Sunday, October 31, 2010


So, I think that 3 of my favorite books so far this year include:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Olive Kitteridge
Girl with a Pearl Earring

I should also add that I also enjoyed my own 2009 NaNoWriMo novel (I recently re-read it and have to admit I enjoyed it!).

But I'm about to read The Hunger Games and I've heard great things.

What are you favorites so far this year?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I really love homeschooling

Over the past several weeks, we've been reading/listening to Harry Potter 5 together.

Monday, we finished reading it.
Tuesday, we watched the movie and ate popcorn and pumpkin pasties.
Today, the kids are building Hogwarts Castle out of Legos.

Life is good.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Out of the mouth of babes

Our family loves watching "The Amazing Race" together every time it's on TV. We enjoy the concept, the visits to other cultures, and the hilariously sarcastic editing.

Usually, as the show starts, they edit in some brief interviews with some of the teams. Often, teams effuse about how communication is so important to doing well in the race. These interviews almost always foreshadow what's to come.

Those interviews remind us of the "I Love Lucy" episodes that start with Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel singing around a piano declaring their undying love and friendship with one another. Inevitably, the teams, just like the Ricardos and Mertzes, ends up in a massive fight.

This past week, the heavily tattooed, Harley-riding team from Nevada looked into the camera and then into each other's eyes while the guy spoke of the importance of good communication between teammates. His girlfriend nodded her agreement.

We paused the TiVo, looked at each other, and predicted, "They are so going to implode."

Now, Thing 2 has always had a penchant for the badass teams (be it Diesel 10, Siths, or punk rockers on American Idol -- the one exception being Harry Potter where he neither aligns with Voldemort nor Harry, but rather, being the class clown that he is, with Fred, George, and Ron Weasley). So, I wondered what he'd think of the bikers losing their cool and duking it out.

Predictably, as the episode wore on, we saw what we expected. During one of the tasks where they were to transport brick-building materials, they didn't carefully read the instructions and so they showed up without enough equipment to get their next clue. They were then forced to go all the way back and repeat the task again. This team, who had earlier proclaimed the virtues of good communication skills in achieving success, proceeded to crescendo into a name-calling, finger-pointing, TV-bleeping yelling and screaming match.

(I'm paraphrasing because I don't feel like sitting through online ads to rewatch the episode).

Nick: I can't believe you messed up the clue! You're such an idiot!!

Vicki: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. Don't talk to me like that.

Nick: *&#$%* &%$*@#$ *#$#%&

Vicki: We can't work together if you have that attitude. Let's just do this.

Nick: You have NO common sense!!

This is when I heard mumbles from the seat next to me.

Me: What was that?

Thing 2: Maybe he has no common sense.

Me: What do you mean?

Thing 2: Well, he says she has no common sense, so maybe he has no common sense since he's with her.

Who says Reality Television can't teach insightful life skills to children?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

100 Books Every Child Should Read

There are all kinds of articles out there touting which 100 books the expert/compiler feels every child should read.

This delightful list gives a nice introduction about fostering a love and enjoyment of reading and then proceeds to list 100 books with a short, fun synopsis of each book. The list is broken down into 3 parts -- early years, middle years, early teen years.

This list is compiled by teachers. I think there are some great selections on there, but some of the sections are sorely lacking (good thing they link over to additional suggestions by grade)!

There are books that move you, stay with you, haunt you, infuse you with a feeling so strong you swear the book has magical powers, and forever cause you to smile with melancholy fondness at the very thought of them.

Some of mine include:

Little Women
Little Men
The Secret Garden
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
The Nancy Drew Series
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Trumpet of the Swan
(my first "big" book I read by myself)
Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad (my first biography)

Books I'd add to that list, but have discovered as an adult include:

Harry Potter
(all of them)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (I have literally fallen in love with it)
Jane Eyre
To Kill A Mockingbird
(the only book --besides Harry Potter and possibly Little Women --that I've ever read three times . . . I read it as a teenager, but have had a growing love affair with it with every subsequent reading)

Books that I'm excited to read and am not sure how I didn't read as a kid include:

The Phantom Tollbooth
The View From Saturday
Tuck Everlasting

I know there are more in each of those lists, but those are what come to mind for now.

So, here's my question, what books would you put on your "must have" list? What books from your childhood stand out in your mind? What books hold a glorious, nostalgic spell on you that follows you wherever you go?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Summer Videos

I've had these videos ready to go for a LONG time, but for whatever reason I'm just now getting them up.

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Thing 1 went to a theater day camp earlier in the summer and part of that included the kids writing their own one-act plays. They got to write a mystery and then perform it as part of the end-of-camp performance. The play is SO her and it was a lot of fun to go see.

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Thing 2 has been getting his Tae Kwon Do on since early spring, and he is awesome at it. We recorded his promotion test for his White Belt--he puts on quite a show. He is always bouncing on his feet, keeping ready. It reminds us of the Cobra Kai in Karate Kid, but of course he's so much nicer. He not only passed this test but also got his Yellow Belt about a month ago. We're really proud of how hard he's working.