Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gods Behaving Badly

Most Recently Read Book:

Gods Behaving Badly

By Marie Phillips

This book was one of the books on our list of choices for book club that we didn't choose last month but that I found really intriguing and I had to get it at the library.  Gods Behaving Badly is about all the Olympian gods and goddesses and what they are up to now.  They are obviously still alive because they are immortal after all!  

I loved that the characters were over the top, if they were regular characters it would be a little unbelievable to me, but because most of the characters are Greek gods and goddesses then it's perfect for them to be selfish and over-indulgent.  I loved the characters but I also really enjoyed the plot.  If you like Greek mythology I think you'll really like this book!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Digital Scrapbooking

After my One to One session at Apple last week I feel like I can really do this digital scrapbooking stuff.  I have already made a handful of pages that now I have to figure out how and where to print.  Here are a few of my scrapbook pages so far!  I'm having fun because it's fairly simple but looks so nice and all I need is my computer!!!!  So far I have just used the artwork backgrounds that come with Photoshop Elements, but I'm sure I'll get more creative and pull stuff from online sites at some point.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                        Here is a page from when Mamita went back to Guatemala in February.   

This is a page from February when we hung out with our friends the Lanzaras.
And this page is from when I went with my friend, Kathy, to meet Meg Cabot in February!


Aren't they cool!  And I'm only getting started!!!!

Our Wedding Anniversary

We celebrated our four year wedding anniversary on Friday!  I can't believe it has already been four years but at the same time it feels like it was forever ago.  I still miss my wedding dress and wish I could pull it out of the closet and put it on...if it wasn't packed up all nicely in a giant box...

Here are some pictures from our wedding at Bellagio.  We had so much fun and I have such great memories from our trip to Las Vegas to get married.  The whole wedding process was a lot of work but lots of fun at the same time.  Chad and I worked together on so much.  I was happy he was so involved in our wedding.  He was my partner and my rock then and still is today.  I love you, Chad!  


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Like Father Like Son

I didn't really post a Father's Day post, so here it is!  I took these pictures last week when Jordan and Chad were playing with Chad's new Wii tennis game.  Jordan loves to play Mario with his dad.  They have so much fun playing together, I can tell Chad loves Jordan's playfulness but also cherishes how sweet and cute he can be, too.  It's moments like these that are priceless to me: being at home, spending time together, relaxing.  I'm so proud to have Chad as my husband and happy that Jordan gets to have him as a dad.  Love you, Chad!!!

Digital Scrapbooking for Dummies

Most Recently Read Book:

Digital Scrapbooking for Dummies

By Jeanne Wines-Reed and Joan Wines

This book had a lot of great ideas...but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, unfortunately.  I think I'm beyond this book, I just need help with Photoshop!!!  I think I have read one Dummies book before, but I can't remember what for.  I like them, this one has lots of chapters about lots of useful things.  They start with an explanation of digital scrapbooking and all the things you'll need (which I already have...) and then there are ideas for layouts (which I'm already aware of after CTMH...) and ideas for sharing your digital scrapbooks.  

Here's what I was mainly looking for: 
1. How does Adobe Photoshop Elements work? (I think I'm going to request the Photoshop for Dummies from my library, I realized as I was reading that would have been my best bet.)

2. How and Where can I print my pages? (I'd rather print them somewhere so I can get 12 x 12 pages...but where can I do that?)

I guess it's back to the Internet I go...

The Alchemist

Most Recently Read Book:

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

I loved this book from the very beginning.  I listened to this one on my iPod and the reader's voice was awesome.  It had an esteemed air about it.  This is the story of a young boy who goes on a journey in search of his dream.  It's a beautiful story.  I love stories that talk about following your dreams but also listening to your heart.  The ending was great and left me with a floating on a cloud feeling...I can't really explain it, you'll have to read it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Barefoot Bay

This week, my summer officially started!  We have been having fun relaxing and going to the water park.  Jordan loves to run through the little fountains and go down the slide.  He cracks us up when he goes down on his stomach and announces that he went backwards excitedly.  He's a ton of fun.  


