Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dinner, a Duck, and a Boy with a Purple Crayon

This weekend was Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start to the summer. There are still 7 days of school left after today is over but this weekend certainly felt like the beginning of summer. It was hazy, hot, and humid!!! Our umbrellas were up as we sat on the sidelines of Shannon's soccer tournament to get a little relief from the heat. Coolers were packed with cold drinks and wet towels to cool her down at half time. Ice cream was bought from the ice cream man and when it was all finished, we went for a dip in the pool.

Our old friend summer had returned. Oh, how we missed you; the smell of sunblock before going out into the sun and then the smell of aloe as I put my kids to bed because we didn't use enough, wet bathing suits hanging up in the bathroom and wet towels that smell of chlorine being thrown into the dryer, kids asking, "Mom, do you know where my goggles are?" and the answer being, "Yes," even though it's been 8 months since the last time they used them, the sound of the diving board snapping back after a kid jumps into the water, the whistle of the lifeguard as an eager kids runs to meet up with a friend, and then there is the moving of my chair as I try to stay in the shade as the sun slowly crept under the umbrella with the passage of time.

Remember our summer bucket list? We have already made a dent into it.

Our Summer Bucket List

A- Adventure Park, Asseteague Island
B- beach, boogie board, block party, Basketball Hall of Fame, bike rides, boat rides, Big Time Rush Concert
C- catch fireflies, climb trees, catch butterflies, catch turtles, collect seashells, corn on the cob, Charleston
D- drive around the country
E- enjoy life
F- Fenway Park, fireworks, fish
G- golf, get along with one another, get a horse
H- have fun, hike, sit in the hammock, honeysuckles, Hyman's Restaurant
I- ice cream
J- Jeff Hawes Basketball Camp, Jeep rides, Jim's beach
K- Kiawah
L- lemonade sale, lobster
M- Montauk, mini-golf, mussels, manhunt, make new friends, Marianne & Charlie's boat
N- Niagara Falls, New York
O- Orioles Game
P- popsicles, Poconos, picnics, project life
Q- Meet the Queen of England
R- read, Rascal Flatt's concert
S- swim, sing a happy song, scrapbook, star gaze, summer olympics, Smoky Mountains
T- Toronto, tubing in the Shenandoah
U- Uncle Brian's
V- Visit Aunt Jackie and Uncle Mark
W- watermelon, waves, walk on the beach at night and listen to the waves
X- extreme laziness
Y- Yankee Game
Z- Zinga

Our neighborhood fireworks for Memorial Day Weekend.

On our way to Shannon's soccer tournament in the Jeep.

Molly entertaining herself and trying to keep cool on a very hot day.

Swimming in the pool after the game.

Our neighborhood block party ended suddenly when a storm moved in very quickly. I took these pictures with my phone. There wasn't even enough time to grab my good camera.

Corn on the cob made it to the dinner table Monday night and Molly loved that there was one kernel that was yellow on her white corn.

Monday night we ate out on the deck again, it was a beautiful night, and we started asking each other questions about ourselves.

Molly: What year did I break my arm?
Chris: What was my first paying  job?
Ryan: What is my favorite dad story from when he was a kid?
Shannon: What is my Thursday schedule? 
Me: When did I graduate from high school?
Timmy: What were my two favorite books when I was little?

I said, "Harold and the Purple Crayon" and then Chris said, "The Story of Ping." We were both right! Then Ryan joined in and said, "Do you remember the book with all of the animals and it had..." Then Molly said that her favorite was Baby Duck and then we all started talking about all the picture books from when they were little. We remembered laying in bed or on the floor in their rooms reading to them. Do you remember mom?  Do you remember the book?!?!?  "YES," I remember! And I was so glad that they did too. 

After dinner, the kids went down into the basement to the family book shelf, the book shelf that is filled with books that they have outgrown but have not forgotten and searched for those favorite books from when they were little. That night, I laid in Molly's bed and read to her Baby Duck, a book that we haven't read together in years. Then I moved into the boys' room and laid on Ryan's bed and we read Tops and Bottoms. Ryan just loves how clever the hare is in the story. And then finally I moved over to Timmy's bed. Ryan jumped out of his bed and announces "Snuggle Time" with a huge smile on his face. He tells me and Timmy to move over and make room, and without hesitation, Timmy makes room for his little brother. The three of us squeeze into Timmy's bed. We don't have quite as much room as we used to have but there I was reading Harold and the Purple Crayon and The Story of Ping to my 12 and 10 year old boys. For just a moment, I was transported back in time to when they were little. They sat and they listened when Harold drew the apple tree. They sat and they listened as Harold drew the frightening dragon that even frightened Harold. They sat and they listened as Harold drew the top of the mountain. But then we came to some little pencil marks on the page. Timmy said that he thinks he was trying to draw the other side of the mountain because as Harold "looked down over the other side he slipped- And there wasn't any other side of the mountain." Timmy sat and looked and remembered and there was a smile on his face.

