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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: family, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,603
26. A Time to be Brave by Joan Betty Stuchner

Ever since the Nazis invaded Denmark, David Nathan, 10, and his best friend Elsa Jensen have been hungry, despite the fact that his dad is the best baker in all of Copenhagen.  But the Nazis have been helping themselves to whatever they want since 1940, and that includes anything that they fancy in Nathan's Patisserie

Now, it is September, 1943 and David is looking forward to Rosh Hashanah and his mother's special honey cake all month long.  The Jewish New Year is always a family celebration shared with Elsa's family.   If only he thought his sister might be there, but university studies keep her at school more and more.

Or so David's mother tells him whenever he asks about Rachel.  But on their way home from school one afternoon, Elsa tells David her secret - Rachel and Elsa's cousin Arne are in the Resistance, doing whatever they can to sabotage the Nazis.

That very afternoon, when he arrives at his father's bakery, David is asked to deliver 6 éclairs to Arne's house and to make sure all 6 get there.  But no sooner does David leave the shop, when he is stopped by two Nazi soldiers who insist on seeing what he has in his bakery box.  Seeing the éclairs, each soldier helps himself to one.

Finally, David is able to deliver the remaining four éclairs to Arne, who immediately dips his finger into each, finally pulling out a piece of paper from the last one.  All David can make out is the word train.  A few days later, David's father tells him that a train has been sabotaged by the Resistance, and David proudly realizes he had actually played a role in that.

And at last Rosh Hashanah arrives.  The longed for honey cake has been made, but when David and his father are sitting in the synagogue, the Rabbi announces that the Nazis are planning to round up Denmark's Jews that very night and advises everyone to go home and prepare for their escape.

Well, we know the end of this story because we know that Denmark's citizens did not allow the Nazis to capture most of that nation's Jewish citizens, and so we know that David and his parents escape to Sweden with the help of their friends the Jensens.  But, of course, young readers may not know this.

A Time to be Brave is a nice easy reader chapter book that provides a good introduction to what happened in Denmark in World War II.  It is the perfect book for a young reader who is not quite ready for Number the Stars.

The writing is simple. never condescending, the story is straightforward and the characters well-drawn. There is nice back matter, too, including a map of Denmark and Sweden, a World War II timeline, explanations of who Victor Borge is (yes, he in mentioned in the novel), the Resistance, King Christian X (an important figure to the Danish people during the war), and a recipe for honey cake (that I may have to try making).

If A Time to be Brave sounds vaguely familiar, it is because it was originally published in 2008 under the title Honey Cake.  I suspect it has been reissued under the new title because it now has "updated content that emphasizes Common Core and renewed interest in nonfiction" even though the story is fiction.  It is, however, based on a true story.

This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was provided by the publisher


0 Comments on A Time to be Brave by Joan Betty Stuchner as of 7/23/2014 10:09:00 PM
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27. El Deafo, by Cece Bell

After an illness at age 4, Cece loses her hearing.  She is soon equipped with a hearing aid that involves wearing a pouch around her neck attached to some "ear globs".  Cece is happy to hear again, but now has to learn how to understand once more.  To top things off, Cece now has to go to a new school.

A good thing about the new school is the other kids are wearing hearing aids too, and Cece is learning some useful skills like lip reading and using visual, context and gestural clues to help in understanding.  Cece is just finding her way, when her family decides to leave the city and head to the country, where she will be going to a regular school.

Cece gets a brand-new-BIG-for-school-only-around-the-neck hearing aid (The Phonic Ear) that comes with a microphone for her teacher to wear and is superpowerful.  What nobody expects is that it comes with the added feature of having a super long range, allowing Cece to hear not only her teacher teaching, but whatever her teacher is doing when she is out of the room as well (yes...even *that*!).

Cece has to negotiate the things that all kids go through at school - including navigating a friend who is not-so-nice, and getting her first crush.  Things unique to her situation include dealing with friends who TALK TOO LOUD AND TOO SLOW, and those who refer to her as their "deaf friend".

This is more than a graphic memoir - it is a school and family story for all kids.  Cece is an imaginative and emotional kid with whom readers will identify.  There is an accessibility to Bell's art that immediate draws you in and you can't help but cheer with her successes and cringe with her tears.  Fans of Telgemeier and Varon will readily scoop this up off of the shelves, and it *will* be passed hand to hand.  I am certain I will see many doodles of Cece and her friends in the margins of writer's notebooks this coming school year.  Do yourself a favor...get more than one!

0 Comments on El Deafo, by Cece Bell as of 7/25/2014 12:53:00 AM
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28. Saying Goodbye

It is hard to say goodbye to an old friend. I am currently having to do just that. Sometimes, things deteriorate beyond salvage and the relationship must end. I have had this happen before, not very often – but it has happened.

In my younger days, I was a bridge-burner. I just moved on. I left high school and kept up with very few friends, mostly the ones who went to the same university. After four fun-filled years at college, I left those friends with every intent of doing better. I did not. Oh, I tried. For a year or two I kept up with some. But we all got scattered around the country and once-close ties severed. I predate social media, so we didn’t have that easy connection to tether me to my friends.

I have had to end relationships since then, though not as frequently. It was much easier to end friendships when I moved cities. I have lived in the same city for twenty-five years now and have no intention of leaving. So I can’t pack up and forget to give a forwarding address. Also, the aforementioned social media makes ending a relationship a public event. You have to be sure it is the proper thing to do before you push “unfriend,” or “block.”

What are some causes of ended friendships anyway? Here are some big ones. It isn’t an exhaustive list, you might have experienced other issues.

A trust violation – can be major or minor, equally damaging.

Priority shift – things become important to one and not the other.

Lack of support – a friend has stopped being there for you.

Selfishness – the friend who has all day to complain but has to go when it is time to listen.

Drift – Sometimes, friends just drift apart. It isn’t a willful decision on either side.

Friends can’t always be replaced. Depending on the length and emotional depth of the friendship, there can be a sizable void when the friendship ends. Pain. Regret. Panic, doubt, and second-guessing can even set in. Most of the time, there is even a grieving period when a friendship dies.

So it is with this friend. We’ve been through a lot together. There were entire days we spent together and I don’t regret them. They were good days… comfortable days. Never tight or strenuous, my friend and I got along perfectly. We fit together. I felt a certain contentment with this friend that I rarely feel. In fact, besides my wife, I’ve been closer to few others.

