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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: family, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,505
26. The Bickering Sisters

There once were two lovely young girls, sisters in fact, who lived in a spacious abode that seemed, too often, to close in around them. They were two of four daughters, not the golden-brown edge ones, but the soft, fair-haired, middlest sisters, mixed and squeezed together so much that they couldn’t get along. In fact, they bickered constantly.

Kou-Kou_by_Georgios_Iakovidis

They bickered near, they bickered far

They argued things trivial, humdrum, and bizarre.

“I’m sick of your manners,” one would often yell.

“I don’t like your meddling or dubious smell”

The other undaunted, her resentments would list

And sometimes erupt in a tirade of fists

Finally the lady of the manor (the loveliest, fairest maiden in the land) had had quite enough. She threatened, cajoled, and punished the two sisters. In frustration, she assigned them chores in the hopes of building teamwork. The clever mother’s schemes worked…but only for a season. For the enmity between the two sisters had grown as great and thick as their noble father’s ample chest hair.

He, the master of the house, was wise on his own account and took action to solve the embarrassing bickering once and for all. He tied the legs of the two sisters together with red silky ribbon, telling them to write down ten things each admired in the other. Only then would the ribbon be removed and their freedom attained.

He congratulated himself on his shrewdness and saw to the other important tasks of the manor, little knowing that the two cunning sisters conspired against him. Each composed a flowery list detailing their own most praiseworthy virtues, swapped scrolls, and beckoned their father back to their dungeon. So pleased was he that he released the two fair girls immediately with a tender kiss on each brow.

He boasted to his lovely wife in their bedchamber that night and wondered at how she could possibly resist his dashing charm. While choruses singing praise echoed inside his swollen head, the lady heard the familiar bicker, bicker, bicker from the other side of the door. The master and fine lady gave up! Would the two sisters ever be confidants or were they doomed to dwell in the moat of antipathy ever after?

Alas, one fine day, something came into their hands that brought the two together better than any silk ribbon ever could. It was warm, imaginative, and likable to both parties. They loved this thing, pondered it, and discussed it non-stop. Oft in the evenings, side by side they could be found on a blue, fluffy throne doing nothing but soak up the enjoyment of this thing…together. Yes, together.

An amazing light shone over the humble manor – the light of peace.

What was this wonderful thing of harmony, you ask? What could it possibly be? It was a book, then another, and another. It was literature that bound their squabbling hearts and imaginations together.

The lord of the manor, a brilliant novelist in his own mind, felt it important to pay tribute to one of the tomes that brought reconciliation to his home. To celebrate Divergent’s theatrical debut, I give you Virgil’s take on one of the wonderful works that put hatred asunder.

Not coming to a theater near you….

image

Artwork By Georgios Iakovidis (1853-1932)
Imitation Artwork yet unclaimed

10 Comments on The Bickering Sisters, last added: 3/21/2014
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27. Stay Where You Are & Then Leave by John Boyne

For Alfie Summerfield, the first five years of his life had been grand.  He was a happy little boy, and his dad and mum were happy with each other and with him.  His father, Georgie Summerfield, delivered milk and drove a milk float every morning pulled by a horse name Mr. Asquith.  It was Alfie's dream to some day be big enough to ride along side his dad and help.  Alfie's Granny Summerfield, who lived right across the street, always liked to come around for a bit of a gossip.  And Alfie had a best friend, Kalena Janáček, whose father came from Prague and ran the sweet shop.

But all this changed on Alfie's fifth birthday, because on July 29, 1914, World War I officially began and a few days later England joined in.   And even though he promised he wouldn't, Alfie's father immediately enlisted anyway.  Then, Mr. Janáček's store windows were broken and someone wrote on the shop door "No Spies Here!"  Soon enough, the government came and took father and daughter away to an internment camp on the Isle of Man.

At first, letters from Alfie's father arrive regularly, but then they begin to dwindle down and down and after two years, no more letters arrive.  Alfie's mum tells her son it is because his dad is on a secret mission for the government.  But times get hard and Mrs. Summerfield, who already takes in laundry, becomes a Queen's Nurse, which means most of the time Alfie is on his own.  And so, he decides it is time to do his bit.  He steals Mr. Janáček's prized shoe shine box, walks over to King's Cross Station and begins shining shoes three days a week (Alfie still attends school two days a week).

Then one day, almost four years after the war began, something amazing happens.  While shining the shoes of a doctor, the papers he is reading get blown out of his hands.   As he and Alfie scurry around King's Cross to retrieval the papers, Alfie discovers on one of them that his dad is alive and is in a hospital, the same one the doctor works at.  From that point on, Alfie decides that he is going to go get his dad and bring him home.  He is convinced that all that his dad really needs is to come home to recuperate and soon things will be happy again, just like they were before the war.  But on his first trip to the hospital, Alfie is not prepared for what he discovers.

Alfie is one of those quirky characters that Boyne seemed to write so well.  He reminded me a little bit of Barnaby Brocket (The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket) and he was certainly a more realistic 9 year old than was Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  It felt as though Boyne's third boy protagonist has more depth and is a more well developed character than the other two.

Georgie Summerfield is not a well developed as Alfie, but he in interesting nevertheless.   Georgie has the same blind enthusiasm for the war that so many young men had when it first began. The war, the government told them, would be over by Christmas, but by jingo, they didn't say which Christmas and four years later, the reader sees how Georgie's enthusiasm has spiraled down as he lives the realities of the trenches and then suffers the consequences of the enthusiasm.

I did think that the first three quarters of the novel did a really good job of presenting life during World War I on the home front, rather than the trenches, although there is some of that in Georgie's letters home.  The last quarter became a little preposterous, and the end a little predictable, but I thought other things made up for that.

Boyne addresses two issues in Stay Where You Are & Then Leave.  The first is that of conscientious objectors.  As enthusiastic as Georgie was to get into the war, his best friend Joe Patience feels just as strongly about not wanting to fight.  Joe is a compassionate person, who strongly believed that he was not put on earth to kill anyone cost him dearly - loss of lifetime friends, jail time, and beatings.  Boyne delicately presents it all at the same time as making the reader understand Joe's position.

The other issue is that of shell shock or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as it is called nowadays.  In the novel, the reader sees how skeptical people were about shell shock, believing it to be more cowardice than illness, until it hit home personally for them.  On Alfie's two visits to the hospital his dad is in, as he goes through the wards looking for him, Boyne gives us a very clear picture of what shell shock can do the a person's mind.  I think this part of the story will resonate with many of today's children whose loved one returned from Iraq or Afghanistan suffering from PTSD.