Then we opened up The Story of Ping. This was one of my books from when I was a kid. My mom had signed me up for a book club and a new book would arrive in the mail every month. Timmy sat quietly as I read the familiar story of the Chinese duck on the Yangtze River. Timmy loves ducks. When he was little he had a duckie. Just this past Mother's Day each of the kids gave me a charm for my bracelet and Timmy's was a duck.

After reading, Timmy and I look at his two favorite books from when he was little and we notice the copyright dates. Harold and the Purple Crayon was written in 1955 and The Story of Ping was 1933. It amazes me that Timmy favorite books are not about SpongeBob or Star Wars or some other  TV or movie character that they happen to turn into a book, but books that children were reading over 50 years ago, books that have stood the test of time. These are two very different books. Harold has an unbelievable imagination. If you can think it up you can create it...if you have a purple crayon. For Ping, he learns the lesson that he shouldn't wander too far from his family or he will be left behind. Ping almost ends up someone's duck dinner with a side of rice if it wasn't for the kind act of a boy. A book about imagination and a book with a lesson, these are the books of my children's childhood and that is just fine by me.

An after note:

Ryan came home yesterday from school so excited about a book he got from the used books sale. "Mom, look at the book I got! I got it for Timmy! I think he's going to love it!"

All the Harold books in one treasury! Timmy was reading it this morning while eating his breakfast. You're never too old for good kidlit!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

They Were Just Too Fast For Me

It was just another ordinary Tuesday. We have a routine on Tuesday afternoons. I pick up Ryan and Molly from school. We go home so Molly can change into her riding clothes and then we go to Subway. They eat their sandwiches in the car and then we head off to Molly's horseback riding lessons. When we pull up to the barn, Molly jumps out and checks the board to see who she is riding, she gets her horse out of his stall and starts getting him ready without any hesitation. It amazes me that this little girl that's only about 55 pounds, that has only been taking lessons for less than a year walks around the barn with confidence. She knows how to prep her horse for riding. She picks the dirt out of the horse's hooves and when the horse puts his foot down as if to say "that's enough," Molly just grabs it again and continues to do what needs to get done. She has a routine on Tuesdays. She knows what she needs to do to get ready for riding and she does it.

Ryan and I have our Tuesday routine as well. We sit in the car and read while Molly is getting ready to ride. Sometimes we read together and sometimes we are just reading our own books next to each other. After we read we usually get out of the car, I watch Molly ride and Ryan goes off to explore. He'll go for a walk to the pond that is by the barn or he'll play with the barn cats that decide to come out and show their faces while we are there. 

But yesterday after reading I felt a wave of exhaustion come over me. I needed a boost of energy. After horseback riding, Ryan still had basketball and then we had to go home to make dinner. Our day wasn't over yet. So Ryan and I went for a walk down the road. I didn't have my camera with me, but I did have my phone and instagram.

After rain all day Monday and Tuesday morning, the sun finally came out and it was a beautiful afternoon. I look at these pictures and they look so tranquil and peaceful to me but actually they are full of life that I couldn't capture with the camera.

The pond was filled with turtles but every time I tried to get a picture they would dive under the water. They were too fast for me. The dragonflies would skim the water going back and forth right in front of me but I couldn't seem to get a picture even though it felt like I could reach out and touch them. They were too fast for me.

This patch of flowers was simply buzzing with bees but every time I tried to capture a picture of one of them landing on a petal they would fly off to the next one. They were too fast for me.

As we walked down the road you could hear a group of crows cawing to one another. They were right there on the fence but when I tried to get closer to get a picture, they were too fast for me.

When we got back to the barn, Molly was nearly done riding but that is not the end of her lesson. She then has to brush Mickey out, remove the saddle and bridle and then clean the bridle. She has her routine.

Molly looking pretty confident and proud of herself after doing four consecutive jumps today. 

Molly has fine tuned her cleaning technique. You can't use too much soap but you also need just enough to get it clean. Then there is a special way to hang the bridle. Buckles need to fastened a certain way, straps need to be looped around a certain way. When she first started taking lessons, it took her awhile to get everything just right, now she does it with confidence and I think she likes that she knows how to do something that her mom does not.

