Showing posts from March, 2012

the material and the dream joining

By the time you read this I will be in Michigan, again, this time for the babyshower of my old college roommate, College Kim. Bestie L and I are throwing a small affair with mostly College K's co-workers. Do you see the pattern lately? Babies, babies, babies. I know at least 5 people who are pregnant now--insert unhealthy distrust of pregnant people and you can almost hear my blood pressure going up--and don't even get me started on how this will again be a summer of weddings: 3 more to go this year beginning in June.

I am looking forward to a (fast) weekend away and hopefully to finishing a few books and reading some Gary Snyder poetry. Speaking of poetry, American poet Adrienne Rich passed away this past week. I came to know her work during my last sememster of my undergrad when I took a Women Poets class; the class was awesome and introduced me to the likes of: Adrienne Rich, Rita Dove, Jorie Graham, and Elizabeth Bishop. I came to know these ladies and be inspired to agai…

the spectacle I have always imagined

“New York proved to be the spectacle I have always imagined, and the subsequent book is my response to this wonderful city.”Salvatore Rubbino

Reading Rubbino’s book, A Walk in New York, made me so homesick for the east coast; homesick for living close enough to NYC that I used to actually be able to take a train into the city and be there in about 3 hours—the book even begins with the father and son getting off a train and making their way to the upstairs level of Grand Central Station, just like I used to! Reading this book was like taking a walk down memory lane, looking at familiar buildings and some of the places I loved: New York Public Library, Union Square Park, the Hudson River, and the book wouldn’t be complete without a taxi cab ride!

What I loved about the book: Rubbino’s use of subdued colors allows the reader to slowly take everything in and enjoy his attention to detail, and no detail is left out—down to the taxi cab drivers’ licensing number—with every inch of the page co…

eating bugs in the library

I recently lead a Kids Cooking program for 24 Kindergarten-2nd graders. I say 24 kids, but what wound up happening was a lot of the grown-ups stayed too so we had 37 people at my program--which was great...but chaotic! It was a little stressful, but a lot of fun. I had a couple parents tell me they had as much fun as their kids. I got many thank yous at the end, and even one hug. All in all, it was a success. The kids made bugs out of healthy snacks, borrowing and slightly modifying ideas from Disney's Family Fun website. (I put my slightly modified recipes below!)

After we were all finished making our bug snacks I read two stories: The Wolf's Chicken Stew, Keiko Kasza and Whopper Cake, Karma Wilson--the kids LOVED the stories (and made me laugh when some of them thought Whopper Cake was about a cake made out of Burger King Whoppers. :)

Peanut butter
Simply make a nut-butter sandwich using apple slices, cut it into quar…

soaring into spring

Some Spring themed resources for Family Storytime (or for the Pre-k crowd):
Spring Books:
And then it’s spring, Julie Fogliano
Bear Wants More, Karma Wilson
I See Spring, Charles Ghigna
In the Spring, Craig Brown
Inch by Inch, David Mallet
Little White Rabbit, Kevin Henkes
One Windy Day, Jane Caraway
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit, Il Sung Na
The Very Busy Spider, Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Waddle, Waddle, Quack, Qauck, Quack, Barbara Ann Skalak
Wake up, it's Spring!, Lisa Campbell Ernst

Ryhmes: 5 Little Kites
little kite in the sky so blue,
Along came another then there were two,
2 little kites flying high above me,
Along came another , then there were three,
3 little kites, just watch how they soar,
Along came another, then there were four,
4 little kites, so high and alive,
Along came another,then there were 5!

Five Spring Flowers
Five Spring flowers siting in a row.
The first one said, “We need rain to grow!”
The second one said, “Oh my, we need some water!”
The third one sai…

america's funniest home video moments in the library

Don't think I am the meanest person ever, I am like thousands of others out there who think it's funny when people get--not-seriously-hurt--hurt. It is because of people like me that America's Funniest Home Videos was created and still seems to thrive (btw, Bob Saget was the best host ever). Some of us can't help ourselves when we see: a child practicing their golf swing in that inevidable groin shot, a dog run into a really clean sliding door, or watch as someone dressed as an ape wakes up a grown man who then screams like a little, it was really hard to not laugh when this poor little kid nearly knocked herself unconscious by walking straight into one of the book shelves today. I saw it happen out of the corner of my eye and had to bite my lip to keep from laughing (after we'd made sure she didn't have a concussion and that the tears were from embarassment, of course).