Why, do you ask, must this friendship end?

Is my friend moving? Did my friend betray me?

Loneliness_(4101974109)

 

No, due to old age, my friend’s elastic waistband ripped through the soft, cotton fabric and my favorite pair of boxers is caput. The friendship is no longer salvageable. I could save it for a dust rag or staining cloth, but that’d be weird… unlike writing a blog post about underwear.

 

 

Photo attribution: Bert Kaufmann from Roermond, Netherlands (Loneliness Uploaded by russavia)

 

 


Filed under: Learned Along the Way

5 Comments on Saying Goodbye, last added: 7/22/2014
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29. The Impossible Knife of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson | Book Review

This is a book that will have readers reveling in and recognizing the difficult journey that is trying to make sense the present and the future, all while navigating the complexities of high school and teenage life.

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30. In the After: Demitria Lunetta

Book: In the After
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Pages: 464
Age Range: 13 and up

In the After is the first of a two-book series by Demitria Lunetta (the second book was just released, though I haven't read it yet). In the After is set in the wake of a world-wide apocalypse caused by an invasion of predatory, man-eating creatures. 17-year-old Amy has lived for three years in hiding, alone except for the company of Baby, a young girl she rescued from a grocery store. Amy and Baby live in silence, for fear of drawing Them. They use sign language to speak, and have never even heard one another's voices.

They actually have things pretty good, all things considered. Amy's mother held an important government position, and their house is surrounded by an electric fence that keeps the monsters out. Her dad was an environmentalist who kept their home as off the grid as possible. Amy and Baby have electricity and water. But they do have to venture out among the creatures to scavenge for food. An encounter with other survivors on one of their trips starts a process that changes Amy and Baby's lives forever. 

In the After is a compelling read, one that will keep the reader guessing. The first part of the book takes place in and around Amy and Baby's home in Chicago. Without giving too much away, I'll say that the second part of the book takes place elsewhere, among other people. This is where Lunetta's storytelling really starts making the reader think. In brief, italicized scenes, Amy is in a mental ward. The rest of the story is told in intermittent flashbacks, as a mentally foggy Amy tries to pieces together how she got there. Because of Amy's fragile state, the reader isn't always sure how to interpret the flashbacks, which makes the story even more thought-provoking. 

The characters apart from Amy are distinct, though not always highly nuanced. Basically, we get to know Amy very well, and the other characters not so well. But Amy is great. Here are a few snippets, to give you a feel for her voice:

"I only go out at night.

I walk along the empty street and pause, my muscles tense and ready. The breeze rustles the overgrown grass and I tilt my head slightly. I'm listening for them." (Page 1)

"So much of who I used to be was about being good in school and having friends who were also good in school. We were, to put it simply, arrogant little know-it-alls. But I miss that." (Page 78)

"The arts were probably pointless now that everyone was focused on survival. I thought back to all my time alone, reading, as the world crumbled around me. It was the only thing that gave me solace and hope." (Page 191)

In addition to keeping the reader wondering about plot points, Lunetta is good at creating atmosphere. She makes the reader feel the creepiness of walking down a dark street where silent monsters might be a only few feet, and the helplessness of being trapped in a mental ward. 

In the After grabs the reader from the first page, and doesn't let go. Recommend for fans of YA dystopias, particularly of the alien invasion variety. Particularly recommended for those who enjoyed Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave. Readers who have read many dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories will notice certain universal themes, but I don't think this takes away enjoyment of the story. I think that In the After is a book that will especially appeal to adult readers, actually, though I would expect teens to enjoy it, too. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: HarperTeen (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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31. Saturday Snapshot

legoartist

He takes his work very seriously.

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32. All our books are now on Kindle Unlimited

beecover

Just announced today Amazon has a new subscription service for e-books called Kindle Unlimited.  For a flat monthly fee of $9.99 you can enroll and download up to ten e-books at one time.  When you are done, just return them and then you can download more.  We know young children can be voracious readers and we are excited about the opportunity to reach new readers with this program.  Now parents can download books for themselves and load up on some quality children’s books too for one low price.  There are over 600,000 titles currently available and they can be loaded onto any device.  What a bargain!

 

Try the new Kindle Unlimited FREE for 30 days HERE

 

MonstersHaveMommies


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33. Kill Some Stress, Run Faster, Be Happier

The last few days my Adobe was acting up, legit like a two year old heck bent on crippling me. I couldn’t finish work that NEEDED to be done, I cursed the computer and slammed some fists. It had turned ME into a toddler. Hot mess.

Stress. Frustration. Anxiety. We can’t avoid it in life and we can’t avoid it in running either. There are ALWAYS going to be things totally out of our control. My tantrum wasn’t going to solve the computer issues, and neither is the wildest of fits going to cure a stress fracture. Sometimes sh*t just sucks but you NEED to deal.
stress fractures suck
In the moment that can feel impossible but our fast-paced lives have gotten to a point where the stress, anxiety, and frustrations churning through us are destroying us. Making us sick. Clearly even if you’re not on the verge of a stress induced heart-attack or breakdown, I dare say everyone and anyone has some sh*t going on that they would do well to unburden themselves with.

What do I mean by unburdening? You most likely can’t take away or change every situation, you can’t make money float down upon you or force so-and-so to get back to you with a quote that you NEED because your article deadline is hours away.

Unburdening can be more like shifting how YOU are dealing with the situation. Adjust and learn to let go. I’m sum it up:

Do EVERY single thing you can to control the situation and make it work how you’d like it to…from there, heed to the ‘que sera, sera’.

Injury?

You get hurt, injuries come with the territory in running. Do what you can to reduce your risk but you can’t avoid them. Here are your three steps:
1) Throw your dang tantrum. You deserve it. But put a time limit on your baby breakdown. Ten minutes, a day max.
2) Get proactive. Shift to problem-solver mode (logic and reason side of the brain, move out of emotional/reactive side). Come up with a cross training and rehab routine.
3) Do it. Move through that routine and ONLY take it a day at a time. Don’t dwell on XXX weeks or months. Look at your rehab like taking your medicine…spoon full of sugar that crap down. ;)

Bad Race or Workout

Also comes with the territory in running. Ironically the steps are eerily the same as above:
1) Mild upset is allowed. You deserve to be disappointed and that’s the same feeling that will motivate you to work harder next time. But don’t be a pouter, don’t be one of those jerks who ruins everyone else’s workout/race/day/etc. Cry on the inside like a champ. Haha.
2) Get proactive. Learn anything you can from the experience, is there a reason it was bad? Reassess your training if need be.
3) Move on. Keep on trucking. Some days your legs just don’t show up for whatever reason. Learn what you can the move forward.
missing legs
Never let a bad workout or race turn you into a pessimist. That kind of perspective is what kills peoples’ passion and could ruin your love of running. No one wants that.