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tripping Over The Lunch Lady And Other School Stories

Most Recently Read Book:

Tripping Over The Lunch Lady And Other School Stories

Edited by Nancy Mercado

Doesn't this sound like a cool book?  I like anthologies and I thought this one was going to be fun, but I was actually let down.  I would say these stories were basically average stories and nothing really sticks out to me.  I thought they were going to be great for upper elementary or middle school students but they weren't all that engaging.  I know it's not easy to write short stories and really develop a plot in such a short time, but these weren't really worth reading.  Now, I'm an adult, but I read a lot of books that are young adult.  There are amazing young adult books but this really isn't one of them.  They aren't absolutely horrible, but don't go out and get this book if you ask me.    

Friday, June 19, 2009

Owly: A Time To Be Brave

Most Recently Read Book:

Owly: A Time To Be Brave

By Andy Runton

I found this great website, called The Picnic Basket, where you can request advanced reader copies of books or even finished books from a publisher in exchange for a review of the book.  Free books!?!  I'm in!

I just received my first book tonight!  It's awesome!  I have been promoting graphic novels with my students because they are so colorful and intriguing to them.  I think they like that there aren't too many words so they are technically reading but not really doing all the reading of words that is expected from a novel.  I have to say, honestly, that it's hard for me to read graphic novels though.  I think it's because I want to just skim through the pictures and it's just not possible to do.  This book helped me out though because it is a wordless graphic novel so you really do have to rely on the pictures to be able to tell yourself a story.  This story is really cute and it helped me slow down and really think about the pictures since there were no words I could skim.  

The book I received was Owly: A Time To Be Brave by Andy Runton.  It's a story about Owly and his little forest friends who meet a possum that they are kind of scared of at first.  The pictures are great.  This book is recommended for all ages.  I think it would be great with little kids and maybe through middle school, I'm not sure it would go over that well with high schoolers, but it would depend on their reading level I guess.  

I do think it's important to teach students how to read graphic novels and to use graphic novels to be able to teach elements of reading in a very motivating way.  I'm excited to try this book out with some of my students next year.  I am definitely recommending this book to get discussions going and to foster student writing even as they come up with the dialogue for the book.  Super cute!

You can see my review if you go here.

Fun at Key Lime Cove!


Me and Jacquie
Aunt Jacquie and Jordan

Jordan and Mommy
Jordan sitting in the water.  He loves the wading pools.  He was getting a little too comfortable and adventurous but at least he isn't scared of the water!
Daddy and Jordan in a double tube in the wave pool.  They were on their way to the lazy river!
Here's a great shot that I got of Alex!  He's smiling!  It's so hard to get either Jordan or Alex to sit for two seconds and smile to take a picture!
Daddy and Jordan.  You can kind of see what it's like but not really.  There is a giant pineapple that tips over lots of water every once in a while.  Jordan loved it and we would wait and listen for the bell to signal it was going to tip over.  Very fun!
Here's Jordan going down one of the kiddy slides.  He was a pro!  He loved going down on his tummy!
video
This clip is so cute.  Jordan loved that he was big enough to climb in and out on the side of the pool.  Our pool here in Mundelein is zero depth for the most part so he doesn't really climb in and out all that much.  He loved it.  
video

We had a few complaints but overall we had a pretty good time.  Now we're looking forward to taking advantage of our park district water park!

Fever 1793

Most Recently Read BooK:

Fever 1793

By Laurie Halse Anderson

This was a great historical fiction young adult piece.  I like that there is so much historical fact that can be learned from this book and that at the end the author identifies all this for you.  Great for kids!

This book is about a yellow fever epidemic in the young United States in 1793.  It was kind of slow and uneventful in the beginning, but I found myself  liking the characters and in tears by the end.  

I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids

Most Recently Read Book:

I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids

Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile

I loved the cupcake on the cover of this book!  I love motherhood but I have to agree that it's not easy and it has changed me in some ways.  Ever since I first got pregnant, I have enjoyed reading books about being a mom.  