Though somewhat flawed, this is a nice book for anyone who is interested in historical fiction, and especially the impact of WWI on the people left at home.  And yes, you will discover the meaning of the title if you read the book.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an eARC received from Net Galley

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave will be available on March 25, 2014

A person who drives a milk float delivers milk to customers and in 1914 would be delivering it is something that looks like this:


This is my World War I book for my 2014 War Challenge with a Twist hosted by War Through the Generations.
This is book 6 of my 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry

0 Comments on Stay Where You Are & Then Leave by John Boyne as of 3/19/2014 10:43:00 AM
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28. The Geography of You and Me: Jennifer E. Smith

Book: The Geography of You and Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Pages: 352
Age Range: 12 and up

I loved Jennifer E. Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and also enjoyed This Is What Happy Looks Like. Like those two books, The Geography of You and Me is a young adult romance, heavy on character development and light on sappiness. Which is how I like them. Two teens meet in an elevator during a power outage in New York (they've seen each other before, but never spoken). Despite coming from very different backgrounds, they discover a connection over the course of a long, electricity-free evening. Geography is against them, however, as Lucy's family moves almost immediately to Scotland, while Owen ends up driving west with his father. Can such a tenuous connection, nurtured mainly by "Wish you were here" postcards, turn into something real? 

I thought that this book was very well done. The socioeconomic differences between Lucy and Owen are there, and cause occasional awkwardness, but are incidental to their sense of connection. Lucy feels isolated from her largely absent parents, while Owen misses his recently deceased mother. Both teens are isolated from other kids, even as they attend school. Lucy is a self-professed "geeky bookworm", constantly on the lookout for a good place to read. Owen is quietly brilliant on the science and math side, but is also computer shy, and not very keen on books or email. They joke about the idea of Herman Melville's Bartleby, a character who responds to everything with "I would prefer not to." Owen eventually names a pet turtle Bartleby.

Although there's a hint of intellectualism to The Geography of You and Me, it's far from over the top. While Lucy's family is clearly well off (leaving their New York apartment vacant for months, in case they want to go back for a visit), Owen is from a blue collar background. His father spends most of the book looking for work, and the two even end up briefly sleeping in their car. I think that Lucy and Owen could hold their own with John Green's characters, but they are less consciously witty. 

As for the romance, it felt real to me. Both Owen and Lucy meet other people (the book wouldn't be interesting if it was too easy), but they can't let go of that sense of connection with each other. There's a nice section with short chapters that show them thinking about each other, in parallel, despite being 5000 miles apart. Here are a couple of snippets:

"She wondered if there was a word for loneliness that wasn't quite so general. Because that wasn't it, exactly; it wasn't that she was feeling lonesome or empty or forlorn. It was more particular than that, like the blanket on the root this morning: Here in the kitchen, there was an Owen-shaped indent." (Chapter 5)

"But he couldn't find the words. And so instead, they just stood there, regarding each other silently, the room suddenly as quiet as the elevator had been, as comfortable as the kitchen floor, as remote as the roof. Because that's what happened when you were with someone like that: the world shrank to just the right size. It molded itself to fit only the two of you, and nothing more." (Chapter 8)

Given that the two main characters actually spend most of the book geographically separated, its good that The Geography of You and Me is about more than just the relationship between the two protagonists. Lucy reconnects a bit with her parents, and experiences the travel that she's always longed for. A scene in which she finally visits a city that she has longed to see gave me immense satisfaction as a reader. Owen and his father, meanwhile, are figuring out what their life means without Owen's mother, and what they mean to one another. Parents on both sides are more attuned to what's going on in their teens' lives than said teens realize. It's refreshing to have a book take a good look at parent/teen relationships, without melodrama, rather than focusing on friendships with other kids. 

I highly recommend The Geography of You and Me to fans of Jennifer E. Smith's previous novels, and to anyone who enjoys young adult romance (with nothing more PG than a few kisses) and realistic fiction. Because half of the book is told from Owen's perspective, I actually could imagine boys liking this book, though one might have trouble getting them to pick up a book with kissing on the cover. But for teenage girls and adult women, The Geography of You and Me should be an excellent fit. 

Publisher: Poppy (@LBKids)
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Source of Book: Advanced digital review copy from the publisher

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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29. The Holy Trinity of Boys

Passing over the bridge to the park Saturday, I heard laughter mixed with threats from the creek below. It took a few steps to get a view of the action between the dense limbs forming a canopy above the slow moving water. But what I saw brought an instant smile to my face: a real, knockdown, drag-out mudfight.

image

Four shirtless combatants

No distinct sides or teams

Eight handfuls of muck and sludge, ducking, slinging, flailing away.

Goo and gunk flying in every direction.

Filthy joy pigs would be proud of.

The Holy Trinity of Boys – Filth in all three forms: Dirt, Mud, & Dust

image

One Mom – a lax referee, sat on the bank chuckling along. I wanted to take a picture of the fun, but was afraid to be labelled some sort of park whacko. So I just watched, a little jealous of them, wondering if I could have been as cool a parent to sons. Would I let my boys get that dirty, despite the inconvenience of taking them home? Or if I had boys, would I be more worried about the cleanliness, my car seats, and the waste of time?

(Nah, I’m pretty sure my shirt would have been on the bank with theirs…but who knows.)

I don’t know who you are, lady. All I know is; you are the official Mother of the Weekend. You get no award besides the joy you allowed your boys. But that’s enough.

Artwork credit: Harold W. Olsen (www.haroldolsen.com)

10 Comments on The Holy Trinity of Boys, last added: 3/18/2014
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30. Tom Selleck Owes Me an Apology

Tom Selleck owes me an apology. Anyone my age knows the unobtainable standard he set for a teenage boy just coming into maturity. Why, do you ask, am I seeking contrition from him?

Good looks? No.

Suave disposition? No.

All the ladies? No…well maybe.

I’m talking about the hair…his stinking perfect hair.

Tom_Selleck_Kahala_Hilton

When all of the girls had a picture of the Magnum PI in mind, how could any of us real boys measure up? Curly coiffure, bushy mustache, chest hair, leg hair… There it is! Leg hair. Recently, smooth has become stylish and I would have been perfect for this new generation. But that isn’t my generation. When I was in high school and college, the girls wanted hair and lots of it. Hair I didn’t have.  Well, that’s not absolutely true. Science should study my leg hair because it is translucent like that of a polar bear. It’s there, just not to the naked eye. It only shows up if I have a deep tan, which is near impossible for someone of Swedish/Germanic descent. Undaunted, I went to the pool, laid out, and held my legs just right so that passing females might possibly get the proper angle to spot a few strands.

