Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Madness - Please, Not Another Car? - Oh No! - But Yes!

Dear Friends,
Yes, the VW Jetta is ready to be sold to make room for the KIA Soul!  I hope this is the last time I have to buy a car for my teen.  When a car is in the shop every month and your mechanic says sell it, that's what you do.  

For the second car, I hope we did enough research and comparison shopping.  I hope this one will do better.  It's still under warranty, so we will have it looked over by KIA and pray it lives up to it's reputation.  My girl is "thrilled" and appreciative.  (So far, at least.  And yes, she's happily doing all her chores and spending time with me.  Gratitude is wonderful!)
We had a little trouble finding the dealership, but the car is what she wanted and it has safety features like a backup camera, traction control, air bags, etc.  

No, it didn't come with the hamsters, but that's okay by me.  It did come with the lighted speakers -- I hope that doesn't get old!)  She has a part-time, seasonal job that will cover her gas, so that's good, too.  Now if I can just sell the VW to pay for this one, it will be even better.

So now we can concentrate on the 3rd Quarter of her Freshman year.  She passed her classes, so that's all good.  Next Quarter she'll have Math, English and Intro to Art (more like Art Appreciation.)

Wishing you all a wonderful week.   I still have worries, but at least it won't be about my girl's transportation!

Guardian Angel Kids E-Zine, April 2014

Special Features
Flowers of the World
Reported by GAK, our very own Angel Gecko

Predatory Petals by A.J. Huffman
Shades of Exaltation by A.J. Huffman

A Flower Expedition by Joyce Wold
Coming Up Roses by Felicity Nisbet

Flowers that Grow on Volcanoes by Sherry Alexander
The Legend of the “Cry in Your Sleep” Flower-A Retelling of the Legend of Tagimoucia, Fiji’s National Flower by Sherri Alexander

Flower Girls Word Puzzle

Publisher, Lynda S. Burch

Tags:  Kids, Children, Activities, Word Puzzles, Flowers, Poem, Short Stories, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Science

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Guardian Angel Publishing - New Releases: March 2014

Guardian Angel Publishing
Publisher, Lynda Burch

Academic Wings Author & Illustrator Eugene Ruble
Book Two—Join Professor Hoot as he explores more ancient arts and artifacts. The art, tools, and text represent various cultures and development from ancient eras, including fossils, too.

Lana Tries Yoga  
Health & Hygiene Author & Illustrator Roey Ebert Hardcover Softcover 
Follow Lana as she tries to capture the sunlight when it journeys to the 4 corners of the earth. The story centered yoga routine is simple for children to remember and fun for children to reenact. 

lana tries yoga cover
Lily and the Return to Htrae
Wings of Faith Author Lindsay Bonilla; Illustrator Alexander Morris
Lily returns to the darkness of Htrae to take the King’s message from the City of Light. Even though she doesn’t think she can fulfill this mission, with the help of Ruah she embarks on the difficult task of inviting others to the great forgotten city.

Real Mysterious Easter Eggs
Academic Wings
Author: Patricia Karwatowicz, Illustrator: Kathleen Bullock
Noah and Isabela take a journey in Great Grandmother’s kitchen to discover the Easter story by coloring eggs Grandmother’s “old-timey-way.” Color meanings help them learn more about who Jesus is and who they are.

Rip the night engine: The Rolling Along Train Series Book 1
Littlest Angels Author Melanie Lutes, Illustrator Eugene Ruble
Rip, the night engine, constantly worries about his passenger’s comfort on overnight train rides. He knows bench seating is not comfortable for sleeping. His cars are redesigned as Pullman Palace cars equipped with sleeping compartments. He finally lives up to his name that means Rest In Pillows.

There's a Lion in the House
Animals & Pets Author Mary Esparza-Vela, Illustrator Jack Foster
A young rabbit loves to tease his older brothers. He goes off into the woods by himself and boasts that he’s not afraid of anything. One night, he hears a lion roar in the house.  He tells his brothers, but they ignore him. 
Tags:  Children's Books, New Releases, Academic Wings, Wings of Faith, Health & Hygiene, Animals &and Pets, Littlest Angels

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday Firsts and Fancies - Three Books for 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade

I substituted Friday as a Resource Specialist and worked with several small groups in math and reading.  Three books were featured today:  Alfa and Beto: The Biblioburros by Paula Morrow (in Fountas & Pinnell's Leveled Literacy Intervention program), A Bear Named Trouble by Marion Dane Bauer, and Stay Away from Simon by Carol Carrick, illustrated by Donald Carrick.  

