Monday, February 28, 2011

{Between the Pages: "Little Bee"}

A hush-hush novel, Little Bee by Chris Cleave is the story of two women, voiced by two women.  It is a book about life, choice, chance, and fate.


I was told very little about the book before I read it; Little Bee is our book club's selection for the month.  I was drawn in by the premise: two women brought together by fate and one having a terrible choice to make.  With that, I made the choice to learn nothing else about it and dive right in.  In fact, it wasn't until I was a couple of chapters into the novel I decided to read the author's bio and found out it was penned by a man!  Little Bee beautifully represents these two women, their thoughts, feelings, behaviors.... His only miss, in my opinion, is when he has one of the main characters repeatedly pressing her forehead to a glass window; any women I know would refrain for doing such a thing because of the mark it would leave behind. Hah!

Nonetheless, I found the book difficult to put down.  I've never read a novel scripted in this form.  It is thought-provoking on many levels and has made me rethink my opinions and adjusted my perspective.

I look forward to discussing Little Bee at our next book club meeting and hearing the various takes on this compelling story, that while fiction could quite possibly be true.

I recommend Little Bee to anyone who appreciates a human story and the lives and choices women have to make.

[GiVe AwaY: I've completed the book, so after our book club on March 9th my copy is up for grabs.... The first reader to comment for request is the lucky recipient.]

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Syncing the Bridge

It's gymnastics moves abound at our house.  If they're not working on handstands, it's cartwheels or bridges.  Shortly after snapping these shots of the girls, I walked into a vacant family room to find the scene at the bottom....


{Abby's Bridge}



{Lauren's Tabletop Bridge}

 

{The Scooby Friends}



{Syncing the Bridge}

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"It Was the Park", by Abigail Zahn

Abby has been working diligently on writing stories in kindergarten.  Friday's snow day unleashed Abby's creativity.  While she was more than happy to celebrate the day in her pajamas, she was all business scribing this work of nonfiction.

It Was the Park
by Abigail Zahn





 It is at the park./I see the books.



I see books./I see Piper.



I see the playground./I am going to the cabin.



I am at the cabin with my mom.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flashback Friday

There's Something About Lauren

Summer 2007



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thank You Thursday

1. I'm thankful for my Lauren. And her handywork....


{Lauren Swimming in Her Pool}



{"I love my Scooby friends."}

2. I'm thankful for the people I surrounded myself with.

3. I'm thankful for Abby's quick recovery tonight at gymnastics. Well, relatively quick. She rejoined her class and finished the evening successfully leaving me to a few more minutes of peace.

4. I'm thankful my wallet broke before I closed my Thirty-One party. Looks like I'll be adding a wallet to my list of goodies. It's over ten years old, so it's not like I'm not overdue.

5. I'm thankful for finishing my book.  Not so sure I'm thankful for the way I felt about the way it concluded.  Maybe mulling it over will help.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. I love how they ask you so politely if they can help you get anything from the bottom of your cart in the check-out lane at Kroger. Oh, yes.  Please do.  Because getting that toilet paper myself would be a medical nightmare.  Come on.  Just because I wear a sweatshirt and my child's clothes don't seem to ever match doesn't mean I've got sticky fingers for the Cottonelle.

2. The vomiting, the diarrhea, the coughs, sneezes and buffet of runny noses at school makes me want to spray myself down with a decontaminate.  Oh please let this current round of flu pass me by.

3. Whomever designed the city sewer system obviously did not coordinate with the street engineers.  I hate misplaced man holes that leave you bumping down the road.  Dayton-Xenia Road, you could use a little help.... but Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington is the worst!  Yes, worse than the pot holes in parts of Duluth.

4. The Wisconsin senators are cowards. Period. You were elected to a job and now you're fleeing the state in protest.... are you children?  Ughhh.  It's a disgrace.

5. Fun night at the library with Abby and her class.  I'm glad we went!

6. Frisch's Big Boy. It's hard to believe the establishment is still open for business.  Needless-to-say I won't be going back for future dining adventures.

7. Abby is fairly certain that her ability to count to one hundred is a solid step into the field of logistics, a term she learned from a commercial.  Type and click, that's how you do math on the computer.

8. My new guilty pleasure snack: hummus and Triscuts.  Even the girls like the cheese on the fancy crackers.  Why destroy their fun?!

9. Geoff and Abby have been quite the pair lately, spending an abundance of time together.  It's fun to hear the things she picks his brain about.

