Friday, April 30, 2010

Reading Together

Most Recently Read Book:

Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read

By Diane W. Frankenstein

The end of the school year always seems to put me in a mood for reading professional books. I think it's because the end of the year I'm in an anticipation stage for next year. (Back in January I was in the disillusionment phase...luckily, I survived that...) This book is a neat handbook for parents. I think teachers could use it as a reference for books, too. There are 101 books that she focuses on and summarizes and gives themes, quotes from the book, questions to ask, lessons, and even other books that are similar to it. She also has lists of books in the back for different categories of books. This is kind of what I'm thinking I'd like to do if I start a book blog. I think I would make it more geared towards teachers, but I like her ideas a lot. Here's my favorite tidbit from the book:

help children find an appropriate book

+talk with them about the story

=children who connect with stories and
love the stories they read

I wish it was all that easy...I guess as a parent I believe that. As a teacher, it's hard because I only work with my students so many minutes a day so the parents have to be doing this at home, too. Parents are soooooo important in guiding kids toward a love of reading. I do love the message about talking to kids about books though. I believe that teachers should be reading what their students are reading so they can talk about books, recommend books, and share books with them. I also strongly believe that parents and teachers should be reading with kids and talking to kids about books all through high school. It doesn't stop when they are able to read independently.

Love The One You're With

Most Recently Read Book:

Love The One You're With

By Emily Giffin

I have to point out that the author's last name is Giffin, not Griffin. At first, I couldn't even find it in the catalog because I was spelling her name wrong. Then, when I realized it was Giffin and I went to look for it on the shelves I couldn't find it...until I got wise and though, "Hmm...maybe it's misshelved..." and there it was alphabetically where Griffin would fit. I'm a dork, but I thought that was amusing.

Anyway, this book is about a woman who is recently married when she runs into her ex-boyfriend who she never really got over. Seeing him again makes her think she really wants to be with him and makes her questions her marriage. It made me think about true love. Here's my deep question of the day: What is true love? Does it really exist? How do you know that what you consider to be true love is really true love? I guess it kind of depends on your whole viewpoint on true love in the first place. And then, does everyone have a soul mate? Is a soul mate also your true love? I can't even begin to answer these questions. If I try, I end up with even more questions and then I get all confused and my head just hurts.

Anyway, again...this book is about what one woman does when the love and lust that was her ex-boyfriend challenge her life and her young marriage. I would have liked to see more development of the marriage because I felt like she wasn't entirely happy and in love with being married...but I can see how it was part of the whole plot. I was really hoping this author might be my next Sophie Kinsella, but the characters really weren't comparable. I'll keep looking!

List As We Knew It

Most Recently Read Book:

Life As We Knew It

By Susan Beth Pfeffer

This book had me so believing the end of the world could truly happen and I was dreaming all sorts of weird things...I guess that contributes to it being a good book? I love science fiction, and, like I said, this book had me contemplating my wonderful life. I heard an 8th grader give a book talk about this book and she said she thought it was one of the best books ever. I definitely think it's an interesting idea to think of what would happen in the moon's gravitational pull on the Earth was completely changed, but I can't say it's one of my favorite books. I did, however, recommend this to my 8th grader who really hasn't ever read science fiction. She's way into teen issues and I think this book is enough about a teen dealing with a traumatic time in her life while being a science fiction book but still easily relatable to our world. I think it will be a good way for her to try out reading a science fiction book but not reading one that will be way too hard for her to get. I'm excited to see what she thinks. Sometimes reading a book with a kid/student really gives me more perspective on the book itself.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Little Reader

Dear Jordan, My Little Reader:

I remember reading James and the Giant Peach and Love You, Forever to you when you were still inside my tummy. Daddy was reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to you when you were only four days old.
I love that you love reading before we go to bed every night, whether it's with Mommy or Daddy. It's so fun to snuggle with you and read books while you pick fuzz from your eehee. Going to the library with you and seeing you pull books off of the shelf that you want to check out makes me smile. You love Thomas and Diego books but you also love Skippyjon and Trucktown books. And now you turn the pages yourself and are starting to realize that letters make sounds and that we read the words on the pages! You are becoming quite the reader. I'm so happy to see you love books the way I love books and loooooove you.

video

I hope you will always find comfort in a good book and be a lifelong reader!