As a freshman in college, I went so far as to purchase a tanning package. I donned little glasses and laid on top of the plastic surface to bake. And bake I did. Remember the shorts Magnum used to wear? Not long like they are today, 80′s shorts came way up on the thigh. Hoping my tan would expose leg hair from the top of my leg to my toes, I even pulled them up higher. Oh yeah, I got burned in very sensitive areas. It hurt for weeks and didn’t help my hair stand out whatsoever.

We all have physical characteristics we would rather minimize or hide completely. Just the other day, I was talking with a friend who told me her 10 year-old daughter E had been called fat by another girl. My heart sank. Her sweet little girl is now self-conscious about something as irrelevant as my smooth legs. She is active and isn’t overweight in the least, but also isn’t waif-thin like so many women our society seems to put on a pedestal. Such a tragedy.

I want so much for her and other little girls to see what truly matters about themselves instead of what is fleeting.

Your beauty should not consist of outward things … Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.

1 Peter 3:3-4

That’s what is important. I hope my daughters know that. I pray little E learns that too. We have to tell them they are beautiful and keep on telling them until they understand. That’s how God sees them.

So Tom, whenever you are ready, it has taken 25 years, but I am finally over your provocation and prepared to accept your apology. It’s been a long time coming.

Photo credit to Alan Light

8 Comments on Tom Selleck Owes Me an Apology, last added: 3/15/2014
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31. Heartbeat (2014)

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott. 2014. Harlequin. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

Heartbeat is definitely an intense read with the potential to stay with readers. The heroine of Heartbeat is a young woman, Emma. She is in shock, in grief. She's angry; she's sad; she's all over the place. She wants things the way they were before, but, slowly oh-so-slowly coming to terms with the idea that something good could come in the future. The one person she wants to talk to most, of course, is her mom. She can physically go to her mom's room and talk, but, there will never be an answer again: her mom is on life support, she's being kept alive by machines for the sake of her unborn baby. Those ten weeks or so seem IMPOSSIBLE to young Emma. For better or worse, she can't bring herself to admit that her stepdad might be making the best decision, the right decision, the decision that her mom would make if she could. Seeing her mom alive-but-dead breaks her heart every single day. Yet, to the hospital she continues to go day by day. For the sake of her mom, or, so she tells herself. She feels that her mom is forgotten, that the unborn baby, is all. But readers don't just meet Emma. They also meet Olivia, Emma's best friend, and Caleb, a bad boy who might possibly understood the pain of loss better than anyone else in town. Emma and Caleb come together in Heartbeat, and, it's something.

Definitely recommended!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Heartbeat (2014) as of 3/12/2014 11:18:00 AM
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32. Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio

When our children were younger, I used to love taking them in the truck with me to run errands. With so many kids, the trips were a necessity and provided rare one-on-one time with whichever child agreed to go. I loved it right up until one unfortunate ride with my youngest. Here is text from that fateful trip.

Dad, drivers have all kinds of signs don’t they?

Yes, there are road signs to tell us when to stop and how fast to go.

No, that’s not what I mean. I mean drivers have signs they give…with their hands.

Sure, they wave to each other after one lets the other in front of them. That’s a kind thing to do.

Yes, but what does this mean? (giving me the perfect one finger salute)

Where did you see that? (Spoken calmly so she wouldn’t adopt this as a favorite gesture) 

That man over there did it. Did you let him in front of you?

No, that means I must have done something wrong and he was telling me about it.

What did you do?

I don’t know, maybe I cut him off or he thought I drove too close to him.

Do you use that sign?

No, honey, I don’t use that sign.

Does Mommy?

No, Mommy doesn’t use that sign.

What if Mommy does something wrong, would you do that to show her? (Once again, saluting me in the mirror)

No, we would never use that sign to Mommy. It isn’t a nice sign.

Oh. So we shouldn’t use that sign?

No, we shouldn’t use that sign. (she examines her finger wonderingly)

How about we listen to the radio?

Okay! I like the radio.

Radiomatic_DSC9599WP

(I fumble through the dial and settle on a station where the song quickly yields to a woman’s voice)

Women, do you suffer from low libido… (frantic push of the search button)

Daddy, what’s a libido?

Um, I think it’s an animal found in darkest Peru.

Like Paddington?

Exactly.

I’ve never heard of it in his books.

Maybe we haven’t gotten to that one yet.

Why is it low?

I don’t know, Sweety (how is this kid hearing every stinking thing? New station)

Men, listen to me. erectile disfunction is a serious problem… (FRANTIC PUSH as I fall victim to a conspiracy of the evil gods of radio)

Daddy…

…Er…How would you like to go to McDonalds for a chocolate milkshake?

YAY!!!!  McDonalds!!!! 

But it’s almost lunchtime. Will it be okay with Mommy?

Baby, if all Mommy hears about from this trip is the milkshake, I’m in great shape.

Photo Credit: By JPRoche (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

10 Comments on Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio, last added: 3/11/2014
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33. Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio

When our children were younger, I used to love taking them in the truck with me to run errands. With so many kids, the trips were a necessity and provided rare one-on-one time with whichever child agreed to go. I loved it right up until one unfortunate ride with my youngest. Here is text from that fateful trip.

Dad, drivers have all kinds of signs don’t they?

Yes, there are road signs to tell us when to stop and how fast to go.

No, that’s not what I mean. I mean drivers have signs they give…with their hands.

Sure, they wave to each other after one lets the other in front of them. That’s a kind thing to do.

Yes, but what does this mean? (giving me the perfect one finger salute)

Where did you see that? (Spoken calmly so she wouldn’t adopt this as a favorite gesture) 

That man over there did it. Did you let him in front of you?

No, that means I must have done something wrong and he was telling me about it.

What did you do?

I don’t know, maybe I cut him off or he thought I drove too close to him.

Do you use that sign?

No, honey, I don’t use that sign.

Does Mommy?

No, Mommy doesn’t use that sign.

What if Mommy does something wrong, would you do that to show her? (Once again, saluting me in the mirror)

No, we would never use that sign to Mommy. It isn’t a nice sign.

Oh. So we shouldn’t use that sign?

No, we shouldn’t use that sign. (she examines her finger wonderingly)

How about we listen to the radio?

Okay! I like the radio.

Radiomatic_DSC9599WP

(I fumble through the dial and settle on a station where the song quickly yields to a woman’s voice)

Women, do you suffer from low libido… (frantic push of the search button)

Daddy, what’s a libido?

Um, I think it’s an animal found in darkest Peru.

Like Paddington?

Exactly.

I’ve never heard of it in his books.

Maybe we haven’t gotten to that one yet.

Why is it low?

I don’t know, Sweety (how is this kid hearing every stinking thing? New station)

Men, listen to me. erectile disfunction is a serious problem… (FRANTIC PUSH as I fall victim to a conspiracy of the evil gods of radio)

Daddy…

…Er…How would you like to go to McDonalds for a chocolate milkshake?

