Saturday, June 25, 2011


Colorado Rocky Mountain High~

Can I say how much fun we had?? Nope.
Can I say how cool and green it was?? If you must.
Can I say how hard it is to come back to reality?? Never!

Denver is trendy...they're fit and under 40!
I swear!
Everyone rides bikes and walks dogs.
I felt like I was missing out by n
ot having either one with me.
We loved it - the city is awesome!

We were so impressed by the kindness of everyone we met in Colorado.
We adventured daily and ended up on spur of the moment side trips.
I feel bad that there are no
photos of our Segway tour.
I was camer
It was my favorite event.

We visited The Tattered Cover Bookstore in downtown Denver
and spent 2 hours there searching the aisles.
In their honor I leave you with two short reviews on books I finished on vacation.

by Ingrid Law

I don't think I can put into words how poetic this book is.
What a sense of voice!!
I was bowled over.
The book description does no justice to this book.
You just have to dive right in and get ready for some great writing.

Mibs is turning 13. That's the age when folks in
her family get their "savvy" - their special powers. Mibs is waiting for hers. Will it be electrical, like her brother, Rocket's? Will it be a hurricane like her other brother? Will it be to always be perfect, like her mom? When Mibs gets hers she finds that it is not an easy one to live with, but like life, she learns to listen to the right voices at the right times.

This book was quirky and delicious - all at the same time!

I loved what the author had to say when she talked about sitting down to write the book -

" Well, when I started writing Savvy, I sat down one day and decided -- I knew I was going to write a new book. I didn’t know what I was going to write and I simply decided I was going to write the craziest sentence that came into my mind without editing it or judging it or anything. And so I wrote, “When my brother Fish turned thirteen, we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact that he'd caused it.” And it turned out to stay the very first sentence of the book. From that one line, the story sort of grew. That one line was the seed for the entire story.

However, I did have some other thoughts that went along with it after I came up with that line. I have been reading a lot of tall tales and I liked the idea of creating a story about magical children that never used the word “magic” and relied much more on a sense of big fish stories, tall tales, this sense of Americana magic, really, which is based more in the individual finding strength within them to overcome whatever their challenges are."

I recommend this one to teachers, writers, 4th grade and above students and those willing to read some delicious writing!

(PS - The author is from Colorado - what a great way to start the vacation!)

The Violets of March
by Sarah Jio

A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily’s good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

Pleasant and engaging. I enjoyed this companion of a book as we traveled. I really enjoyed how the book evoked my feelings and memories of growing up on Mercer Island in the Puget Sound. Predictable? Yes, but I was ready for that.

Welcome back to the surface of the sun!!!

(And on to paint at J&K's new house!! I guess that means the vacation is over....)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Honey!!

Good men are like diamonds. Real valuable. They must never be taken for granted, because they make the world a much stronger, safer, happier, easier place for e.v.e.r.y.b.o.d.y. AND, they need to be told how valuable they are. Rich you are a diamond and you are valuable to me!

You're my best friend, confidant and support.

You're a great provider. Rich can work on three computers at once too!! He's worked and labored over the years, sometimes working 2 and 3 jobs to provide for us and make sure that we are taken care of. He never complained about it either. What joy to see a man work so hard for us. A true diamond.

You are a great teacher. Rich can explain almost anything. What a gift.

I love how you relate to the grandkiddos. Rich enjoys his family. I cherish that quality in a person. Rich enjoys folks who want to 'play' with him....and his version of 'play' can vary from race cars to gardening. He enjoys sitting around and talking and sharing and time with the family is high on his priority list. I love that about him!

Thanks for being flexible. Rich can roll with the punches and say, okay, what's next. Like, green paint, no wait, yellow paint, no wait, grey!! He's flexible.

You like to make your own paths!! Rich is not a good follower when he is in a car OR on a trail OR following instructions to assemble something BUT when it comes to following in the footsteps of a good leader, Rich is a champ. He has followed his father in righteousness . He follows his church leaders. He follows the prophet and that makes my little heart about pound out of my chest. What an honorable man.

You are a WORKER - hardest one around. When Rich works he works hard and when he plays he doesn't work at all!! He pushes himself to the limit and enjoys being busy. I am in awe of what he can do when he sets his mind to it! Now that's a diamond in the rough!