For the record, I laugh at my own friends too. My friend once got beamed in the …

foodie stories for kids

Wanted to share my FOOD themed Family Storytime lesson plan for my from some weeks back; this was by far everyone's favorite (including mine).
“Shake Your Sillies Out,”#13, Raffi’s More Singable Songs
Rhyme/Action: “Peanut Butter,” Rhyme w/ train whistle x2
A peanut sat on a railway track
His heart was all a flutter
Around the bend came number ten
Oops! peanut butter.
Rhyme/Action: “Pea Soup” Acted out w/green pom poms and pot
*I added the poms poms as the rhyme went on and when we got to the line, "And all the peas jumed out of the pot," I tossed the "peas" out of the pot with a ladle. THE KIDS LOVED IT! They also loved picking up the "peas" and putting them back into the pot for me.
One little pea jumped into the pot,
and waited for the soup to get hot.
Two little peas jumped into the pot,
and waited for the soup to get hot.
Three little peas jumped into the pot,
and waited for the soup to get hot.
Four little peas jumped into the pot,

not trumpeting about swans

Finished 1971 Newbery Medal winner, Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars this week.

SOTS is a coming of age story about middle child Sara, who at 14 years years old is starting to struggle with the moodiness and frustrations of being a teenager; added to that are her feelings of being caught between a beautiful older sister and a mentally challenged little brother. Her mother is dead, her father lives out of state and isn't involved in their lives and so she (they) are taken care of by their Aunt Willie.

When her little brother Charlie wanders off and is lost, Sara sets out after him, correctly assuming that he went off to look at the swans that are summering nearby. Sara is aided in her search by a boy she hates, along the way learning more about herself and the boy.

Good thing about the book: Byars devotes some parts to Charlie's point of view, helping the reader better imagine some of the fear he feels. Bad thing about the book: it felt dated to me. Also, Aunt Willie is ann…

how I felt today

Saw the movie last night. AWESOME. I felt like it was pretty true to the book, though, of course they couldn't leave everything in. Even though I read the book it was still a nail biter...and I may have screamed when the muttations were chasing the kids...maybe.

So many reviews to put up and I still want to share some storytime stuff and tell you all about my cooking program this weekend, but I'm tired. Soon!

I can't stop thinking about...this song today

The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition

don't be so Caddie


Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink, original illustrations Kate Seredy Reading Caddie Woodlawn, for Little House fans will seem slightly familiar; winner of the 1936 Newbery Medal, Caddie Woodlawn, like the Little House series is a story about a girl living in the U.S. “West,” (Wisconsin) in the 1800s (1860s); spunky 11 year old tomboy named Caroline Augusta Woodlawn, nicknamed "Caddie" is our protagonist. Both characters struggle with the feminine arts and would rather be outside playing, running around, and getting into mischief (Anne of Green Gables, anyone?) Both ladies are guided by sets of loving parents, whose helpful and stern wisdom and discipline shapes and molds the characters of these two.
The major difference between Caddie and Laura (Little House series) is that Caddie’s story is loosely based on the life of the author’s Grandmother Caddie Woodhouse, while Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote stories about herself.

If you love the Little House series, odds are you w…

entirely true and wildly fictional

Dead End in Norvelt, Jack Gantos Much like I felt when I began Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now, I wasn’t immediately lured into the story…that was until things got rolling. Gantos’ book, which touts being: “entirely true and the wildly fictional,” pulls you into the ridiculous world of grounded-for-the-summer-Jack (the boy with the nose bleeds brought on my fear/stress/nervousness) and his small town of Norvelt. What I found the most interesting and absolutely loved was how Gantos weaved the deceased person’s story (as told through the obituaries) together with universal themes of human experience and history. When this story seems like it can’t get any weirder, it does. I can honestly say I’ve never read a book which featured: Hells Angels bikers, Girl Scouts cookies, funeral home escapades and a back yard landing strip all at the same time…intrigued yet? Check it out! Amazon recommends ages 10 years - up

we can burn brighter than the sun

Fun.: We Are Young ft. Janelle Monáe [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this song and couldn't start my workday without listening to it first! I had my old roomie Melissa play it at least 5 times for me while she did my makeup for the wedding this past weekend.

Songs like this make me feel 20 years old again, and immortal, and that the possibilites are endless...and weekends like this past weekend can do that too. :)

if you're (pretending to be) Irish

Before we wear tacky green flashing buttons which say "Kiss me I'm Irish," or wear leftover green Mardi Gras beads with our already overly green outfits, or drink ourselves stupid on Guinness and dyed-green beer (and don't act like you've never done any of these things!); let's first stop and appreciate some lovely poetry from an Irish American poet--at least he could pull off a "Kiss me I'm Irish," flashing button.

On the tidal mud, just before sunset,
dozens of starfishes
were creeping. It was
as though the mud were a sky
and enormous, imperfect stars
moved across it as slowly
as the actual stars cross heaven.
All at once they stopped,
and, as if they had simply
increased their receptivity
to gravity, they sank down
into the mud, faded down
into it and lay still, and by the time
pink of sunset broke across them
they were as invisible
as the true stars at daybreak.