One of the very first pregnancy books that I read was Jenny McCarthy's Belly Laughs.  When I think back to Belly Laughs compared to this book I can totally see the similarities.  McCarthy totally makes a joke out of all the crazy worries that go through your head when you are pregnant...my favorite is when she goes down to the jacuzzi to relax after she finds out she's pregnant and tells a random woman that she's pregnant and the woman freaks out because you can't be in a jacuzzi when you're pregnant and Jenny totally think she has hard-boiled her baby!  I loved how real she was and how she didn't feel bad telling all these crazy things or that people would judge her.  I think it was comforting to know that we can only do our best and hope it's out best for our baby and that there are lots of times when we have no clue what we are doing.  

This book seems to take the same perspective on motherhood.  It's completely real.  The two authors share their stories and secrets and knowledge about motherhood but also relay what other mothers they interviewed had to say.  There are chapters on lots of different topics.  Overall, the message is that motherhood is hard, and it's okay for it to be hard.  There are great things about being a mom, but it definitely takes work and it does change your lifestyle.  They talk about recognizing that you can't set extreme expectations for yourself because you'll stretch yourself too thin and make yourself feel bad if you can't live up to those expectations.  

I remember being told when I first had Jordan to take time for myself and not to let my baby completely consume me.  I still needed to be myself and take time for myself.  I think that really is important.  It felt good after I first had him to just be able to take some time to take a hot shower, and then as Jordan got older, it was nice for Chad and I just to go to Target and back while he napped and my parents watched him.  Now, we still love out time away.  This book really made me realize how healthy this really is but also helped me feel better about not letting myself feel guilty for doing those things for myself.  I remember feeling that I didn't feel too bad leaving Jordan because I so needed to get a way but then feeling guilty that I didn't feel bad leaving him.  Crazy!  I like that this book doesn't put up any fronts.  I think this a great book for any mom to read, no matter how old your kiddo is.

I feel like I said a lot, but at the same time, didn't really even say enough of what I could say about this book!  I just think any soon-to-be-mom, future mom, current mom, longstanding mom would do good to read this book!!!! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canned

Most Recently Read Book:

Canned

By Alex Shearer

This entire school year I struggled with finding books that were really page turners and scary/thrilling for students.  I'm not sure this would even be what they were looking for but it definitely had me sitting up straight and anxiously trying to read through the pages to find out what was going to happen.  It was a teeny slow right in the beginning, but then it gets really interesting.  I even told Chad about it and he was intrigued.  I'm thinking this might even be a cool read aloud, especially for 5th or 6th graders.  

So, here's the story: this kid, Fergal, starts collecting un-labelled cans that he finds in the bargain bins at the grocery store.  His mom isn't really happy about this weird new hobby and eventually makes him open a can and get rid of it before he can buy another one.  He chooses one particular can because it kind of rattles, which is unusual for a can...and he finds an earring inside of it!  He searches for another such can and finds one that feels really light and makes a wweird...when he opens it, he finds a finger!!!!!!  AH!  He ends up looking for another similar can and finding a girl named Charlotte who he befriends when he finds out she also collects cans and has found some interesting can contents herself!!!  A crazy, chill-worthy adventure ensues.  I think this book is definitely worth reading!

Time


This morning I have been feeling like my life has turned into one big countdown.  I was counting down the days for school to end.  Now, I'm counting down the days for camp to end.  When does IT end, this crazy continuous countdown of life?  I feel like it goes on and on.  There is always something to look forward to...either something ending or something starting.  I guess that's a good thing about life, that we do have things to look forward to and hope for when things aren't going our way, but I'm getting to the point where I just want to be in the moment and be able to feel happy with where I am.  