Anyone need some help? See the car, packed to the limit? This was about the 5th moving trip to Tucson that you made for our daughter-in-law. Rich gets right in and takes care of what needs to be done! He's focused and generous and pretty amazing.

You are an adventurer! We've gone on many 'adventures', much to my chagrin, but in the end I typically like the journey and the fun with you! Thanks for being the Indiana to my Jones!

Yep, you're competitive and like to win. Rich loves to race and drive fast. I figure it's good training for winning the race in life against yourself! You're fun to play with.

You are always see, you even have your towel on Towel-Day! Rich never wants to be caught without something...bungee cords, toilet paper, light bulbs, projects, garden stuff, PVC pipe. The guy can never buy just one of something... But I love a guy who thinks ahead. He's prepared for most anything.

I love how you want to celebrate a birthday. Rich doesn't want special attention on his birthday or special presents. He just wants your 'presence'!! The birthday celebrations he loves best are the ones where the kids come and give of their time and muscle!! We prepare a big breakfast and he loves to go racing. What an easy dad he is to buy for. He doesn't want to burden any of the kids with having to get him something. He just loves having them around to help him.
Smart man.

I am definitely your 'ball and chain'!! Rich will take me anywhere, help me with any project and supports me 150%. I sometimes I feel like I hold him back from his progress. I'm just glad that he holds on tight to me.

Rich, you are my forever-diamond. I'm glad I got a high quality one like you!!
I love you!
Happy Birthday!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Library Luck

See those babies?
Nope, not the ones in the picture frame...
the other irresistibles!!
That's my "Library Luck" from this week.

To the right we have the books I checked out:

The Violets of March

To the left, in the carefully crafted pile, are the books I found for the grand total of $4!!
Yep, I am a bargain shopper.
I only had to trample over 1 little white haired lady, 1 small child (who got in the way)
1 large man, but I won him over with my wit and my wallet!

State of Wonder was not a "Library Luck"...
it was a clean-out-my-purse-luck.
I found a Border's gift card from 2 years ago.
I figured I'd better run right out and spend it before another store closes down.

I guess I was just all kinds of lucky this week!

So what's in the pile, you ask?

The Devil in the White City
The Night Before
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
These is My Words ( I love this one - I like to keep a spare to share!)
A Countess Below the Stairs
The Space Between Us
Nineteen Minutes

What kind of lucky were you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Left Neglected

Sarah's life is on track—the fast track. She and her husband both work 80 hour weeks at high-powered jobs in Boston, while spending as much time as possible with their three small children. Sarah is a juggler extraordinaire, keeping her demanding job and her family as balanced as she can. But when a car accident leaves her recovering from Left Neglect, a neurological impairment that robs her of her ability to control the left side of her body, she can barely get out of bed on her own. As Sarah struggles to resume her over-scheduled life, she must juggle new things—her son's ADHD diagnosis, the return of her estranged mother, and her own limitations. Given a traumatic opportunity to reassess what is really important in life, Sarah must decide where her priorities lie. (Simon & Schuster Reading Guide)

This book was due back at the library so avoid those library fines I shuffled it to the top of the list!! I'm glad I did.

Left Neglect was so readable and I was immediately pulled right into Sarah's story. I had heard the author, Lisa Genova, speak at the Tucson Festival of the Book back in March so I was familiar with the premise of this book. Lisa Genova is a nueroscientist in addition to being a 2nd time author. This well crafted story felt so personal. The author was so informative but never too technical - I felt myself getting more informed and smarter with every chapter. I felt that I was learning along with Sarah, her main character.

I must admit that I was nervous and anxious about how fast paced Sarah's life was before Neglect. She just couldn't see the 'forest for the trees.' But, isn't that most of us? We don't recognize the blessings and gifts we have right in front of us. For that reason alone I knew that the title was going to have double meaning. Amazing how those words worked so perfectly both to describe the condition physically and emotionally.