While Molly was busy finishing cleaning the bridle I was standing in the barn watching the barn swallows flying to and from their nest in the rafters, back and forth, back and forth, through the open door. Two of the barn cats found one another and they were playing in the grass, jumping and pouncing on one another. All too fast for me to get a picture.

I was feeling tired and drained after sitting in the car yesterday afternoon, but after a short walk around the barn with Ryan, I was revitalized. I had gotten the boost of energy that I needed to get through the rest of the day from the buzzing bees, the cawing crows, the pouncing cats, the flying swallows, and the diving turtles.

I did get a picture of Mickey eating his well deserved dinner after he let Molly ride him. He was not too fast for me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Anticipation, Participation, and Recollection

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the kitchen cleaning, emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, going through that pile of papers that never seems to disappear from the kitchen counter and in the background I was listening to a morning shows on the TV. Marilu Henna was talking about her new book, Total Memory Makeover. Marilu has something called Superior Autobiographical Memory. She can recall everyday of her life. Give her a date and she can tell you where she was, who she was with, what the weather was like, what was happening in the news that day and even what day of the week it was. I've heard her speak about her amazing memory before and there are only a handful of people in the world that can recall their life like she can. 

But as I was doing my daily chores, she started talking about how memory has three parts to it; anticipation, participation, and recollection. I started thinking about this. Anticipation of an upcoming event is such an important part of the actual event. Thinking about my weekend in NY with my girls and my mom to go see Wicked weeks before our trip brought me happiness. The weeks before Molly's first communion were definitely hectic but thinking about family coming to visit and my last first communion of my youngest brought happiness as well as a little melancholy. The kids are most definitely feeling the anticipation of the last day of school. With each day we get a little closer. Yesterday was our last CCD class. Two of my kids are now done with SOL testing and the other one will be finished tomorrow. End of year parties are being planned. They are anticipating.

This past weekend was absolutely beautiful. It was perfect weather to watch all my kids' sports and it was also the perfect weekend to have a barbecue and eat outside on the deck. As I was sitting at our outdoor table, all cleaned off from the winter, flower baskets hanging in full bloom before the heat of the summer gets to them, deck lights hanging that Chris just put up and a dinner on my plate that I didn't cook thanks to my hubby, it put me in the mood for summer. I was anticipating. I went inside, grabbed a piece of paper, wrote the alphabet down the side and wrote "read" next to the letter R. I past it to Timmy and told everyone that this was our Summer Bucket List. I wanted everyone to write down what they wanted to do this summer. Conversations started, laughter could be heard, recollections of previous summers and trips were discussed, and they were anticipating the summer to come. This is our list.

Our Summer Bucket List

A- Adventure Park, Asseteague Island
B- beach, boogie board, block party, Basketball Hall of Fame, bike rides, boat rides, Big Time Rush Concert
C- catch fireflies, climb trees, catch butterflies, catch turtles, collect seashells, corn on the cob, Charleston
D- drive around the country
E- enjoy life
F- Fenway Park, fireworks, fish
G- golf, get along with one another, get a horse
H- have fun, hike, sit in the hammock, honeysuckles, Hyman's Restaurant
I- ice cream
J- Jeff Hawes Basketball Camp, Jeep rides, Jim's beach
K- Kiawah
L- lemonade sale, lobster
M- Montauk, mini-golf, mussels, manhunt, make new friends, Marianne & Charlie's boat
N- Niagara Falls, New York
O- Orioles Game
P- popsicles, Poconos, picnics, project life
Q- Meet the Queen of England
R- read, Rascal Flatt's concert
S- swim, sing a happy song, scrapbook, star gaze, summer olympics, Smoky Mountains
T- Toronto, tubing in the Shenandoah
U- Uncle Brian's
V- Visit Aunt Jackie and Uncle Mark
W- watermelon, waves, walk on the beach at night and listen to the waves
X- extreme laziness
Y- Yankee Game
Z- Zinga

I love this list for a few reasons. First I can see their anticipation of things we already have planned; Kiawah, our annual summer New York trip, the boys' basketball camp. These are things that we have done in the past and they know we will do again. They are anticipating. 

Then they have things on the list that we talked about for this summer but have never done before; going to Toronto to see the Yankees play the Blue Jays, going to Niagara Falls, doing a Boston trip and taking a tour of Fenway Park, going to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. They are anticipating. 

