Archive from January, 2014
Jan 31, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Back to Real Life

Back to Real Life

And….we’re back!  More specifically, we’re back from a VERY brief (read:  less than 24 hours) belated anniversary trip sans children.  (Just so you know, don’t get married on December 30th if you want to celebrate your anniversary ON your anniversary every year.)  And it was heavenly, I must say.  We wandered around little stores for a while, we went out to dinner, we watched the pilot of Sherlock, and we SLEPT IN.  Without, you know, staring at the clock and thinking–is that the baby?  Is he awake?  Is he going to wake up his sisters?  Or, in the case of complete quiet past 7:30–are they really all still asleep?  Does this mean the baby’s diaper’s leaking?  Will I have to change the jammies, or just the onesie?

It was heavenly.  Because not only did we get a break from everyday life, I knew my children were being loved (and spoiled!) by Grandma, and I got to come home to squeezes all around.  Life is good.

I also finished a book, started a book, and bought a book.  What’s not to love?  I finished the last book in the All-of-a-Kind Family series, which is a fun period series for children up UNTIL the last book.  The last one is still written for children–stylistically, with illustrations–but the plot is firmly an older teenager plot.  A dedicated-to-finishing-the-series young reader is going to read it, shrug, and forget about it.  A not-so-dedicated-to-series-completion young reader is probably not going to bother.  Anyway.  I am LOVING the book I started, but I’ll wait to review it until I’m done, with leaves me with my purchase (a belated anniversary present, I told my husband.  He told me that if I was getting a book he was getting fancy chocolate, since the store billed itself as a bookery, chocolaterie, and…something else that was clearly not quite as memorable.  I told him I was good with that.)  I pulled “Y is for Yorick:  A Slightly Irreverent Shakespearean ABC Book for Grown-Ups” off the shelf to browse, and I fell in love.  In fact, I’m going to leave you with a couple of excerpts from it, because when my hubby gets home from working late I’m hoping to finish the second episode of Sherlock, and there will only be time for that if I’m ready for bed!

“D is for Desdemona.  Desdemona was a virtuous and beautiful woman.  Many people admire her for choosing her own husband rather than letting her father arrange the marriage.  Unfortunately, it did not turn out too well for her in the end.”

“H is for Hamlet.  Hamlet was a young man who had a hard time making decisions.  He was also a prince.  Young people should not be like Hamlet, who was responsible for the deaths of his fiance, future father-in-law, brother-in-law, stepfather, and mother, all because he had a lot of trouble with follow-through.”  (Please pretend that fiance has the appropriate accent mark.)

“P is also for Prospero.  Prospero was a bit of a control freak who liked the special effects.  But who knows what any of us would do with unlimited time on a deserted island and a book of magical spells?”

For more, go buy the book!

Jan 29, 2014 - Uncategorized    3 Comments

Kate DiCamillo and the Tooth Fairy

I was checking Facebook today and noted a thread about the Newbery winners, which seemed to evolve into a brief discussion of Kate DiCamillo (I say seemed because my teething 18-month-old may or may not have been climbing on me at the time, which makes for some very quick skimming before he gets hold of the mouse).  I deemed it bad form to jump in and disagree with people I didn’t know at all, but argumentative thoughts rarely just leave my head because they seem inappropriate to express, and then I thought–wait!  I’ve started a blog!  A blog is all about MY thoughts, right?  It can’t possibly be inappropriate to voice those thoughts here!  So here goes…

To the Random Person who dismissed “Tale of Despereaux” as a lightweight compared to other Newberys–you’re wrong.  Ok, well, I THINK you’re wrong.  I didn’t necessarily love the book, mind you…I came away from it with the sense that my ambivalent feelings about soup in general made it impossible to fully appreciate the story.  (Which should make sense to you if you’ve read it.)  Even not loving it, however, I could appreciate what it had to say about how we view ourselves and how that affects our actions and who we become.  It was a strange fable, yes, but I could feel the power of it.  As for the person (possibly the same person, but I’m not sure–again with the 18-month-old) who was peeved that Edward Tulane got passed over for a Newbery, yeah, well, I didn’t love Edward Tulane.  I wanted it to be another truly meaningful fable, and IT wanted to be another truly meaningful fable, but it left me kind of flat.  “Because of Winn-Dixie (see below),” on the other hand…yes, Random Person, the Newbery powers that be like Kate DiCamillo, but how can you NOT love “Because of Winn-Dixie”?  It’s short, it’s heartfelt, it takes its heroine on a journey that brings her a little closer to happiness (and adulthood)…if only all first novels were so beautifully poignant!

I realize, of course, that what this boils down to is the age-old “How can you not love the books that I love?  And how can you possibly love THOSE books instead?”  Feel free to disagree with me.  I’m going to hope, though, that when Flora and Ulysses comes in at the library, that I love it like Winn-Dixie, or at least appreciate it like Despereaux, and that it reminds me not much at all of Edward Tulane.

Speaking of hopeful expectations, the Tooth Fairy will be visiting my house tonight, and my older daughter wants to know what the Tooth Fairy’s name is.  Since I didn’t know, she asked her in the note that accompanied the tooth.  The note was, in turn, accompanied by an endearing little poem (free verse), and my earnest-eyed 7-year-old is probably dreaming even now of what her answer will be.  And I?  I am left with a lump in my throat as I contemplate with gratitude the magic of being part of my daughter’s childhood.

Stay tuned for the Tooth Fairy’s name.