YAY!!!!  McDonalds!!!! 

But it’s almost lunchtime. Will it be okay with Mommy?

Baby, if all Mommy hears about from this trip is the milkshake, I’m in great shape.

Photo Credit: By JPRoche (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

0 Comments on Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio as of 3/12/2014 1:22:00 AM
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34. Last week’s reading, and assorted other things

lavender

Things I read last week:

finished Howards End

—the “Keeps House” chapter of Milly-Molly-Mandy (a favorite because of Billy Blunt pretending to be a Mr. Snooks)

Queen of England: The Story of Elizabeth by Helene Hanff

—essay, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,” Alice Walker

—began Where Angels Fear to Tread

***

I spent the past week (month) (several months) in panic/crunch mode on a manuscript and missed commemorating a rather significant milestone here: Scott and I celebrated the 25th anniversary of our first date. Our 20th wedding anniversary is coming up in May, but in many ways this week’s date is the more significant, the more earthshaking, life-altering. We met at callbacks for a college play (Black Comedy) in February 1989. I was head over heels for him immediately. He seemed keen on me too. On March 3rd I invited him to my roommate’s birthday party. He took some coaxing—not a partygoer, is he—and somehow we wound up at a different party, either before or after my roomie’s (college, man), and we fell into a discussion of our mutual favorite books, The Lord of the Rings (remember, this was long before the films and you were part of a relatively small geeky subset if you were a Tolkien nut) and, well, we’ve been pretty much inseparable ever since. (Even my two years in grad school in North Carolina, when he was working in NYC, we talked every single night on the phone. And that brutal three-month stretch in 2006 just after Rilla was born when he came out here to San Diego to start the new job and I was back in Virginia trying to sell the house, we had an IM window open round the clock and often spent our evenings working together, each on our respective assignments. Ping, ping, ping.) I am still as ridiculously crazy about him as I was that very first day.

Anyway. I put some pictures on Facebook. Later in the week I was clicking around on the ‘related links’ below my posts, wandering back through funny kid stories I would have forgotten if I hadn’t blogged them, and I got swept with a tidal wave of gratitude for the chronicle this blog has become, this diary of our lives. His blog, too—even more so than mine, in so many ways—practically nothing is sweeter to me than glimpsing our children through his eyes, from his inimitable perspective. So, because I know I’ll be glad later that I did, I’m posting the photos here too.

Egg hunt 1989

Pretty sure this was the first picture ever taken of us. Would have been late March, 1989. Rehearsals for Black Comedy. In that show, if you haven’t seen it, there’s a blackout five minutes into the play, and the characters spend the entire rest of the show in the dark. When the show opens, the stage is pitch black, but for the characters there is light, and they are walking and talking as if all is normal. Then boom, blackout: the stage lights come up, and the actors stumble around as if plunged into utter darkness. We had to stick around campus during Spring Break and rehearse, and at one point there was a blindfolded egg hunt on the stage. You can tell our respective feelings about children’s Easter chocolate. I cannot say I have matured in that regard in the slightest.

1989

Some months later but still ’89. I can tell because of the lipstick. It wouldn’t have been long after that that I bumped into Scott on my way (late) to an 8am class and he was all, wow, you look great, and I was all, but I don’t even have any makeup on…Ohhh. I just may marry this boy.

still goofy

Recently. Still goofy. Still head over heels.

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35. BEE A READER

Cropped Pic 2

Today I had the privilege of being a reader at a local elementary school.  I got to read one of my favorite books, The Bee Bully, and talk to the kids about being an author.  The energetic kindergartners made me feel very welcome and I really enjoyed spending some time with them.  We talked a little bit about what it means to be a bully and how important reading is.

Three reasons why reading is important to young children:

1).  Reading exercises our brains.  That’s right, our brains need a workout too.  Reading strengthens brain connections and can even create new ones so pick up a book and help your brain exercise.

2).  Reading improves concentration.  Kids have to focus when they read which can sometimes be a difficult task.  The more you read the longer you can extend that concentration time which will continue to improve.

3).  Reading helps develop imagination.  When you read your brain translates what is read to pictures.  Did you know you can create a movie in your head while you read?  We become engrossed in the story and we can connect with the characters.  We can sympathize with how a character feels and reflect on how we would feel in that same situation.

Now go grab a book and BEE A READER!

beecover


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36. The Year of Billy Miller: Kevin Henkes

Book: The Year of Billy Miller
Author: Kevin Henkes
Pages: 240
Age Range: 7 - 10

I had intended to pick up a copy of The Year of Billy Miller for a while when it received a Newbery Honor. This moved it higher up on my list, and I'm so glad that I read it. 

We've been Kevin Henkes fans in my house for quite some time. We have a boxed set of little picture books about Lilly and her friends that we received when my daughter was born. Lilly's Chocolate Heart was one of the first books that she knew by heart, even though she could barely pronounce the words. These days, she frequently selects other picture books by Henkes from the library. We both adore Henkes' early reader series about Penny. I've only reviewed Penny and Her Doll, but we have them all. 

So, when I heard that Henkes had written a book for slightly older readers, I had high hopes. The Year of Billy Miller does not disappoint. The book is, as you would expect, about a year in the life of a boy named Biller. Specifically, it's about Billy's second grade school year. Billy's confidence at the start of the year is a bit shaky. A fall has left him with a lump on his head, and he worries about whether or not he'll be smart enough (he does forget things). Being seated next to a bossy, braggy girl does not help matters. Billy's dad, who he calls Papa, tries to reassure him by declaring that this will be "the Year of Billy Miller." And in the end, of course, it is. 

The Year of Billy Miller is a perfect book for kids who are ready to move beyond early readers and entry level chapter books, but aren't quite ready for true middle grade. Although it's longer than some books written for this age range, at 240 pages, and has fewer illustrations, the structure of the book helps to keep it accessible. As, of course, does Henkes' pitch-perfect understanding of the lives of second graders.

The book is divided into four sections, each featuring an important person in Billy's life (his teacher, his father, his little sister, and his mother). Each section consists of five short chapters. The print is wide-spaced, and there are small sketches mingled directly within the text, a few per chapter. The sentences are short, and the vocabulary is new-reader-friendly, but with some stretch words, too ("embedded", "plopped").