But then there is recollection from years past. We went to the Smoky Mountains a few years ago but they want to go back. We went to Montauk, NY last year but they want to go back. Their recollections are strong. 

Then there are the hopes and dreams that have made it to the list. I can say with all certainty that we will not be getting a horse this summer and we have no plans to go to England to try to meet the Queen. But I love that they are on the list.

I also love that they have everyday kid stuff that everyone should be doing in the summer time; climb a tree, catch fireflies, watermelon, collect seashells, lemonade sales, swim. Such ordinary everyday summer stuff but they added it to our list. 

But the things that I love the most of all are the things that they didn't add. Notice they didn't add watch TV to the list or play xbox. Now I know my kids will do both these things this summer but I love the fact that they didn't think about adding it to the list.

I feel that one of my jobs as a mom is to help make memories with my kids; anticipation, participation, and recollection of memories. Only 12 days till summer...but who's anticipating? We are!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Three Kinds of Fun

A number of years ago I read Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project. She devoted a year of her life to see if she could boost her own happiness. Each month she had measurable resolutions on a different aspect of her life; January; boost energy, February; relationships, March; work, April; parenthood and so on. Her book really changed how I look at things and I am looking forward to her new book that is suppose to come out this summer, Happier at Home.

I also read her blog everyday and I remember that she wrote a post about having fun and that there are three types of fun; challenging fun, accommodating fun, and relaxing fun. Relaxing fun is self explanatory. It's sitting by the pool side reading a book or watching your favorite TV show after a long day. These do not require a whole lot of effort or thinking.

Accommodating fun is the family trip to the museum or the zoo. It's bringing your kids to their soccer game or basketball game. There is a little bit more effort involved but the end result is stronger relationship with your kids and memories are being made as a family. You are still having fun but you are accommodating a number of people in order to do it.

The last kind of fun is challenging fun. This can require the most effort but also can be the most rewarding. This is learning a new skill or hobby. It could be learning how to golf or play tennis. It could be learning photography or using a new computer program. 

This weekend I can say that I experienced all three kinds of fun. I did have time to read and watch some TV. I did drive my kids to their games and enjoyed cheering them on but I also experienced some challenging fun. 

Saturday was my mom's birthday and I really wanted to make her a slide show of pictures with her grandkids. This may not sound too challenging to some of you tech geeks out there, but I am not all that savvy when it comes to using the computer. I scanned a number of pictures, downloaded them to my computer and then dragged them into imovie. With a little bit of help from Shannon, I was able to get something presentable. It took a lot of time and a lot of "playing" on the computer, but when it was all said and done, I really did have fun doing it and I was proud of myself for learning something new.

Happy Birthday Mom! I hope you enjoyed your video as much as I did putting it together.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What I Learned From a Second Grade Book

Yesterday was my volunteer day in Molly's classroom and as much as I love going into the classroom and helping out, yesterday morning I was a bit frazzled, like most moms are at the end of the school year. There's a lot going on. It's not that I didn't want to go, but that there is so much on that "to-do" list that needs to get done. I was thinking of all the things I could get done if I didn't go into the classroom. It's funny how the things that bring us the most joy are the things that we are so quickly to let go of when we get stressed out or overwhelmed. But I made it in and I was sitting in the library reading with two little girls. The book we were reading this week was Nikki Giovanni, A Special Poet. It was a small leveled book, a "just right" book for these two girls. Some of these leveled books are not exactly gripping tales. They can be a bit bland and predictable. Even though at this level, we are trying to teach the kids how to predict, what some of these books lack is a sense of connection to the reader. I don't seem to care if Johnny can't find his dog or that the Smith family is moving to a new neighborhood. They lack that sense of "story" that you get from real literature. 

But this week was different. Nikki Giovanni is a real person. We read how when she was a little girl she would sit on her grandparents' porch with them and just listen to them. She would listen to them talk about their day, listen to them tell stories to each other and to her, listen to them tell the news of the neighborhood. She would just sit and listen. She saw the world a bit different than the people around her and when she got older she put her observations into words, she expressed herself in words, in poems.

As I sat there in the school library reading with these two little girls, I made a connection to this second grade leveled book. I am almost finished reading The Storytelling Animal, the grown-up book I'm reading right now. This book discusses why, as human beings, we are drawn to stories. Our stories are everywhere, not just in books. They are the stories that we tell at the dinner table or on the front porch. They are the stories we tell by our facebook statuses and our blogs. They are the stories we tell on Monday mornings when we share what we did this past weekend and the stories our kids tell to each other in the lunchroom about how their team won the big game. Stories, why are we so drawn to them? Well, one reason the author discusses is that it is social practice for our kids. 