Love, Mommy

Beezus and Ramona

Most Recently Read Book:

Beezus and Ramona

By Beverly Cleary

Who doesn't love Ramona? I'm sure I read this book and every other Ramona book when I was a kid but I had to reread this one because the movie is coming out this summer. My 5th grader has read a couple of the books in the Ramona series and she's got this one next on her list of books to read. I love that she has really gotten into reading this year. It's amazing to me! Maybe I should ask my sister to go see this movie with me when it comes out!!

Dodger and Me

Most Recently Read Book:

Dodger and Me

Jordan Sonnenblick

I think the cover of this book is so silly! From the front and back covers I really thought this book was going to be for a much younger age group, but it's geared towards a 5th or 6th grader, I think. I totally didn't get the twist coming...until the end when I realized what was going on. This book is about a boy who discovers a chimp in a hidden, discarded, Happy Meal bag. The chimp can grant him wishes just like a genie. It cracked me up how sheltered the boy was and how the chimp changed his life. At first, I didn't really like Dodger (the chimp) because he was kind of annoying...and I don't do well with annoying people...but he grew on me. Overall, it was a fun book.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up

Most Recently Read Book:

Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-up

By Melissa Thomson

I fell in love with this book the moment I saw the cover. I'm glad the story didn't disappoint. I think I might like Keena Ford just a tad bit more than Clementine. I liked that the story was pretty simple in this book, yet it still talked about friendship and being a good friend. Keena gets herself into her share of trouble. I was able to really relate to her and I think kids will, too!

Clementine

Most Recently Read Book:

Clementine

By Sara Pennypacker

I love the cover of this book! She's just so darn cute. This book is about a fun kiddo who gets herself into trouble without really meaning to. I love that she gets yelled at all the time in school for not paying attention when she is paying attention...but sometimes she's paying attention to what's happening out the window! She's funny. This book focuses mostly on her friendship with her friend Margaret who lives upstairs in her building. I'm definitely putting this on my list for 2nd and 3rd graders to read. It's way cute!

The Road

Most Recently Read Book:

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

I've had this book on my list to read ever since I saw Oprah talking with the author. I finally got it from the library. All I knew was that it was an apocalyptic story about a boy and his dad. When I first started reading it I debated putting it down because the style was a little bit difficult to get into. The author doesn't use quotation marks, rarely uses apostrophes or capital letters, and doesn't use names for any of the characters. I stuck with it though and was drawn in. Before I knew it I was well into the book. It is definitely a read I had to focus on more just because of the language and the style but it was an interesting story that had me spellbound. Having said that, when I finished I said, "That's how it ends?" It's a very thought-provoking and intensely deep book but it leaves a lot for the reader to figure out. I'm not sure if I recommend it or not...I can't truly decide. I'm glad I read it, I liked the story, but I can't say I'm dying to tell everyone I know to read it. If you do read it...or have...let me know so I can talk to you about the ending!

Artemis Fowl

Most Recently Read Book:

Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer

I have seen this series all over the place for the longest time and decided I finally needed to read it myself. I really enjoyed this first book in the series about Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old genius out to save his mother and find his father. At least, I think that's what it's about...that would be my only trouble with the book. The author does a good job of not explicitly telling you what Artemis Fowl is all about. We know his mom is basically suffering from dementia and his dad has disappeared...and we know he's hatched an intriguing scheme...but the overall point of his scheme isn't really ever disclosed. From what I can tell, this first book is all about getting his mom back and the I've heard the rest of the series focuses more on him finding his dad. I thought it was a cool twist on an adventure/mystery book while bringing in the fantasy realm. I can totally see how middle school boys might love this series.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stormbreaker

Most Recently Read Book:

Stormbreaker

By Anthony Horowitz

What a fun series! This is a very cool James Bond-y book for intermediate/middle schoolers. I thought maybe it would be more for middle school but I would definitely recommend it to a 5th or 6th grader. I think boys would like it more because of the secret spy stuff going on, but girls could like it, too. This is only the first in the series...maybe Alex Rider develops a lover interest at some point...as of right now he just gets roped into being a spy to follow up on a mission his deceased uncle was undertaking before he was killed. There were even a few times when I was thinking, break out your fancy yo-yo rope-thingy tool but he actually did something else to be able to help himself out so it wasn't even all that predictable (for me anyway). I haven't read the young James Bond series but now I'm kind of intrigued to see how that one compares.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ask Me No Questions

Most Recently Read Book:

Ask Me No Questions

By Marina Budhos

I was intrigued by this book after reading so many books about illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican-U.S. border. This book is about a girl who is an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh. It tells her story after 9/11 when the U.S. looked more closely at Muslim people living in here, especially those with expired visas or unfiled papers. I'm definitely going to be recommending this to my students to give them a different perspective on illegal immigrants.

From an adult's perspective, it was interesting to read, but it's definitely a young adult book. It's not a book I'd recommend to an adult but if you work with middle schoolers up or have a middle schooler of your own I would recommend it to you or them!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Wednesday Wars

Most Recently Read Book:

The Wednesday Wars

By Gary D. Schmidt

Toads, beetles, and bats! This turned into a great book for me. I had a hard time getting used to the main character’s name! And to the fact that he’s left alone with his teacher on Wednesday afternoons because all of his classmates either go to Catholic or Jewish classes. I don’t know why that was hard for me to grasp, but it was. Anyway, I soon, got over it and fell in love with Holling Hoodhood (yeah, that’s his name!). He was a great character. I love all the funny things experiences that he has…they’re just crazy enough to be real. I also enjoyed that this book was written during the Vietnam War. My dad is a Vietnam War veteran and I haven’t read too many books written in that time period or about that time period. I liked that this book really encompassed what life might have been like for a kid growing up while the Vietnam War was going on. Others books I have read are When Zachary Beaver Came to Town and Stand Tall, but I like this one the best.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Pigman

Most Recently Read Book;

The Pigman

By Paul Zindel

I just finished rereading this book today. I remember reading it in junior high but had to refresh my memory. I really like the characters John and Lorraine in this book. I read a few pages out loud today with one of my students and we were laughing at John figuring out how to make a phone call after putting glue into the lock that his dad used to lock up the (ancient) phone. We were cracking up. It's actually a pretty deep story and I think I have more insight into it reading it now as an adult than I did back then, but I remember relating to it back when I read it the first time. This time around John actually reminded me a little bit of Holden Caufield believe it or not. I'm anxious to hear what my student will think of it when he finishes it, I personally might not recommend it to a student in junior high, and actually I don't really have any students now who would like it...but that's just me going off of what I know my students are reading now. Thoughts?

There's a Book Feature

I have a huge smile plastered on my face this morning. I woke up easily, the alarm wasn't that annoying this morning, I found a fun outfit for today, I came downstairs to check my e-mail and remembered I'm being featured this week on over at There's a Book!!!!! What a great day! I am so excited because I have never been featured before. I love sharing my blog and am so happy Danielle is posting about my blog and one of my favorite books/series when I was a kid in her When I Was Young series.. Here's the link to check it out!!!!


I actually found There's a Book though Twitter. I started following her on Twitter and then made my way to her blog. I love her energy and her excitement about books. She's got too kiddos and, get this, her (current) favorite books are The Maze Runner and Catching Fire! Those are two of the best books I have read this year. If you haven't read them, add them to your list...and make sure you check out There's a Book, too!!!

Also, welcome to any new readers of my blog!!!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Random Update!!!

I just uploaded pictures onto my laptop and realized I have lots of random pictures to post!