The situations described in The Year of Billy Miller are ordinary and relatable. A misunderstanding with a teacher, a sister who damages an art project, a bout of late night fears. The situations are age-appropriate, but Henkes doesn't talk down to kids, either. Billy's father is grouchy when his art isn't going well. Billy gets blazingly angry at his sister sometimes. He figures out on his own the best way to deal with the annoying girl at school - he doesn't go to anyone for help. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Grace Cotter slipped into her chair. Billy had known Grace since kindergarten. She was so shy she seemed almost invisible. Like vacuums, her wide eyes were sucking in everything." (Page 21)

"There's a girl named Hamster in my class," he said.
"Boy or girl?" asked Papa.
"Girl."
"Maybe her parents are celebrities," said Papa. "They often give their kids unusual names."
"Huh?" said Billy. (Page 28)

"And Sal had asked Papa if she could please, please, please use glitter, which was kept in a secret hiding place out of her reach." (Page 64)

OK, those last two passages pleased me as an adult, I must admit. But all of it is kid-friendly. I also enjoyed seeing the occasional echo of Henkes' other books (the use of "Mama" and "Papa" for one thing). I think that readers who have grown up with Henkes' books will enjoy this, too. 

In summary, I highly recommend The Year of Billy Miller. It would make a great classroom read-aloud for first or second graders, or a perfect bridge book for kids almost but not quite ready for more complex middle grade novels. This is a must-purchase for libraries (of course), but I'm glad that we have a copy to keep. I look forward to reading it with my daughter when she is just a little bit older. And to seeing her read it herself a bit after that. I hope that Henkes writes more books for this age range, and above, so that my daughter can grow up with his books. 

Publisher:  Greenwillow Books (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it

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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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37. A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd

Sometimes a book will just call out to you.  It tells you that it was meant for you and that you need to read it.  The first time I heard the title A Snicker of Magic, I was intrigued.  The first time I saw the delightful cover, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Felicity Juniper Pickle is a collector of words.  Not in the same way that some of us are, she is lucky enough to see words.  Words surround certain people and things, and when Felicity sees them, she writes them down in her always present blue notebook.  When her little sister Frannie Jo asks for a poem, Felicity can pluck them out of the air and combine them into a soothing rhyme for her.

There are two things that Felicity Pickle cannot do, however.  She cannot comfortably speak those words in front of anyone, and she can't stay in one place too long.  The first thing she can work on, but the second thing is all because of her Mama.

Her Mama is cursed with a wandering heart.  She loads her girls up into her beat-up van and travels around with them.  This last jaunt has brought the Pickles home to where Mama grew up: Midnight Gulch.  Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, but a few generations ago the magic seemingly up and left town right along with the famous Threadbare brothers.

But for Felicity, Midnight Gulch does turn out to be a magical place.  First of all, she acquires her very first friend - Jonah Pickett.  And Jonah, it turns out, has a secret and a bit of a magical identity as well.  As he takes Felicity under his wing, she sees the things that could be -- the things that she didn't even know she was longing for as Mama shuttled them around "Per-clunkity-clunk, per-clunkity-clunk" across the country.

Natalie Lloyd has created the kind of world that readers want to jump into.  This small Tennessee town should exist and feels like it does.  Perfectly quirky, the characters are interwoven, layered and kind. Turns of phrase verily melt in your mouth, and beg to be read aloud.  This is a heart-song book, if ever there was one.

0 Comments on A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd as of 3/4/2014 11:42:00 AM
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38. The Sadistic Overlord of Technology

Although outwardly it may appear that I am in full possession of my life’s reigns, I’ve come to realize that I control very few things besides my attitude. Most events occur around me while I jab at the air to try to influence their outcome. Like a giant game of cornhole, I throw the bean bag in the air, lean left, hold my tongue just right, and hope it goes in the hole. To give my analogy an Olympic flair, I’m swishing a broom violently in the hopes of pushing the stone to the left. I think we are all very reactionary in how we approach life because the demands of family, creditors, employers, government (and the list goes on) dictate most of our schedule.

I enjoyed my college philosophy classes, but remember nothing except my professor who had spindly legs supporting a massive belly. His poor knees creaked and cracked as he paced around the room. I’m sure he would say my theory is some type of classic Plato “–ism” where we are sitting back watching our lives on screens, only able to choose between limited outcomes.

Don’t overestimate my depth. I’m not philosophical at all. I only know that I have no choice in many things – even in my house. But at home, at least I am the Sadistic Overlord of Technology! Don’t you love the title? I gave it to myself. I should probably put it in bold. The Sadistic Overlord of Technology. If anything remotely technological doesn’t work the way one of my family hoped it would, I am to blame. I get blame, ergo, I get the title.

Take, for instance, our printer. It was one of the first wireless printers and worked perfectly for a long time. It still works fine…for some of us. Three of us have Windows 8 and it seems to like that OS. But it gave up trying for Windows 7. My wife and oldest daughter have Windows 7. I have updated the drivers and tried everything I know to do. But when they push print, it will print no more than one page before it dies. Usually it prints about half a page, violently spits the paper onto the floor, and goes into some form of cleaning mode that makes them scream in frustration. Since both are night owls, this nearly always occurs after the Overlord has gone to bed.

My attitude when awoken to fix the printer is where the word Sadistic got added to my title. I’m not much help after I’ve gone to sleep – part by mental capacity and part by groggy choice, I admit. The help desk is closed! I come out of the bedroom like Jack Nicholson poking his head through the door in The Shining – “Here’s Johnny!”

image

We’ve been dealing with this for a while and I’ve been dragging my heels on getting a new printer. I guess in some way, my sub-conscious sees this as one thing I can control. As you can imagine, there are ripple effects – mainly in attitude towards the overlord.

Come to think of it, control can be a dangerous thing…

Anyone have a recommendation for a wireless printer?

Photo credit: Jack & some cool app on my iPad

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39. The Unrelenting Butt-Itch

The List goes on.

Unending…Daunting…Disheartening

Until I reach a breaking point…

My dismal attempt at poetry? No, just my mind reeling after I read an email this morning. It is build weekend for our high school thespians and once again, I didn’t see everyone else take a step backwards when they asked for a volunteer to lead the charge. Actually, I love being around the kids (who call me PartyMark) and having a small part in the production. This is my fifth build and we’ve done some incredible shows.

image

Legally Blonde

Moon Over Buffalo

Moon Over Buffalo

Little Women

Little Women

The problem is that when I’m meeting with the director about the task at hand, she shows me the large pieces and that’s where my mind stops. She keeps telling me about the other things they will need and I hear Charlie Brown’s teacher, “wapwapwa-wa!” So after finishing the three big pieces yesterday and feeling quite smug in the accomplishment, I got an email with a 20 item list of things to do today. TWENTY! I nearly lost it and decided to do what I always do when I get stressed, go for a run.