10. With a delicate layer of crunchy snow currently blanketing our yard, it's hard to believe we were sitting outside enjoying a cold treat at the custard stand on Friday.  It is February, right?!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidents Day: Setting Precedence

True to my word, I have been actively cleaning my life of the clutter it has collected.  Our basement is the first to reap the benefits of my New Year's Resolution.  Yesterday, along with the help of my lovelies, I finished going through their toys.  I'm a hoarder, and getting rid of my girls' life in play was a hard step for me to take.  I guess I finally had enough of it all, and it is now sorted into things we will keep, things we will give to younger friends, and things we will donate.

I'm trying to set a precedence for my little people.  Trying to teach them to give, to share, and to do it with an open heart and no regrets.  This is why Geoff took them to Dayton Children's Hospital today where they donated a healthy collection of stuffed animals.  The man receiving their good will thanked them for their generosity, and assured them that many children will be grateful to enjoy a special new friend.

After trekking into Dayton, Daddy treated his girls to lunch at McDonald's where Abby was asked by an older woman if she knew what holiday it is today, and why she didn't have school.  To which Abby replied that it is Presidents Day and we are celebrating Abraham Lincoln's birthday.  Yay, Abby!

Back at home the girls are enjoying perhaps the most glorious part of our material cleansing.... The toys that made the cut are getting a new life of their own.

And Abby will always be Abby, just the way I like her.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Picture For Great Grandpa

Abby drew a picture for her great grandpa.  She told me she wants to take it to Minnesota to give to him.  And then she started to weep.... How am I going to give it to him in that little box?  I told her she could take it out to the shop and hang it there, since that seems to be a common visiting station for many of us.  Then she really started to cry.  She cried about Great Grandma being alone.  She cried about Grandpa's stuff and people just taking it.  Finally she concluded that people could take his stuff, but only if Grandma says it's okay.  My Abby has a big heart.  And oh, the burdens she carries.


To My Great Grandpa

Love,
Abby

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scooby-Doo! Who Knew!!!

In the event you have never met Lauren, or perhaps you have not seen her in the last six months, there is one thing that is clear.... she LOVES Scooby-Doo!  Mostly she loves Freddie, who comes second in her heart only to her Rocket Blanket.  She tells me she likes Fred because he always solves the mystery, but I know it is really because she thinks he's cute.  Ahhh, her first cartoon crush.

It is not uncommon for Lauren to watch as much of her favorite ghost-busting gang as possible, but in recent days she has been under the weather and watching more than this mama's brain can handle.

With that, I share with you some interesting factoids about my favorite mystery solving crew from when I was a kid, most of which I never knew....

Velma
Name: Velma Dinkley
Eyes: not so good
Age: 15
Ambition: to get into Mensa
Likes: science, logic puzzles, and mysteries

Scooby-Doo
Name: Scoobert
Nickname: Scooby
Age: 7
Ambition: to eat more Scooby Snacks
Dislikes: ghosts, witches, monsters and demons

Fred
Name: Fred Jones
Dress: sweater, ascot, slacks, monk boots
Age: 17
Ambition: to be a successful inventor
Likes: a challenge

Shaggy
Name: Norville Rogers
Hair: messy
Age: 17
Ambition: none
Likes: whatever's edible

Daphne
Name: Daphne Blake
Hair: Perfect
Age: 16
Ambition: to be a famous mystery writer
Likes: solving mysteries and looking good

The source of my information is the back of the box Lauren received for Christmas containing her favorite Scooby friends.  It should be noted that I needed to remove a heart sticker from Fred's stats for this composition.  Yes, she loves in that much.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flashback Friday

My favorite half-way home stop is at our friends' in Springfield, Illinois. We love catching up, hanging out, sharing meals, sharing laughs, and touring the town dedicated to one of our country's greatest presidents.

March 21, 2009


{We Also Love Visiting Our Favorite Popcorn Shop}

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thank You Thursday

1. When life starts heading to the crapper, I guess you have life itself to be thankful for. It's really not that bad. Someday I may even be thankful for this headache we also call our house in Florida.

2. I'm thankful for my free day yesterday.  Excused from work due to low attendance, I was free to go home and get work done AND a leisure project!

3. I'm thankful our kids are in the school district everyone warned us to avoid when we moved here.  The kindergarten debacle in the elite district is enough to make my head spin.

4. I'm thankful I got through my inbox.... again. Why oh why do I let it get piled up? Forwards are one reason. My I'll get to it later when I have more time attitude is the other.