I'm not sure if everyone else goes through this, it might just be me and my crazy on-the-go personality but I'm tired of it.  On the almost-last-day of school I was talking with my students about what super power they would like to have and many of them said they would like to be able to change into other shapes or forms or to be able to read minds.  My super power, which I would love to have, and have thought about for quite some time now: to be able to stop time.  Like this: 
There was a TV show called "Out of this World" when I was a kid.  The main character was a girl whose dad was an alien but whose mom was a human.  She lived here on Earth but was able to put the tips of her pointer fingers together and stop time.  It was awesome!!!!  She could stop time, and then touch her friend and they could go off and do stuff, and then she could come back and start time up again.  Can someone please figure that out for me!  I wish I had time to just relax and hang out with my family and go places and read and run and figure out Photoshop!

I just had to get this off my chest.  I have three more days of camp which I am going to try and enjoy and try to focus on the good parts...and then after that, no more countdowns for the whole summer.  Then I'm going to relax and hang out and do whatever I want and to live in exactly the moment I am in.  I'm going to cherish every minute I get to hang out with my family and friends and enjoy everything I do.  I hope you are able to, too!

Monday, June 15, 2009

My 29th Birthday!

Gosh, it already seems like so long ago that it was my birthday!  I love summer!  Last Wednesday was my last day of school and also my birthday.  I went to work in the morning, had lunch with my mentee at Cheesecake Factory and then went home to hang out for a little bit before we went out to dinner at Portillo's with my family.  

It was so nice to celebrate being done with school and also my birthday and to hang out with my family.  We had a nice time.  Jordan helped me blow out my candles!
...and then proceeded to basically drool over the cake!
He also helped me open my presents.  I got lots of cool Old Navy gear, an ice cream ball, a picnic set, and an angel charm for my Pandora bracelet from my grandma.  

Not everyone is in this picture, but from left to right it's: my mom, me, Rob, Raul, my dad, Guise, Jane, Mamita, Silvia (Jordan's hand with the purple toy) and Jacquie.  
I can't believe I am already 29 years old.  Sometimes I feel old, but then at other times I don't feel old.  I'm definitely in denial that I will be 30 next year, I'm just pretending 30 is not what comes after 29.  How is it fair that Chad is still 27??? 

Beneath a Marble Sky

Most Recently Read Book:

Beneath a Marble Sky

By John Shors

I can't wait to talk about this book at book club.  I'm definitely thinking this is a book that lots of people are going to like.  I'm gonna have to go look up some information about the Taj Mahal.  This book tells the story of Jahanara, her father was the emperor and built/commissioned the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for her mother.  I love historical fiction like this.  It is a great story of love and loyalty and hate and revenge.  The writing was superb and had me engaged with all the characters.  Great book, must read!

Savvy

Most Recently Read Book:

Savvy 

By Ingrid Law

Isn't the cover of this book awesome?  I was so excited to read it!  Savvy is about a girl whose family gets special powers (for lack of a better term) when they turn 13.  Mibs, the main character, celebrates her 13th birthday shortly after her father is hospitalized after a car accident.  She stows away on a bible-delivery bus with her two brothers and two friends as they try to get to her father.  It's a crazy adventure as she discovers what her savvy is all about.  I have to say that this book better be a sequel or a series because I felt like I just got started.  I hope there are more books to come!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted

Most Recently Read Book:

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation

By Elizabeth Berg

I finished this book on the way to work this morning...I have to stop doing that because I usually cry at the end of books and then I ruin my makeup before I even get to work!  This book had such a nice sentimental ending.  It started out with a story about the author and then she told some stories about other people and then went back to her own stories.  It was kind of like short stories more than a novel.  The stories in the beginning were about dealing with weight and self-esteem and by the end it was more about finding oneself and living life to the fullest.  Especially because I'm celebrating my 29th birthday (!!!!!!) and I'm a mom, it seemed to really be relative to me.  I loved this book!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sold

Most Recently Read Book:

Sold

By Patricia McCormick

This book is about a Nepalese girl whose family sells her to a woman who takes her to a brothel.  Talk about upsetting.  What a sad book.  For a young adult book it was graphic enough.  I just can't believe stuff like this actually happens in the world I live in.  It's so horrible.  It reminds me a little bit of the movie Slumdog Millionaire because that poor boy goes through some horrible stuff himself.  People actually live these stories.  It's unreal to me.  I think this book is an important book for people to read so we are aware of what goes on around the world away from our own little corners.  It makes me want go find a way to help...that would have been a good idea, for the author to have a list of things to do or places to donate to to help these girls.  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