All that stress and anxiety [psst...don't get too nervous before races either, here's my post on that.] only makes things more of an uphill battle for you. So don’t make things worse on yourself. Unburden that sh*t.

Ironically, the more balanced and less stress you put on yourself in running the better you end up performing. There’s a little thing called over-thinking, My Friends.

Back to life because 99.9% of us aren’t running for our jobs. Which means our jobs and life events are brining us the most stress. [that extra stress will effect our running too...so if you're also wanting to run better you'll do well to unburden some life stress...logic holds there. Haha] But far too many of us let things that shouldn’t stress us out THAT much, well, stress us out THAT much.

I challenge you to let go of some little things. Lots of those things include wondering what someone else thinks about you OR complaining about someone else. A tip there, years ago I adopted the thing of not saying anything about someone else that I wouldn’t just say right to them. I’m a straight-shooter so rather than complain, isn’t it better to just go to the source and [strategically] say whatever you need to? Problem solved there.

Now for the curveballs and bigger things life will deal you often, we’ll circle back to what I suggested we do in running. Hey, like I say EVERYTHING circles back to running, right?! ;)
1) Baby tantrums. You can be entitled to a fist pound on the laptop but put a time limit on yourself.
2) Proactive mode. Do EVERYTHING you can to set yourself for the best outcome.
3) Move the heck on. You can’t control lots of things in life, namely other people. So…”let it go.” ;)
ryftreesitting
Stress makes you unhappy, it will also make your running harder. All the more reason to unburden some of that crap!

1) What is one little thing you’re going to unburden yourself with TODAY?
2) How do you handle BIG life stress?
3) Do you consider yourself a highly stressed and anxious person?

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34. The Hallmark Conspiracy

I hate greeting cards. Oh sure, I’ve been touched by the sentimental commercials. Maybe I shed a tear, maybe not. But they didn’t inspire to me buy a card or like them.

The only cards that resonate with me are blank cards. In this day and age, if someone takes the time to write their own thoughts out and mail it – that is a treasure.

What greeting cards really say in their flourishing font is: “I’m lazy!”

Write this in your card: “I was too lazy to set a few minutes aside to put my own thoughts into words, so here are some prepackaged, canned, inauthentic thoughts that a wanna-be romance writer who hasn’t shaved in weeks and smokes big cigars in Spokane thought were relevant just for you, my sweetest. Please say ‘Awwwww’ and kiss me.”

Frankly, greeting cards are disingenuous at best.

 

When I was a kid, they were just speed bumps to the present. Oh sure, I would pretend to read them on my way to disemboweling the wrapping paper that stood between me and the gift. I liked the ones Aunt Eunice would underline so I could skip most of the words – kind of a cliff notes version. Later in life, she began underlining every word, including the price and printing information – which made it less helpful. Of course, by then she was wrapping up ten year-old toasters and place mats for presents, so haste was less of a concern.

Just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you

-Henry Kissinger

Greeting cards and I have a turbulent history. Since I am negatively disposed against them, they do their best to shame me at every turn. Instead of bowing to their convenience and paying the price, I try to take the time to write personal notes, especially to my lovely wife. But there are instances when I run out of time and am forced to rush into the store and get one. When this happens, I treat it like a commando raid – rush in, select the victim, and get out before anyone gets hurt. I choose based on color and frill, often neglecting  to check the sentiment inside – time is what I lack, anyway. With that method, it is pretty easy to stay away from sympathy and get-well cards, but sometimes (okay, most of the time), the sentiment of my selection doesn’t match the occasion or is age inappropriate. That is where The Hallmark Conspiracy comes in.

Take this week. This week marked her birthday. I had a great present in advance, but completely forgot the stupid card until the day of. So I put on my camo, blacked my eyes and descended upon the grocery store. Although every fiber of my cheap being steered me to the 99¢ rack, I’ve been warned about those and went all out – $3.99! I found the birthday section, saw one with a cute little boy and girl on it and dashed out of the store.

Here is what I got:

image

Hastily altered in the driveway – think she noticed?

 

Mis-shelved! The card was mis-shelved! I swear I was in the birthday section!

Swine greeting cards!!!!!!

Someday society will truly be paperless and I won’t have to deal with these verbose phonies. Until then, I’ll shred a few in effigy and steer clear of the aisle altogether.


Filed under: Don't Blog Angry

5 Comments on The Hallmark Conspiracy, last added: 7/18/2014
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35. I Survived #4: I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis

Living in New York City, Danny Crane, 11, and his best friend Finn were always in trouble.  Danny's father had skipped out before he was born, so his mother worked as a nurse by day and cleaned offices at night to support them and was often not home.  There are just too many kids in Finn's family for anyone to keep an eye on him  The two boys skip school, sneak into the movies, and pretty soon, they were hanging out with gangster Earl Gasky.

So, in late1941, Danny's mother takes a nursing job at the hospital at Hickam Air Force base on Oahu, Hawaii.  Danny hasn't been living in Hawaii for very long before he hatches a plan to stowaway on a ship bound for San Francisco on December 7th, and from there, he plans to cross the country riding the rails back to Finn and the life he loves and wants.

On the morning of December 6th, Danny meets his new neighbors when toddler Aki Sudo wanders into the Cranes backyard.  The Sudos are a family of Japanese descent that had been born in Hawaii.  And Aki Sudo may only have been 3 years old, but he knew every plane the Americans had in their Air Force, thanks to the detailed drawings his fisherman father drew for him.

Danny likes the Sudos, but he is still determined to get back to Finn and NYC.  Yet, on the morning of December 7th, Danny is having a hard time getting out of bed and setting his plan in motion.  Thinking about his mother and how she will feel when she discovers him gone, Danny is jolted out of bed by little Aki's cries.  Planes, swarms of them, are coming and they aren't American.  Suddenly, as the two boys are heading to the Sudo home, they hear loud explosions followed by fire and smoke.  Pearl Harbor is under attack.

