Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tweeting for Jesus

A few Sundays ago my daughter and I were running a little late for early church.  We slipped in the door and scooted up the back steps, deciding to make less of an interruption for the approximately thirty folks in the main pews by choosing to sit in the balcony that morning.  It's nice to be the only person in the balcony at church when you have a restless six year old with you.  It's also pretty neat to have that  bird's eye view of the sanctuary and all that's happening during the service.

I cannot remember whether it was during the opening prayer or maybe during the news and announcements, but I spotted a man in the middle of the left side of the church who was scrolling through an app on his phone.  Now I don't know this man's situation at all:  maybe he's a doctor or some other profession where he's on call and needs to check his messages.

Or maybe he heard something that he needed to record or something that triggered a thought that he needed to write down to remember.  I often write down verses or parts of the sermon that speak to me, usually scribbling them on the church bulletin or in my itty bitty notepad that lives in the recesses of my purse.  Whatever he was doing with his phone got me to thinking about technology at church.

Is it appropriate to tweet during the sermon?  Is it okay to make a note on an electronic device during the Lord's Prayer?  Is it alright to pass along words of wisdom and great lines from a sermon on Facebook during that sacred hour?  Is it okay to use our technology during church?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?!

A weekday in the life of me:
Rise and shine, shower and dress, prepare for the day

Coax the little one out of bed, make sure she dresses, ply her with apple juice, a granola bar and a cheese stick.

Out the door, on the way to her school and then my work
Work! I could give you the details of my day as a middle school educator, but then you, too, would be utterly and completely exhausted.

Gas up the car, hit the bank, pick up groceries (thank you for online grocery shopping!)

Pickup the kid from the bus stop, head home, start laundry, read and play with child, cook supper

Eat supper, clean kitchen, run bath for kid

Check Facebook, email, play letters in Words with Friends games

Help kid with homework (yes, kindergartners have homework!), read with kid, say prayers and sing

Watch the last 15 minutes of Big Bang Theory rerun, pack lunches for the next day, finish cleaning kitchen, fold laundry, call mom, think about all the great blog ideas that I have

Watch Glee! or Law and Order SVU or read one of the twenty books that are stacked next to the bed

Get ready for bed, check on child, speak to husband, kiss him goodnight

It's 10:30 p.m., and I'm wondering where my day went. How can I manage to make it through a 24 hour period and feel like there is so much more to do, need to do, want to do?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why One Good Teacher Quit Teaching or Is Money Really the Issue

No, dear readers. I have not resigned from my teaching position. But one good teacher in Florida decided to quit teaching at the end of the 2011-12 school year. You can read and watch about Linda DeRegnaucourt and her decision to end her 13 year teaching career on the CNN website.
DeRagnaucourt says she's quitting teaching because of the low pay and the way teachers are treated:

...I came to the realization that the money I make isn't enough. It isn't enough to live alone. As educators we make what we make, nothing more, nothing less. In industry, if I'm valuable, the company can keep me by making the package they offer me more attractive. In education, the principal's hands are tied.

There has been a lot of debate lately over merit pay and pay for performance, ways to increase salaries for those that "perform", mostly based on test scores. There are some valid points on both sides of the debate.

But ultimately for me, it comes down to whether teachers are making a livable income, especially single teachers.

I had a conversation with a colleague, a teacher in her early thirties, who is delaying seeking medical treatment for her health issues due to the cost: it was two weeks until pay day and she did not have the money for the co-pay. Yet, this same teacher spent a weekend at an amusement park a few weeks earlier. I'll bet the co-pay and the admission to the park are equal amounts of money.

I'm not saying folks should deprive themselves, but even DeRegnaucourt talks about putting herself on a budget. If one's basic living expense aren't being met, then we have a problem. But the next question has to be, are we living beyond our means?

And DeRegnaucourt says she'll make $20,000 more a year moving from the teaching profession into the nursing field. She'll also be working two more months, right? How come no one every mentions that we are not comparing apples to apples? Even I can do that math:

If the average teacher in XYZ state makes $40,000 per year as a teacher and the average nurse in XYZ state makes $60,000 per year , then the teacher makes $4000 per month and the nurse makes $5000 per month. While that's still $1000 a month more, the nurse also gets paid 12 times a year instead of 10 times! Ultimately that's only a $10,000 yearly salary difference when you compare apples to apples and not to oranges.

I'm wondering if the move from education to nursing has been worth it for her.  Hoping to find a follow-up story.

100 Books in 2012: Junie B., First Grader

Book 31: Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) by Barbara Park

Over the past week, I have read this book aloud to my daughter, a chapter or two each night, and we have laughed our way through Junie B.'s ridiculous shenanigans, mispronunciations, and just all around silliness as her class comes up with their Thankful List:  not what the teacher expected, but an honest first grader attempt at truly being thankful for stuff.

At her school's book fair, we chose this book to purchase and donate to her school library.  Once it was processed and cataloged, she got to be the first student to check it out.  That was certainly a thrill for her! And she enjoyed my reading it with her each night.  On to the next one!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Running Red Lights

We used to have a number of red light cameras in our city, those cameras that would take a picture of your automobile when the light turned red and then another picture as you crossed through the intersection while the light was still red.  Many of those have been removed now.  Perhaps they weren't cost effective, or maybe they didn't provide the best photographs of offenders' license plates, or maybe they were just downright a pain to support.

Either way, I can tell you an intersection that could use a red light camera or better yet a full-time traffic cop monitoring the roads: the intersection nearest my daughter's school.

No less than at least three out of five days a week, either in the morning or the afternoon, somebody blows through the red light at that intersection.  We've witnessed private school transportation vehicles zooming right on through the red light.  We've seen school buses fail to stop.  We've been frightened for at least two high school students who cross at that intersection to get to their bus stop near my daughter's school.  We've seen cars turn left on red because they refuse to wait for the light to change.

It's a dangerous intersection.  I'm thinking about contacting the city.  Wonder if it'll do any good?