When my toasty skin hit the cool air outside, I got a mild skin irritation in an unfortunate location. I figured it would go away, but it didn’t. At the top of my street, I was so distracted with it that I turned right toward the hilly 6-mile course instead of left to the flat 4. The sun rose above the tree line in front of me as I scratched. At first I tried to be discreet and wait for times when there were no cars around. But after a couple of miles, I quit caring. The unrelenting butt-itch won – for the moment.

At about mile four, something funny happened. I guess I didn’t hit my usual run playlist and some songs from the shows the girls have done streamed through my earbuds. They weren’t the best running songs, but they took my mind off the butt-itch and made me focus more on why I’m doing the building than the list. For me, it’s about the kids, specifically my daughters.

We all have lists. Sometimes they are unrelenting butt-itches that won’t seem to go away. I have to remember why I have the list and be grateful that I have the wherewithal to accomplish it. I keep up with Caringbridge posts from a friend who is watching her husband struggle with a brain tumor. He would love to have my list. I take my health for granted too often.

Today, I’m going to go to church, worship well, then hammer out 20 things – one at a time.

How are you going to attack your list?


6 Comments on The Unrelenting Butt-Itch, last added: 3/2/2014
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40. The Unrelenting Butt-Itch

The List goes on.

Unending…Daunting…Disheartening

Until I reach a breaking point…

My dismal attempt at poetry? No, just my mind reeling after I read an email this morning. It is build weekend for our high school thespians and once again, I didn’t see everyone else take a step backwards when they asked for a volunteer to lead the charge. Actually, I love being around the kids (who call me PartyMark) and having a small part in the production. This is my fifth build and we’ve done some incredible shows.

image

Legally Blonde

Moon Over Buffalo

Moon Over Buffalo

Little Women

Little Women

The problem is that when I’m meeting with the director about the task at hand, she shows me the large pieces and that’s where my mind stops. She keeps telling me about the other things they will need and I hear Charlie Brown’s teacher, “wapwapwa-wa!” So after finishing the three big pieces yesterday and feeling quite smug in the accomplishment, I got an email with a 20 item list of things to do today. TWENTY! I nearly lost it and decided to do what I always do when I get stressed, go for a run.

When my toasty skin hit the cool air outside, I got a mild skin irritation in an unfortunate location. I figured it would go away, but it didn’t. At the top of my street, I was so distracted with it that I turned right toward the hilly 6-mile course instead of left to the flat 4. The sun rose above the tree line in front of me as I scratched. At first I tried to be discreet and wait for times when there were no cars around. But after a couple of miles, I quit caring. The unrelenting butt-itch won – for the moment.

At about mile four, something funny happened. I guess I didn’t hit my usual run playlist and some songs from the shows the girls have done streamed through my earbuds. They weren’t the best running songs, but they took my mind off the butt-itch and made me focus more on why I’m doing the building than the list. For me, it’s about the kids, specifically my daughters.

We all have lists. Sometimes they are unrelenting butt-itches that won’t seem to go away. I have to remember why I have the list and be grateful that I have the wherewithal to accomplish it. I keep up with Caringbridge posts from a friend who is watching her husband struggle with a brain tumor. He would love to have my list. I take my health for granted too often.

Today, I’m going to go to church, worship well, then hammer out 20 things – one at a time.

How are you going to attack your list?


0 Comments on The Unrelenting Butt-Itch as of 3/3/2014 12:10:00 AM
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41. Keeper of the Lost Cities: Books 1 and 2

Books: Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 2)
Author: Shannon Messenger
Pages: 512 and 576
Age Range: 8-12

I don't recall whose recommendation inspired me to try this series, but I picked up the first one on Kindle recently, and I was completely hooked. In fact, I have to admit that I was hooked in spite of myself.

The first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, starts with a 12 year old girl who has never quite fit in who discovers that she is actually an elf. And not just any elf, but a special elf, for whom elves have been searching for years. I'm so over this "chosen one" premise, with all its echoes of Harry Potter. (There's even a special school.) And yet ... I was hooked anyway, from Kindle sample to low price purchase of book 1 to the higher priced purchase of book 2. These books have even helped me to exercise, because I want to keep reading. Here, I'll talk her mainly about the first book, and endeavor to avoid spoilers for those new to the series. 

Naturally, I have been asking myself "what makes these books work for me, despite certain thematic parallels?" I think it boils down to a combination of relatable protagonist and thorough world-building. Oh, I have a technical quibble or two about the world-building. But I still love it. Like this:

"She stood at the edge of a glassy river lined with impossibly tall trees, fanning out their wide emerald leaves among the puffy white clouds. Across the river, a row of crystal castles glittered in the sunlight in a way that would make Walt Disney want to throw rocks at his "Magic Kingdom." To her right, a golden path led into a sprawling city, where the elaborate domed buildings seemed to be built from brick-size jewels -- each structure a different color. Snowcapped mountains surrounded the lush valley, and the crisp, cool air smelled like cinnamon and chocolate and sunshine." (Chapter 3, Page 19, Book 1)

Who wouldn't want to go there?

The main character, Sophie, has been hearing other people's thoughts ever since an accident that occurred when she was five. She has a photographic memory, and is about to graduate from high school at twelve. She loves her family, but looks nothing like them. So when a strange boy with gorgeous eyes comes along and tells her that she's actually a long-lost elf, well, this isn't as much of a shock as it might have been. 

Sophie quickly learns that she will have to give up her human family and go to live with the elves (they live in hidden cities, where humans aren't allowed). A kidnapping attempt convinces her that this is necessary, even as it breaks her heart. Once in the elf city, she has trouble fitting in at school, and with her new foster parents. She is insecure and anxious, and desperately wants to understand her own background. Her combination of gifted and vulnerable is, I think, what made her get under my skin. 

The elf city is full of fabulous buildings, interesting customs, and delicious (vegetarian) foods. It's a brighter, more glittery world than that of, say, the Harry Potter books, even as danger lurks. I found myself wanting to spend more time there. There are also interesting social aspects (it's quite hierarchical, for instance), which I expect to develop more as the series progresses. 

The plot is filled with conspiracies and hidden clues, set against the mishaps of a girl raised by humans adapting to elf-hood. I did see a couple of the twists coming, but I also puzzled over the motivations of the people leaving Sophie clues, and wondered who Sophie should trust. The ending is quite suspenseful.

Several of the supporting characters are strong, though I would like to see a couple of Sophie's friends fleshed out a bit. Age-wise, I think this book is fine for elementary school kids who are strong readers (it is long). But there are enough hints at crushes and peer groups to keep it relevant for middle schoolers, too. 