Reading about someone's new 'normal' is intriguing but also hard for me. (Like watching Biggest Loser I guess.) I cheer them on and worry that they can make it. I wonder what their new life will be like and many times worry that they will really find happiness in their new situation. But it's also so easy to sit in a chair and read, to watch from the sidelines. There's no loss or effort on my part. (Believe me those workouts hurt more when I'm doing them than when they do it on the TV.) Creating that new 'normal' is painful and pain-filled. Although this book wraps things up in a nicer package and bow, I recognize that it is not always so. Sarah, the main character, hones her more positive attitude and uses it to help herself get better and adjust. Some pretty good advice!!

Sarah's first grade son is also struggling with focus at home and at school. As parents, Sarah and her husband, Bob, feel resentful and child-like when they are called into the classroom to speak about their little boy. Their son may have some problems, but he's their perfect little boy and hearing any bad news is just that; bad news. This whole scene was so real for me. The author could have been monitoring conferences in my classroom!! (I really liked the part where the parents had to sit in the first grade-little chairs~ hey, it's only fair I have to sit in them too!) The characters in this book though are progressive, willing to help their son at any cost or effort. Too often parents aren't willing to admit that there is any problem at all!! With a teacher's and a parent's support as well as proper diet, medication or therapy ADD and ADHD students can be successful. Without even one of these supports it's like climbing Mt. Everest! It was so great to have a son and a mom coping with a brain issue in this book. It made understanding Left Neglect even easier for me.

Lisa Genova has become a spokesman for Alzheimer's after her book, Still Alice, and now has become a spokeswoman for TBI (traumatic brain injury) with this book. In Tucson Lisa Genova stated that using her nueroscience background in her writing is a gift to her grandma and a payback for her education. She stated that she always wanted to feel like she contributed something positive. Getting these stories out to the public really is a positive! Thanks, Lisa!

Before the accident, Sarah muses about all the things that she wishes she and her husband could do, but don't make time for. I've never been a bucket list kind of person, but I think I could create a short list like this....oh, I do!! It's called my 'summer vacation' from teaching!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Yearling

The Yearling
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Oh what language! It was dense and thick and like poetry to me.

The story, The Yearling, is of a young boy named Jody and his life in the hardscrabble backwoods of northern Florida in the late 1800's. Jody and his parents live a solitary life and one where frivolous things don't belong. Yet all Jody wants is something that belongs just to him; a pet. When his father is struck by a rattlesnake in the deep woods, a doe is shot and killed for her healing organs, leaving behind a tiny fawn. This fawn now becomes Jody's pet.

I loved this story. It was the recipient of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize and was written for children or young adults. I would be hard pressed to put this into the hands of a child today, though middle school patient kids who love long and carefully crafted deep stories might be candidates. The pacing is slower than most of today's novels and the author infuses so many details about hunting and farming that one would think she lived the same lifestyle herself (she did not!)The dialect was also thick and I found myself having to read some phrases over and over to 'figger' them out in my mind!! I loved the phrase, "don't go gittin' faintified on me!" The descriptions of the woods were full of words like loblolly pine, saw grass, red bay, sweet gum, and palmetto. I still don't know what a ti-ti or a blackjack pine looks like but they sure are fun to say. I read words that I knew but they just didn't make sense in the sentences - like milch, sorties, feist, crony, brogans, boles, and cooter. I was surprised when I looked them up and found they meant nothing like what they mean now! Oh,I remember - I was supposed to be speaking "southern"!

Lots of homeschool kids read this book and there are lots of study guides on the internet, yet I also saw reviews by many teenagers who just didn't like this book because they were forced to read it. Once again it supports my thoughts (what I tried to tell so many parents at Barnes and Noble) just because your child CAN read at that level doesn't mean that they SHOULD. Having some life experience behind us gives us a frame of reference, more meaning. This book requires some patience to uncover the gem that it is. I'm glad that I didn't slog through this in junior high, but that I uncovered this later. I was a real reader when I was growing up, but I don't think I was ready for this story of a yearling boy and his yearling fawn.

This book had me reading and enjoying it for a day or too after book group and I keep looking for a chance to say, "He's sure got a low eye for a high fence."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Salon - Week 6

Outside my window: A quiet and clear Sunday eve. I can hardly believe that the fires rage a few hours north. It's cool and breezy here.