Returning Aki to his mother, Danny decides he needs to get the Hickam, to find his own mother.  But along the way, there is another round of bombing, and shooting.  Then, Danny meets Mack, a  lieutenant and pilot of a B-17.  Mack likes Mrs. Crane, but Danny was resentful of that.  Now, though, with a bullet wound to his arm, he and Danny try to make their way to Hickam together.

But, will the two be able to survive the rain of bullets and bombs the Japanese pilots are unleashing on all of Pearl Harbor?

I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor is the 4th book in this popular, action packed I Survived series for boys about boys living in different time periods and facing different historical disasters and making them real coming of age stories.  And, like the others, it won't let the reader down.  There is plenty of real historical information couched in the fictional story of Danny and since Danny more or less sees the attack on Pearl Harbor from a distance, the descriptions of it are realistic, but not so graphic they will upset the age appropriate reader.

One of the side issues that Lauren Tarshis addresses in this particular story is how easy it was for boys like Danny to fall into the wrong kind of life.  Danny is at an age when friends can be all important, so the reader sees how he is torn between staying with his mother and his loyalty to his friend and partner in crime Finn.  These two friends were on their way to being in real trouble when Mrs. Crane moved Danny to Hawaii.  Juvenile delinquency was a problem back then because so many parents, like Mrs. Crane, had to work long hours, often at two jobs.  Doing little things for someone like Earl Gasky was just the beginning.  Both boys are at an age when they could have gone either way and I wondered what happened to Finn, left in NYC.  

Since I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor is a work of historical fiction, the author has included lots of back matter for further exploration.  There is a lengthy Q&A about the actual attack, a Pearl Harbor Time Line, Pearl Harbor facts and resources for reading other books about kids caught in the bombing of December 7, 1941.

In addition, the publisher of the I Survived series, Scholastic, has put a Teacher's Guide online that is compatible with Common Core State Standards and it can be downloaded HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was purchased for my personal library

0 Comments on I Survived #4: I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis as of 7/16/2014 11:43:00 AM
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36. Poking Fun at the Enemy

One can learn so much from children. Too often, in our haste to exercise control of every situation, we grown-ups unfortunately root out their innate curiosity and creativity. We drive from point A to point B without noticing the roadside art, whim, and fancy of the trip that is not lost on the childish mind. There is joy to be had in every journey.

I have recently learned you can poke fun at even the vilest of enemies. If you haven’t had a run with my current foe, hold on – cancer will find you somewhere. I don’t wish it on anyone, but unfortunately it worms its way into everyone’s life at some point whether through family or acquaintance. The Myers clan is relatively new at this contest. There is no rule book or instruction manual that I can find. No article 7, subsection 34b that tells us we can’t fight this demon with a joke and a smile.

Sometimes, you have to laugh to keep from drowning in tears. While my bald, frail daughter lays in what was formerly my bed, at times, she seems to find ways to make us smile.

Take for instance a little wresting match with her sister when she attempted to apply a surprise atomic wedgie, but was blocked by the classic counter: the roll onto the back. Rather than move to a frontal assault, she poked her lip out and meekly proclaimed, “But I have cancer.”

With that, her sister waved the white flag, accepted defeat, and soon left the room to repair the damage to her drawers in private.

*****

Just the other day while urging her to drink more water to avoid dehydration and the inevitable trip back to the hospital, I declared, “If you don’t take a drink I’m going to sit on you.”

Her immediate response, “The doctor says you can’t sit on chemo patients.”

Touche, young one! Touche!

*****

 

Yes, we might be behind shoddy castle walls with little defense besides a catapult and barnyard animals, but we have our smiles and cheery hearts. The enemy can’t take that away.

Now leave before I taunt you a second time!

 


Filed under: Learned Along the Way

6 Comments on Poking Fun at the Enemy, last added: 7/10/2014
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37. Dangling Feet & Screws by the Pound

Nearly every winter I have had to trap a flying squirrel or two in my attic and send them packing. Fortunately, I have a walk-out attic easily accessible from my 13 year-old’s closet. When she was an infant, I went on a hunting excursion and learned a valuable lesson – Don’t walk on rafters in socked feet. Yup, I slid right off the rafter and ended up perched on a 2×10 with half of me in the attic and half of me in the family room. Two of my kids and my nephew were watching a Christmas special and all three instantly yelled, “We didn’t do it!” to my lovely wife who stood looking up at my dangling feet.image

I’m not sure if I caught the little critter on that trip, but it did force a trip to the hardware store where Hershel works. Hershel is the best. He’s a little old guy who is slightly stooped from years of hard work. He can fix anything better than anyone who comes in the store, but he is never condescending about:

  • a) your lack of knowledge or
  • b) your stupidity for breaking whatever you came in to fix.

Hershel: Morning Mark, what can I do for you?

Me: I need some drywall.

Hershel: Big project? (His eyes light up! He loves big projects – not only because of what he can sell you, but he also lives vicariously through his customers’ building experiences.)

Me: Nah, actually a really small one.

Hershel: Well, the smallest we’ve got is 4 x 8. They’re in aisle seven. Follow me.

I don’t follow and he notices.

Hershel: What’s the matter?

Me: Nothing smaller? (I look down and estimate the size of my feet, adding an appropriate amount for overage.)

Hershel knows instantly: Where’s the hole?

Me (eyes still low indicating appropriate shame): The den.

Hershel doesn’t flinch or betray just how dumb he thinks I am. Telling me how much patchwork I have in store, he leads me to drywall area and loads me up with tape, mud, sandpaper, screws, and ceiling paint.

Hershel: Once Betty checks you out, go round back. Beside the dumpster, we’ve got lots of broken pieces of sheetrock. You just pick one out and take it with you.

Me: But I really only need about four screws. You sure this is the smallest size?

Hershel: We sell ‘em by the pound. That’s just one pound – smallest we got.

I wondered what genius came up with selling a countable product by volume, but yielded to Hershel’s judgment and headed home. A few days of work and the hole was patched – good as new!

This all leads me to the 4th of July weekend. We are updating the 13 year-old’s room, making it more teen and less little girl. This necessitated a few trips to the attic to store things. You guessed it, I missed a rafter.

Can a house really be considered a home until you’ve broken through the ceiling… twice?

A trip to the store. Hershel, slowed but still knowledgeable and helpful, stood leaning against the wall as I entered.