The second book picks up right where the first one leaves off, and has the same feel. Here are a few snippets from the books, to give you an impression of Sophie's voice:

"That night Sophie dreamed the Keebler elves were holding her hostage until she perfected all their cookie recipes. Then she told them she liked Oreos better, and they tried to drown her in a giant vat of fudge. She woke in a cold sweat and decided sleep was overrated."(Chapter Six, Book 1)

"There were many, many questions racing through Sophie's mind as she scratched her neck where the furry collar was tickling it. But the most important one was probably, "Why am I dressed like a shaggy elephant?" (Chapter Sixteen, Page 146, Book 2) 

While I can see these books perhaps not working for jaded adults who have read a lot of fantasy, I think that kids will really enjoy them. Personally, I've found the Keeper of the Lost Cities series to be addictive, and I look forward to the next book. Recommended for fantasy fans, boys or girls, age 8 and up. 

Publisher: Aladdin (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: October 2012 and October 2013
Source of Book: Bought them both on Kindle

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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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42. Cityscapes and Runnerscapes

Life’s just better with color.

couple running in city

——–
More running motivation HERE
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1) Where do most of your runs take you? ie: roads, trail, track, etc.
2) What are typical Friday and weekend night plans for you?
3) Running brings color into my life by…

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43. Bigger than a Bread Box: Laurel Snyder

Book: Bigger than a Bread Box
Author: Laurel Snyder
Pages: 240
Age Range: 8-12

I love Laurel Snyder's writing. Good night, laila tov is one of my family's favorite bedtime stories, and I've reviewed both Any Which Wall and Penny Dreadful. I've been meaning to read Laurel's Bigger than a Bread Box for ages, having purchased a copy when it came out in paperback. But when the companion novel, Seven Stories Up, arrived on my doorstep, I finally brought Bigger than a Bread Box to the top of the pile. [Full disclosure, I'm Facebook friends with Laurel, and spent time with her at Kidlitcon a few years back, but I am certain that I would enjoy her books just as much without this connection.]

Bigger than a Bread Box is told from the viewpoint of 12-year-old Rebecca Shapiro. Rebecca lives in Baltimore with her parents and her two-year-old brother, Lew. Until, that is, her mother packs up Rebecca and Lew and moves to Atlanta, leaving their unemployed father behind. Bigger than a Bread Box is about Rebecca's fury at her mother for breaking up their family, her adjustment to a new middle school, and her gradual realization of her brother's importance to her. There's also a magical bread box that has unexpected consequences.

Despite the presence of the magical bread box, Bigger than a Bread Box has a much more realistic feel than Snyder's previous novels. The family dynamics are the point - the magic is more of a device. An afterword explains that Snyder mined her own experience as a child of divorce in writing Bigger than a Bread Box. I think this genuine emotion comes through successfully, and than any child experiencing parental separation will find something to relate to in Rebecca's experience. Like this scene, in which Rebecca is trying to remind Lew about their father:

"Lew started humming, and I wondered if any of this mattered. None of that would add up to Dad for Lew, if he'd already started to forget. Dad would just sound like some guy, some noisy, short, skinny guy who liked fishy pizza. That wasn't Dad any more than home was just boarded-up row houses and seagulls and snowball stands." (Page 101, paperback)

I must admit that I almost wanted to stop reading about half-way through the book, when the price that Rebecca was going to have to pay for the magic became clear. The middle school dynamics, while not the central point of the book, are still authentic enough to resonate painfully. Kids who have sacrificed their authenticity on the altar of "cool" may be able to relate to this, too. 

Rebecca isn't perfect. She makes mistakes, is materialistic about certain things, and is pretty harsh to her mother. But she has redeeming qualities, of course, like an appreciation for poetry. My favorite thing about Rebecca, hands down, is her affection for her brother, and her gradual recognition of him as a person in his own right. There's a point in which she thinks about trying to go back to Baltimore on her own, but realizes that she could never leave Lew behind, and I liked her for that. (Interesting contrast to Eleanor of Eleanor and Park, though the two girls are in very different situations.)

Snyder touches on Rebecca's half-Jewish identity with a light touch. She also includes various nods to people who love books, as Rebecca does. She brings a slightly heavier hand to the topic of the lack of appreciation that mothers can feel. Like this quote from Rebecca's mother:

"I am juggling so much and I am overworked and I just want a little time to think things out for myself. Everyone seems to need something from me or want something, and I don't even know what feels right or wrong anymore, and there are so many people to think about." (Page 145, paperback) 

As a mother myself, I found a scene in which Rebecca is trying to think of a birthday present for her mother, and she realizes that she has no idea what her mother's interests are, sad.

Bigger than a Bread Box is a must-purchase title for elementary and middle school libraries (especially in Baltimore and Atlanta). This nuanced look at divorce and family, as well as middle school social structures, offers something for everyone. The magical element helps to keep things light, while also adding some insights about accountability. Recommended!

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: September 2011
Source of Book: Bought it

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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44. Six of one, half dozen of the other

Rilla: Mommy, do you know where any chalk is?

Me: Afraid not. It was all taken outside, remember.

Rilla: (looks crestfallen)

Me: I know where some fake money is, though.

Rilla, gasping: PERFECT!

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45. $.99 Ebook Sale

99kindle sale

Get ready to load up those new kindles with some fantastic ebooks that will be specially priced at $.99 from December 26th through December 29th.  Loads of authors in various genres are joining in on this holiday sale.  Click the logo above to check out the main page for this sale and start downloading today.

Our children’s holiday story, The Christmas Owl, will be reduced to $.99 during this sale.  An Amazon best selling children’s story, The Christmas Owl , is sure to become a holiday classic. A Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word. This colorful tale told in verse is vividly illustrated to capture the attention of children aged eight and under.

OwlCover_Kindle_optimized


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46. “Scary ghost stories and tales of the glories…”: New Year’s folk and fairy tales

I just wrote my first post over at IB.  My very first IB post! Here’s a preview: _____________________ … Note:  there will be SPOILERS. *  *  *  *  * “The Fire New Year” – A poor man and woman are celebrating the New Year, making do with what very little they have, when a weary traveler knocks on […]

2 Comments on “Scary ghost stories and tales of the glories…”: New Year’s folk and fairy tales, last added: 1/1/2014
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47. Youth Running: Not a question of age but rather, the relationship

I love running, I think it’s the BEST sport in the World. But it’s a hard sport, mentally and physically. Like really hard. Running isn’t like most other team sports, there can be a fantastic team aspect, but ultimately running is a test of YOU against YOURSELF.

The rigors of training, hard workouts, are a lot to ask of oneself, us runners are quite demanding. Those demands should come internally and 99% of runners are the type-A, OCD personalities who tend to be their own harshest critics. THAT kind of drive and motivation is what separates runners from the slew of people making New Years Resolutions that don’t eclipse January. The traits that can make you the best can also suck the joy from your running if you’re not careful.

running changes lives

The lessons running teach are incredible and lifelong.