--Galway Kinnell

Happy St. Patty's Day ya'll! I will…

no question about what makes sense

Former Farm friend, Craig, made it safely last night, after a quick tour of OHCity Library, we stumbled upon the Warehouse District in Cleveland for beer and dinner. It felt nice to catch up over a beer and show someone the little I know of this new, adopted city. Leaving late we drove through a dark, mostly vacant city, singing too loudly to the Fine Young Cannibals, and in no time were dashing through a downpour and laughing like maniacs. I was sad to see Craig go after our short visit, but wished him well on the rest of his journey to Santa Barabara, CA. I'm glad I'm heading out of town shortly too, I can't imagine the solitude of my apartment after a couple hours conversation with Craig which brought back so much happiness and so many good memories of the Farm. Thinking about road trips (no matter how small) always makes me think of this poem, which I first discovered in Garrison Keillors collection, Good Poems for Hard Times. B1 gifted this collection to me after my f…

don't forget the bourbon

Tonight fellow former Farmer, Craig, is stopping by for the night. Craig is headed west to California tomorrow morning, a fitting day for travel, as after a half day at work I am headed north to the Mitten for a St. Patty's Day wedding; wish I could have two other visitors, one to head points south, one to head points east.

Finally finished The Hunger Games series, and want to review that at some point. Also, finished another Newbery book want to review that. Keep starting more new books--more, more, more! I feel like I can't read fast enough for all the books I want to read!

Started--and put down for now--Joan Didion's The White Album the other night between spurts of packing up wedding and weekend attire; I really loved Didion's packing list from her reporting years and just have to share it:

"To Pack and Wear:
2 skirts
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, …

gathering dust

In my pursuit to read all the Newbery winners, no matter how bad, I finished another two in the past week. At the end of last week I finished A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-1832, which is as it's title suggests, is a (*cough cough* boring) journal of a New England girl in the early (*cough cough* boring) 1830s. Now to be fair, it's not that the author set out to write a boring book, it just turned out boring because we all know that NOTHING INTERESTING HAPPENED TO PEOPLE WHO WERE FARMERS IN THE 1830s! We all know that nothing interesting happened unless it happened on praries, in the 1860s-1880s, and only then if the action revolved around a girl named Laura who had a blind sister, a fiddle playing Dad, and a house in the side of a hill (like a Hobbit) during one part of her life.
I really did want to like this book, being a huge journaler myself, but it was just too slow and uninteresting. Would I recommend it to kids: No, unless you really, reall…

about food

Thursday night found me heading to the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library to attend the 7th Annual Lockwood Thompson Dialogue entitled, "A Conversation about Food" with food photographer Penny De Los Santos, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone BarnsDan Barber and mediator (and Cleveland Heights native) Michael Ruhlman.

De Los Santos shared a couple of stories about some assignments she's photographed (one in particular is a spread on Ramadan she did for Saveur mag), but the meat and potatoes of the dialogue was Barber, who could have lectured for hours. It was fascinating. Somehow I went in expecting a little bit of insight into the food scene of the 00s, but I left with my so much more. Thanks Cleveland Public for a great lecture!

Sunday is for beauty

...every other day of the week is for the disasters: cakewrecks

Today's cakes are an awesome tribute to books! My favorites are the Go, Dog, Go! and the Very Hungry Caterpillar cakes (maybe I am prejudiced since I LOVE both those books). I also want to eat the bejeezus out of the Berenstain Bear family!

wishful thinking

Vampire Weekend - 'Holiday' (official video)

No holidays in sight, but I am so hopeful for spring and so excited for the many visitors and travels I will be doing the next few months. Yesterday I booked our campground in Acadia National Park; B1 & B2, Rugbygirl and I are going camping in June! HOORAY! But, before then I will be hosting:
Craig, a former Farmer, as he pit stops en route to the westYannick the German, a Farmer friend (and possibly Magdalena the German?) for a week in MayMy Mom when she come for a two week? visit in MayAnd then there's two visits to Michigan in March: next weekends St. Patty's Day Wedding, and a baby shower for College Kim, which I'm co-hosting at the end of the month. Oh, that it were Friday and I were headed north again!

an anniversary

Every year I sit in awe of two personal anniversaries: May 31 and March 6--the days I moved to and then moved back to the Farm. It was 3 years ago yesterday that I made the move back to New England (from Michigan) and in some ways picked up where I'd left off 3 years earlier, and in other ways began/continued? another chapter in my life.

Last year I probably reflected on March 6 by going for a walk around the Farm, taking in the late winter, perhaps examining the sap buckets, wondering where I'd be a year from now (and who would have ever thought Ohio!?); maybe I mulled over another year past as I baked bread. This year found me wishing I was at the Farm for another anniversary, instead I spent the evening trying to stifle strong feelings of homesickness and a longing to get in the car and drive far from the library in Ohio, not stopping until I hit the Massachusetts line.