100 Books in 2012: Creating Your Library Brand

Book 30:  Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons by Elisabeth Doucett

I checked out this professional book from our district office, hoping to get a few more ideas about building my influence and program recognition with my students, staff, and parents.  While this book is geared more toward public library, there are some take-aways for school libraries.

The idea that you have a brand logo that identifies your program makes sense.  Since most schools already have a mascot, I could see modifying that mascot to include a book, laptop/device, something that tags it as a more information and technology icon. 

I like the push that libraries need to create a presence in which people think of them first, as a preferred provider of information.  Schools can take some of the ideas here and tweak them to work for our communities and stakeholders.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Carving Out Time to Write

NaNoWriMo starts on Thursday.  That's the National Novel Writing Month, held in November, when folks try to write a novel, approximately 50,000 words, in one month.  I've attempted it 2, maybe 3 times, but I don't think I've never gotten passed about 6,000 words.

Last April I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, which I managed to keep up with within a day or two of the actual alphabet letter and day postings.  I focused on my bucket list, and I enjoyed writing about my possible excursions, endeavors and life dreams.

I've attempted to read 100 Books in 2012 and 2011 and 2010 with a group of mommy friends, but I've fallen short there, getting only half way there one year, and barely keeping up with my blogging and posting in Goodreads.

Once again I'm hoping to start some sort of writing schedule.  I was overcome with topics just the other day, pulling out my notebook and jotting down the ideas, while driving on a fairly busy highway no less.  Probably not the best time to write, but I had to get those ideas on paper.

I've been trying to figure out what's not right with my psyche for the past few years, and I've decided that it's because I'm not journaling, blogging, writing on a regular basis.

So here's to November and carving out some time to get back to writing! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Wonder by Palacio

Book 29:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Auggie is a bright, funny, intelligent boy who is about to attend school for the first time, entering middle school at a small private institution.  He's nervous, a little scared, and a little excited.  Sounds like a typical preteen?  But Auggie is different, unique, a wonder: he has a facial deformity that has caused him to have over twenty surgeries in the last ten years.  He doesn't look like everyone else.  And while he is academically on par with everyone and even quick witted, how will his face go over in middle school?

Told from a number of characters' points of view, Wonder is the special, heart-warming story of how Auggie matures, managing to have a "normal" school experience, while affecting the lives and hearts of his family, his new friends, his teachers and the students at Beecher Prep.

A definite winner and possibly a Newbery contender.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

100 Books in 2012: My Name is Mina by Almond

Book 28:  My Name is Mina by David Almond

Mina is different.  She doesn't fit in at her school.  She doesn't fit in at the special school.  She just doesn't fit in.  Through her journal and writings, we learn that Mina is very bright; she thinks about things differently than most people and they just don't get her.  She's trying to come out of her shell, trying to fit in, trying to write more about her feelings, to understand her dad's death.

I was a little put off at the beginning, hard to get into the book, but enjoyed it was I was a third of the way in.

100 Books in 2012: Lost in the River of Grass by Rorby

Book 27:  Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Fourteen year old Sarah, who's on a swim scholarship at a private school, goes on a weekend field trip to the Everglades with a group of snotty, preppy kids and the likable, nice teacher.  She finds herself faking sickness to avoid spending the day sloshing through the glades with the group and instead ventures out on an air boat with the fifteen year old son of the folks that run the camp.

What starts as a fun cruise through the cattails, saw grass, and marshy glades ends in a scary four day trek for the two teenagers as they try to get out of the glades on foot after the air boat sinks.  With alligators, snakes, cuts and bruises, and a baby duckling, Sarah discovers she's more courageous than she ever thought and that she and Andy need each other in order to come out alive.

Monday, June 4, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Condolezza Rice

Book 26:  Condolezza Rice:  A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me

I've always been impressed with what I knew about Condi Rice:  accomplished pianist, multilingual, respected historian and confident spokesperson.  After reading her autobiography, I'm even more impressed with her, her ideas, and her accomplishments.

Throughout the book chronicling her life from childhood through the beginnings of her work with President George W. Bush, Condolezza constantly relies on the close bonds with her parents and her own strong faith to make the decisions that have led her to become accomplished as a professor, provost, national security advisor, and secretary of state.  She is outspoken about her upbringing in segregated Birmingham, her support of affirmative action done right, and her decision to affiliate with the Republican party.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this autobiography and recommend it!

Monday, May 28, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Dead End in Norvelt

Book 25:  Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

I had been waiting to read this 2012 Newbery Award title since the announcement was made in January; however, it did not satisfy like other novels have.  This historical fiction combines some parts of Gantos' real life, some parts of history post-war, and a lot of fiction, humor, and mystery.  The story follows the summer of Jack being grounded and having to spend his time between helping one of the oldest living townspeople write obituaries and trying to figure out how to have a little fun with his friend whose father runs the funeral home all while trying not to shock himself and thus having his nose bleed all over the place.

I think this is a fun, entertaining read for an adult, but I don't see the appeal to some kids, especially most middle schoolers.  I just don't see them picking up this novel on their own.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Book 24:  Bossypants by Tina Fey

A lot funny, a little crude, a little serious, this is the autobiography of Tina Fey, chronicling her introduction to theater in high school (where everyone was accepted and yes, there were gays) through her work with Saturday Night Live (Lorne Michael is a god) and 30 Rock (where they were determined to have Alec Baldwin come hell or high water!). 

Since Fey is my age, I appreciated the references and could relate to her growing up in the 1980s.  She relates her story with much humor, although sometimes a little crudely and with profanity.  It's a quick and amusing read about an aspiring writer who does well for herself.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zero

Today is the last entry for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  I have been blogging about items on my bucket list, things that I want to do before I die.

'Z' is for zero:  I would like to be debt free, owe zero money to anyone or any place.

It would be awesome to know that the big ticket items -- house and car -- are paid for with no monthly payments, but I don't know if that will happen in the next ten to twenty years or if ever.  I do know that we can at least pay off other debts, like credit cards, and have those zeros smiling at us soon!

