didn't have time to make!!!

I Love You, Library!

I confess, I am completely head over heels in love with our library!  It is one of my absolute favorite places!  I especially love it now that I have signed up to manage my account online!  That means that I can see what books I have checked out, renew books, and even order books from other is completely dangerous because I end up with armloads of books!  

Yesterday I had a big enough stack waiting for me that they had it on the special shelf for "big" holds!  I was picking up books on CD, fun books for me to read, educational resource books for me to read, and some picture books for Jordan!  I can't wait to read them all!  Here are a few from my pile:

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
Savvy, by Ingrid Law
Sold, by Patricia McCormick
Little Oink, by Amy Krouse-Rosenthal
Chicken Cheeks, by Michael Ian Black
The best part...IT'S ALL FREEEEEEEE!  Have you visited your library lately???  What did you check out!?!

Jason McKie Celebowl 2

On Tuesday night, Aunt Jacquie came over to babysit so Chad and I could go to the Jason McKie Celebowl which is a charity event that lots of Bears players come to.  We went last year and got tons of autographs so we were excited to go again this year.  Since this was their second year they had it a little bit more organized...or maybe, controlled is the word I want, and it was harder to get autographs.  
Chad mainly wanted to get Jay Cutler's autograph.  He is the new quarterback for the Bears.  It was really hard, there was a bodyguard standing at his lane to keep people from going up to him and he basically stood up on the boards the whole time and didn't sign any autographs.  Bummer, dude!
I took my picture with Lance Briggs....I had to apologize for the picture of his hand.  Who knew it was going to be really was lame news.  He forgave me.  I felt so bad!
Me with Urlacher!!!!  We were so excited to see that he came out to the event!
Me with Devin Hester!  Woo hoo!!

Mall Party!

On Monday, we finally celebrated Jordan's birthday for the last time!  It was my idea to do so many little parties but I'm not sure it was a good idea!  Here's my cute munchkin-head.  When we got there he was the only kiddo playing in the play area!
After our friends came and we played for a while went upstairs for dinner and then the kids decorated safari wooden masks using markers!
Our friend, Kathy, made these awesome safari animal cupcakes for us!  The animals are made of chocolate.  They were awesome!  (I had two!)
Jordan blew out his two candles (eventually)!!!
Dad and Jordan opened presents!
Bubbles and his own mini-musical boombox!  It's just his size!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Most Recently Read Book:


By Scott Westerfeld

Loved this book!  This book made all the other books in this series worth reading.  I still thought it was a tiny bit plot-missing at the very end, but overall, I liked this book a lot.  Extras is the 4th book in the Uglies series.  I had high hopes for the series and was a little bit disappointed but I really like how this book tied them all together.  I read somewhere that this book is not technically part of the series because Tally Youngblood, the main character in all the other books, is not the main character in this one, but I think if you have read the other three it's worth it to read this one!  This book takes place three years after the "mind rain" that Tally causes.  It's interesting to see the evolution of the world through these books, according to Westerfeld, at least.  I actually felt more connected to the main character in this book.  I only wish that in the end she would have officially changed more than what is suggested just to teach a lesson, but I still liked the ending.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Allie Finkle's Rules For Girls: Moving Day

Most Recently Read Book:

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Moving Day

By Meg Cabot

After seeing Meg Cabot speak in February, I was excited to read her new series for the younger-than-the-Princess-Diaries kids.  You can definitely hear Cabot's voice in this book, but I felt like it might still be written a little bit too hard for the kids who would be reading it.  The main character is in 4th grade, but I would imagine a 3rd/4th grader reading this book would have a little bit of a hard time...but maybe that's just me.  Overall, this is a cute story about a girl having to move to a new house and the whole experience.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jordan!!!!!!
On Sunday we celebrated Jordan's 2nd birthday with all our family!  We all hung out in the backyard for birthday fun!
My watermelon creation!
The gift table!
Jordan and Alex eating at the kids' table!
Grandma Sue's parrot pinata!!!
Alex and Jordan had fun trying to hit the took someone a littel stronger to break through though!
Once the candy was out, all the kids were excited!!!
Here's Jordan with his cupful of candy!
Cake!!!!  My friend, April, helped me make and decorate Jordan's monkey cake!!!!
Jordan with his monkey cake!
Time for presents!
More presents!
Jordan loved the trucks that he got!  Here he is playing with Sergio.
Cool dude with new sunglasses!
Mom and Jordy!
Alex and Jordan had a ton of fun splashing and playing with Jordan's new water table from Gama and Papa!
He's two!!!!!!