The first book, Alfa and Beto: The Biblioburros by Paula Morrow, was a non-fiction story about Luis Soriano, a teacher in Colombia whose missionis bringing books and education to children in the rugged, high mountain areas.  These children have little access to education, schools, and libraries.  So Mr. Soriano visits 15 different villages bringing books to share the joys of reading, and teach children and adults to read.  His two burros carry the books, hence the name "Biblio-Burros."  

There are only two rules for children to borrow books from the Biblioburros mobile library:

"1. Wash your hands before reading a book. 
That way, the book will not get dirty.
  2. Don’t write on the pages." 

It's a good story to help inspire reading and volunteerism in children.  They can see how important books, libraries, and reading are and how privileged they are to have access to these things in their schools and neighborhood.

The second book, Stay Away from Simon, by Carol Carrick and illustrated by Donald Carrick, is a nice middle grade story about how prejudices about mentally handicapped, "slow" and simple children (and adults) can cause unnecessary stress, fear, and hurt.  

Stay Away from Simon!Lucy and her younger brother, Josiah, are frightened when they see that Simon, the hulking miller's boy, is following them home from school in a snowstorm.  They've heard stories about how Simon "isn't quite right in the head" and is dangerous.  They've been told to stay away from him and don't understand why he's following them.  

This is a good story to help teach understanding about and compassion for people with mental disabilities.  The story is easy to read and the ending is strong and offers a valuable lesson. The illustrations by Donald Carrick are excellent and provide insight into life in a rural town in the early part of the century.

There are many other books by Carol Carrick listed here on Amazon:
A Bear Named TroubleThe third book is A Bear Named Trouble by Marion Dane Bauer.  The story is told in part from the perspective of a young adolescent bear, "Trouble," who's been pushed out into the world by his mother and Jack, the son of a zookeeper, newly relocated to Anchorage Alaska zoo.  Both Trouble and Jack have lost their familiar home and find themselves in new territory.  Trouble behaves like the wild animal he is and Jack, a curious and imaginative boy, finds as much trouble as does the bear.  The is another middle grade book but with strong images and hard life lessons.
 Image of Marion Dane Bauer*******************************************
Newbery Honor Winner Continues to Challenge Herself--
and Readers--Twenty-Five Years Later

Marion Dane Bauer is the author of more than eighty books for young people, ranging from novelty and picture books through early readers, both fiction and nonfiction, books on writing, and middle-grade and young-adult novels. She has won numerous awards, including several Minnesota Book Awards, a Jane Addams Peace Association Award for RAIN OF FIRE, an American Library Association Newbery Honor Award for ON MY HONOR, a number of state children's choice awards and the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for the body of her work.

I enjoyed all three books, though they're quite different and the third book had some scenes that were hard to read.  

Tags:  Children's books, libraries, books, Colombia, Mental handicap, learning difficulties, learning challenges, Trouble, Bear, Alaska, zoo life, dreamer, loss, pain, loneliness

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Wow - Patricia Polacco's Children's Books

When I subbed last week I was pleased to be re-introduced to the books of author and artist Patricia Polacco.  I love Ms. Polacco's wonderful stories and amazing artwork.  
Product DetailsI'd first discovered her during my student teaching and especially loved her book Thunder Cake, where the grandmother uses her "thunder cake" recipe to comfort, distract, and teach her granddaughter during a thunderstorm: 
 "Grandma consoles her frightened granddaughter by telling her that the dark clouds of the impending storm are nothing more than the ingredients for a Thunder Cake." 

Product DetailsOther books I read then were Just Plain Fancy, about an Amish girl who's tired of everything being "plain" and longs for something "fancy: 
"Naomi Vlecke lives with her farming family in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. The Amish first came to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s, and to this day preserve a religious and "plain" life-style. As part of her household chores, Naomi looks after the chickens with her little sister, Ruth."

 I also read Rachenka's Eggs, a wonderful Easter "miracle story:
Product Details"Babushka, known for her exquisite hand-painted eggs, finds Rechenka, a wounded goose, and takes her home. When she's ready to try her wings again, Rechenka accidentally breaks all of Babushka's lovingly crafted eggs. But the next morning Babushka awakens to a miraculous surprise."

So I wasn't a stranger to Patricia Polacco's work.  It was wonderful to be reacquainted with her books and I happily read a few more:

Product DetailsThe Bee Tree, a wonderful  story involving much of the village chasing bees!
"When Mary Ellen gets bored with her reading, Grandpa knows a hunt for a bee tree is just what she needs. Half the town joins the exciting chase, but it's not until everyone returns home that Mary Ellen makes a discovery of her own: Sometimes, even the sweetest of things must be worked for."