100 Books in 2012: Mockingbird by Erskine

Book 23:  Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

After a school shooting leaves her middle school brother Devon dead, Caitlin has trouble making sense of it all.  Devon was the one who helped the eleven year old understand the daily routines of life, and now she is struggling to understand even the simplest things.  But then Caitlin has always struggled.  As a child with Asperger's, Caitlin sees the world differently than the rest of her classmates and without Devon to help her understand the world, she is even more confused and lost.   While her patient dad is dealing with his own grief, her teacher, Mrs. Brook, counsels Caitlin about finding closure with finesse.

I wonderful read:  a real coming of age story told through an autistic child.  Erskine was moved to write the novel after the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Y is for Yarn

Years ago I spent more of my free time on handicrafts, including cross-stitching and needlepoint.  My grandmother tried to teach me how to make Granny squares and how to crotchet, neither of which I have ever tried again in my adulthood.

I see a lot of folks learning to knit, forming knitting groups, the new social societies, perhaps.  And I think, Sure, I'd like to learn how to knit sometime.

It's probably not so much the actually handicraft that I am craving as much as the time spent with other women, enjoying conversation about family and friends and life.  But I would happily purchase some yarn and needles and have a go at a knitting circle.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

100 Books in 2012: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Book 22:  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This was the first John Green book that I had read.  Where have I been?!

This was the amazing story of Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group.  The characters are real, honest, and likable.  The story is funny, moving, and incredible.  I laughed.  I pondered.  I wondered.  I cried.  I loved this book.  (Thanks to a fellow teacher for recommending and sharing it with me.)

It's definitely the next book you should add to your reading list.  (And I see from Mr. Green's website, that the movie rights have been optioned!)

X is for Xyloses

Okay, so the letter 'X' was a really hard one in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and it only sort of conveys a want, a need really, that I have on my bucket list.

xyloses - n. - A sugar extracted from wood or straw; used in foods for diabetics

I don't really want to use this sugar.  What I really want is to be sugar free.  I feel like I have such an addiction to sugar.  I crave sugar.  I crave white bread and potatoes and rice that are starchy that all turn into sugar in the body.

I've never liked artificial sugars like aspartame or sucrolose.  I don't really know what xyloses might even taste like.  I just think a sugar free life would help my system get  back to a healthy state:  a normal weight, less aches and pains, and more energy.

W is for Washington, D.C.

I think everyone should live in Washington, D.C. for at least one year.

I've had this on my bucket list for a long time.  I really enjoy visiting D.C., going to the Smithsonian, walking the Mall, seeing the monuments.  If I lived there for a year, I could finally see it all more in depth and get a better feel for the history of our country.

I picture myself working at the Library of Congress.  I would take the Metro to work every morning.  I would eat my lunch on the steps of one of the historic buildings or picnic in the Mall.  I would tour at least one museum in the afternoon:  maybe the Folger Shakespeare Library, perhaps the Air and Space Museum, or the National Gallery of Art.

My evenings would be filled with moonlit strolls by the Potomac and dinners at all the best restaurants (Citronelle or Vidalia) and performances at the Kennedy Center.  My weekends would be spent sitting in Union Station or on the Capitol steps or on Pennsylvania Avenue watching the tourists, the visitors, the residents enjoying their moments with friends and family and documenting it all in my journal.

I'm not sure why I am enamoured with D.C.  Maybe I picture my stay in Washington without politicians.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

V is for Voice

I love to sing.

Every night after I read my daughter a bedtime story and say her prayers with her, I sing her off into slumber land.  No, I don't sing a lullaby, not really, or some inspirational, soft melody.  Every night we sing a version of the closing theme song from The Lawrence Welk show: 

Good night, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you.
Make a wish, say a prayer, may all your dreams come true.
Tonight and until we meet again.
Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn.

I really enjoy singing.  I grew up singing in the school choir.  I had the role of Mary Poppins, singing A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down, in a salute to Walt Disney production in the fourth grade.  I sang alto in the middle school choir and both alto and tenor in the high school choir, mainly because I had great pitch and was good at harmonizing.  In high school, I also started singing in my church choir.

I miss singing these days.  Sometimes I feel like I have lost my voice, although I really haven't.  I sing along to the radio, belt out songs with my girlfriends, especially on road trips, and giggle through songs with my daughter.  I just haven't performed in any organized singing group in quite a while.

Care to hum a little tune with me?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U is for United States

I have visited 27 of our states, various destinations for conferences, vacations, and races.  But I would love to take a four to six week trip by car across the country.  The Great American Vacation, I would call it, really exploring the land, sights, people.  I would like to be able to eventually say that I have visited all our states.

Guess it'll be hard to drive to Alaska and Hawaii, though!

T is for Treehouse

When I was a kid, my dad built me a treehouse.  It was actually a house on posts situated between two big pine trees.  I loved climbing up the steps and hanging out on the porch or playing "house" in the 8' by 8' space.

That treehouse has long been torn down at my parents' home.  My husband and I live on three acres with about two of that covered in tress with paths cut through the woods and bordered by a creek.  We've talked about building a treehouse, not just for our daughter, but for us:  a small space with a porch overlooking the creek.  It makes me sigh and feel relaxed just thinking about it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Ten Miles Past Normal by Dowell

Book 21:  Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

This is a great read by Dowell, whose Dovey Coe is one of my favorites.  Janie is trying to find her way in high school, and she is longing for a "normal" experience.  But her life on the farm interferes with her popularity (goat poop on her shoes!) and having no classes or interactions with her middle school friends leaves her hiding out in the library during lunch.  She meets some interesting folks along the way and realizes that "normal" is what you make out of life.

From the jacket:  Ten Miles Past Normal is a quirky road map for life that's full of offbeat heroes and delicious goat cheese.  Maybe life's little detours are not about missing out, but about finding a new way home.

S is for Swimming Pool

I love to swim.

For a while, I was frequenting the health center two to three times a week in order to get in the water.  I would either swim laps or participate in group water aerobics or make up my own water routine to workout.  I like working out in water because you don't sweat, or at least you can't feel it if you do.

There's something relaxing about being in and around the water.  But life has gotten in the way, and I don't get out to the health center at all now.