Herschel: Hey there, Mark. What can I do ya for?

I’ve long gotten over embarrassment over mayhem and destruction I’ve caused in my home. I confidently replied: I need some drywall.

Herschel: Where’s the hole.

Me: It’s in the garage this time. I’ve got the screws leftover from the last time and I don’t need your mud and tape because I don’t care how it looks. (I look at him pleadingly).

He knows what I want, laughs, and says: Sure, go round back and get you a piece… and be more careful next time.


Filed under: Dad stuff

5 Comments on Dangling Feet & Screws by the Pound, last added: 7/8/2014
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38. Family Mission Trips- How to Prepare Your Children

by Sally Matheny
 
Take Your Family on a Mission Trip!
     In making your summer plans, have you considered a family mission trip?  
     A trip planned for serving others, rather than ourselves, puts our faith into action.  When we practice sacrificial giving and serving, our faith grows. Flexibility and working as a team strengthens the family. Leaning to trust God with the details, and most of all, the results of our efforts, trains us for further service.
    
    

     If you choose to adventure on a mission trip, here are a few helpful tips on how to prepare your children.

Prayer
     Essential for a successful trip, with all its details and decisions, is earnest prayer. Through prayer and discussion, focus on the purpose of the trip. Remind one another of the Great Commission and everyone’s need for Christ. Pray continually for the people your family will serve. Every detail—the victories and the snags—are entrusted to God.

Bible Study
Share scriptures on serving
others.
     During family devotion times, include scriptures on serving others.    
     Regularly share with one another how God is working in your life and it will become easier to conduct these same conversations with those outside of your home. Give older children opportunities to practice sharing their faith in a comfortable environment before stretching beyond their comfort zones.
     Remind the family of how God works through our weaknesses. Recall Moses, Paul, and people of today who have reached others through the power of God. God enables ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

 Destination
     Whether it is within or outside the United States, research the culture of the area you will serve. Host a special family night. Serve foods commonly served there. Watch a movie or read a book about the area.
     Show your children the destination on a map. If possible, let them highlight your travel route and allow them to take this map on the trip.
     Discuss how this is not a vacation. It’s not all about our comfort and pleasure. While there will be fun moments, the focus is on the mission.

Packing
     Allow children to help with some of the packing. If there is a required packing list, let children help check off items. Give them choices, when possible—even if it’s between two colors of shirts. This will be another opportunity for children (and parents!) to practice flexibility and sacrifice.
     Will you be taking items to the people you will be serving? This may be Bibles, VBS materials, candy, or other supplies. Enlist the help of your children in collecting and packing the items.

Traveling
     Pack a backpack of items to keep your child entertained during travel. Consider small toys, card games, art supplies and snacks. Pull out that map with the highlighted travel route. Allow children to trace over the line as the trip progresses, circling areas of interest.
     Help them collect mementos at each stop. Collect items such as tree leaves, area information from free brochures, and camera shots. When you return home, these can be transferred to a scrapbook or lap book.
     Encourage children to share these with family and friends as a way of testifying to God’s goodness on the trip.
Befriending another child is ministry.

Serving
     If possible, plan service opportunities that include each member of your family. Running errands, assisting with laundry or just befriending another child are areas of ministry. Stress how God uses all things (big and little) for His glory.
Serve with a humble spirit.
     Remind your children they are there to serve others and how to do that in a way pleasing to God. Perhaps role-play appropriate and inappropriate ways (ex. with humbleness and with haughtiness).
     Also, remember to include Jesus. Repairing a roof for someone benefits him now, but sharing Jesus Christ with him offers eternal rewards. Be intentional and pray for opportunities to witness about Christ’s love.

  
Spiritual Warfare
     If your children are old enough to understand good and evil, then they will understand that obstacles and difficulties will arise. Discuss the importance of prayer, staying in the Word, and not giving in when difficulties arise. Before the trip, talk about possible trials and temptations and how the family can help each other.
 
Testing comes when the unexpected
occurs.
     Testing comes when the unexpected occurs. Understand that the spiritually maturity levels vary in each family. Teach by example by showing the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
     Although no one wants difficulties, they produce a wonderful time to grow in our faith.

 



Zeal
Never lacking in zeal.
     Let your love and enthusiasm for the Lord overflow to your children.

    “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:10-12 (NIV)
     Excited about planning your next family trip? Below are a few links to get you started!


    Has your family ventured on a mission trip together? Share with us your helpful tips!

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39. Reread #27 Umbrella Summer

Umbrella Summer. Lisa Graff. 2009. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

 I have been wanting to reread Umbrella Summer for several years now. I first reviewed it in October 2009. I remember having a good, strong connection with Annie, the heroine. Every single person in the Richards family is struggling with grief--with the loss of Jared, Annie's older brother. But it is Annie whom we come to know and love throughout the book. We see the parents handling of grief, of moving on or not moving on as the case may be. We see how they parent, if they parent, Annie. All this is seen through Annie's perspective. Annie's perspective is seen through a complex range of emotions: fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger. For example, Annie has a hard time sympathizing with her friend, Rebecca, who has lost her pet hamster. Her response to Rebecca's strong grief is understandable, but, problematic for the friendship. He was just a hamster. It's not like you lost your brother. While the book is very much about grief, it is also a very good book about friendship, about what it means to be a friend, about building new friendships and restoring broken ones.

One of my favorite friendships in Umbrella Summer is Annie's friendship with their new neighbor, Mrs. Finch. Mrs. Finch is no stranger to loss, she has also lost someone close to her, her husband. Mrs. Finch and Annie both feel their losses strongly, yet, by coming together, by being honest with one another, by sharing the best memories, the best qualities about those they have loved and lost, they realize that they are beginning to heal a little, and that is a very good thing.

I also thought it was sweet that Annie and Jared's best friend have a special connection and come together as friends to truly celebrate Jared.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. The Start of the Parade

In the distance I hear the band warming up – not a single note piercing the air sounds right. Each is singular, isolated, and the sound of them issuing from so many instruments almost hurts the ear. It is not melodious or rich. It sounds a mess.

People young and old run and walk around me, depending on their ability. The youngest citizens are aided by the hands of parents who steady their wobbly steps. The elderly are aided by their children, their children’s children, or a kind neighbor. No one is alone.

