Happy Mother’s Day

Hello friends! I am sorry that I haven’t written lately but there are big changes happening in my little world. I will tell you more about those soon, though, because today I’ve only popped on to tell all you amazing mothers HAPPY DAY!

If you have grown kids, tiny kids, in between kids, adopted kids, kids who never came to live with you, foster kids, step kids, sassy kids, sweet kids, or any other type of kids, I hope that you know you are loved, special, and amazing.

My own mother is having to deal with my children much more often right now as I jet back and forth between some of those big changes we will talk about next time. It’s her own fault though…she told me that one day I would have children who acted just like me and now she has to help handle them! In all seriousness though, Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom. She doesn’t deserve to have to put up with us, but I am certainly happy that she does.

Fits

I can’t get my work done. I have ended up being awake and working until 5am or after for the past two nights. When I try to work, one or both of the girls throws a fit. I try to make a video for my students, someone yells, cries, or talks in the loudest possible voice. I try to type things up, someone needs my laptop, throws a fit, or starts leaning over and banging all the keys. Teachers who are at home trying to take care of their biological kids while also trying to prep, create, and teach their non-biological kiddos/students are having trouble. We are NOT OK

Housework piles up. If we clean then school work piles up. If we pause to take care of our own children, we feel neglectful of our students. If we leave our own children to their own devices, the mom guilt is outrageous. I am sure other essential workers are feeling the same things now as well’ Check on your friends. If you are one of those people, I support you. Let me know if you need a chat.

Stay Safe.

Hairs

I went to the store for a dog chain today and ended up also buying blue hair dye. Now, before you start telling me about not letting boredom make you change your appearance etc…let me tell you, I’m not bored. Ok, I might be a little bored with the whole rarely leaving the house thing, but I’m mostly frustrated at not having time to do more now that I am home 24/7(ish). I am also a teacher who loves bold, bright hair colors. I have an amazing administration team who is very open, very accepting, and very person oriented (as opposed to political agenda oriented); however, I bet that not even my amazing principal would be ok with me showing up blue hair with orange tips (and possibly roots, I haven’t gotten that far yet). I know that I am still distance educating, but I like to change up my colors over the summer and this feels like the time.

Here’s the kicker though, I bought the dye, got home, looked in the mirror, and thought, “Oh, my hair looks pretty good. I’m cute!” *insert forehead slap here*

Have any of you changed your hair lately? Hope that you are all well and safe!

A Day in My “New Normal”

I know that we have all had to adjust, or are still adjusting, to a new normal routine. Most of the world is changing with isolation, quarantines, and distance learning right now and where I live is no exception. While I am not someone who habitually goes out very often, several of my daily habits have changed significantly.

Some people may be asking themselves how much could have really changed in my life if I don’t usually go out and about. Well…I am a teacher. I no longer driver 30 minutes every morning in order to spend my day teaching reading, writing, and music to my tiny, tiny classes in my tiny, rural school. I don’t get to see my babies in person. I don’t get to finish the school year with my 8th graders, who will no longer be in my classes after May. I no longer spend my hour roundtrip listening to audio books with my 7 year old.

I now create videos and forms for my reading and writing kids on an online classroom. I was told that I did not have to create content for music students, just send links to videos. I do, however, have some videos of me reading music based picture books to my littles. We had to cancel our spring concert and we are all sad about it.

Instead of waking up at 6 am and rushing myself and the 7 yr old to get dressed, ready, and on the road, we wake up slowly on our own. I get extra baby snuggles instead of handing the 7 month old to her grandmother for daycare. That makes the classwork very interesting, by the way.

While people are helping their children with distance crisis learning (this is not technically homeschooling) I am creating content for my students…and also helping my 2nd grader do her distance learning…and also taking care of most of the cooking, cleaning, yard work, laundry, cleaning…my father is still mostly unable to do anything for himself and my mother mostly tries to lock herself in her room for alone time whenever possible (helping Dad and her online job takes a lot of time and energy). 3 adults, 2 kids, 4 animals, 5 very different classes to create and teach long distance and trying to watch tv/movies, read, write, or breath on my own. I leave the house about once a week. Most of my adult interaction came from my co-workers/school family so I don’t get ‘in person’ chats much anymore. Thank God for my snapchat, messenger, email buddies!