So on my bucket list, I would add "install a swimming pool in our backyard"; that way I would have easy access to swimming every day of the week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

R is for Redwoods

Over ten years ago, I had a chance to visit my cousins  and a college friend just outside of Los Angeles.  While we did some touristy things during my visit, I did not get to as much of California as I would have liked to see.

I would love to visit the Redwoods.

Friends who have a cabin in the Redwoods have offered for us to stay there. I am definitely ready to take them up on their offer.  I can just imagine sleeping among those tremendous trees and wandering through the forest in amazement and awe.

My bags are almost packed!

Q is for Question

Continuing in my bucket list theme of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I struggled with letter 'Q' and finally settled on this:

'Q' is for question.  I want to answer the question:  what do I really want to do with my life to make a difference in this world?

P is for Parade

When I was either a sophomore or junior in high school, I had the excitement of dressing as our school mascot and walking in two Christmas parades one year.  As they say, everyone loves a parade, and I had a ton of fun walking with our marching band and waving at the crowds as we moved through the city streets in the Raleigh Christmas parade and the Rocky Mount Christmas parade.

I want to be in a parade again.  This time, however, I want to be riding with the Model T club and to be waving to the crowd from the front seat of our 1926 Model T Ford.

My husband inherited the car from his grandfather, and it currently sits in our garage with boxes and tools and other odds and ends piled up on it and in it.  The valves need to ground down and supposedly the car will be ready to crank and run.  (nudge, nudge, dear husband)

I'm ready for my parade debut as an adult in my fancy old car!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

100 Books in 2012: The Sweetest Thing by Mandelski

Book 20: The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski Just like the title, this is a sweet read. Sheridan is great at decorating cakes, working in her grandmother's bakery, but what she really wants is to find her mother who left her when she was young. Through very real and likeable characters, Mandelski makes her debut with this novel. Sheridan struggles to balance her time with her workaholic dad, her cake decorating schedule, schoolwork, her new boyfriend, and the revelation that her best friend has a crush on her. A sweet coming of age story. Thanks for getting this book for me, Jen!

Friday, April 20, 2012

O is for Opera

Remember that scene from Pretty Woman when Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts to the opera La Traviata for the first time.  She is deeply moved, cries profusely, and applauds at the end.  When the older lady asks her if she liked the performance, her response is "I liked it so much, I almost peed in my pants!"  To which Richard Gere says to the older lady, "She said it was better than Pirates of Penzance."

I've added "attend the opera" to my bucket list.  I'm not sure what opera I would want to see, but these seems like something everyone should do at least once in their life times.

Any suggestions of what should be my first opera to attend?

N is for New York

Yes, as surprising as it may be, I have never been to New York. I would love to go to New York and attend a Broadway show, walk in Central Park, visit F.A.O. Schwartz, see the Rockettes, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and experience the hustle and bustle of the big city.

I have had a couple of opportunities to travel with my alma mater on extended weekend trips, itineraries set, but each time I have been unable to make this jaunt. A friend has offered to take me to the city, where we can stay with her aunt in the Bronx, and do all the things that tourists do.

Probably not this year, but eventually, I will be able to cross "go to New York" off my bucket list.

M is for Meredith College

When I decided to use my bucket list as a theme for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, some letters of the alphabet were harder to fit to my bucket list and other letters of the alphabet had multiple bucket list items that would fall under that letter.

The letter 'M' was easy: 'M' is for Meredith College.

I had a wonderful undergraduate experience as my alma mater, the largest women's college in the southeast. I enthusiastically support the college through my donations and my volunteering.

But one day I would love to work at Meredith. It almost doesn't matter what job I have. I just think it would be awesome to continue to help young women experience the same rich traditions and education that I did while I was a student.

So for more than 20 years now my bucket list has included "work at Meredith" on it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

L is for Lottery

How awesome would it have been to win the MegaMillions the other week when the jackpot was so high? I have some grand ideas about how I would use the lottery winnings: build a beautiful home on a large expanse of land, donate money to my alma mater, put a large portion in savings for my daughter, share with the charities that we support.

Winning the lottery could be a life changing experience. Not only could we take care of any debt that we had, we could guarantee our future. I would hope that I would be a responsible lottery winner, not one of those folks who spent it all and was bankrupt within a couple of years.

So 'L' is for lottery. I guess I need to actually buy a ticket if I expect to win!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

100 Book Challenge: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Book 19: Shine by Lauren Myracle

When her best friend is attacked, Cat retreats into herself, blowing off all of her other friends. But she is determined to find out why someone would have committed a hate crime against her gay friend, Patrick. Set in the mountains of NC, Myracle weaves a coming-of-age story involving poverty, drugs, and intolerance.

Definitely one you will not put down until you have finished it.

K is for Kid

When I was a teenager and dreamed of marrying my high school sweetheart, I also had dreams of having a family, a really large family. I thought that I wanted a whole softball team: a dozen kids sounded reasonable. Maybe this was because I was an only child that I thought a big family would be just right. Whatever the reason, that was what I thought that I wanted: a dozen kids.

As I got older (and wiser), I realized that a dozen kids would be a whole bunch of work! So in my mid-twenties, I reasoned that four or five kids sounded like a much better number. When my first marriage ended with no children, I had no idea if there were kids in my future.

But the idea of having a child was still on my bucket list.

When I married in 2001, we weren't in any rush to have children, but by our late 30's, we realized that we might want to try to see if that kid thing would actually work! In 2006, at almost 38 and 39 years old, we had a kid, most likely our only kid.

And while it's not a whole softball team, she's wonderful!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Joe

When I wrote my original bucket list in 1997, it was in response to an article that a friend and I had read entitled something like 50 Things I Want to do Before I Die, or something close to that. My friend was upset that she didn't have that many items on her list. I told her that was a good thing: she had accomplished much, taken risks, gone for it, whatever it was.

I added a few things to my list over the next few years and wrote dates next to items that I accomplished. On January 1, 2001, I added Marry Joe (It couldn't hurt) to my bucket list.