Excitement is high. I can see the shopkeepers giving out red, white, and blue buttons, pinwheels, and balloons on sticks to anyone who wants them. Somehow, today isn’t about profit or loss. Those cares will wait until tomorrow. Competition forgotten, today they smile together and serve.

The entire of Main Street is lined with flags – 48 white stars, seven red stripes, and six white. My own native flag boasts the same colors but in a much different configuration. I never saw it displayed so much when my home was there. Of course, as countries go, mine is old and gray while this one is but a newborn. In the latter years, one doesn’t celebrate birthdays with quite as much vigor as a youngster. One hundred and fifty years old today, I’m reminded.

This little town of Portsong is like any other in the country. It boasts nothing outside its borders that make it unique. It is known for nothing, remembered by few, and can’t seem to grow despite the mayor’s efforts. Yet there is something special here. While I cannot put my finger on it or label it properly, there is something that made this old Brit stay and set up shop.

I believe the allure is in the small details.  For instance, I have been asked to join the festivities no less than seventeen times since I came and sat on this bench. Five of those offers came from people I do not know and four more came from people who saw me at a distance and went far out of their way to make their inquiry. I have been here since just after sunrise and it is now nearly eleven o’clock. In that time, I have counted forty-three people of various ages who have passed me. Forty-two of them shared a smile and kind word with me. The only one who did not was little Esther Parsons and being two, she was in the middle of a fit about her bonnet, I believe.

In most places I have been, an old man on a bench can blend in… be anonymous… simply fade away into background. Not here. In this place this old man has been knitted into the fabric of the community so tightly that I believe I would be missed if I left. Yes, I believe there would be a hole in the quilt if I or anyone else took flight. And that is the loveliness of Portsong. Does it exist in other small towns? I am certain to some degree. It is certainly here to stay. As am I.

parade

The parade is about to start. As I leave my seat aided by the hand of a beautiful child with golden ringlets, I hear the marching band leading the way. No longer are they clanging individuals striking off on their own notes. Now they play as one group. Their sound gets closer. It is beautiful, melodious, and wonderful. Like this place, it is a collection of people working together in harmony.

I truly love it here.

 

-Colonel Clarence Birdwhistle

July 4, 1926


Filed under: Character Voices

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41. Canada Day IS Family Day…


Canada Day officially kicks off holiday season for me here in the northern hemisphere. Kids have big smiles on their faces, and adults are gearing up for family getaways. Some families head for their cottages or vacation homes while others prefer to pack up the trailer or tent and venture into Provincial or State Parks armed with bug spray and bathing suits. Still others choose a stay-cation, opting to stay at home, hang by the pool, or go on day trips with their loved ones. Whatever method of holiday people decide on, the anticipation of being with family for one or two weeks is well worth the wait!

Since this will be our last summer at our lake home (cue the tears), we’re having a big family gathering to say good-bye and celebrate all the good times we’ve had here. I’m expecting a good size crowd, and have plenty of food on the menu. One such appetizer I’ll be preparing—Family Fiesta Dip—is popular at any summer bash, especially when family and friends drop by. So, juice up your taste buds and dive into my easy to make spicy dip at your pleasure.

What you Need:

250g package of cream cheese (soft)
1 tbsp. margarine
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 small jar of salsa (vegetable chunk style)
1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I prefer the nacho or tex-mex brand)
1 bag of Tortilla chips

What you Do:

MIX cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise until smooth. Spread in a medium-sized dish with edges to prevent spill over.

COVER with salsa – not too much so it’s not runny.

LAYER as follows: chopped red pepper, chopped green pepper, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, and then top with shredded cheese.

Keep refrigerated before serving. Serve with Tortilla chips (and napkins).

Family Fiesta Dip

 While you’re waiting for the Family Fiesta Dip to set, why not kick back on the beach or wherever you’ll be during your holidays and take a trip back into time with my Last Timekeepers MG/YA time travel series? Safe travels, everyone!

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42. The Cat Who Lost His Meow $50 GC Giveaway 6/30-7/29

The Cat Who Lost His Meow by Angela Muse

About the Book

Title: The Cat Who Lost His Meow | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Helen H. Wu | Publication Date: June 1, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3+

Summary: Chester the lazy calico cat has suddenly lost his meow. He’s looking everywhere, but can’t seem to find his voice. When Chester puts himself in a frightening situation he not only finds his voice return, but he also finds his courage. This experience makes Chester appreciate things a little bit more than he had before.

Priced at only $.99 during this promotion.

Amazon

 

 

About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela Muse, Author

Angela Muse

Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2012.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: July 29, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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43. Collision: The Battle For Darracia, by Michael Phillip Cash

In this second book of the Darracia Saga, Collision, Michael Phillip Cash continues his sci-fi drama with more deception and multiple character developments that take readers deeper into the solar system and the history of its inhabitants. As the battle for Darracia continues, there are internal traitors, blossoming romances, family tensions and everyone, besides the enemy, is questioning their faith in the Elements.

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44. The Great Search & Rescue

Our cat went missing. Not the new cat, the old cat. She’s a good yet reclusive pet. It took us weeks to integrate the two of them and I’m not just gonna let her go. Besides, can a family of six be complete unless they have at least four pets? Seriously, why would we ever have ten beings who consume and eliminate food living under one roof? Someone should have said no to this ridiculous increase long ago! Don’t ask me who – someone with more backbone than me.

We noticed she was gone Thursday. She has hidden for extended periods of time before, but after a thorough search of the premises, we realized she was not indoors. Thus began our search and rescue.

We started by walking up and down the street calling out her name. Wait, we would have started by doing that, but we never really have given her a name. So we just called Kitty and clicked a lot, completely ignoring the fact that she has never so much as inclined her head toward us when called…or clicked at. The only thing that came at our beckoning was our neighbor’s horse. I sized him up to see if he would be an adequate replacement, but he was completely the wrong color and I worried a little about the size of my litter box.

After the sun set, I posted two guards at the back door and commenced the stake out. The Commandant (me) made his rounds for inspection only to find the two teenage guards sleeping. It seems the batteries to their electronic devices had run out, leaving them nothing to do. I was about to rip into them like a monkey on a cupcake until I saw an eerie set of eyes through the window. The cat!

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Assuming the cat wanted back in, we all rushed the scene noisily with search lights blazing and promptly scared the crap out of her. She ran away from us and we didn’t see her again that night.