I am sitting in my apartment, wondering where I will be next year when my thoughts again turn back to tha…

more fast reviews

Too Princessy!, Jean Reidy, illus. Genevieve Leloup

Simple rhyming book; I guess you could possibly say that this book introduces kids to new vocabulary, i.e. "jolly." I did not care for Too Princessy, it felt like it lacked any movement, just a series of pictures with language like, "Too diggy, too dumpy..." I am not sure what age audience this book is intended for? Maybe the younger crowd will enjoy Leloup's brightly colored pictures...? Ages: ?

Chalk, Bill Thomson

I keep finding exceptions to my hate of wordless books, and in Chalk I found another! Watching (and it truly felt like watching) the kids discover some chalk, which brings the drawn creations to life, left me feeling a little envious, and also got the wheels of my imagination turning--thinking of what I might draw. Of course someone takes things too far by creating a dinosaur and how the kids deal with the dino is a cute example of kids thinking on their feet. I really liked this book; another great…

more than Breakfast


fast reviews

Left, Right, Emma! Stuart J. Murphy

Murphy is a Visual Learning Specialist and what he does in this book is make the task of learning left and right easier for children; a marching parade and a string for Emma, as well as color distinction with the words left and right, help pave the way. The book is a simple story which could prove to be a helpful asset to teachers.

Crouching Tiger, Ying Chang Compestine

A boys visit with his grandfather gives him an opportunity to learn about what it means to be Chinese. Not my favorite story, a little too long for a picture book.

Omer's Favorite Place, Ifeoma Onyefulu
Books like these can be great teaching tools, a view into another world for kids, however, Onyefulu's book falls short of that when he uses Nigerian words without explaining what they mean.

I did not care for this book.

And then it's Spring, Julie Fogliano, illus. Erin E. Stead (2011 Caldecott winner)

I loved this book, it's lovely story and glorious illustrations. I fe…

protective of the poetess

As promised, here's my take on The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: I didn't like it. I seldom stop reading a book halfway through, but I did put this one down.

My biggest beef was this: I understand that when writing a novel about a famous person you are allowed some license to create a world for them, but Charyn's book was too much for me. I didn't mind that he made Emily a character with a sense of awareness about her own sexuality,  actually found it rather refreshing, considering how often even today we conceive of females in previous centuries as almost sexless creatures; I didn't like that Charyn then seemed to go a little too far, having Dickinson fall in love with a series of men (all poor choices), one after the other. It seems as though in trying to undo the spinster-poet way we think of Dickinson, Charyn went to the other extreme, making her a lovesick fool.

Maybe I let my own sense of Dickinson get in the way of enjoying this...? I was given Dickinson--…

I'll see you in the spring

It's so hard to come back to my lonely life in this city after a weekend away; a weekend in a place I understand, after my years of growing up and growing away from it, and returning too; a weekend spent surrounded by friends and laughter. My weekends in Michigan are always so chock full of activity, making up for the mostly sedentary life I've slipped into since leaving the Farm. My solitary drive back provided me with 3 hours to reflect on: Aud's 7 years and the many memories I share with her and my bestie L's family; to think about conversations I had at Dayna's 30th birthday party; to mull over my church community, how I can come and go among this "family," and am never lost, but rather a sort of prodigal child on every return--greeted so lovingly.

The weather was amazing along the drive: powdery blue and sunny one moment, only to be replaced my gales that acted as a hand pushing my car toward the shoulder, to a wall of snowflakes so thick that I felt…

another weekend in the mitten

Headed to Michigan for the weekend, celebrating Besties L&K's daughter Aud's 7th birthday and my sis-in-law Dayna's 30th birthday.

Another hour and I will be out the door and headed north on my 3 hour tour. Happy weekend all!

from bank to bacon

In keeping my promise to document Cleveland:

This weekend A3, Dayna and I met up with new friend Merissa (bestie L's sister Julie is getting married in March, Merissa will be her sister-in-law. Follow that?)--Merissa is a fellow southeast Michigan expat turned OH resident. We met up at the relatively newly opened (opened this past summer) Bonbon Pastry & Cafe in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland.

I had the Bacon, Bacon and Eggs, eggs with bacon and braised pork belly--I think you have to love bacon/meat to get this, the pork belly is soft but extremely fatty which would turn off most. While we waited for our main course we sampled the donuts which come with pineapple jam, mascarpone, and Nutella--the homemade donuts were amazing! As is always the case, order a restaurants specialty; while the food is good, I think BonBon's strong suit is its pastries and their French pressed coffee! So good.

After the meal A3, Dayna and I also stopped by Penzey's Spices so I cou…