Joe is my high school sweetheart from the late 1980s. After high school through college and early adulthood, we talked infrequently, catching up on each others' lives every now and again. In November of 2000, he actually called me after probably almost four years of very little communication with one another and asked me out on a date. By March, we were officially dating, and that October 2001 we were married.

Somehow I guess I knew that January that we were meant to be together, so why not add it to my bucket list. It makes all those teenaged scrawlings of Mrs. Joe Lastname seem not so silly now.

And marrying Joe didn't hurt it all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Testing Season is Here!

While for the most part, I am excited that I am not the test coordinator for my school this year, I am still in test coordinator mode and it's driving me bonkers. I have the organizational and communication skills to plan the pants off of testing for a school (even if I do think it contributed to my high blood pressure diagnosis). So when I think about the next 60 school days at my year-round school and the 22 days of testing (kinda crazy, ain't it?), my wheels are turning with all the logistical questions about who will test where, what the schedule will look like, and keeping the staff happy and informed.

I know it's not my problem this year, but it still concerns me. While I was only in charge of testing for two years at my school, I did a darn good job. Ask most any teacher or staffer at my school. Most people were pleased with how it all turned out on a daily basis and overall.

I have the confidence that this year's test coordinator will do a fine job of making it all happen the way it should. It may not be exactly how I would have done it or on my self-imposed time frame or with my flare or passion. But testing will happen. It's just still in my blood.

Once a test coordinator, always a test coordinator.

I is for Ice Cream

I love ice cream! My favorite is chocolate peanut butter ice cream, but almost any fruit flavored ice cream comes in a close second. As a child I remember my dad dragging out the old crank ice cream maker and the bag of rock salt and mixing up yummy peach or strawberry ice cream in the heat of the summer. Such a comforting, fun childhood memory, I want to recreate it as an adult and make memories of summertime ice cream fun with my daughter.

So 'I' is for ice cream. I've added "Buy an ice cream maker" to my bucket list.


Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Historic Home

My husband is a preservation specialist, taking care of old houses, fixing their aches and pains, and leaving them proud and stately. He has worked on many homes in our area and in the county in which we grew up. He can tell you about historic homes across our state, when they were built, who built them, who lived there, their importance in our state's history.

We don't live in a historic home, though. The kind of house we want would be pre-Civil War and probably need lots of work and updates. He says we'd probably kill each other trying to restore or rehabilitate an old property. I don't think so, though. I think we would love and care for and raise our old house so that it would be with us for a long time. (Photo: Bracebridge Hall, Edgecombe County, NC)

You can find great historic properties in our state at Preservation NC.

G is for Grandma

As I continue participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I'm still sticking with the theme that I chose -- my bucket list.

G is for grandma. I want to be a grandma some day.

Okay, so this isn't really something on my list that I have any control over. I can always travel to places that I want to visit. I can always go back to school, get more education, and get a different job. I can write, act, sing, any of the actionable items on my list.

I cannot make myself a grandma. But I see the wonderful relationship between my daughter and my mother, the love and kindness, the curiosity, the generations between them. I remember my own relationships with my grandmothers, especially Granny, my paternal grandmother, and I want to be the old woman doting on my granddaughter, taking her to the Pizza Inn, helping her plant flowers in the garden, reading her stories.

Great memories to make in the future.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

F is for Fresh Food

Ten years ago when we moved to our current home, I attempted a garden. It wasn't really much: three short rows with a few hills of tomatoes, okra, and green peppers. The okra produced way more than my husband and I could enjoy. After two weeks of fried and stewed okra almost every night with dinner, we were done.

I grew up with lots of fresh foods at the table. My dad always plotted out at least a 20x20 spot for planting vegetables: tomatoes (large and cherry), butter beans, peppers (red and green, sweet and hot), okra, pole beans, carrots, potatoes. And there was always a short row where I was allowed to plant flowers, usually zinnias.

I would love to be able to plant and maintain a REAL vegetable garden at some point in my life. While a big 20x20 plot isn't in my future this summer, maybe my daughter and I will attempt to plant a few seeds and a few hills of something.

Fresh food. It's what's for dinner!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for (New) England

Some of my friends think I'm odd that I really don't have a lot of desire to travel overseas. I really enjoy traveling in the U.S., and I'd rather visit the few states that I still haven't seen. That's why today's Blogging from A to Z Challenge entry from my bucket list theme is "E is for (New) England".

I really want to take a late summer or an early fall trip up through the New England states. I think the cooler temperatures and the beautiful scenery would be just what this gal would love! While I have been to Boston for another ALA conference, we didn't really have time to go sightseeing. (The fact that it was mid-January and snowing didn't help either!) I want to visit the lighthouses of Maine and eat some lobster. I want to see the incredible foliage of Vermont. I want to learn more about Paul Revere in Massachusetts. I want to walk the historic campus of Yale University in Connecticut.

I should call my travel agent!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Disney World

I was 35 years old when I finally went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Two other friends, also in their 30's, and I decided to attend the American Library Association's annual conference in June of 2004. Since it was in Orlando, we added on a side trip to Disney. (Well, truth be told, the conference was more of the side trip!)

I had so much fun, playing and exploring like a kid, enjoying the thrilling rides and taking in the entertaining shows. And of course, we ate lots of yummy foods at the themed restaurants.

I want to go to Disney World again, but this time with my daughter who is currently five years old. I want to experience Disney with her! It should be awesome!

Raise your hand if you are ready to go to Disney with us!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Carriage Ride in Central Park

As I work my way through my bucket list for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, today is the letter 'C'. I want to take a carriage ride in Central Park in New York some day. I have taken a carriage ride in Charleston, SC, touring historic downtown, and that was a lovely experience. But I have never been to New York City, and it only seems fitting to take a carriage ride (romantic with my sweetie, of course) through Central Park.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Book

I've been writing short stories and story ideas for years, but I've never had the guts to put anything together to submit for publication. Other than a few professional articles, I know that I need to pull some of my short stories and submit them to magazines, journals, papers, somewhere for publication. Ultimately, I would love to see the short stories put together in a book. I've also been writing stories, chapters about my Southern girl upbringing that I would like to see put together in a book.

