Jan 23, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Huzzah for the ALA Youth Media Awards–And More!

Huzzah for the ALA Youth Media Awards–And More!

It’s been a full day, actually, but kudos to my hubby for giving our toddler her second dose of ear drops himself, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my RI friend Kim, my UT friend BethAnne, my wonderful father, and my gone-but-never-forgotten friend Lisa, who is probably winning Monopoly games by the score up in heaven (under slightly suspicious circumstances).

AND, of course, hooray for the ALA Youth Media Awards!  The full list of winners is here, and I’m sorry to say that I’ve only read two books on the entire list. Never fear, however–all four Newberys are already on hold, and I’ll load up on some of the kids’ books as soon as I can return all of the books on the Donner Party I put on hold for my oldest girl’s History Fair project.  In the meantime, take a look yourself, give something new a try, and let me know what you think!

Jan 22, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Important Notice!

Important Notice!

Tonight’s regularly planned post will be postponed until tomorrow, because the American Library Association’s annual Youth Media Awards webcast is tomorrow morning at 8:00 am–Eastern.  Watch it here!  I myself am torn between wanting to watch it and hoping to still be asleep…

Jan 20, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on I Get To Them Eventually

I Get To Them Eventually

Last night I finished The Camelot Caper, a mystery Britt lent me that’s been sitting on my shelf for years.  (At least five, probably more.)  I don’t read many mysteries any more, but I have to say–this one was a lot of fun.  It sticks you right in the middle of quite the menacing atmosphere, but the comic relief shows up quickly enough to balance that; luckily, that same comic relief and the quirkiness of the characters rescues it from its dips into gender stereotypes.  (I’m not overly picky about that sort of thing, mind, but some of the dips did make me roll my eyes.  I suppose one must make allowances for a book first published in 1969!)

Overall, if you’re fond of an English mystery, this one is definitely worth checking out.  I find myself wondering if there are sequels…

The Camelot Caper

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Jan 18, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Still Sick, But Hey

Still Sick, But Hey

I was tempted to be lazy about everything today, but if I’m just laying around sick (except when my children need me), then I might as well review a book and get it out of my house, right?  Anyway.  My friend Andrea picked Shanna Swendson’s Rebel Mechanics:  All is Fair in Love and Revolution for book club a few months ago, and I finally grabbed it as I hopped onto the treadmill.  I figured I’d do an in-depth skim (so to speak), since it’s less my thing, but–surprise surprise!–I ended up very much enjoying it.

The premise is intriguing; what if the British upper classes had magic, and what if that magic had squashed the colonies’ rebellion in 1776?  And what IF, in 1888, a new rebellion surfaces, based upon the use of new inventions (like the steam engine!) that will ease the colonists’ dependence on magic?  Enter Verity Newton, newly hired governess for a somewhat atypical magister (magical upper class) family who happens to meet some of the rebel mechanics on the way to her (successful) job interview.  Drawn by both their cause and the interesting political leanings of her employer, Verity must work out her own path in the midst of the turmoil.  (Just so you know, we’re blaming any and all cliches in this post on the cough syrup with codeine.)

I have to say, the book had me worried for awhile; I was afraid it was heading too far down the rabbit hole of immediate connection young adult romance.  The plot went a bit differently than I feared, however, and I ended up being quite satisfied with the ending.  Bottom line?  If this sounds like your thing, read it.  If it doesn’t but you have a passion for history, give it a try as well.  You may well be as pleasantly surprised as I was!

Jan 16, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Writing In Sick

Writing In Sick

I’m thinking my littlest and I both have the flu–as in influenza,  you understand–and it stinks.  The aches, the fevers and chills, the slightly upset stomach, the tired (oh, the tired!), and yet my children still want to eat, and laundry must be done if we want clean clothes…ugh.  And since there’s a limit to what I can just not do when I feel icky, I’m making cuts where I can.  You’ll get the review of my latest book another day, friends.

Signing off.

Jan 14, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A “For Me” Recipe

A “For Me” Recipe

You know how it is when you’re feeding a family–it’s rarely worth making recipes that no one loves as much as you do.  Rarely,  you understand.  Sometimes, however, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.  None of my children enjoy this Bacon Tortellini Bake as much as I do, and my hubby is a potato rather than a pasta man, but since I love it, and no one actually despises it, it came up in the dinner lottery this week.  And seriously–it’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it’s bacon-y, and it’s got broccoli–what’s not to love?  (My oldest would say the cheese tortellini, my second would say the broccoli…whatever!)  I use half of a Costco double pack of frozen tortellini, which is more than the recipe calls for, so I up the broccoli to 4-ish cups and measure the sauce ingredients generously.  I’m also pretty stingy on the cook time for the broccoli, because where broccoli cooking is concerned, less is almost always more, right?  And I use whatever milk I have on hand, which lately is 1%.  And it works.

And it’s yummy.

You should try it.

Jan 12, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Not The Day I Was Hoping For

Not The Day I Was Hoping For

My friend and I were having such a lovely lunch together today until I realized that my son wasn’t eating.  He said he didn’t need to go potty and yet he was barely touching his sandwich–which is not normal.  I took a good look at him, realized he was looking quiet and less than thrilled with life, and my heart sank.