So my stance on youth running and seeing stories like THIS, a 13-year old racing a string of half-marathons, my initial reaction is to cringe. Again, I LOVE running, and believe there is a way to introduce youths to such a wonderful sport, the benefits there are enormous:
* Create a lifelong passion with exercise and fitness
* Improve goal-setting and hard working habits
* Boosted self-esteem
* Introduction to one kickbutt AMAZING community of runners
If they wind up setting any PR’s or being any good at the sport, cool beans, but that’s not the goal at that point.

When youth running can turn into a nightmare, often times it’s because TOO MUCH is being done. Too much mileage, too many workouts, too much intensity of workouts, too much pressure that’s NOT coming from within.

When a child is running more for a parent or coach, when that child feels like their own self-worth is tied up in that, THAT is when things are ugly.

It’s hard to pinpoint or assess, as with so many other things with running, the line between a healthy relationship with running for youths and one that is destructive is fine, unique to each individual, and a bit ambiguous to explain.

I’ve written a few articles on this topic, one HERE for Run, Blog, Run, and I’ve talked to many coaches and other athletes as well. In short:
* Professional, REALLY KICK BUTT amazing runners that become parents, most of them take the opposite extreme when it comes to their kids and running. They stand WAY back, get their kids involved in tons of other things, and if their child winds up going into running their parents can be sure it was of the child’s own desire. I think that’s how it should be done.
runner by tree
* Fun, fun, fun: The younger the kid, the more fun, loose, relaxed relationship with running they should have. We’re talking short runs, most of those just being totally easy and not even aware of the pace. Not running every day, and preferably in a group environment. Let them be with their friends, who cares about a ‘training regimen.’
* Plenty of Time: Running isn’t gymnastics, you don’t peak at 12 years old, it’s a sport that rewards the patient. When I say PLENTY of time, lots of amazing runners weren’t even serious until college. I liked the story Coach Dena Evans, who ran as a youth and was the Women’s coach at Stanford, told me. When recruiting two of the then top high school females, Katy and Amanda Trotter, the twins were struggling to decide between running cross country or playing soccer their senior years. “I told them, go, have fun, do the soccer with your friends, I’m not going to recruit you any less,” advised Evans. Incidentally the twins DID run cross country and Evans jokes, “Katy ended up second at Footlocker Nationals, so what did I know, right?!” But the point is: Dena Evans KNEW they were talented, had the work ethic, and that there was PLENTY of time for them to develop in college. She wanted to let them just keep it fun as long as possible.
* Parents and Coaches: For parents, the bottom line is whatever happens on the race course or during anything running related should be TOTALLY separate from all else the child does. Keep the two identities separate, don’t bring the running to the dinner table. As for coaching youth runners, less is more. From my article, Emily Sisson says it well, “It’s always important [for parents] to remember to put their [children's] happiness first…I attribute a lot [of my improvement] to the fact that my parents and coaches held me back a bit.” Eventually in 2010, Sisson lowered the 5,000m US High-School Record, after-which she’s continued to improve. “Running should always be something that you do because you love to do it. It shouldn’t become something you do to please someone else.”

Personally, despite both my parents being runners, I didn’t even test out running until about 8th grade. I joined a local club and thought running a WHOLE mile was amazing, didn’t run every day, didn’t even count mileage until maybe Junior year of high school, and my parents held me back when they needed to. I never lost my passion for running, not once.

Youth running should be dictated BY the youth runner. Meaning the passion must come from within, it should be THEIR goals. Ultimately any parents or coaches are merely there to guide them, following from behind. Often times that means holding back eager young runners and assuring them that LATER is when they can do more, more, more, and they’ll be much better off with patience.

1) Do you think there is an age that’s ‘too young’ to run?
Not an age, it’s more on the relationship the child is having. I LOVE seeing kiddies genuinely pumped about running.
2) If you have kids, are any of them interested in running?
3) Anything you’d like to say on the topic?

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48. Tomiss and Prsy

From Rilla to Huck on his birthday.

tomissprsy

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49. Flutura Gets a New Look – $.99 through 1/17

Flutura Cover 011414

Our young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, has a new look.  Book one is completed and book two will be available this spring so get started with Flutura to follow the story of three best friends.  Alexis, Brittany and Caitlin have grown up together since birth. Caitlin is ready to become a woman, but she’s fourteen and has yet to experience her first French kiss or her first period. The summer before high school will change all of that.

Caitlin is taken by surprise when Joshua reveals his feelings for her. As Caitlin sorts out her own feelings toward Josh the memory of the kiss she shared with Trick on the beach continues to invade her thoughts.

Good thing she’ll never see Trick again or things could get complicated.

This first book will be on sale for $.99 through January 17th.

You can also sign up to hear about our future young adult releases by joining our mailing list.

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50. The Woes of a Being in a Relationship With a Runner

I’m sure it can be a little tough for spouses waking up to a cold left side of the bed…”Sorry Honey, out running.” Being in a relationship with a runner may mean pleading out of weekend plans because they’ve got their long runs, races, workouts, and whatnot. All night ravers and barhopping don’t exactly work well into the training program.
runner spouse pains
Air-drying our running shirts and tights across the banister, cupboards full of protein bars and Gu’s…the oft empty refrigerator. “Sorry Honey, I got hungry!!” That’s runger for you.

Certainly the friends and loved ones of a runner may suffer, they may not ‘get it’, they may not harbor ANY desire to worship the all-mighty mile, rock a Garmin tan so burned into your skin it lasts through winter, or not bat an eye about wearing ‘short’ running shorts in public. “Seriously, they’re not even that short.”

The thing is though, TRUE friends and TRUE loved ones may not always ‘get’ our running quirks habits but they will support us regardless. Some have argued that running is a ‘selfish sport’ and in some ways it may appear to be. But I will always argue that any selfishness is absolved so long as:

1) Every running KNOWS how lucky they are for any support they get.
2) Always thank those awesome people waiting at the starting line or watching your kiddies (or doggies, or plants, or comic book collection) so you can go for a run.
3) Running makes you a happier, more productive, better you.

Any runner who does that, not only DESERVES their running ‘me’ time but shouldn’t feel any ounce of guilt. Even if they’re dodging out of the marriage bed in the wee early morning hours and their spouse is left to spoon with a pillow. You’re not cheating…you’re a runner. ;)

1) What are some ways that you are lucky, what pillars of support do you have in your life?
2) How do you thank your awesome family or friends who think you’re crazy for this running thing but support you anyways?
3) How does YOU running make you a better person and how does that benefit your supporters?
Umm…if I didn’t run no one would want to be around me…fact. ;)

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