Night #2. I set one guard along with her charger (fool me once) and went to bed. Around 1 am, I was roused and told the cat was back. Using a calmer approach, we slowly walked in her direction and sat down. She recognized us and without the high-beam flashlight blinding her out of her mind, allowed herself to be captured.

Once she realized she was safely inside her familiar home, she laid down in her usual spot and promptly slept for two days. The thrill of it all left me staring at the ceiling for an hour, pondering several things.

1. Does she care about us in more than a “feed me, then subject to me” way?

2. Did she really want to be caught?

3. What made us think that a cat who has never been outside could recognize the exterior of her home?

4. In case of a dystopian apocalypse, I need to trade in my teenagers on someone who will actually guard something sans electronics.

5. Why would anyone name a cat? One might as well name a roll of tape for all the attention paid to it.

Before drifting off to sleep, I recall having the strange sensation that I was being watched by the cat. I would like to think she was pondering her adoration of me, her rescuer. But I am fairly certain that after two days in the wild, the hungry feline was sizing me up for a snack.

 

Photo attribution:  Patrick Feller (Flickr)


Filed under: Dad stuff

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45. summer: day 4

spicy hummus, yum

Early morning dentist appointment (a long-awaited day for Jane) and then later, midday, Beanie’s Piano Guild audition. She did very well. In between, there was a really delicious snack time accompanied by Beethoven’s 6th (what can I say, I’m a Pastoral kind of girl and always have been). And then a new thing with the younger set—another OLD habit I’m dusting off for the younger set. We read boatloads of poems this year but didn’t do much memorizing, and what’s nicer than a brain crammed with poetry? Huck (with Beanie as coach) worked on Stevenson’s little “Rain” poem; Rilla grabbed “Bed in Summer”; Wonderboy tackled a funny verse about lizards. We’ll keep practicing these next week.

Rose and I made some highly delicious salsa. I found huge bunches of cilantro on sale for twenty cents at the farmer’s market earlier this week—TWENTY CENTS, can you imagine?—so fresh salsa was a must. Very high on my list of things I’m grateful for is that I didn’t get the taste buds that interpret cilantro as soap. I love it so.

Me to Rose: Be careful not to touch your eyes after chopping jalapeno.

Me two minutes later: YEEEEEAAAAAAGGGGHHHH MY EYYYYYYYYE!

Today’s readaloud time began with a Huck request: Mr. Bear’s New Baby by Debi Gliori. All that baby wants is to snuggle; it takes them forever to figure it out. And then another chapter of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. We always have to run to the kitchen for a bite of chocolate afterward. Except today only the kids did the running. We’d been reading in my bedroom and it was mighty cool and comfy there. See also: early morning dentist appointment.

***

This is what Huck does while I’m working.

***

I’m working on that Duolingo post I promised. And I got a free session at italki.com, so I’ll be trying out a German lesson via Skype next week. (Eek!) Will report on that afterward.

***

Next week I’ll probably stop counting off the days of summer in my post titles. Probably.

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46. Reread #25 Julia Gillian And the Art of Knowing

Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing) by Alison McGhee. 2008. Scholastic. 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Several years ago, I read the Julia Gillian series. The first book in the series is Julia Gillian And the Art of Knowing. The book introduces us to a lovely little heroine, Julia Gillian, who is something. She is not really like other children her age (she's about 10) and she's not really like other adults either. She is individual, unique, special. While I did not see myself in each and every bit of Julia Gillian, there was one thing in particular we share. (Or should I say shared.) Julia Gillian is afraid of books with sad endings. Julia Gillian has recently bought a book, a green book, I believe, with a dog on the cover. (As a child, I would have known to avoid it.) When she started the book, all was well. A few chapters in, and Julia has become WORRIED, very WORRIED about the dog in the story. She's afraid that the dog might...dare she say it...DIE in the end. The second she begins to worry, she stops reading. She puts the book aside. But. Julia Gillian can't stop thinking about the book, about the characters. Though she's not spending time with the book anymore, it's still haunting her. Her parents guess this, as do some of her older friends, and for some reason they make her finish the book. (The reason why sounded a bit unbelievable to me.) Can Julia Gillian survive reading a sad book, a sad dog-dying book?

Julia Gillian lives life. She is very, very, very close to her dog, Bigfoot. Her dog is her best, best friend. So it's understandable why she has such a hard time reading the book. Her fear is, in a way, not so much that the fictional dog will die as it is that HER beloved dog will die.

There are several little stories going on in Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing. I liked how Julia reaches out to a neighborhood girl who is about to start kindergarten. They have two conversations, I believe, but in them we see Julia Gillian at her best.

I definitely enjoyed rereading this one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. summer: day 5

beanreads

And here we are at Friday in this unusually busy week. Soon most of us will head out to a party to celebrate the finalization of a friend’s adoption—a most joyful occasion indeed. Things we did today: the trio recited their poems (“I didn’t like this yesterday but now I do,” said Huck during the brief pause for air between his, oh, I’d say fourth and fifth voluntary recitations of “The Rain”); they learned a smidge of Latin; we had our read-aloud and quiet reading times. I actually read during QRT today instead of dozing off.

It’s going to be fun, this summertime focus on the younger set, after the rich and productive (and long) high tide I had with my teens. And of course the teens themselves are enjoying the more ambling pace of their low tide. Jane’s internship is going to keep me on the road more than we’d anticipated, but it’s turning out to be a nice time for quiet conversation for the two of us and whichever of her siblings has come along for the ride. (One sibling at a time is the key.)

I’ve enjoyed keeping this log this week. As our summer days find their rhythm, I won’t have as much detail to chronicle—different books, different pieces of music, some outings. But as is our way, the overall shape of the days will be much the same. The sturdiness of our daily rhythm, enlivened by the endless variety of the books and songs and games that fill up the hours, is what makes that very liveliness possible. It’s like a tried and true recipe that you change up with different seasonings and spontaneous substitutions. A good salad, maybe, or a sandwich.

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Forster and Eliot this week, which is silly, but sometimes I had one book handy and sometimes the other. Forster’s prose makes me ache in the best possible way. I find I’m returning to him more and more often lately, sometimes just opening to the middle of Room or Howards End and reading wherever I happen to land. And yet this is my first time reading Passage! I’m transfixed, as usual.