I am listening to: the rustling of the blinds as the air from the fan moves them. Combine it with some soft guitar music and you've got the perfect sound in the office.

I am watching: Not much. We did go see the Pirates movie but beyond that I am reading more and nothing really seems to strike my fancy. Any suggestions?

I am thinking: that summer goes far too fast. Slow down days!!

I am grateful for: fire fighters, water, air conditioners, dishwashers and ice cream. How's that for random?

I am reading: The Yearling is finally finished. I loved it as did everyone else at Book Group. Daughter of Fortune got relegated to be the travel book as Left Neglected is coming due at the library. I also started Demolition Angel when I had a minute or two and fell right into a great story. It's a good thing that these three books are ever so different.

I am photographing: the completed office!! It's "beeutiful"!! I went with yellow accents after the perfect vase was re-purposed up here. It looks smashing. More to come....

I am listing: Denver plans. Our little trip will be cram-packed with fun things at this rate.

I am creating: repainting the downstairs bathroom for the 3rd time in a week!! Argh! All of the bathroom amenities are new and shiny and waiting to be put in once this darn painting project is done. Painted vanity, painted walls, new toilet, faucet, mirror and lights. All for a little powder room hardly big enough to turn around in. Hmmm.

On my Pandora: Kenneth Cope this week. Good jazz comes on our NPR station each night at 8 o'clock and I wait for that each night too.

I am hoping and praying: for no middle of the night phone calls!! I hate those kind of calls - too scary. Last night some random person called our house at 3 am wanting a taxi. He called 4 times from 3-4:30 am and then again at 10 am this morning. Changing my phone number seemed like a good idea in the middle of the night.

Around the house : getting ready to move files into the new drawers in the office. Cleaning out a 4 drawer file cabinet is a lot like moving a house - sort, toss, re-file, sort, toss, re-file,....

From the kitchen: cool salads to use up the garden produce. Yumm. But seriously the cherry tomatoes are so numerous that we just eat them like candy off the vine.

One of my favorite things: visiting my hairdresser!! She's a doll! She's a whiz with color, fun to talk with and has the biggest caring heart around. (Plus her head massages are worth every penny!!! I love it!) She's moving to West Virginia in a month but will come back for visits. I will miss her more than I can say. She is a true friend.

The children this week: will be busy and enjoying summer too! Airman son starts his official duty as an Air Traffic Controller in Mississippi. They are partly settled in their cute house in Biloxi. The rest of the AZ. kids will all be together this Saturday for the June Birthday Bash and BBQ. I can't wait to see everyone together.

Plans for the week: Read, paint, read, paint, read, paint.....repeat!

On this date: In 2008 I was finishing up the Once Upon A Time Challenge, my first online challenge. I am enjoying going back and looking at the titles. Funny how just seeing the title can bring back a flood of memories about those books. Thanks Carl.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ahoy Matey, there's pirates ahead!

Date night

Favorite lines -

Jack Sparrow - "You know that feeling you get when you are standing in a high place...a sudden urge to jump? I don't have it."

Jack Sparrow - "Did everyone see that? Because I will not be doing that again."

Jack Sparrow - "It's even more annoying in miniature."
"I hate monkeys!"

Jack Sparrow - "You walk like a girl."
Angelica - "You should know!"

I like repartee.
I like chemistry.
I like Johnny Depp.
I really like popcorn.
The movie wasn't Oscar worthy but...
it was a fun date night movie on a warm summer night.

In honor of pirates (& date night!)
I'm listing all the sea worthy titles
I've read ....

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
The Tenth Gift - Jane Johnson
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon
Tough Boris by Mem Fox
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Pirates by Celia Rees
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Wow, all these titles that I've read about traveling on the high seas and
I'm the gal who gets seasick standing on dry land!

What are your favorites??

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Books Just For Me!

Books Just for You


Thank you for submitting a Mesa Public Library Reader Request Form

and with this great email came a 5 page print-out of custom book recommendations just for me!! How good does this get? I love the personalization of the list. I had to fill out a 3-4 page questionnaire that was really quite detailed, but it was all insightful and gave me a great opportunity to figure out how I could use this idea in the classroom. ( FYI - I told the students I was doing this as a guinea pig! I make so many sacrifices for my students...)