The author gives an example of practice. He talks about when they started using flight simulators to train pilots. The statistics show that after simulators were used to train the pilots, the crash rates dropped for these new pilots. The simulators gave these new pilots an opportunity to make mistakes without hurting anyone. They got to practice in a safe haven. That is what reading fiction does for our kids socially. They get to practice real life situations in the safe haven of the story. They get to ask themselves questions; What would I do in this situation? How would I react if someone said something like that to me? What would I do if I saw someone in trouble? Would I help them out? They get to practice socially through stories. They get to practice life.

The telling of stories themselves used to be a very social encounter. The printing press was not invented all that long ago, and before there were books, people had to gather together to hear a story. They would not go "see" a play, but "listen" to a play. Everyone would gather together and listen and they would laugh together at the funny parts and gasp together at the scary ones. I thought of this as I was sitting in the library yesterday reading how Nikki Giovanni sat on her grandparents' front porch and listened to their stories. I thought of my quest to get my kids to read more. I thought of my quest for us as a family to eat dinner together. I thought of how we go around the table and tell our day's stories, the highs and lows. I love when my kids ask, "Do you want to hear something funny that happened today? Do you want to hear something weird that happened at school?" My answer is always, "Yes!"

I read somewhere that the two most important determining factors on how a student will do on the SAT's is the amount of reading that student does and if they have family dinners together. At family dinner, kids learn to listen to a story, they learn how to tell a story, they learn how to have a conversation, they learn social skills. It's so much more than just the food on their plates.

Yesterday morning I was overwhelmed and frazzled and wasn't focused at first on the book we were reading.  You would think it strange that I can learn a lesson from a second grade leveled book, but Nikki Giovanni reminded me to see the world a little differently, to listen to the world around me and today I'm going to be more like Nikki Giovanni. 

I never heard of Nikki Giovanni until yesterday. I went home and goggled her and found out not only is she a poet, but she also teaches at Virginia Tech. So when I ask my kids at the dinner table, "What do you know today that you didn't know yesterday?" I will have my answer and I will tell my story about Nikki Giovanni.

I love children's books! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Shift

There has been a slight shift in our house when it comes to our reading habits. By definition, shift means to move or transfer from one place or position to another; to exchange one thing for another. There may not have be a seismic shift, which by definition is a change of enormous proportions or having highly significant consequences but there has been a shift in my kids' reading none the less. 

I have been on a quest to get my kids to read more. In order to do this, I had to shift my own way of thinking. As a parent, it hasn't been enough for me to simply suggest books and say, "I saw this book and I thought you would like it. I think you should read it." I now have been reading what they are reading. I read the books that I think they will enjoy. Now I can say, "I read this book and I thought of you." That small shift of reading the books before suggesting them to my kids has made a difference. I also read the same books with them. Timmy and I read The Hunger Games at the same time until he got strep throat and then finished the book in a day. Ryan and I both read The Fourth Stall at the same time. After he would fall asleep, I would quietly sneak into his room and get the book from his dresser and sometimes read further than he did. It was almost a race to see who would pull ahead. 

I have asked Ryan's teacher if I could come in and read to the class. I have done this in the past with all of my kids but this time I asked her if I could bring in a chapter book at their level and instead of reading the whole book, just read a part of it. Sometimes I read just the first chapter and sometimes I'll give them a little background knowledge of the story and then read an exciting part and then, I close the book just when we get to the good part. I love to hear that collective, "Awwwww," from the class as their teacher tells them it's now time to pack up. I always leave the book behind in the class and the teacher has a sign up sheet for any of the students who want to read the book on their own. Now when I walk into the classroom I hear,

 "Mrs. Nealon, I've been on the waiting list for this book and I finally got it. I can't wait to read it." 

"Mrs. Nealon, after you read the beginning of this book last week, my mom said I could buy it at the book fair."

"Mrs. Nealon, I've already read that book and I really liked it too. I thought the same thing you did."

But what I loved hearing the most was when Ryan said to me, "Mom, I just finished The Fourth Stall Part II and I think that should be your next read aloud to my class. It was really good."

Just that one sentence tells me he is becoming an active participant in his own reading. In those first weeks of coming into his class, I know what Ryan was thinking. To him I was just "his mom who loves to read books and she is always trying to get me to read. Now she is in my classroom reading books...big sigh." But now he has opinions as to what I should read. He wants to participate. He sees some of his classmates excited to see me when I walk in the door.