Because of Winn-Dixie

New From: $1.99 USD In Stock

Jan 28, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Of Maxed Library Cards and Good Ideas

Of Maxed Library Cards and Good Ideas

Is it bad that all three library cards currently in use by this household are maxed out?  Should I be concerned?  And if so, should I be more concerned about keeping track of the NINETY LIBRARY BOOKS that are currently floating around this house, or about when I’m going to find the time to read all of them?

Don’t answer that.

They’re not all for me, mind you.  Not by a long shot.  We currently have all of the Ladybug Girl books, most of the Harold and the Purple Crayon books, most of the Library Mouse books, and the next book in AT LEAST 10 different series (I counted in my head but didn’t go into my sleeping daughter’s bedroom to check) that my 7-year-old is reading.  We also have a myriad of other children’s books that we just renew until we can’t anymore…Wombat Walkabout (see below), The Day the Crayons Quit, etc.  (These have recently started including books that focus on pictures of wheeled vehicles, since my 18-month-old son can look through an entire book about farm animals with a very serious face before pointing delightedly to the tractor on the very last page.)    I must admit, however, that close to 30 of them are mine.  What can I say?  I have a stash of mass markets, mostly romance, that I read on the treadmill to take my mind off of the fact that I loathe exercise, I have a stack of non-fiction that I really want to read but keep putting off because the kiddos make it hard to muster the necessary concentration, and then I have the collection of fiction that accumulates faster than I can actually read it.  I was so excited to realize that our county library’s new computer system allows MORE than 10 holds at a time that I wrote about it in my first-ever letter to my missionary nephew.

This sounds sad, I know, and yet I’m ok with this about myself.

(If you’re interested, by the way, his name is Zach and he’s currently in Asuncion, Paraguay, serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Yes, we’re both Mormons.  And yes, I know there’s supposed to be an accent over the “o” in Asuncion.  I’m currently too lazy to walk downstairs and ask my husband how to make that happen.)

Anyway, after I maxed out all three cards today at our favorite local library, we stopped at the grocery store (for the second time in two days) to pick up French bread and pepperoni, because my husband had A DINNER IDEA.  This is noteworthy, you understand, because while he thinks about computers AT LEAST as much as I think about food, he probably thinks about food about as much as I think about computers (in a “I’d really miss it if it weren’t there, but how much is there really to think about?” kind of way).  At any rate, he suggested we try French bread pizzas this week, and they were really pretty tasty.  I’d post the recipe, but we completely made it up as we went along, although I did use this post as a starting point.  We even managed to get in a couple of rounds of this cool marble game he found for his iPad–good fun for the whole family, even if I lost tonight.  (I completely blame the fact that I was keeping the 18-month-old from jumping on the iPad during the game.)

And now the question awaits–after I finish All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown, which is part of a very cute period series I completely missed as a child, what do I read next?  How to choose?  I did pick up two of yesterday’s Newbery winners at the library today, although I can tell you right now that Doll Bones looks too creepy for tonight.  I’m sure you’ll be on tenterhooks as you await my decision…


Wombat Walkabout

New From: $11.61 USD In Stock

Jan 27, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on My Newbery Madness (with links to today’s winners!)

My Newbery Madness (with links to today’s winners!)

Have you ever just decided, in an offhand, I-really-haven’t-given-this-any-thought sort of way, to DO something?  Something specific?  Well–I have.  Once upon a time, in my salad days (or something), I decided to “read the Newberys.”  ALL of them.  Not just the medal winners, you understand, but the Honor books as well.  The whole shebang.  I didn’t consider trifling details, such as, say, the number of books involved (398 as of today), or how difficult it might be to get my hands on some of the older titles (QUITE difficult, even with an amazing inter-library loan system), or the time commitment it might involve (I’m still not really thinking about that one), or even the obvious catch (if I don’t die BETWEEN finishing the previous year’s winners and the announcement of the next year’s winners, the goal is unattainable).  Nope.  In a VERY uncharacteristic “why think too hard about this?” kind of way, I just jumped in.  I’ve learned a few things since then, such as…

1)There is ONE “R” in Newbery.  ONE.  Spell check does not like this, but it’s true.  And with every book I read, seeing the word misspelled in, say, a NEWSPAPER ARTICLE becomes more painful to see. Many people have no reason to know how to spell it, and that’s totally cool. A journalist, though? Really?

2)Almost none of the (considerable) time spent in pursuit of this goal has been wasted. I’m 280 books into this by now, and I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve actively disliked. Some have been forgettable, but I’ve loved a goodly number of them. I’ve also discovered quite a few of my favorite authors this way.

3)As a parent, I now have a much longer list of books to give my kids to try.

4)I’m never out of ideas for books to read. I don’t read ONLY Newberys, not by a long shot, but if I don’t have anything else I’ve been thinking about, there’s always my (dog-eared) list to browse.

5)Who am I kidding? I worked at Borders for TEN YEARS. I have a to-read list a mile long. Still, if I’m undecided, the list helps.

Are you interested in my brand of insanity? The 2014 Youth Media Awards were announced today (at 8 am Eastern, which means I missed it because I refused to get up at 6, which STILL means I’m a geek for knowing and thinking about it!), and the Newbery winners are not the only good books on that list by a long shot. (I’m just too chicken to expand my goal to include the rest of the awards that interest me!) Look here  for this year’s winners and here  for the complete Newbery list.

I will start reviewing past Newberys this week (I have all the new ones on hold at the library, but even the always awesome Salt Lake County library system isn’t THAT fast). I will also probably talk a lot about food (something that occupies my thoughts to a disturbing degree) and my family (that’ll cover my three passions right there!), which is, of course, the reason I named my blog what I did. If you’re interested–stick around!