5. I'm grateful for the success of others.  Particularly others who work hard and deserve it.  {Shawn, I'm talking to you!}

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tagged

A friend asked me to make her a collection of tags to have at her disposal.  I love projects like this!  The freedom to create, to organize.... this is right up my alley. 

So today I put together tags for all occasions.  If I didn't have these supplies at my disposal, I just might think about composing one of these little boxes for myself.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. 1919 Root beer is the reason my daughter counts wrong: 19-18, 19-19, 19-20.... Poor Lauren and her inability to separate the two.

2. Great Valentine's Day. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary-special. Just a bouquet of roses, a couple of thoughtful cards, a few candy gifts, a room full of balloons, an array of paper heart decorations, Geoff bringing home Chinese, and Valentinesy bedtime stories. Perfect really.

3. An easy way to tell if someone is from Minnesota or Wisconsin is by the way they say 'Wisconsin'.

4. Just a simple one-on-one conversation with the girls ranks among my favorite things.

5. If given the choice between being described as the cereal or the milk, I'd be the milk.

6. New cell phone loaded & programmed. Wow did I learn a lot about my phone! I'm just glad to be back in business.

7. Abby is full of Guess Whats.  Exhausting.

8. Often I opt to turn off all background noise and let Abby's singing fill my face and my heart with a smile.  The best part is, I don't have to answer.... just listen.

9. I love unexpected deals.  Thanks, JoAnn Fabrics!

10. A chat with my aunt today on the phone.  Priceless.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I ♥ Red

Happy Valentine's Day, Lovelies!



Saturday, February 12, 2011

{Between the Pages: "The Red Tent"}

Anita Diamant's The Red Tent is a work of historical fiction told by one of the Bible's silent characters, Dinah.  As Dinah tells the story of her life, she beautifully details the life of a family's women, their importance, their struggles, and their interconnected relationships with one another, their children, and the men that hold their fate.

While The Red Tent is a story rooted in biblical times it is not a story centered around religion, but rather a story of a tender woman silenced by the nature of the time in which she lived, and circumstances she was powerless to control.

Dinah details her autobiography beginning long before her birth.  Her story begins with her father, Jacob, a sheppard, and how he became married to her mother and her aunts.  Dinah learns of her history primarily through the stories she is told in the red tent.

As a young woman, Dinah experiences a tragic, life-changing event, altering the course of her life in a direction she clearly never could have imagined.


I found The Red Tent slow to start; as I reached the depths of the book it became clear why the set-up of the story was so pivotal to its premise.  There is a complex network of characters, which Diamant has illustrated in the front pages for reference.

While I'm a avid fan of history, I'm always hesitant to take on a work that does not portray pure fact.  Diamant does an exquisite job of weaving her research of existence in the ancient world into the life of a woman silenced by her circumstance.

The novel began reading as an educational tool.  Slowly, the author brought to life the thoughts, feelings, tastes and smells of what I had only learned as biblical stories; it was then I began to view the characters as relatable.  As the novel progressed their seemingly parallel world blended into the world in which I live by virtue of humanity.

I recommend this book to anyone (male or female) who finds an interest in stories of the Bible and/or history.  However, much like The Future Homemakers of America, it is at its roots an elegant story of women.  Whereas The Future Homemakers of America focuses on the relationships of a group of women, The Red Tent concentrates on one character and delves even deeper into her inner thoughts, struggles, and pleasures.

I found Dinah completely relatable; her experiences refreshingly real, and oddly comforting.  The life and death of this woman is worth telling.  Diamant did it brilliantly.


[GiVe AwaY: Since I've completed the book, my copy is up for grabs.... The first reader to comment for request, the book is yours.]

AnD tHe bOOk gOeS tO cOrrIe!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flashback Friday

Just after Abby turned one my aunt, uncle, and cousins came to visit us in Florida.  It was pure coincidence that we decided to take a trip to Kennedy Space Center on the same day they launched the New Horizons rocket to Pluto {back in the day when Pluto was still a planet!}  It is a nine year voyage to the now dwarf planet, so the rocket is sill going.  And my Abby is still growing.

January 19, 2006


{Uncle Dave's Girl}



{Blast Off!}



{Uncle Dave and Our Little Snuggle Bug}

Follow the New Horizons rocket's trip: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thank You Thursday

1. I'm thankful for Bengay, and for the frame of mind to use it.

2. I'm thankful our computer is functioning again and I can get on the internet, type a document, etc.  Now if I can just get my phone back up and running.  {I am not thankful everything, including my own body, seems to be falling apart.  Grrrrr!}

3. I'm thankful for the sunshine today, and the rainbow that came peering down from the clouds.  I've never seen a vertical rainbow like that before.