Product Details I read Babuska Baba Yaga, about the longing to be loved and a part of a family:   Baba Yaga is a witch famous throughout Russia for eating children, but this Babushka Baba Yaga is a lonely old woman who just wants a grandchild to love.

I read Thank You Mr. Falker, about a wonderful teacher who discovers a secret, a terrible truth, that turns a young girl's life around:
Product Details"When Trisha starts school, she can't wait to learn how to read, but the letters just get jumbled up. She hates being different, and begins to believe her classmates when they call her a dummy. Then, in fifth grade, Mr. Falker changes everything. He sees through her sadness to the gifted artist she really is. And when he discovers that she can't read, he helps her prove to herself that she can - and will!"

I also read (and cried over) The Keeping Quilt, a wonderful story about Ms. Polacco's own family heritage:Product Details
" We will make a quilt to help us always remember home," Anna's mother said. "It will be like heaving the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night. And so it was. From a basket of old clothes, Anna's babushka, Uncle Vladimir's shirt, Aunt Havalah's nightdress and an apron of Aunt Natasha's become The Keeping Quilt, passed along from mother to daughter for almost a century. For four generations the quilt is a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket that welcomes babies warmly into the world. In strongly moving pictures that are as heartwarming as they are real, patricia Polacco tells the story of her own family, and the quilt that remains a symbol of their enduring love and faith."
Product Details I read My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother, about sibling rivalry and "friendly" competition:
"Tricia can't stand her rotten redheaded older brother Richie, who cain do everything better than she can. So when her grandmother tells her a wish made on a shooting star will come true, she knows exactly what to wish for -- to be able to do something, anything, better than Richie. When a traveling carnival comes to town, Tricia decides what that something will be -- she'll ride the merry-go-round longer than Richie. And that's how she finds out just what wishes -- and rotten redheaded older brothers -- can really do."

 These wonderful books had me in tears -- relating to the strong emotions presented, the beautiful family life portrayed, and the moving messages that Ms. Polacco puts in her books.  Many of her books are autobiographical, telling the stories of her life, family history, and heritage.  She has other books that tell meaningful stories, but I especially love the ones that are personal, about her life and family.  I recommend them wholeheartedly and unabashedly (you'll probably find some that touch your hearts as well.)
 Here is her website for more information on her books, activities, events, fun stuff, etc.:

From Patricia Polacco's Amazon Page:

Image of Patricia Polacco"Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers.
"My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"
Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln."
Tags:  Patricia Polacco, art, family heritage, personal stories, children's books, Russia, farm life, family life, children, brothers, sisters.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday Madness - Appreciation

I've been writing about the challenges of parenting an eighteen year old.  It's been a bit frustrating at times.  We have the month of April and then in May I will be writing about the challenges of parenting a nineteen year old. Yay!  Here's where I am in my parental learning curve, along with we both need to learn and practice patience.
She wants to be grown up almost as much as she still wants the perks of being "taken care of and guided."  She won't admit it, but there's a lot to be said for Mom organizing things, doing the planning and research, picking things up, smoothing things, over, going shopping and yes, even folding laundry!   She still needs limits, though she doesn't want them imposed as a dictator.  She won't always do as I suggest, but she doesn't want me to stop suggesting.  She doesn't want to be set adrift to make her all of her own decisions -- but she does want to make some. 

I've also learned that she isn't me, hasn't ever been me, and probably won't be me -- even though everyone says she has my smile!  She is her own person.  She's charming, outgoing, kind, generous, loyal, caring, sensitive, supportive -- a real people person and an animal lover.  Friends and family are constantly congratulating me on how well she's turned out.  I'd love to take a modicum of credit for all this, but she's herself and she's still in process of becoming an adult, the young woman she will be.
She also likes to entertain, but in an off beat and casual way, not always center stage.  This generation is comfortable taking and posting "selfies" and making and posting videos at the drop of a hat or in the blink of an eye.  It's second nature to see themselves and their friends all day every day -- online.  And to stay in touch and share via texting, instagram, facebook, whatever is the latest and greatest why to communicate.  They sometimes even talk on their hand-held communication devices -- we call them cell phones but they really are for total communication.  
I finally see the allure of this instant communication.  I don't see how they get anything done in life if they're always online, checking in, texting, sending photos, posting stuff.  At any time of the day or night you can go and check up on your family and friends and see what they're doing, where they've been, who they're with, what they're seeing, what they're watching -- even what they're eating.  How amazing is that?  
Today, it's all a little too fast, too much and makes me want to crawl back in bed for a nap, go work in my garden, play with my pets and slow the world down a bit.  


Tags:  communication, social media, growing up, patience, adult, pets, naps