Here's some of what they recommended...

I haven't listed all the stand-alones they suggested OR new authors OR the books they recommended that I had already read - - BUT it was enough to intrigue me and I added 8 new books to my stuffed bookshelves. I am ready for vacation AND any reading emergency.
What a great service! I am truly going to try this in some format in our classroom this next year.

These kids love
to share their favorites...
We post photos and recommended titles.
Next year we can customize it.
Cool, huh???

What books would you recommend?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday salon - Week 5

Outside my window: another warm June morning. It should top out at 106 degrees today, but who's watching the temperature?? The mornings are cool, the garden is in full production, the grass is green, and the porch swing is calling.

I am listening to: the white noise of the ceiling fan. I love white noise. As a matter of fact, I find it hard to sleep without it.

I am watching: This week we are planning a Covert Affairs marathon. We're getting ready for the new season to start this week. How summer-nerdy are we?!?!

I am thinking: summer projects: finishing the office, the bathroom, changing up the living room and mixing up the family room. Ahh, this is the time of year when the brain can really percolate. I just wish my energy level matched my brain level!

I am grateful for: healing powers - - a friend's son is healing (thank you wise doctors and nurses and heaven above,) the healing power of a smoothie (thank you J,) the healing power of words (thank you Isabel Allende and Marjorie Rawlings,) the healing power of a letter/email (thank you sister-dear,) the healing power of a pet (thanks Delta-dog,) the healing power of a little one's kiss (thank you Jase-boy,) the healing power of a phone call (thanks to all of you - J, Benny-boy, and Drew-boy.) This week was full of healing powers.

I am reading: A Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (still - I am taking it slow and leisurely - it's delicious so far) and The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings for Book Group this week. It is a transportation machine back in time to rural-backwoods Florida. The language is thick and dense.

I am photographing: a week of Concept Maps - 20+ hours of classwork for teachers...ahh our aching backs!! But the pictures will at least help me remember!!

I am listing: Projects and ideas!! (Refer back to "What I'm thinking..." it should fit together at some point in time!~!!)

I am creating: Wall art for the new office. All supplies have been gathered. Let the creating begin.....

On my Pandora: Hilary Weeks. This has been my traveling station this week as I needed to create a peaceful place for my mind. It really filled the bill and I arrived at each destination ready and focused.

I am hoping and praying: for a friend's son who is ever so sick. Machines control his breathing, wires monitor every function of his body. Why do I dread hospitals so in June??? It has become a trend over the last 6 years. I do not like it, but I am grateful for them. I am also hoping for an answer for myself. Ring, phone, ring.

Around the house : we are still finishing up the office. Rich has done the yeoman's job and I come along to clean up, vacuum and annoy. I am very good at it. The computers should all get moved in tomorrow and I can finally have my bedroom back. Yippee!!

From the kitchen: Chicken enchiladas, taco salad, burritos, quesadillas. I am thinking mexican, ya think!?!

One of my favorite things: spending time with my family. This week while Rich was at Scout camp the kids went out to dinner with me, shopped with me, talked with me daily, and we planned projects. I loved it. (J and I even snuck in a trip to Bookman's and Demolition Angel by Robert Crais and The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz followed me home. Now my library "personal- recommends list" is complete. My summer reading project is to finish all the books they recommended to me.)

The children this week:will be busy on their own. Airman and his wife are in their new little house in Mississippi, Son number 2 and his family have two new puppies, Number 1 and his family are the perfect people to throw a life-line to. They are busy but never too busy to help someone else. I love that. J&K are busy planning and J has a decorating book that is the envy of every design student. Her little brain is percolating. Q is breathing after a busy semester and Little Jase will be staying with us for the whole week. He says it is his vacation!

Plans for the week: Paint, move furniture, shuffle, shake....

On this date: it was a girl-trip to Salt Lake City!! It was great!! We visited all the good haunts, found a delectable bakery and wandered almost to our heart's content. Can we do it again (minus the long car-ride?? OK, the car-ride was totally cool with you guys.)

(Remember? YUMMMM... and totally calorie free if eaten in a park by a stream in the middle of downtown!)