Here's Jordan dying eggs last week!
He was completely rapt!
Mom and Jordan - with our painted t-shirts!!!
This week, one of my schools invited me to a shower they held for all the girls who are pregnant there! There are 5 of us all together. It was so sweet of them to include me. Here are the diaper cakes I got to take home. I was sniffing the diapers...the Pampers ones smell soooooo good. I can't wait for this new little baby to come!
Aren't they pretty? I loved the colors and I loved the ribbon...and oh, the smell of Pampers Swaddlers!
This weekend we drove out to Rockford. We took Jordan to the Discovery Center, which is a children's museum. We spent a lot of time outside at this awesome, humungous playground!
Chad and Jordan explored the whole playground!
Jordan got to go to dinner with Grandma Sue and Bubba last night while Chad and I went to the Carrie Underwood concert. This is the second time we've seen her this year. I was excited to go to the concert, but once we were there it wasn't all the great to me. Don't get me wrong, she's awesome, but it didn't have me up and dancing and singing along and having a great time. A lot of her songs were actually slow and we sat for a lot of it. She did put on a cool show though. This was when she hopped onto a truck that floated around the stadium so she was actually pretty close to us. It kind of had me feeling like she was on the parade at The Rio in Las Vegas where they're up in the air dancing and throwing beads...so it didn't work for me all that much. Now, Craig Morgan opened for her and he was awesome. I thought he was fun and I only know a few of his songs. He had tons of energy. The bay loved him and was kicking up the craziest storm the whole time he was on stage singing!
This morning we ate a great breakfast here at the hotel and then Jordan and Chad played in the mini water park they have here. Jordan loved swimming around. It has been a great weekend for us, it's like a vacation. It just feels so relaxing to be away from home and to not have a schedule, even if it's only one night.
That's my week in review update!!!!

Journey of the Sparrow

Most Recently Read Book:

Journey of the Sparrows

By Fran Leeper Buss with Daisy Cubias

One of my students is reading this with her class so I decided to read it to so I can talk to her about it. It's about a girl and her siblings who cross the border to live in Chicago. They are escaping turmoil in El Salvador. I've read a couple of books this school year about crossing the border. This wouldn't be my favorite, although I do like that it's told from a girl's perspective and I think it appeals a little more to girls than the others I have read.

My one complaint about this book is how much time the author spends building the story of their travels and their lives in Chicago...but then the end of the book all of a sudden speeds up like she realized she just wanted to end the story and get it over with. It loses it's charm and strength of message for me at the end.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Always Looking Up

Most Recently Read Book:

Always Looking Up

By Michel J. Fox

I have a soft spot in my heart for the movie Back to the Future, and therefore, for Michael J. Fox. I was excited to hear about his life since he's not really on TV or in movies any more (at least not ones that I've seen...). It was really interesting to read about the most recent 10 years of his life as he deals with Parkinson's disease. It took me a little time to get used to listening to him read the book aloud, but after the first CD I was used to his style. I like how he talked about his life and how there are tidbits from movies and TV. I didn't know at all that he grew up in Canada as an army brat.

I can't not write this post and not say that in a tiny way it reminded me of Wicked by Kristin Chenowith. There was just a little confusion for me when it came to the timeline. There were times when I had to think about where he was chronologically because he wrote the chapters more along themes in his life versus in order. But this book was easier to follow than Wicked if you ask me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Adam Canfield of the Slash

Most Recently Read Book:

Adami Canfield of The Slash

By Mike Winerip

After reading Cover Up by John Feinstein recently, it took me a little time to get used to the different style of this book that was also about kid journalists. Adam Canfield is a start reporter for his school newspaper The Slash. One thing that bothered me was that this is the first book in this series but Adam Canfield has already written some great stories the year before this book takes place but we don't get to read about them. The other thing that bothered me was that the adults are so goofy in this book, but in the end they were fun. It reminds me of Series of Unfortunate Events in a way because the villians are so goofy...and, like Unfortunate Events, I think they'll be back in later books in the series. I'm not too interested in reading the following books in the series but it was a fun book, maybe a little hard to understand all the little tidbits thrown in, but fun.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Turning-Over-A-New-Leaf Tuesdays (#4)

I'm working through my fourth week of being a vegetarian and I'm loving it! I feel great and have kind of enjoyed the challenge of finding recipes and planning meals to be healthy while also staying meatless. My doctor was intrigued about my decision to just become vegetarian at 27 weeks pregnant but said he has lots of patients who are pregnant and vegetarian.