So B is for Book. Maybe you would read it!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Alaska

For the Blogging A-Z Challenge, I decided to pick a theme: my bucket list. I found my list that I wrote over 12 years ago and realize that I have accomplished many of the items on the list. So I'll certainly be revising the list as I go. Here's one of the items still on my bucket list:


Lots of people put travel on their lists of things they want to do before they die. I want to go to Alaska. I think it would be incredible to travel to the 49th state, especially to fly into Anchorage or Juneau and explore the state and then head to port to take an Alaskan cruise. At least two of my good friends have gone on Alaskan trips with their husbands. They came back with gorgeous photographs of the landscape and enthusiastic stories of their travels. So an Alaskan trip and cruise make my bucket list.

Anybody ready to book a trip with me?!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blogging from A to Z Challenge, April 2012

So my friend Jen McConnel over at Crafting Magic has sucked me into another challenge. Not only am I committed to reading 100 books in 2012, I have now committed to blogging every day in April in support of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.

Don't you want to join us?!

I've decided that the theme of my April blogging will be my bucket list. I suppose you'll learn a little bit more about me as I learn more about myself! Happy reading and happy blogging!

100 Book Challenge: Stuart Little by E.B. White

Book 18: Stuart Little by E.B. White

It took me a little over a week to read Stuart Little again. That's because I was reading it with my five year old daughter.

I had fond memories of reading this book as a child myself, picturing Stuart in his little car roaming the countryside and seeing Stuart sailing the boat on the water at the park. *sigh*

As an adult, I found this book to have strange, wordy writing with a not as interesting plot. Maybe it's age or maybe it really is not the great classic that I thought it was. Either way, I tried to make it entertaining for my daughter as we read a chapter each night, and I forced myself to get through it.

Strange how some books keep you coming back to them and others not so much.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

100 Book Challenge: Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

Book 17: Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

I think this is now my favorite Lisa Yee book.

Maybelline, Maybe for short, lives with her beauty and man obsessed mother. After a misunderstanding with her mother and tired of being put on the back burner, Maybe decides to run away to California to look for her birth father. Accompanied by her two best friends, Hollywood/Daniel and Thammasat Tantipinichwong Schneider/Ted, Maybe sets out on a summer journey with a plan....sort of.

Funny, inspiring, sad, and hopeful.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

100 Books in 2012: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Book 16: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

A little Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but told through various "case file" entries, this middle school novel is a cute, fun, fast read. Tommy is trying to figure out whether the origami Yoda that his friend Dwight has created can really dispense useful and real advice. Dwight pulls out the origami Yoda finger puppet and in his best Yoda voice provides answers to his fellow middle schoolers' questions, with mostly positive results. Tommy has everyone who asked for origami Yoda's advice to record their experience, and he and Harvey, who doesn't believe in Yoda, comment on the entries. In the end, will Tommy end up believing or not?

Monday, February 27, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Notes From the Dog by Gary Paulsen

Book 15: Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen

When fourteen year old Finn is faced with a summer alone with his dog Dylan while his best friend Matthew works at a construction site and his dad goes to work and school, it is Finn's new next door neighbor, Johanna, who suggests that he create a garden in his yard. Facing breast cancer in her early twenties, Johanna is funny, caring, and insightful and helps bring Finn out of his shell and helps him create a beautiful garden. A great coming of age story about a young boy who learns to connect with the people around him.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Grow by Juanita Havill

Book 14: Grow: A Novel in Verse by Juanita Havill

Twelve year old Kate decides to help her friend and neighbor, Berneetha, create a community garden in a an empty city lot. With lots of care and help from other neighbors and the generosity of the man who owns the lot, a beautiful garden starts to bloom and come to life. However, with the passing of the lot owner, his son plans to sell the little plot of land and the garden will disappear. Berneetha and Kate must figure out how to keep the garden and the dream alive.

Told in verse, this is a quick read with a sweet ending. The story also reminds me a little of Fleischman's Seedfolks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Bobby vs. Girls Accidentally by Lisa Yee

Book 13: Bobby vs. Girls Accidentally by Lisa Yee

This is a really cute and quick read by one of my favorite authors, Lisa Yee, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and friending. Bobby and Holly have been friends forever, but when Holly starts wearing dresses and nail polishes, Bobby doesn't understand why his friend is "turning into a girl" all of a sudden. Then the student council election could end their friendship forever, as it becomes boys versus girls in their classroom.

This is a fun, fast afternoon read! Of course, my favorite part is that it is inscribed, To the Amazing Deanna. Happy reading!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis

Book 12: Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis

Jennifer Pharr Davis is an amazing inspiration! I had the opportunity to hear her speak in the fall at the NCSLMA conference. Her motivational keynote address at the all-conference luncheon was incredible. She shared her trials and tribulations of traveling the Appalachian Trail, offering both humor, faith, and inspiration.

Her book, Becoming Odyssa, chronicles her adventures during her solo first attempt at traveling the 2,175 miles from Georgia to Maine as twenty-one year old. What an experience and what a fabulous read!

(Jennifer currently holds the record for hiking the AT in the shortest amount of time: 46 days!)

Friday, February 10, 2012

When Women Are Sick

On the way to work on Thursday, one of the morning radio deejays was talking about his wife feeling sick the night before. When he asked her about feeling faint and if she wanted to go to the hospital, she admitted that the first thought to go through her head when she felt sick was not about her own well-being: her first thoughts were Who will do the laundry if I'm sick? and Is the house clean enough to have company over to visit? and Will everything that needs to be done get done?

I dare say that men do not think that way at all when they get sick. They are probably more worried about who will take care of them, not about their responsibilities to everyone else. Okay, so I'm probably generalizing.

This week I came down with either nasty allergies or a cold, whatever it is, it really hit hard on Wednesday. But instead of taking care of myself, I was more concerned with going to work on Thursday and taking care of business. I certainly didn't do that out of some martyrdom: I think it is a natural instinct of women to be more concerned about the world around them than their own well-being.