I miss my students. I miss taking my daughters out to places (we went on a walk last week but between weather and virus, we keep home). I miss being able to send someone else on errands because, right now, I am the only person leaving the house to go shopping or pay bills or any of the other myriad of things that need done.

That is how my days are different. How about you? Have your days changed significantly?

A Little Catch Up

Hello, hello all! Lon time, no read. I have been busy with teaching and my 2 girls, barely making time to read and post the random booktuber tbr video. I, obviously, let the blog slip away from me. However, a dear friend advised me to start it (the blog) back up and, after dilly dallying for a week or so, I decided that she was probably right. So here I am, did you miss me? Despite all clues to the contrary, I did miss writing the blog and you, my readers.

So, where do we go from here? How about a quick catch up for the past couple of months or so in my life? Most of us are currently in quarantine or headed that way fast. My family and I started voluntary social distancing and self-quarantining a few weeks before the state of Oklahoma suggested we do so, because my father had a fall. That makes everything sound so simple, doesn’t it. Dad fell. In reality, my dad fell around 25 feet. The insurance adjuster said that his head would have fallen around 30 feet before hitting the floor. I may have mentioned that before that we live in what used to be a Methodist church building. Dad was in the attic above the auditorium, making sure that there were no bats setting up residence with us, and he took a misstep. Stitches and internal bleeding above his left eye, broken left shoulder that was incredibly shattered and out of place for nearly 48 hours, broken ribs, pelvis, and ankle…all on the left side. He was in the hospital for nearly a month and every single time the girls and I went anywhere, we were asked how he was and reminded that he should probably have died. Every. Single. Time. As it stands, he had 2 shoulder procedures and was able to go to an in-hospital rehab facility for a few days right as the Covid-19 pandemic started to become a bigger issue in Oklahoma. Up until that time, I was planning a spring break trip with my girls (a BIG surprise for the 7 yr old). Instead, we canceled everything and went even more heavily into self isolation, something we had been practicing outside of going to school for 3 weeks out of fear of the flu causing a set back for my father.

Log story slightly shorter, he has been home about 2 and a half weeks at this point. Today is his birthday (59!) and he was allowed to take off the ankle boot as his present from the bone specialist. The doctor says he can start PT on the shoulder in 2 more weeks, as long as Covid-19 still hasn’t affected our county. We remain in voluntary self isolation. Schools across the state (and most other states as well) have been closed to attendance for the remainder of the school year. Starting Tuesday, the 7th, and continuing on until May the 8th, we will be distance learning. This looks different for every school district, every teacher, every age group. Some of my teacher friends are using IXL and CommonLit and Prodigy…online tools that we have been utilizing to a lesser extent in class. I, on the other had, have decided to use my small knowledge of booktubing and will be utilizing those tiny skills to do novel read alongs and ethics chats.

What about you? Are you or your kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews/etc participating in any form with distance learning? What have you all been up to in my absence? I have to say, I am looking forward to rekindling our friendship here.

Be happy, Be safe, and Be Fulfilled.

The Quote Book

I have a quote book. This is not a book full of historic, meaningful, or even funny famous one liners and quotes (although I do have a few of those as well). No, this is a book of things said in passing my students and colleagues. Some of these are unintentional slip-ups that they prayed no one heard. Some are serious statements and questions that elicit a giggle or make people pause and wonder. Some are just down right weird.

All of these things get written down in a cute little orange and white notebook that lives in the back of my top, left desk drawer.