4. I'm thankful for the incredible staff I am blessed to work with, and the fun evening at our CPR class.  Only this group.

5. Tonight I came home late, both girls were tucked into bed, and looking at me were two pictures ala Lauren.  I cannot say with certainty who the live subjects are, but there is no doubt that her Rock is starring in them both.  Geoff says it looks like a bunch of rowdies.  He's probably right.  I love her mind.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. Our local Macy's in Ohio reminds me an awful lot of Dayton's.  How oddly at home I feel walking through there.

2. Gout is a word that grosses me out.  I hope I never get it.  If I do that means I'll have to keep saying it.... gout, Gout, GOUT.  Yuck!  Honestly, I don't really even know what it is.  Googling it will just mean thinking even more about it.  Not going there.

3. The girls love playing Duck, Duck, Goose.  Which bothers me a little bit because I learned it as Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.  In fact Wikipedia defines it as Duck, Duck, Goose, except in Minnesota where we call it Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.  I guess some things you just have to let go.

4. Abby insists on changing her name to Zariah.  Here we go again.

5. I don't care for Bill O'Reilly's new end-capping music on the factor.  The vibrant blue set he upgraded to several months ago I like.  But the dramatic music.... I prefer his old, more upbeat canticle.

6. I finally recognized a radio station I have tuned into on American Top 40, The 80s.... WROR in Boston. It's not wicked hard to remember that one!

7. Whenever I pour myself a bowl of cereal, I always eat just one piece before pouring the milk.

8. It must be a talent of Northerners to function in mittins.  This never occured to me until my dear Southern friend inquired as to how I could drive my car with those darned things on.

9. One of my favorite gifts is a book I got for my birthday while I was in elementary school from my Aunt Vicky.  Inside is my name as I wrote it then in cursive, and a tag from the book store she bought it from, The Bookmark in the Cedar Mall.  It's a weathered treasure.

10. It takes 30 days to change a behavior and form a new habit.  Ironically, another fact I stumbled upon: Eating dark chocolate before {yes, before!} your meal may {okay, so it's not scientifically proven} help you eat less during your meal and also make you less likely to crave sweets afterward.  I'm willing to bet I could turn this one into a habit in 30 days!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Wright Stuff

What hand-crafted Valentine could be more perfect for the kids who live in the birthplace of flight....




Each airplane needs:
  • one roll of Smarties
  • two sticks of gum (paper wrappers keep their shape better)
  • two Life Savers
  • one rubber band (Office Depot has balls in assorted colors)
  • three stickers
To finish them off we are attaching little messages that say "You've Got the Wright Stuff".

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chicken Dance

When I heard Lauren learned the Chicken Dance at school I was so excited for her!  She's never stayed awake long enough at any wedding dance to hear the Chicken Dance played and join in on the fun.  But now my young lady knows.

Or so I thought.  Here is the Chicken Dance as she knows it.  Goofy, and totally Lauren.

{Remember to pause the play list in the right column to hear the video before you push play.}

video

To access the Chicken Dance for your own jumping pleasure, or to wear out a little one of your own: www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8eC377h4A4&feature=related

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Stacked

Another great snowy day activity.  The best part is I didn't come up with the activity.... they did!


{Trophy Stacked}



{Collapsing the Stack}



{Piled}



{Stacked}



{Twin Stacks}



{Little Stacks}



{Stacking to New Heights}



{Abby's Castle}



{Creativity Abound}

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flashback Friday

Lauren lovin' on her new duck.

February 2008


[I miss that little Tiny Tot of mine.]

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thank You Thursday

1. Thank you to my sister for recommending "The Best Day" for my blog.  After I dried the tears the first several times I listened it, I really began to appreciate it as inspirational.  Thanks, Aubrey.

2. I'm thankful I washed the girls' winter coats and snow pants Monday night.  With nowhere to go for a few days there was plenty of time for them to dry!

3. I'm thankful to be back to school today.  I love the days of lounging, but getting back to a routine does a body good.

4. I'm thankful Abby got to hang out with me at school today.  Since she didn't have school she got to spend the day with me; I love watching her play and interact with other children.

5. I'm thankful I stuck with my book.  I started reading it this Spring and it was so slow that I put it down in lieu of other literature.  Since I'm at a lull in my reading I decided take my New Years resolution seriously and clean out the clutter, which includes finishing this book.  I was nervous it would be hard to get back into, especially since many of the names are foreign to me and it is a lot of people to keep track of.  Surprisingly, it was easy to get back into and finishing the book is paying off.  I'm almost finished, and I can't wait to see how it ends.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It All Adds Up

We are now on our second consecutive snow day.  The rain has ceased and the snow has taken its place.