After hearing the radio deejay talk about his wife, I questioned why my reasons for going to work outweighed my own health. By noon, I was exhausted, coughing, sneezing, miserable, so I came home.

And today, Friday, I took care of me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not My Day

The last week has been rough both personally and professionally. But today I have literally fallen apart. While enjoying my birthday pastry at Panera (love their perks), I fell out of the booth. Yes, people, I went kerplop onto the floor. Of course, that did not help my already hurting, twisted knee from where I tried to fall over the neighbor's dog a week ago. Oh, and did I mention that I bumped my head on a low hanging light fixture just before I went to sit in the booth that I promptly fell out of?!

I think my karma is off.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Book 11: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

This 2005 Newbery award winning book is a historical young adult fiction set in 1950's Georgia. Katie practically worships her sister Lynn, the older, more intelligent daughter of Japanese immigrants. When the family must move to the south for their parents to find work and Lynn's wonderful, popular life suddenly changes with the onset of lymphoma, Katie struggles to understand her parents' tireless hours of working at the hatchery, her poor academics and loneliness at school, and her own growing fatigue and resentment of her sickly sister.

This coming of age story finds Katie finally understanding why her sister Lynn taught her to find the kira-kira, the glittering, in all things in life, even in this harsh, sometimes cruel world.

100 Books in 2012: 21 Pounds in 21 Days by Roni DeLuz

Book 10: 21 Pounds in 21 Days: The Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox by Roni DeLuz

Okay, I really don't think there is any way possible for me to lose 21 pounds in 21 days, but I did want to read this book just to understand about detoxing your body and trying to get back on a healthy track. It's a pretty straight-forward book with some testimonials thrown in and a 21-, 7-, and 2-day plan for detoxing your system and getting your body back on the nutritional track. The author is a registered nurse and a naturopathic doctor.

A quick read and pretty good guide and I've eaten a bit healthier this past week.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Chasing Orion by Kathryn Lasky

Book 9: Chasing Orion by Kathryn Lasky

This historical fiction young adult novel is set in Indiana in 1952 during the polio epidemic. Eleven year old Georgie Mason and her family have moved across town to a new home during the summer. When Georgie discovers that the teenaged girl living next door has polio and lives in an iron lung, she becomes fascinated with learning about the condition and getting to know Phyllis. Even though the two become what appears to be fast friends, Phyllis has her designs set on Emmett, Georgie's brother.

This was a fascinating coming of age novel. Georgie, with the help of her new school friend Evelyn, realizes that the situation between Phyllis and Emmett is very powerful and almost out of control. She must save her brother from making a horrible mistake while he is captivated by Phyllis.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vision of MY Middle School

Welcome to MY Middle School, where the office staff greets you with your own iPad to help you record your thoughts from your visit today. A couple of students in the office shake your hand and welcome you to their school as you head over the the media center.

In the media center, students are browsing not only print materials and periodicals for their leisure reading, but also borrowing personal reading devices and mp3 players to read and listen to electronic books and podcasts. Groups of students work together on their projects, adding to their group wikis and creating documents that they share through Google docs.

In a math class, students are using interactive white boards to work with their classmates, using student-created presentations while a teacher provides one-on-one remediation and refocusing. Students move through student-created and teacher-created centers, using manipulatives, online math tools, watching videos of math instruction. Two students work on their online advanced math course.

In a social studies class, students are Skyping with an archaeologist in Asia who is sharing his latest findings. In another classroom, the teacher is leading a Socratic seminar with students who will then record their thoughts about seminar-style instruction and the seminar topic in their class VoiceThread project.

In a language arts class, students gather to blog about the latest young adult novel that they have read, posting their thoughts on their Edublog sites and commenting on their classmates’ posts. Students are creating digital storytelling projects, listening to one another’s ideas, modeling cooperative and collaborative learning. Students can access their electronic portfolios from anywhere on campus in order to add and delete documents, files, and presentations.

In a science class, students record their findings on a weather experiment and create a video instructing other middle schoolers how to carry out similar experiments. A group of students approaches the teacher about staying after school one day to continue their work on various experiments they have brainstormed to do. The teacher is very open to their ideas and they mutually agree to use an online tool to post their ideas and plan their project and set a time to come together to meet.

As you move through the hallways, students greet you and one another with smiles. Students appear excited about learning, moving from classroom to classroom to media center to outdoor learning spaces with confidence and enthusiasm.

Certified staff, many with advanced degrees and National Board Certification, meets in grade level and interdisciplinary teams and departments, as well as with guidance, media and instructional resource staff to plan lesson, dissagregate data, share professional resources, read journals, conduct action research, and create reports and presentations for district and state conferences and presentations.

A small group of teachers meets in their team room conferencing calling with a parent who is out of town to discuss his child’s projects posted on the teacher Blackboard site and grades posted on SPAN. Another two teachers are working together to learn reading strategies through the district’s online professional development program.

As you head through another building, you see students working with robotic technology to create their own masterpieces. You hear native speakers providing interactive lessons with students learning to speak a new language. You run into the school resource officer who welcomes you to campus and thanks you for taking the time to be a part of our school community.

You hear the sounds of an energized and active instrumental and vocal music program as you walk back across the campus. You see drama students using mini-video cameras to record their skits in an outdoor learning space.

And as you head back to the front of campus to end your visit at MY Middle School, you have a warm feeling, confirming the strong, compassionate academic and social program that is afforded to every middle schooler, teacher, and parent that graces the doors.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Naked Bunyip Dancing by Steven Herrick

Book 8: Naked Bunyip Dancing by Steven Herrick

Told in verse, the students in Class 6C share their year with the new teacher, Mr. Carey, a hippie, ponytailed, poetry reading, guitar playing teacher who introduces them to yoga, music, and poetry. This "finding yourself" story is another quick, cute read with the culminating concert put on by the students showing how they have grown and changed over the year.

(There are a few Australian words and references.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Gossip from the Girls' Room by Rose Cooper

Book 7: Gossip from the Girls' Room: A Blogtastic Novel by Rose Cooper

Okay, this was a quick, cute read. A little Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Harriet the Spy.