I did not originally set out to have a book of quotes. In fact, the notebook we use was originally purchased for me to use in tracking my exercise, my self acre, my goals, and some positive affirmations. You may, then, be wondering how my ‘self care’ notebook morphed in such an odd manner. Well, it all started with a whiteboard and weird turn of phrase. It was the second week of my first year at a new school in my third year of teaching. This was a very small school. So small that there were only 12 staff members. That year, 7 of us were new. We were asked to pose for a picture for the newspaper and one man, our new head coach, was much taller than the rest of us. (He is, in fact, a full foot taller than me…almost to the centimeter) In order to allow the image to be framed properly, he wound up leaning over on my shoulder. I made some comment about the large man on my shoulder weighing me down. That particular turn of phrase tickled the funny bone of one of my high school students to the extent that she decided to write it out on a large white board in my room. Soon, that white board was taken over with quotes from the entirety of the school population. By Christmas break our quote board could hold no more quotes. Suddenly my positivity and self care journal was pressed into service. Each quote that was cramped onto the white board was painstakingly transposed word for word and carefully erased from its position (so nothing could be accidentally copied down twice). New quotes began to be added. A place of honor was chosen to house the book. In a ceremony of astounding pomp and high levels of self importance, I was sworn to keep the book and continue its ‘mission’ of recording the funny and odd quotes from our everyday people.

Fast forward to today. Some of the teachers will now stop me in the hallway to let me hear a snippet or two  they’ve been holding on to for the book. It lives in its own little same place, hosting such precious gems as ‘those squiggled notes look angered,’ ‘I have been launching my umbrella at people,’ ‘that  is how pink was born,’ and ‘I was about to surrender to my own foot.’

Sometimes it isn’t just kids who say the darndest things, and I have a book to prove it.

Kevin the Unicorn: It’s not All Rainbows

Kevin the Unicorn:

It’s Not All Rainbows

by: Jessika von Innerebner

Dial Books for Young Readers

2019

 

Have you hopped on the unicorn bandwagon yet? It seems like unicorns are everywhere right now, and they don’t look like they’ll be leaving anytime soon. Why would they? Unicorns are beautiful, perfect, and the epitome of all things happy…right?

As Kevin the Unicorn can tell you, unicorns are just people too. Everyone has bad days. Everyone gets grumpy. Sometimes everyone needs to take a calming break; even unicorns.

In conjunction with the release and blog tour of this amazing chat about the beauty of imperfection, I have been asked to create a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) item. Using items from around the house, my daughter (7) and I created a calming bottle.

Materials:

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– An empty and clean bottle (We used a water bottle)

– Water

– Vegetable Oil

– Beads, Beans, Glitter, or other additives (garbanzo beans are a little too heavy)

– Food Coloring (optional)

– Glue ( To secure the lid)

Step One: 

Using the funnel, fill the bottle about 1/2 to 3/4s of the way full of vegetable oil.

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Step Two:

Add Beans, beads, etc to your bottle. Throw some glitter in for funsies.

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Step Three: 

Finish filling the bottle with water and add your food coloring.

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Step Four: 

Secure the lid to the bottle and shake.

 

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This simple to make, simple to use calming bottle can help focus energy and calm down people (and unicorns) of all ages as they watch the glitter, water, and oil come together and slowly separate again.

 

May you all have magical, awesome, super sparkly days!

 

 

Review: Does Frankenstein Get Hungry?

does frankenstein get hungry

From Penguin Random House: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/538536/does-frankenstein-get-hungry-by-john-solimine/9780399546419
About Does Frankenstein Get Hungry?
In this monstrously funny picture book, an inquisitive young girl with some pressing questions proves these creatures may not be so scary after all.

Tucked up in her bed, a little girl wonders about the creatures rumored to go bump in the night. But instead of pulling the covers over her head, she comes up with a list of important questions, like:

Does Frankenstein get hungry?

Does Dracula floss his fangs?

Does the boogeyman have boogers?

Does the thing that lives beneath my bed get lonely under there?

With each inquiry, the little girl’s confidence grows–proving monsters are no match for her imagination! From debut talent John Solimine, this laugh-out-loud picture book has all the silly and gentle reassurance kids need for a good night’s sleep.

This book is adorable, funny, and sure to make young ones (and older ones too) smile. The release of this book in mid-August set it up perfectly to be a great confidence booster for our young children who are about to be inundated with imagery of monsters and spooky things for the fall season. I love that this book draws the young readers in and they want to know what the next question will be, they want to know who will be in the next image. I received this book in mid-August and the students in my classroom (who range from pre-k – high school) have been picking it up and enjoying the message and illustrations ever since.