“Does your mouth feel funny?”

He nodded.

Two hours later we were in the pediatrician’s office, where (despite no other symptoms–yet) he had his THIRD positive strep test in six weeks.  Our doctor spent some time considering before deciding to try him on an antibiotic meant to treat a strep carrier rather than someone with active strep.  I made my routine call to the pharmacy on my way out–my son’s doctor just sent in a prescription, just wanted to make sure it was received and it’s being filled–only to be told that they didn’t have it.  They’d have to order it, and it would be in tomorrow, but did I realize my insurance wanted me to pay $200?  Maybe it would be cheaper in capsule form…except that my son is four.


I called the doctor’s office back and asked them to call it into a different pharmacy, because I was NOT waiting until tomorrow.  It took a while for them to receive the call (it was apparently the last one on their voice mail), but I eventually paid $212 (and change!) for four glass bottles of something I can’t spell.  The pharmacist at Walgreen’s looked at me as he was readying it and asked if my son had had that one before.  When I told him no, he winced.

“It smells and tastes terrible.  We can add something in to try and flavor it if you want…”

“Does it make a difference?”

“Not really, no.”

I gave him mental points for honesty and told him not to bother.  Now I get to give my obstinate, “I don’t want to take any medicine!” son 12 mL of this stuff THREE TIMES A DAY.  For TEN DAYS.

Then I get to take him back to the doctor’s for another throat swab, which he hates.  And in the meantime, my poor boy is utterly miserable.  Like, asking to go to bed at 6 o’clock miserable.

Nope, not the day I was hoping for at all.  How was YOUR day?

Jan 10, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Different Sort of Chapter Book

A Different Sort of Chapter Book

When I went through Juana & Lucas on the treadmill I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I wasn’t sure how my 7-year-old would react.  It’s a chapter book with lots of vivid illustrations, true, but Spanish words are sprinkled on at least 70% of the pages; the overall meaning is always understandable from the context, but still. How does a kid react to that?

In my girlie’s case, she read a chapter or two and then told me she wanted me to read it to her.  We compromised by reading it together; I carefully assigned her the pages with either no Spanish words or very easily pronounceable ones.  I read the other pages, looking expectantly at her after most of the harder Spanish words, and she almost always nailed the meaning from the context.  Since she’s my most timid girlie–she wants to feel very confident before she attempts anything new–I suspect her issue was more discomfort over not being able to pronounce the words, since she clearly had the comprehension down anyway.  A more intrepid personality would likely take off running with it, especially since Juana is a delightful character.  A spunky soccer player from Bogota, she’s sure that there isn’t enough room between her pigtails to learn ‘the English’ that her teacher is trying to teach in school…until she looks for support from her family and friends and finds support for her teacher’s mission instead!  With the proper carrot dangling in front of her, Juana attacks the English with gusto, gaining not only a trip to Spaceland but a love of travel as well.  Packed with plenty of laughter along the way, Juana’s journey is a fun and worthwhile one for any reader with the context awareness to manage the book.  Be sure to take a look at this one!

Juana and Lucas

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Jan 8, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Continued Delight

A Continued Delight

I can’t even remember what brought the Anna Wang novels to my attention; all I can say is that I just finished the third one, and The Year of the Fortune Cookie was at least as delightful as the first two.  In it, Anna works to find the right place for herself in middle school before heading off to China with her former teacher and her husband, whose adoption of a Chinese baby is finally going to happen.  While some of the situations involved seem a tad unlikely and/or on the rosy rather than realistic side, I enjoyed the book enough that I didn’t really care.  And kudos to the illustrator as well–Patrice Barton’s drawings added to the reading experience for me, even though my focus is usually on the words, just the words, and not much else besides the words.  Overall, these are gentle books that still manage to encourage readers to think outside of their experiences and comfort zones.  Our world needs more of these.

Oh, and by the way…both of my older girls are now enjoying this series.  There may or may not be conflict over who reads this one first!

Jan 6, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Holiday Carrots

Holiday Carrots

Last month, we ate Christmas dinner with my parents for the first time in quite a while; as my mother and I were planning the menu, one carrot recipe came to mind.  Do you remember me mentioning, many posts ago, a carrot recipe so divine that I called my sister’s former mother-in-law to get it–not long after my sister’s divorce from her son?  This is that recipe, friends.  Getting it was worth every minute of one of the world’s most awkward conversations.  Call it carrot casserole, call it holiday carrots, call it what you will; I call it amazing.

2 lbs carrots

1/2 C chopped onion

1/2 C butter (the real thing)

1/2 C crushed saltines

1 C grated cheddar (medium or sharp)

Peel and cook your carrots in water; drain.  Mash them, but not too finely–you want some texture there.  Saute your onions in the butter; combine cheese and saltines in a separate bowl.  In a sprayed baking dish, spread half your carrots, half your buttery onions, and half your saltines and cheddar.  Repeat your layers and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

That’s it, folks.  And IT is heavenly.