This week I attempted to turn over a new leaf by cooking dried beans!!! I usually buy canned beans but you can get way more beans for less money if you buy them dried and there's less waste. Did you notice I said "attempted"? I did actually buy and cook the beans...but I opted for the "quick" version and they didn't really cook up just right. They are kind of hard, well, way hard compared to canned beans. I'm not giving up though. I cooked black beans this time but I have another bag of some speckled beans so I'll try those and do the slower version next time! I've always been scared of the dried beans but it doesn't seem that hard...even though I messed them up. I will prevail...at some point!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Egg Hunting

I don't recall going to an Easter Egg hunt as a kid...although my mom will probably call and yell at me, because she did take me...I just can't remember. This was Jordan's first time going to an Easter Egg Hunt. It was fun! I thought it was going to be pretty crazy, but it wasn't so bad because the kids were all divided by age group. Jordan is still 2 so we let him go with the 1 and 2 year olds and he did pretty good!

Jordan and the "Spring" bunny!
He's got his bucket all ready to fill with eggs! You can see people behind him, this was still early because it got waaaay busier before all the madness actually started.
Look at him go! He is so into competitions lately, everything has to be a race and he wants to know that he winned.
Mama and her little Peanut.
Jordan and Chad!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Craft Update

Not much crafting this week...but here are the little projects I finished up last week. I have a baby shower this week so I'm thinking there are more little booties in my future!!!

This is the diaper-changing pad I whipped up to match the diaper caddy box I made. This was super simple but I'm excited for how pretty it is and how matchy it is. I just used the spotted fabric and put some quilt batting in the middle.
I made these cute school bookmarks for the people who helped me through National Boards this year. I forgot to take a picture of the backs...I used a coordinating fabric on the back but it was blue with letters. I put interfacing in the middle to make them less flimsy.
Jordan and I painted t-shirts. He saw me painting mine so we went and grabbed a t-shirt from his room to paint. I only had black and white paint so I went with spiders on his t-shirt! He thought they were cool.
And here's my shirt. In hindsight, I probably should have planned it out a little more and maybe copied the picture from somewhere, but I didn't. I think it's kind of fun...haven't tried it on yet...so hopefully I eyeballed where it was supposed to go right, too...it's kind of hard to tell with the belly situation.
That's my crafty update for now!!!!

The Twenty One Balloons

Most Recently Read Book:

The 21 Balloons

By William Pene du Bois

Wow. I'm sorry, but there are totally some books that I just don't get and can't realize the value of. I'm not sure how this book won an award. I forced myself to get through it just because I'm stubborn like that...but I almost wish I hadn't. This book is about a retired teacher who decides to fly around in a hot air balloon for a year...but then his balloon lands on the island of Krakatoa where he meets a group of people who live there and are weird and then the volcano erupts and he has to leave and then they find him again and want to hear his story...so the whole of the book is him telling his story. It was really dumb. I hate to say it, but it's dumb. Yuck, I can't even write about it any more.

Cover-Up

Most Recently Read Book:

Cover-Up: Mystery at the Super Bowl

By John Feinstein

Being married to a total sports fanatic, I feel like I know quite a bit about sports and what's going on in the sports world, most especially when it comes to football and maybe basketball...but others like golf and tennis, too. I feel like we have ESPN on all the time. Anyway, I've read a few sports related novels but this one is by far my favorite so far. This book is actually part of a series about two teenagers who uncover controversial stories while covering big sports events, like the Super Bowl. It was cool to hear lots of names I hear about on ESPN all the time and to get an insider look at journalism and sports. I love the characters and their relationship. I think either YA boys or girls would like this series.