Sofia keeps a pre-blogging journal of all that she overhears in the girls' bathroom and then anonymously blogs about it, stirring up the gossip and concerns of her fellow middle schoolers. It's the non-popular kids verses the popular kids with the usual middle school embarrassments and pre-teen angst. A couple of twists wrap up this fast read nicely and leave Sofia wondering what boys talk about in the boys' room. Thus is born the follow-up book, Rumors from the Boys' Room.

Friday, January 27, 2012

100 Books in 2012: The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues by Ellen Raskin

Book 6: The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues by Ellen Raskin

Odd. That's the one word to describe this mystery by the author of The Westing Game.

Dickory Dock seeks out a job as an assistant to "a well-known portrait painter" whose only requirements are that the assistant be "a native New Yorker, neat, well-organized. Quiet! Observant!" The artist, Garson, is an eccentric phony, a not so good painter, in Dickory's opinion, but the pay is good.

Turns out that Garson is often visited by the chief of police to help solve crimes. Through a little role-playing (Garson as Sherlock Holmes and Dickory as Watson), the two solve some of the chief's supposedly hard to solve cases. Figure in a deaf-mute, a couple of blackmailers, a derelict and a blind man, and you have one unusual mystery book that would only be enjoyed by a more sophisticated young adult reader.

Or someone that likes just plain odd books.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

100 Books in 2012: The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

Book 5: The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

This book was just what I needed to read. A sort of coming of age for middle aged folks, a working through the mid-life crisis story.

After twenty years of marriage, Jessie Sullivan is questioning her place, her life when she is forced to return to the island where she grew up to deal with her possibly insane and religiously fervent mother who has inflicted injury upon herself. While facing the past of her father's death and contemplating the future with her husband, Jessie encounters Brother Thomas, a monk at the monastery where her mother was the cook, with whom she shares an intensive and passionate connection.

Through her artwork and reconnections with island family and friends, Jessie becomes more aware of herself, her wants and needs, her sacrifices, as she reconciles the past and the present.

A really nice read in which enduring love, beautiful love, wins out in the end.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Everything You Pretend to Know and Are Afraid Someone Will Ask by Lynette Padua

Book 4: Everything You Pretend to Know and Are Afraid Someone Will Ask by Lynette Padua

Every wonder about the etymology of some words and phrases or even what exactly some political, religious, historical reference really means? Well, this is the little book to give you an overview of all those cocktail conversation type topics and ideas that you might hear often but aren't really sure about.

The chapters are broad subjects like newsspeak, history, health, food, and science. But the topical questions in each chapter provided some insight into things I wasn't sure of or downright just didn't know or clarified a few ideas that I already did know.

So if you have ever asked yourself "What is saffron and why is it so expensive?" or if you have ever questioned "What is a slush pile and what is a slush fund?" or if you find yourself pondering "What is the difference between art nouveau and art deco?", then this little read might be right up your alley!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Book 3: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

What a satisfying read!

Eleven year old Melody is bright, smart, funny, awesome. Eleven year old Melody is a paraplegic with cerebral palsy who cannot walk, who cannot talk. All these thoughts of words and music and colors and feelings fill her head, but she has no way to get them out, no way to speak.

Her parents just know that she is a smart child and with the help of her caregiver she learns to communicate all the brilliant things that she knows, all the things that fill her head.

This book made me think, made me laugh, made me cry, made me thankful and thoughtful. Yes, a nice satisfying read.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Book 2: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I do not usually read graphic novels. I completely avoid the Japanese manga and anime stuff, but I will at least skim through the latest in our school's graphic novel collection to make sure the titles jive with the reviews that I read before actually purchasing them.

When I saw the students (girls!) that were checking out and voraciously reading (and laughing out loud) the book, I had to see what the commotion was all about. Smile is the autobiographical graphic novel of Raina Telgemeier, who unfortunately endured a painful loss of her two front teeth when she was in the 6th grade, followed by numerous dental surgeries and braces. Thank goodness Raina "survived" to tell and wonderfully illustrate her story of learning to smile again through her lack of teeth and the painful middle school and high school taunts of her supposed friends.

The story will make you say, "Ouch!" It will make you laugh out loud. And it will definitely make you smile.

100 Books in 2012: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Book 1: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Yes, I finally read Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the third and final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. That book has been staring at me from my stack on the floor next to my bedside for over a year and a half when it was released in 2010.

I just didn't want the story of Katniss to end.

But with the movie coming out March 23, 2012, and more and more of our students reading the trilogy (Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay), I wanted to be able to say that yes, I had read all three of the titles.

Just like the first two books, the final installment is action packed, violent, intriguing, and complex while Katniss is a likable, resilient, empowered, and determined protagonist. While I thought Collins wrapped up the trilogy just fine (I absolutely will not spoil it for you and tell you who she ends up with, Gale or Peeta), there was one spot near the end where an editor must have taken license to pull out a scene or two. (The "next thing you know I wake up in a hospital" scenes always sit wrong with me.)

Definitely a great read, but start from the beginning of the trilogy. And remember that this trilogy is not for those readers with weak stomachs.

Monday, January 9, 2012

100 Books in 2012 Challenge

I've tried this before, but only managed to make it to 30 some books, but I'm taking on the challenge of reading 100 books in a year in 2012.

Thanks to my friend - teacher and writer - Jen McConnel, I'm challenging myself once again to read as much as possible and then post them on my blog.

So if you think you'd like to join us, pop over to Jen's blog, leave a comment, and start reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Declutter and Organize Calendar

A Facebook friend shared the link to this 2012 Declutter and Organize calendar. It's a daily list of small areas to declutter and/or organize throughout the year. It's sort of the old "how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time" question and answer. My winter vacation gave me a jump start to get the laundry room, little E's room, and the kitchen started on the decluttering and organizing path.

But a little exploring on the site, My Simpler Life, and blogger and "simpler living educator" (as she call herself) Beth Dargis has some commonsense approaches to helping you live more simply. I like her weekly simplicity tips. She also offers a simple annual plan. She tauts positive and practical ideas to get yourself organized and to have peace in your life. Check it out!