White Darkness

Most Recently Read Book:

White Darkness

By Geraldine McCaughrean

I had high hopes for this book, but it wasn't as adventurous and exciting as I expected it to be.  The story is about a girl whose uncle has fostered a semi-obsession with the Antarctic and to an explorer who died there, Captain Oates.  (I have to say, had I known he was a real person and understood a little bit more about his expedition before reading this book it might have changed my viewpoint on the book a tiny bit.)  At the beginning of the book, her uncle sneakily unofficially kidnaps her and takes her on their own Antarctic trip.  I liked the main character but I thought there could have been more development of the uncle.  He is a twisted and obsessed man but it almost makes it seems like he's harmless and innocent.  I feel like maybe there could have been a prologue that introduces him as the psychopath that he is.  That seemed to be a little too downplayed.  I did think the plot was pretty interesting but there wasn't enough intensity in the writing for me.  

Honestly, I almost gave up on this book, but I so wanted to know what happened to the main character that I forced myself to finish it.  In a way, it reminded me of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.  That book drove me crazy and I had to force myself to finish it, too.  Both books had historical elements in it that would have been good to know about ahead of time instead of at the end when the author explains the real elements.  I guess it's a lesson in reading the back of the book and reading a few online reviews before reading a book.   

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Teacher Gifts

Stephanie just posted about end-of-the-year teacher gifts and I just had to post my own teacher gifts post.  As an itinerant teacher, I am usually forgotten when it comes to teacher education week or end-of-the-year gifts or any other day that warrants gifts for that matter.  It's sad sometimes because I really enjoy all of my students and wish they would appreciate me but I understand at the same time that I'm not a classroom teacher.  I did have one student my third year of teaching whose mother used to knit.  That year, I truly felt loved.  I got a knitted, stuffed heart for Valentine's Day, and when we held the annual review I got this beautiful creation:

What is it you ask? Well...we have speculated many things.  I'll describe it a little bit more for you and maybe you can tell me.  You can see the big yellow chicken in the middle, it is sitting on a white skirt that holds little mini-chicks all around its edges.  It sits flat on a table...but it kind of bunches as if it's not supposed to sit completely flat.  I think maybe it's supposed to be a topper to something, although I'm not entirely sure what.  Someone suggested maybe it's supposed to cover an air freshener pod.  When we first got married, I would sneak it onto the banister of our stairs to annoy Chad, although I don't think that's where it belongs either.  

I joke about it but obviously I still have it all these years later and I knew exactly where it was to go and retrieve it and it does mean a lot to me.  As silly as it is, when I look at it I remember that the family realized I was helping the student and it really did make me feel appreciated and acknowledged.  I do think as teachers it doesn't matter what is given, but anything that shows you cared enough to do something makes a difference to us.  Knitted chicken families are tops in my book!

The Chocolate War

Most Recently Read Book:

The Chocolate War

By Robert Cormier

Very interesting book.  I think maybe a male could relate more to this book because it's all about boys in an all-boys Catholic school.  It kind of reminds me of Lord of the Flies and that's all about boys.  They are very similar because they are about human nature.  The Chocolate War is about a freshman boy who is new to school.  He is summoned by the Vigils, a group of boys that cause trouble.  He is assigned to refuse to sell chocolates for the school's chocolate selling fund-raiser.  He carries out his assignment but after 10 days decides he is going to go on refusing to sell the chocolates and from there the Chocolate War ensues.  I honestly thought at one point it was going to end differently, but then it didn't.  I like the ending but at the same time I don't like the ending.  I did listen to this book and I'm wondering if maybe the narrator and his voice is influencing my liking of the book.  I've heard that students really enjoy this book so I'm questioning my wishy-washiness over it, but I do think being a girl somewhat turns me off of the book.  Not sure entirely.  *shrug*