However, I do have one major issue with the book and that is that the rhythm of the words falls apart in a few places. A big part of children’s literacy in the early stages is the prediction of rhythm and words on the upcoming pages and when that rhythm breaks down for a second, it can cause issues for the emergent readers. While this book does have a great rhythm, the cadence in a couple of places seems to stutter and pull readers out of the story for a moment. This is not, by any means, a large detractor from the book itself and I still highly recommend that you pick this up to read with the tiny people in your lives.

I give Does Frankenstein Get Hungry a 3.75 out of 5 dragons. Munch on Frankenstein’s Monster…munch on.

**I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own.**

3 Middle Grade Recent New Releases: REVIEWED

Hey Everyone! It has been a long and hectic school year and I definitely let the ball drop on my blog (AGAIN…I KNOW!). However, it is now June and I’m hoping to get back into the groove of posting blogs, as well as the BookTube videos. So today, in an attempt to make do just that, I am bringing to you a quick review of THREE recent Middle Grade Releases. Each of these is now a couple of months old and definitely deserving of all the love…so let’s get in to them.

First up I want to talk to you about Sticky Notes by Dianne Touchell. This book debuted on February 20th and was published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
sticky notes

This book follows 10 year old Foster as he and his family deal with his father’s decent into Alzheimer’s. Fossie is used to his dad being a vibrant, story telling, suit wearer who loves his son and his dog. But then Dad starts forgetting the numbers that make up his job, and the supper that he’s got burning on the stove, and the dog.

This book takes a close look at the effect of the disease on those around the sufferer, namely the child who is confused and left to figure things out on his own (for the most part). I thought that Dianne Touchell did a wonderful job of handling this topic in a way that would appeal to readers of varying ages, from the early Middle Grade target age group to those of us who have had a smidgen more life experience. I give Sticky Notes a 3.5 out of 4 Dragons and you can find your own copy here.

The second book I want to bring to your attention is The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller.
science-of
Published on March 6th by Random House Books for Young Readers this extraordinary debut novel takes a look at Hope and Love (and depression) through the eyes of a 7th grade girl writing in her science notebook. When Natalie’s teacher Mr. Neely tells the class that they must answer an important question using the scientific method, Natalie comes up with the question
How do you grow a miracle? and is determined to solve her mother’s depression with the answer. This book is poignant, humorous, and beautiful…and will make you experience a rainbow of emotions. I read this at the very beginning of March and still find myself idly thinking of the characters and story. This book gets 5 out of 4 dragons and you can go grab your own tear jerking copy here.

Finally, I want to talk to you about an entirely different type of novel. Emma Carrol’s Strange Star was published on March 20th by Delacorte Books for Young Readers and is a spine tingling middle grade thriller.

th

This book begins at Lord Byron’s summer home where he and his guests, the Shelleys, are challenging each other to a ghost story tell-off…but as Mary Shelley is stuck for an idea, a knock on the door reveals that sometimes the truth is more frightening than any ghost story could be. Told as a tale of family, friendship, woe, redemption…and inspiration this was a quick moving and interesting read. While there were a few spots that pulled me out of the atmosphere of the story, I felt that it was over all well done and this thrilling, seat-of-your-pants book was one I read in one sitting. Ultimately, I gave 3.5 out of 4 dragons. If you’re looking for a little summer chill, grab your copy here.

I would love to hear about your favorite new releases, what you’ve been reading lately, and if you’ve read any of these three marvelous books! Until next time, may your days be blessed with books and love!

*I received these books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and rating are my own!*

Review: Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy

 

 

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Last Stop in Brooklyn
By Lawrence H. Levy

“It’s the summer of 1894, and an infidelity case has brought PI Mary Handley to a far corner of Brooklyn: Coney Island. In the midst of her investigation, Mary is contacted by a convicted man’s brother to reopen a murder case. A prostitute was killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat years ago in her New York hotel room, but her true killer was never found. Once again it’s up to Mary to make right the city’s wrongs.”

 

I wish that I could tell you I loved this book. All of the mystery, murder, retro elements are there for me and, by all right, I should have fallen in love with this story. I did not. The descriptions went overboard, the story seemed bland, and the dialogue left me cringing. I rated this a 2 stars and have happily left it behind.

 

*I was sent this book free of charge by blogging for books*