I've been seeing these small shifts elsewhere. On Tuesdays, Molly has horseback riding and so Ryan and I sit in the car for about an hour and we read. This past week he was sitting next to me reading his book as I was reading mine. All of a sudden he starts laughing out loud and says, "Mom, can I read this part out loud to you? It's really a good part." My dormant reader, my reader that "hates" to read wants to share a part in a book because it is the good part! His former teacher mom was feeling the shift. 

A few weeks ago, Shannon said that she wanted to see the movie The Lucky One. I said, "You know it is a book. Maybe you should read the book before you see the movie. I happen to have it in my 'to be read' pile." I found the book, put it on her bed and never said another word. When I noticed her reading it, I did ask her if she liked it and she said yes. That was about the extend of our conversation. But this past weekend she went with a bunch of friends to see the movie. After she came home I asked her if she ever finished the book. She said, "I finished it last night and the book was better than the movie." I never thought I would hear Shannon say that. Her motto up until now has been, "Why read the book when you can watch the movie?" Another small shift.

I have also seen a shift in my "to be read" pile. My pile is now being stacked by my children. 

"Mom, I finished Catching Fire, when are you going to read it?"

"Mom, you read Timmy's book and Ryan's book, when are you going to read my book?"

"Mom, you really need to read The Fourth Stall Part II. I just finished it and I think there is going to be a Part III."

I googled "seismic shift" and came across this book.

The little changes that make a BIG difference in your life. I started to read the introduction and  the author tells a story about when he went to the drug store to pick up a prescription for his son and on the counter was a pen with a plastic spoon taped to it and a smiley face drawn on the spoon. When he asked the man behind the counter about the spoon he responded that his pens never stayed put. People would constantly walk away with them. Four months later, the author was back again and there was the same happy face spoon pen. Sometimes small shifts, small changes can have seismic results.

Last week I read Wonder by R.J. Palacio and lets just say I was glad that when I got to the end I wasn't on a soccer field or at a basketball practice because I had tears running down my face and had to get the tissues for my runny nose. It was that good. 

August is a fifth grade boy who has been home schooled up until now. But middle school is about to start and so his parents decide to enroll him in school. August is an ordinary boy, on the inside. But he inherited a gene from both his parents that caused a birth defect and August's face, well, let's just say, makes the other kids look away. The book starts in September and takes us through August's journey of his fifth grade school year. August definitely does not have an easy one. Towards the end of the book there is a chapter called  "The Shift."

"When I went back to school the next day, the first thing I noticed was that there was a big shift in the way things were. A monumental shift. A seismic shift. Maybe even a cosmic shift. Whatever you want to call it, it was a big shift. Everyone-not just in our grade but every grade-had heard about what had happened to us with the sevenths graders, so suddenly I wasn't known for what I was always known for, but for this other thing that had happened."

So sometimes a small change in how we do something, how we act toward something or someone, how we decide to tackle a task can have seismic, monumental or even cosmic results. My quest continues to have children that read. A small shift in my thinking and actions about reading has definitely made a difference in theirs. Maybe not seismic, but a difference.

What We Are Reading Now:

I just finished Breaking Stalin's Nose. I read this on Saturday afternoon during Timmy's football practice right before his game. This story takes place during Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union. Sasha is about to become a Young Soviet Pioneer but his world changes in an instant when his father is arrested. 

I just started reading Glory Be. I am only two chapters in, but it takes place during the summer of 1964 in a small town in Mississippi. It is the beginning of the summer and there is debate among the kids at the pool whether the pool will even be open next week.

These are Timmy's books that he brought home from the school library, a heavy duty book about heroin. We had some discussions about that topic and then some light-hearted books about how to be a genius and then a joke book.

Yeah for Fancy Nancy! Molly is reading Nancy Clancy. She has all of the Fancy Nancy books and it just makes perfect sense to release Fancy Nancy's first chapter book now since all these little girls that have been with Nancy from the very beginning are now ready for chapter books. If you notice in the top right-hand corner it says Book 1. Molly is excited that this will be a series.

A quick trip down memory lane...for Molly's 4th birthday we had a Fancy Nancy Party.

After reading The Fourth Stall and The Fourth Stall Part II, Ryan is now reading the two latest Stink books. They may be below his reading level at this point but he has read them all and was happy to see the newest ones. Characters in books can be like old friends and it's so nice to go back and visit with them every once in a while.

 This is the grown up book I'm reading right now, The Storytelling Animal