But what to do with the kiddos?  I decided a delicious math activity was in order, so I quickly made up an addition fill-in-the-blank worksheet on Word and busted out the Valentine's M&Ms.  Abby has been working on this concept in school, so for her it was review.  For Lauren it was a chance to sharpen her counting skills, and since I kept the numbers in the ten local, I didn't have to worry about Lauren's absurd, yet all-too-cute counting skills getting in the way.... twenty-eighteen, twenty-nineteen, twenty-twenty, you get the idea.


Supplies:
  • Worksheet {I created my own on Word}
  • Pencil
  • M&Ms {two different colors}
  • Coordinating crayons
I filled each bowl, then let the girls do the drawing and filling in the numbers.  When they added them up I sent them to the refrigerator where I had taped a 100s Chart to find the answer on the chart.  They loved it!  Once they mastered the concept I set them free to fill the bowls themselves and complete the problem.  They loved that even more!

Of course their favorite part was eating all of the M&Ms when they were done.

Basket Case

I have everyone fooled.  Those who know me seem to think I am on top of everything and exceptionally organized.  The truth is that I like to be.  I try to be.  But sometimes I fall victim to my heritage.

The longer I'm living away from home the more I learn about myself and those with whom I share the commonalities of my birthplace.  I used to think it was just me.

Case in Point: At a recent gathering of friends (mostly Air Force wives from all over the country), one of the woman was joking about how her husband, from Wisconsin, will collect an overwhelming stack of newspapers claiming he will get to it.  Hah!  That's me!!!  The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many of my family members and fellow countrymen do the exact same thing.  Frankly, I find it annoying, but I honestly cannot help it.

In truth, most of the stacks can go without making any real impact if they are never sifted through, but there is one stack that absolutely cannot.... those pesky school papers.  It was time to make sense of the madness.

So I did what comes natural to the teacher in me and I got each of my lovelies a basket and prettied it up with a personalized clip.  Voilà!  The girls know that when they get home from school all of their papers go right in the basket.  I'm not saying it doesn't pile up from time to time, but at least it's organized.



Wire Baskets: Office Depot

Apples: Michael's

The apples came already painted.  I arranged stickers to spell out their names, then Mod Podged over it so the stickers would not come off.  Then I used the Mod Podge to adhere a clothes pin to the back of each apple, then clip it to the basket.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. I love Skittles bag friends.... the kind who enjoy the purple and green, because those are my least favorite.

2. Target doesn't sell Baby Ruths at the register.  It also doesn't play music.  Two facts that were lost on me for years.

3. It really shouldn't be called a snow day, at least not today.  It's pure ice out there.



4. Last night I filled the car up with gas and stocked up at the commissary.  Today I enjoy the fruits of my labor.



{Oh, and them, too!}

5. I have no idea where this came from this morning, but for some reason I started singing "Whoomp, There it Is" to Abby while doing a self-choreographed jig. You know the one, it's my version of the dance each mother does to embarrass her child. It worked. Then Abby told me I made the song up. {She also thinks I composed "Who Let the Dogs Out".}

6. As evident by the above picture, Abby gets her hair from me.  Poor kid.

7. The Wonder Years is Geoff's happy pill.  I enjoy watching him watch the show almost as much as I enjoy the show itself.

8. There is an advertisement for MS Health Administration on Facebook.  The picture is small; the advertising is clever.  I actually clicked on it to see if it was in fact the real Dr. Shepard and Dr. Grey.  {It's not.}

9. I love irony. Today Geoff began his new job off base. He is so excited to have an office with windows! The job offers many perks, and if you asked Geoff a downfall, he would be hard-pressed to find one.  Until this morning that is.... The Air Force base is closed.  His new job, not so much.  I hope Geoff is enjoying work today.

10. I saw this sign in a magazine: "What Happens in the Outhouse Stays in the Outhouse".  Well put.



{Grandpa's Outhouse at the Cabin}



{Abe Lincoln's Outhouse in Springfield, IL}

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Fairborn, Ohio, United States
I'm a teacher by trade, writer at heart & mom in every sense of my being. I never considered writing as a profession, but after I got married and began moving around the country, I began sharing my adventures, misadventures & updates through a sort of e-mail newsletter. I found a true passion in unconventional story-telling that has followed me into motherhood.