One Thousand White Women

Most Recently Read Book:

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

By Jim Fergus

One of my co-workers told me about this book.  Fergus says it is a semi-historical fiction book because lots of his ideas started from pieces of Cheyenne history but the main character and her journals are totally made up.  The journals tell the story of May Dodd, a woman who was put into an insane asylum by her wealthy family when she had two kids out of wedlock and went to live with her lover, whom the parents deemed not suitable for May.  After being in the insane asylum, May learns about a government program.  A group of Cheyenne made an underground deal with the President of the United States to trade 1000 horses for 1000 white women.  The President declines the offer but then secretly accepts the offer with the Cheyenne.  Where does he get the 1000 white women?  He finds women in insane asylums and jails who are willing to go live with the Cheyenne.  Pretty wild, huh?  I really enjoyed this book.  May Dodd and the other characters are great and I loved the exciting events at the end.  

The Book Whisperer

Most Recently Read Book:

The Book Whisperer

By Donalyn Miller

I can't remember how I heard of this book but doesn't it just sound entrancing?  I was so excited to pick it up from my library and I have been thinking about reading it every chance I get.  I love books that have you itching to get back to them when you are stuck doing something else.  This was such a book.  Now, I have to say, I'm a teacher, so that's probably why this was so intriguing to me, but I think as a parent it was worthwhile to read, too.  

I am a huge reader, for many reasons, but most recently because of a consultant who has worked with my school district since last school year.  He would come and start off a workshop telling us about what he was reading.  I would leave with a list of books I was dying to go home and read.  He instilled in me the idea that I should be reading juvenile/young adult fiction so that when I could talk to my students about what they are reading I can recommend books for them.  I knew what my students were reading, but I knew I could be reading that's what I did.  I have focused on reading as much children's/young adult literature as I can.  I summarize/comment on the books on my blog to keep track of books I have read and I have a list of books that I read every month.  In 2008, I read 87 books and already in 2009 I have read 52 books.  Just like Miller says in The Book Whisperer I find time everywhere to read.  I listen to books on CD in my car and snatch up books any free husband complains that what I consider a "free moment" could also be considered "house cleaning moments" but I tend to disagree.

I love this book because she talks about how just getting kids to read and giving them time to read and being a book lover with them and role modeling reading can truly help kids.  It wasn't a short book but I read it easily and quickly because the writing is very readable and it all makes sense.  To me, anyway.  I was able to recognize the cool stuff I am doing with my students and I also got some new ideas for what I am definitely going to do with my students next year.  Now I'm just waiting for the library in my students' neighborhood to open from a year-long remodeling so I can get them in there and get them reading.  

Miller talks about building a classroom library.  I have a great collection of books, but I could definitely use more!  If anyone has any gently used books you want to send my way I would gladly accept them!   

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Girls

Had to post this picture of me and my girls!  I was so excited that April and Tom and Emily and Derek came to celebrate Jordan's birthday with us today.  We try to all get together every few months because we all live so far apart.  It makes me sad that my closest friends are so far away...but I love that when we do get to hang out we have as much fun as if we did see each other everyday!  

It's so much fun to laugh about fun memories and to be able to make new ones.  Jordan had a blast being the center of attention and gave out hugs to everyone.  Chad got to play Wii with someone other than me.  I got to go to Target and get Starbucks with Emily and April.  It was an awesome day.  Can't wait until we get together again!
April, Jen, and Emily