“She was looking through a nick in the cactus edge at the distant Marabar Hills, which had crept near, as was their custom at sunset; if the sunset had lasted long enough, they would have reached the town, but it was swift, being tropical.”

I find I’m wanting to creep verrrry slowly through Middlemarch this time, taking time to sit with an episode or even just a paragraph and breathe it in, savor its subtleties. For all Eliot is sweeping in scope (800 pages, a whole village-worth of fully realized characters), her magic is in the microcosm. This bit about Sir James, just after he finds out Dorothea is engaged to Casaubon and, after riding hard for a bit, decides to swing by her uncle’s house as previously planned—

He really did not like it: giving up Dorothea was very painful to him; but there was something in the resolve to make this visit forthwith and conquer all show of feeling, which was a sort of file-biting and counter-irritant.”

That there’s a whole lot of character to reveal in a single sentence.

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48. The Candy Smash (2013)

The Candy Smash. Jacqueline Davies (Lemonade War #4) 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The fourth book in Jacqueline Davies Lemonade War series brings us to February in Jessie and Evan Treski's fourth grade year. Apparently after returning to school, Jessie decided to start a classroom newspaper. The Candy Smash is ALL about Jessie working very hard as a journalist and reporter as she tries to figure out the ethics of publishing. For example, if Jessie *knows* that someone like-likes someone, should she report it? Perhaps if Jessie herself were to have a crush, she'd know the answer to that one. But boys, well, they just don't interest her yet. Evan, on the other hand, well, he is definitely interested in one particular girl. (He has been since The Lemonade War!)

The Candy Smash isn't all about journalism. The teacher has started a poetry unit. While some students like hearing and discussing the poems each class day, Evan happens to love it. He tries not to let his love show too much, of course. But Evan's big secret: HE LOVES POETRY. And at home, behind his unlocked "locked" door (there's a sign on the door) he writes poetry of his own. For someone who has struggled with school, Evan's newly discovered gift with words is pure blessing.

The books have been getting more serious as the series progresses. In the Candy Smash, readers learn that Grandma has come to stay with them. I was very relieved to learn that she would not be left on her own. Also, Jessie has started thinking a LOT about her father whom she hasn't seen in over a year. Readers learn that HE is a journalist, that he travels all over the world. I knew, of course, that their mother is a single mom, divorced, but this is the first mention that I can recall revealing details about the dad.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. The Magic Trap (2014)

The Magic Trap. (Lemonade War #5) Jacqueline Davies. 2014. HMH. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Magic Trap is the fifth novel in Jacqueline Davies' Lemonade War series. Her newest book starring Evan and Jessie Treski opens in the month of May. It is almost summer once again, readers have almost spent an entire year with these two siblings.

Mrs. Treski is going on a business trip. She'll be gone a whole week. She's hired a sitter to stay with Evan and Jessie. But hours before she's scheduled to leave and just mere minutes after an unexpected knock at the door, she learns that the sitter has been in a car accident and needs surgery. While she'll be fine, there is no way she'll be able to keep two kids. The knock at the door? Evan and Jessie's father. He just happens to be in town for a day or two; he just happens to be in between stories for the moment; he's a war correspondent. He volunteers to stay with the kids the whole week. She is hesitant. After all, the last visit he stayed just a few hours. He is always in and out of their lives. He rarely stays around longer than a day or two at most. A whole week with the kids?! Is he capable of sticking around that long? Of putting his kids first? She isn't positive. But she goes.

Evan is working on a disappearing act of his own. Evan's new interest? Magic tricks. He's got a handful he's great at. He's working at mastering several more. He's found an old--really, really old--magic book. He needs help, and Jessie and his Dad are ready to help him out. Evan plans a big magic show and everything...

But life doesn't always go according to plan. And Jessie and Evan are about to be severely tested. All week long, their dad has been emphasizing over and over and over again how tough Treskis are and how they can do anything. Jessie and Evan will be given the chance to prove just that...

The Magic Trap certainly has its dramatic moments.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. A Box of Scent

I came home the recently to find this at my doorstep.

 

image

 

I know!  This is an outrage!

It may seem innocuous initially with its flowery packaging and appealing colors, but read between the lines.  Oh, can’t see it clearly? This, my good readers, is a box of scent.  Why is that a big deal, you might ask?  Because, consider the implications of someone giving you a scent meant to cover your current odor. That’s right! Somebody thinks I stink!

Where did this come from? What dastardly knave would leave such a foul gesture on the front step of another?

I know my wife didn’t order something so frivolous when she already has an olfactory sensation in me! I’m like a bed of roses, just ask me.

Did the UPS guy drop it off, and if I so, what does he think of me now?

Is there a scent fairy that didn’t make it into the legend books or that movie where they all teamed up?  A Santa Clause for the nose, as it were.

Why does a box of fragrance smell an awful lot like cardboard? What kind of rip-off is that?

These were the questions I asked myself as I sat beside my box, my anger growing every minute. I began plotting how I would discover the origin of this unwanted gift. I figured it had to be one of my neighbors. We have two that come to mind when anything suspect happens on our street. Two doors down on either side are families that each have their own quirks. We all have those neighbors, so I won’t detail their eccentricities. Suffice it to say that when the media shows up at my door because the police are leading them off in chains, I will NOT say, “Oh, they were normal folks. I can’t believe they found eleven bodies in their yard.”

Since I couldn’t be positive it was either of them, I spent the better part of the afternoon parading up and down the street holding the conspicuous box in my arms so all could see. I watched the eyes of everyone I met – it’s all in the eyes. Each neighbor I encountered looked at the box suspiciously as we engaged in meaningless small-talk, but I never ran across the guilty expression that would pin-point the offender. All-in-all, it was a wasted effort and most likely branded me as neighborhood weirdo number three (if I don’t already wear that label).

When I arrived back at home, I expected the usual June Cleaver welcome. I did not receive anything so grand, my wife was more focused on the box in my arms. For all the attention I got, I may as well have been the UPS delivery guy – whose opinion of me is now as questionable as my odor must be.

“Oh good, the plug-ins are here. Every one in the house has run out,” she said as she took the box and repaired to another room with nary a kind word for me.

What kind of marriage of deception is this? For twenty-two years I lived under the delusion that I was responsible for the lovely smells around here only to discover that in the opinion of my beloved, I stink.

Oh well, even though I now know it isn’t me, I do like the smell of Warm Vanilla Sugar wafting from every outlet in the house…

 

 


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